Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ellis and Boyd Traded to Montreal; Rights to Sergei Kostitsyn Acquired

The revamp of the Predators roster continues as Nashville traded the rights of soon to be unrestricted free agent goaltender Dan Ellis and restricted free agent forward Dustin Boyd along with undisclosed future considerations to the Montreal Canadiens for the rights to restricted free agent Sergei Kostitsyn and future considerations.

Ellis was in the final year of a two year, $3 million dollar contract with the Predators, and he had made it known that he was looking for an opportunity to secure a starting role with a team. That option with the Predators no longer existed as Pekka Rinne had played himself into the starter's role with a strong performace in the last part of the 2009-2010 season.

Ellis is articulate and personable and will be missed in the Predators locker room. If he signs with the Canadiens, he will be a solid addition to the team that will push putative starter Carey Price.

The Predators picked up Dustin Boyd from Calgary at the trade deadline last season for a fourth round draft choice in 2011. Boyd showed flashes of solid play, but his ice time was limited to mainly third and fourth line duty.

In picking up the enigmatic Sergei Kostitsyn, the Predators get a player that posted 27 points in 52 games for the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge in his first season with the team. The left winger has the potential to fill a hole in the Predators roster, and if he can regain his early form could be a valuable addition to to the Predators roster.

Kostitsyn comes with a checkered past, however, and General Manager David Poile is very aware of the problems that have surrounded the young Russian since joining the Habs.

Kostitsyn has been described as being a divisive locker room presence; he, along with his brother Andrei, were rumored to have ties to the Mob in Montreal (no, not the mob that burns cars after a Montreal win or a loss. THE Mob).

Kostitsyn has openly battled with his GM about playing time. In response, he was benched then told to stay away from the team because of his negative influence.

Which begs the question, why attempt to bring a player to Nashville that has been so divisive and disruptive?

Perhaps the idea is that a change of scenery will be good for Kostitsyn. Given his past, I would certainly not hang my hopes on that fact alone. Yes, that may be part of the equation, but there is more, in my opinion.

The Predators are a chance at redemption.

Nashville offers a chance at more playing time, and if productive, an opportunity at a much more prominent role than he would have had in Montreal. It's no secret that the Predators need scoring and they need productive left wingers. Kostitsyn has the opportunity to come in to a situation that, if he shows maturity and a strong work ethic, could allow him to blossom.

It will be interesting to see if David Poile can get Kostitsyn signed. If he does, how will he fit in to the Predators locker room and into an environment that is markedly different from the one he found in Montreal? It will be a challenge for the Predators to mold a potential talent. It will be a challenge to Kostitsyn to adapt to a new way of life in a smaller hockey market.

Interesting challenges for both.

Sergei, my one piece of advice to you would be to learn to say "привет, вы все" quickly.

"Howdy, y'all"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Who pays the majority of taxes in America? According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), middle class households that earn between $34,300 and $141,900 py 50.5% of all federal taxes. Expand that top level to $352,900, and the percentage is 66.7 of all taxes paid. The top 1% of income earners- those earning more than $352,900- paid 28.1% of the total federal tax collections. Furthermore, the CBO, in a study released this past Thursday, states that federal tax collections have been getting more progressive, with the tax burden getting lighter on lower income households and increasing significantly on upper income households. In their study, the CBO divided the 116.9 million American households into five quintiles: $0-20,500; $20,500-34,300; $34,300-50,000; $50,000-74,700; and $74,700 and above. The CBO study found that the share of taxes paid by the first four quintiles has consistently declined since 1979, while the share of taxes paid by those in the fifth quintile- those earning more than $74,700 has consistently grown. So if you earn more than $74,700 and you hear a politician say that we need to "tax the rich" or have the "rich pay their fair share", know that they are talking about you.

Don't you think the absolute worst time to have a heart attack would be during a game of charades?

The tax cuts that were enacted in 2002 are set to expire at the end of this year. If Congress does not extend these cuts, taxes will go up across the board- income taxes, taxes on investment income, and estate taxes. The dilemma for our government is how to pay for the massive amounts of debt that our nation has taken on in the past few years. Last Tuesday, Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that extending these tax cuts and making them permanent would be "too costly" for our country. President Obama has proposed making the cuts permanent for any family earning less than $250,000 per year, but is meeting opposition not only from Republicans but from members of his own party. Congress faces a significant challenge in determining how to pay for the growing deficits and mounting debt in this country, and raising taxes seems to be their only solution. And perhaps it is because of their profligate spending. Small business owners and wage earners should be aware that discussions are going on that will have a significant impact on the amount of taxes that we will pay. As taxpayers, we should demand accountability from our elected leaders for their spending. Because we are going to be paying for it. At higher rates, and for a very long time.

They say that when you wish upon a shooting star, your wish will come true. Unless it is a meteor about to destroy the earth. Then you are pretty much dead no matter what you wished for.

The Gulf oil spill is being used to promote a renewed push for cap and trade and switching the U.S. to more green energy. On the surface, that sounds great. Until you begin to examine the costs involved. Spain is a country that has made a push toward more green energy jobs. Are they cost effective? No. Each green job created in that country has required, on average, a government subsidy of $774,000. An expensive proposition, to say the least. Furthermore, according to a study by the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs says that enacting cap and trade measures as proposed by Washington would increase the price of gas at the pump to "greater than $7 per gallon by 2020". The impact on our lifestyle and the economy would be devastating if this happens. No one can deny the disaster that is the BP oil spill in the Gulf. To use this disaster to crush the American economy is misguided and wrong. Cap and trade has no bearing on what has happened in the Gulf and should not be linked in a way that ruins our economy.

My mind is like a steel trap- rusty and illegal in 37 states.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Arnott and Hamhuis Gone- Predators Begin Roster Remake

The Nashville Predators began an off season remake of their roster by trading Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils and Dan Hamhuis to the Philadelphia Flyers.

In return, the Predators received forward Matt Halischuk and a second round pick in the 2011 draft for Arnott.

Ryan Parent returned to the club that drafted him in 2005  in the swap for Hamhuis.

While it was expected that Hamhuis would be departing the Predators as he entered unrestricted free agency, the trade of Arnott, the Predators captain over the past two seasons, came as a surprise.

Arnott was entering the final year of a four year contract with the Predators and would have counted $4.5 million against the cap this season. Arnott was signed three years ago as a free agent from the Dallas Stars and had a no trade clause in his contract. According to General Manager David Poile, the conversation about moving Arnott began earlier in the season. Arnott gave a list of several teams to Poile that he would consider a trade, with New Jersey being one of the teams.

It was at New Jersey that Arnott saw some of his best playing days. The highlight of his time with the Devils was scoring the double overtime game winner to clinch the Stanley Cup against the Dallas Stars in 2000.

Arnott was a strong player for the Predators, but in the past two season had missed time due to some concussions, so his health and durability were becoming a looming concern.

Hamhuis was drafted by the Predators and had matured into a solid defenseman. His play suffered from inconsistency at the start of the season, but settled down once paired with Cody Franson.

Hamhuis was an unrestricted free agent, and he made it no secret that he liked it here in Nashville. The question for Predators management would be the price that Hamhuis would command in free agency. While it was expected that Hamhuis would give the Preds a hometown discount, the fear was that the money offered by other teams would cause him to go to another team without the Predators receiving anything in return.

By trading the rights to Hamhuis to Philadelphia and receiving Ryan Parent in return, the Predators were able to add back some depth to an already solid blue line. Parent was in the top six of the Philadelphia D corp, and it is expected that he will contend for playing time in Nashville.

With the move of Arnott and Hamhuis, the Predators free up approximately $6.5 million in salary. This will be important as they begin negotiations with several restricted free agents.

Patric Hornqvist, who had a breakout season last year, leading the Predators with 30 goals, is the most prominent of the players that GM David Poile has to sign. I would expect Hornqvist to get a bump to the $2 to 3 million range.

Also in consideration will be restricted free agent Dennis Grebeshkov. Grebs had limited time with the Predators last season due to injury, but in his time on ice demonstrated offensive pop and he was sound defensively. Last season, Grebeshkov was paid $3.5 million, and I would expect his salary to be in that range again.

Restricted free agent Cody Franson, a defenseman,  is also due for an increase. He had a solid campaign last season and should land in the $1-1.25 million range.

Another consideration for the Predators with the trade of Arnott is that another captain must be named. The consensus is that Shea Weber will wear the “C” next season. A powerful blueliner that leads by example both on and off the ice, he would be a natural choice to captain the Predators.

Freeing up the salary of Arnott and Hamhuis leaves the Predators with some room to pursue other free agents, even after the considerations of signing the restricted free agents just mentioned. It is no secret that the Predators need to bolster their offense, so I would not be surprised to see the Predators make some additional moves at the onset of the free agency period.

The Predators have already made some significant changes to remake the squad.

Look for more.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Dr. Donald Berwick is a Massachusetts physician who has been nominated by the Obama administration to be the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As the name implies, CMS is in charge of running the Medicare and Medicaid programs that currently cover 100 million Americans and under the nationalized healthcare program will cover an additional 15 million people. This nomination has received scant attention in the mainstream press, but you should be paying attention to the debate over Dr. Berwick and his views on running an integral component of our nations healthcare. Dr. Berwick has gone on record to say that wealth should be re-distributed to fund healthcare; that all healthcare decisions should be centralized in one decision making body; and that private enterprise, especially in the healthcare sector, represents a "darkness" that must be overcome. Personnel is policy when it comes to the implementation of government programs. If Dr. Berwick is confirmed as the head of CMS, the policy will be socialism that results in the loss of control over your healthcare decisions.

You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

Fiat currency is not money that you use to buy an automobile. It is a currency that is issued by a government that is backed by the "full faith and credit" of that particular government. Like the U.S. dollar. There is no other backing- no gold stored in vaults, for instance- to say that a currency is worth what is printed on the face of the bill. The U.S. dollar used to be on the gold standard, meaning that each dollar that was printed had to have a corresponding dollar's worth of gold to back it up. This changed in 1971, when the President Richard Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard. We in this country have been very fortunate in that the dollar is still the world's reserve currency, because we have financed our massive amounts of debt through the foreign purchases of our dollars. But know this: fiat currencies have difficulty surviving. Politicians see to that. Since they no longer have to have a corresponding amount of gold for each dollar printed, governments are free to print as many dollars as they want and ultimately spend more than a nation can afford. We are doing that in the United States, and one day the weight of our profligate spending will create enormous havoc for our dollar.

Isn't polynesia memory loss in parrots?

There is no doubt the the BP Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an environmental disater of untold proportions. BP, in my opinion, will have been found to be playing loose and lax with safety requirements. The environmental mess, however, is just one aspect of this disaster. The other is the political aspect. Already, the Obama administration is posturing to further curtail drilling and production of oil within our our borders and territorial waters because of the Gulf spill. In the name of "protecting the environment" this administration is attempting to intitiate steps that will cost jobs and lower the standard of living for all Americans by making our energy costs soar. BP should be made to fully pay for the cost of the clean up in the Gulf, and they should make whole the individuals and businesses whose livlihoods have been harmed. BP should not, however, be used to bludgeon Americans into a lower standard of living because of boneheaded energy policies.

Summer is here, and gosh is it hot. I was outside the other day and it was so hot I saw a robin holding his worm with a pot holder.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Financially our country is in desperate times, and Congress is considering some dramatic changes to the tax code to raise revenue at the federal level. One such item under consideration is the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction for any household making over $250,000 per year to a significantly lower deductible amount. Meg Reilly, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget said, "The proposal will correct inequities in our tax code that allow millionaires to benefit from higher itemized tax deductions than middle class families enjoy." Only in Washington can a household that makes $250,000 per year be considered a millionaire. In response, Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore) have proposed lowering the tax rates across the board but eliminating many of the exemptions that currently exist in the code. They would, however, retain, the mortgage interest deduction. Think the talk of eliminating deductions ends with mortgage interest? This is the U.S. Congress we are talking about, folks! Also in discussion are eliminating the exemption from taxable income the 401(K) contributions many of us make; raising all tax rates; and introducing a value added tax. Nowhere in the discussion has our government talked about cutting spending, waste, and reforming the massive entitlement programs that are in place. Pay attention to the budget discussions in Washington this year.

I have always wanted to be the last man on earth just to see if all those women were lying to me.

Discussions are going on in the Federal Trade Commission about how to "reinvent" journalism. The FTC released a draft proposal May 24th that cites the rise of the internet and the myriad information options that are offered as damaging to traditional media, and it has forced many media companies to have to adapt their delivery systems. Sounds like the free market at work, doesn't it? And for our government, that is a problem. A proposal is being floated that would create a tax on news websites (why is every government "solution" centered around a new tax?) such as the Drudge Report and redistribute those  monies to various newspapers. There has also been a proposal to exempt traditional newspapers from taxation; as well as a 5% levy on devices like laptops, I-Pads, and Kindles that allow people to read the news on-line. Do you see the conflict here? Having the government responsible for the salaries and overall financial health of the traditional media destroys any semblance of objectivity and independence. Should this come to pass, this would represent nothing more than government ownership of the press.

My wife is like nature, she abhors a vacuum.

People respond to incentives. A statement that sounds like a blinding flash of the obvious to you and me seems to be totally lost on government. Don't believe me? The top nine states in the U.S. in terms of economic are growth are the states that do not have a state income tax. Or how about auto sales spiking upward when the "cash for clunkers" program was enacted? Auto sales dropped markedly after this incentive program ended. People respond to incentives. So what do you think will happen when 2011 rolls around and the tax cuts enacted in 2002 expire, leading to higher taxes? Will businesses invest in new employees and expand their operations in the U.S.? Will consumers have more to spend on discretionary items? Knowing that tax rates will rise next year, do you think that income and economic activity is being shifted into 2010 with its lower tax rates?  I do, and if I am right, that means that the economy is poised to sputter and contract next year. People and companies can and do respond to incentives, and in 2011, the incentives to earn, save, and invest will be greatly reduced.

Mirrors don't lie and,  fortunately for me, they can't laugh either.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Nashville Flood Relief Tweetup Pictures

Tom Callahan, Predators Radio play by play announcer; Jeff Schwartzenberg, Predators Director of Marketing; Jennifer Schwartzenberg, Director of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee; and Stu Grimson, local attorney and Predators radio color analyst.

Paul Nicholson and his family with Predators Assistant Coach Peter Horachek

Claudia Weber, holding a picture of her "adopted son", Predators defenseman Shea Weber

Predators play by play announcer Pete Weber doing his segment of Preds on the Glass radio

Rebecca Ward, Predators Director of Community Relations; Christine Maddela, news anchor for WKRN Channel 2; Jennifer and Jeff Schwartzenberg

Mrs. View with Predators Assistant Coach Brent Peterson

Raffling off a shirt donated by Dirk Hoag

Mike and Tracie Short, Mark Blake

Predator Bloggers Jeremy Gover of Cellblock 303; Josh from Predators 101; Buddy and Jackson Oakes from Preds on the Glass; and Ryan Porth from RLD Hockey

One of the auction items, a spa basket

A signed "Smashville" canvas signed by Predators defenseman Ryan Suter

Some of the auction items donated by the Predators

Mrs. View, Megan McCann, Stu Grimson, and Predators P.A. announcer Paul McCann

Jennifer Schwartzenberg, Claudia Weber, and Stacey Horachek

Predators play by play announcer Pete Weber, center, and Dirk Hoag of the blog On the Forecheck, right

Chuck Milam, Gen Carter, Josh from Predators 101, and Pete Weber

Paul McCann, Jeremy Gover, Christine Maddela, and Pete Weber

Pete Weber assisting The View with a raffle

The Nashville flood relief NHL Tweetup was the culmination of the efforts of a lot of people that care about Nashville and its people. This was a great event that raised over $2,000 for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. A sincere thank you to all who turned out and supported this worthy cause.

Thank You Is Not Enough

Hockey fans aren't like other fans.

A tag line in a commercial declaring that hockey fans are more passionate than other sports fans.

And yes, we fans are passionate about our team and united around the game we love so dearly. We are, however, not just passionate about our sport, but also about our communities where we live and helping those that need help.

That was very evident at the Nashville flood relief/NHL tweetup that was held ast night at the Tin Roof. Approximately 60 people attended the three hour event, and through their support of the silent auction, raffle, on-line auction, and outright donations, a little over $2,000 was raised for the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee's flood relief effort.

People in Middle Tennessee whose lives were dramatically altered by the flood in May will be positively affected because hockey fans aren't like other fans.

An event like this could not happen without a tremendous amount of support and participation. The good fortune that I had was to watch it all come together, and I want to give thanks to all who made this event happen.

Dani Muccio took the idea of a tweetup and through her creativity suggested an on-line auction. Not only did she suggest the auction, but used her contacts and tireless efforts to gather merchandise from other teams that was listed on E-Bay's Giving Works site. That auction is still running and additional monies are being collected for flood relief in Nashville thanks to her efforts.

Thanks to Rebecca Ward, the Director of Community Relations for the Nashville Predators. When I approached Rebecca and asked for the support of the team, she did not hesitate to say yes. I expected to have a couple of items to pick up for the auction, but received eight very nice items for the auction, including a signed jersey and other autographed merchandise. Rebecca personifies the team with her involvement in our community.

We needed a venue to host our event. One of the favorite haunts of the players is the Tin Roof, a local bar and restaurant not too far from the arena. I called and spoke to the manager, Amy Peterson, and she was very helpful and agreed to host our event. Ten minutes after hanging up the phone, I got a call from one of the owners, Jason Shear, to say not only would the Tin Roof host the event, but would make a donation to the cause as well.

The Predators coaching staff jumped on board, with Head Coach Barry Trotz donating four game tickets and a tour of the locker rooms. Assistant coaches Brent Peterson and Peter Horachek lent their support and their presence at the event.

The blogging community went to work and got the message out to the the hockey community at large. Thanks to all the Nashville bloggers for your support and your continued mention of the tweetup right up to the event. A special thank you to the 7th Woman, Dee Karl, for publicizing this event on her blog on the Hockey Buzz site.

A special thanks to Sarah Peters and Paul Nicholson, who crafted a very well done web-site- that gives access to the on-line auction as well as provided details for the event.

I have to thank Mrs. View for her efforts. She went about securing some non-hockey related items for the auction, which added to the variety of the auction. Her organizational skills were essential to making the evening run well. She even ran the raffle that night..

Buddy Oakes did his Preds on the Glass radio show from the event, and Jeremy Gover added live coverage through U-Stream.

Christine Maddela, local news anchor from Channel 2, Nashville's ABC affiliate, graciously spent several hours with the guests and was involved with an impromptu interview with Buddy.

Pete Weber, the Predators play by play announcer, Paul McCann, the Preds P.A. announcer, and Tom Callahan, Preds radio announcer were all in attendance and participated in the entertainment of the attendees and the events of the evening.

As you look at the involvement and support that this event received, doesn't something stand out to you, dear reader?

Hockey fans aren't like other fans.

Support came from many areas, some surprising. Su Ring and Wendy Smith are friends from Twitter that I have never met personally, but as they watched the disaster in Nashville unfold and got word of the tweetup, both contacted me via Twitter and said they wanted to help. Su wrote the press release that was distributed to media outlets in Nashville and donated a Pitttsburgh Penguins puck autographed by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Wendy Smith said that she was touched by what had happened in Nashville and wanted to help. I received a Chicago Blackhawks puck from her autographed by Dustin Byfuglien to put up for auction.

Social media has changed the way we communicate and connect, and social media united a group of people across the country that love the great game of hockey to help out their fellow man in a time of need. The response from the hockey community was overwhelming.

And it proved once again that hockey fans aren't like other fans.

The rebuilding of structures and lives in Nashville will take a long time. It will be arduous and there will be times of frustration. It will get done, however, because of the support of people like those I have mentioned. People who care, who are passionate about the betterment of the lives of the people in their community, and who will do what it takes to get the task accomplished. People united by a love of the great game of hockey, and people of character.

Because hockey fans aren't like other fans.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Have you heard of the "Vallejo strategy"? If you haven't, you very well might start hearing more about it in the near future. What is the Vallejo strategy? Vallejo, CA, a city near San Francisco,  filed a Chapter 9 bankruptcy petition in May of 2008. Chapter 9 is the municipal equivalent of an individual filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition to reorganize their debts. What happened to force this drastic action by city leaders? Massive unfunded pension liabilities that the city could not longer afford to pay. These were created when overly generous benefits were awarded to public service unions coupled with unrealistic expectations of how the underlying investments in the pension plans would perform. This perfect storm has far outstripped the ability of the city to meet current needs like trash pick up and police and fire protection as well as fund the pension obligations. The only recourse for the city was to file for protection under the bankruptcy code and attempt to renogotiate pension benefits. As Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said, "We were robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Peter went broke and there was no one left to rob." Across our country, municipalities are robbing Peter to pay Paul, and eventually Peter will go broke.

If you are cooking alphabet soup on the stove, and leave it unattended, it could spell disaster.

I wrote several weeks ago about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his bold efforts to rein in the profligate spending in the New Jersey state budget. Shortly after assuming office, Governor Christie closed a $2.3 billion dollar shortfall in the state budget by enacting immediate spending cuts. He vetoed a tax on millionaires. He has proposed capping property tax increases at no more than 2.5% in a given year, providing much needed relief to property owners in the state. Property taxes in New Jersey have risen 60% since 2000. The Governor's latest proposal to close the budget deficit, estimated to be $10.7 billion next fiscal year, has sparked the ire of the National Education Association and the New Jersey Teacher's Union. His radical proposal? To ask New Jersey teachers to pay 1.5% of their salary toward their health insurance coverage. Currently, teachers in the state pay nothing toward their benefits; they are fully funded by the state. The reaction of the teachers union is indicative of what states and municipalities face when they try to control these costs. The union has spent $5 million on negative ads painting Governor Christie as evil and draconian for asking the teachers to help pay for their benefits. According to Governor Christie, "This is not about a fight with individual teachers. This is about a union that has decided that everyone they represent is entitled to free medical, dental, and vision benefits for themselves and their families from the day they are hired to the day they die." This will shape up to be a public policy debate that will have important ramifications not only for New Jersey, but for municipalities and states across the country.

My psychiatrist told me I was crazy. I told him I wanted a second opinion. He said, "Okay, you're ugly, too."

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico continues to worsen, and fingers of blame are being pointed in all directions. There is no doubt that the oil spill from the Deep Horizon well operated by British Petroleum will be one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Could this have been prevented? That question will be debated for years, but here is a fact that all should know. Over the past five years, BP has one of the worst safety records of any major oil company. According to inspectors, BP rang up 760 "egregious and willful" violations of safety protocols. Compare that to Conoco and Sunoco, which had 8, and Exxon, which had 1. In fact, BP received a waiver of environmental regulations in 2009 from the Obama administration. Oh by the way, according to ABC News, the top recipient of campaign contributions from BP during the 2008 election cycle was candidate Barack Obama. One has to wonder about the objectivity of the enforcement of environmental and safety regulations for BP. This disaster will be used to curtail further drilling in the U.S. and its coastal waters, furthering our dependence on foreign oil. That is not the right response. As we examine this disaster and its effects, we should start with how the existing regulations are enforced in light of the safety record of each company.

A bus station is where the bus stops. A train station is where the train stops. On my desk, I have a work station...

And that, my friends, is my view.