January 16, 2009


It's true; I drafted Jason Blake in my fantasy hockey league way back in September. You know why? Because I believed in the little guy. And he rewarded my faith in him last night. Yes, he most certainly did.

If Blake's five-point performance (a hat-trick and two assists) wasn't his way of telling former Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice to go fuck himself, I'm not sure how else he can get the point across. The two never really got along last season, and Blake now has 13 goals, only two less than he bagged in 82 games under Maurice's tutelage.

So, I wonder what the Blake haters are going to have to say today. Probably that 17% of #55's 29 points on the season came last night. But you know what? I don't give a shit. And you know why? Because the Leafs needed every one of those five points.

Hate him all you want, and complain about his salary until you're blue in the face. Be my guest. The hating, whether it's directed at Blake, or Mats Sundin, or Tomas Kaberle, kind of gets me off these days. The numbers don't lie, and Blake is on pace for a 25-goal and 56-point season. And at $4 million a year in today's NHL, that's exactly the type of performance you're going to get. 

Jason Blake is paid accordingly. Yeah, I said it.

If you're one of the people who gave Matt Stajan props for responding to a trip to the press box early on in the season, you owe Blake some of the same loving. He was in Ron Wilson's dog house for a while, but has responded as well as anyone could have expected, and good for him. Blake, if nothing else, has proven that he's a battler. And I can respect that.

For those of you who watched the game on the tube last night, yes, that is exactly how the Leafs drew it up. A blown four-nothing lead, you know, to get the tanking advocates all hot and bothered, and a five-point performance from one Jason Blake.

Hate Blake if you must. It's your constitutional right. But you can't deny that his performance yesterday was worthy of one tremendous fist pump.


Justin Kendrick said...

I think I love to hate to Blake. He has these spurts of good games, but overall he gets under my skin.

I think I must just expect too much from him, maybe its because of the money he is getting paid, or because of the buzz around him when he came to the Leafs.

I will admit that if this was the start of a stretch of great games for him I would be on here talking about how he is a good player blah blah :)

I miss the band wagon and can't wait to get back on :)


Down Goes Brown said...

Jason Blake is paid accordingly. Yeah, I said it.

You've lost your mind.

tbot said...

Jason Blake started this season the exact same way he played last season. It's a credit to Ron Wilson that his game has picked up somewhat. And by implication, that's an indictment against Paul Maurice.

eyebleaf said...

@ Justin: Thx for the comment. I think a lot of it to do with Blake is expectations. I truly think he's played alright this season, especially after his benching. He's responded. And I have to give him credit for that, because he was crazy frustrated when he found himself in the press box. But, now, he's usually averaging 18 minutes or so in ice time. It's a testament to his hard work.

@ DGB: I've always maintained that at $4 million, this is what you're going to get. A guy who can put up 50-55 points. Look at the contract Malone got last summer. And he's shit. Blake is doing just fine. He is not what ails this team. And I'm surprised you think that I've only lost my mind now.

@ tbot: You're bang on. Wilson has been able to get a lot more out of Blake. And I think it's clear after last night that Blake indeed hates Maurice. And I dig that.

blurr1974 said...

Given the importance of last nights game (wiping the smug little smirk off Maurice's face, priority of the evening) I believe Blake earned 25% of his salary with those 5 points.

For the rest of the year he is to be referred to as a $3M winger. Totally worth it...

Down Goes Brown said...

Even if Blake does reach the 25-goal or 50-point mark, he brings absolutely nothing else to the table. Guys like Malone or Mike Fisher may score at the same low rate (or lower), but they can occasionally do something besides score.

Blake doesn't backcheck, he doesn't hit, and he's apparently not a good dressing room guy. He's purely an offensive player, and he doesn't even do much of that.

Plus, let's not forget that the worst part of his contract is the length. Even if $4M was borderline reasonable now, we're still stuck with him until he's 39.

eyebleaf said...

@ Blurr: Imagine how Maurice was feeling when it was 4-4? Thank God Kabby and Blake were able to put us back on top. I did not want him to win that game, period. And I like your idea of how he shaved a million bucks off his contract last night. Beauty.

@ DGB: I would argue that he does bring something else to the table. He's killing penalties this year, which is nothing to brag about on our team because of that efficiency rate, but he's out there nonetheless. And I'm not sure if Blake has ever been a guy who checks. Look at him. Dude's a hamster. It's about playing his game in aggravating fashion, which he's done more this season than last, already.

In regards to his dressing room character, has there ever been a Maple Leaf who has been good in the room the last few years? Everyone is, and pardon the brutal pun, a cancer.

Blake is one of three forwards on the team who is a plus player. If you want to complain about guys who don't back check, you've got a ton of guys to choose from. Antro is -9, Mitchell -13, and Mayers -10. And Blake gets more ice time than all of those guys save Antro.

Blake is bringing good shit to the table this year. He's paid adequately. Accordingly. Whatever. You're right about one thing, the killer part of the contract is the length, not the dollars.

Ian H. said...

When I checked the box score last night, I saw Toronto was up 4-0 and thought "no fucking way that Toskala gets a shutout". Just as I was going to comment here, he gives up 2 goals. Oh well, at least they got the 2 points.

And with last night's performance, Blake deserves to fist pump all he wants.

cferneyh said...

He's killing penalties this year, which is nothing to brag about on our team because of that efficiency rate, but he's out there nonetheless.

Wait - simply being on the ice for one of the league's worst PK's is now a sign that he's actually earning his fat contract? That's rich. But I suppose that's the game you need to play when defending that waste of a roster spot.

eyebleaf said...

@ cferneyh: A guy who is on pace for 56 points and 25 goals on the season is not a waste of a roster spot. That's what $4 million gets you in today's NHL. But you keep telling yourself that he is a waste of a roster spot, honey, if that's what makes you feel better. Thanks for stopping by.

cferneyh said...

The pace game is fun, particularly after a five point effort. An anomaly like last night doesn't skew the results whatsoever, does it? (And since it was his first five point game in 630 games, an anomaly is exactly what it was).

And for the record, his salary this season is $4.5 million.


Oh, and since you pulled out Ryan Malone as a point of comparison, let me do something similar. You know what else you can get for around $4.5 mil a season (or less)? Ryan Getzlaf. Or Corey Perry. Or Shea Weber. Or JP Dumont. Or Shane Doan. Or Brian Gionta. Or Alexander Semin. Or Mike Cammalleri. Or Ales Hemsky. Or one of the Sedin sisters.

But yeah, you keep on believing that Blake is somehow a reflection of what "$4 million" gets you in "today's NHL", using Ryan Malone as your example.....

eyebleaf said...

And for the record, here's where I got the $4 million. And you can get off your high horse, uh, now.


Obviously last night was an anomaly, dude. Who the hell is expecting more 5 point games out of him? What's not an anomaly is that he has, since 02/03, put up seasons of between 50 and 70 points. And for the last bloody time, that's what $4 million gets you in the NHL.

And, now to your final point, you do realize that guys like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf weren't unrestricted free agents like Blake, right? You understand that, right? Weber was restricted when he signed his new deal. Same deal with Gionta. Same deal with Hemsky. Same deal with Semin. That they're not going to get the craziest deals coming out of entry level deals, or one-or-two year contracts when they're in their early 20s. I compared Blake to a guy who hit 50 points, ONCE, and then hit the unrestricted free agency market. You're comparing apples to oranges.

Once again, thanks for coming by and commenting.

cferneyh said...

Ohhh, now you want to bring in contract status as a qualifier. However, your words were "That's what $4 million gets you in today's NHL" which is simply incorrect.

Regardless, plenty of RFAs get huge contracts too. Dion Phaneuf. Rick Nash. Henrik Lundqvist. All off the top of my head. So it isn't as simple as "those guys were RFA's". So, actually, it is apples to apples because a contract is a contract. But nice try, sport!

And, uh, Hockeybuzz is showing Cap Hit, not salary. Click on that little green "Show Player Salaries" button. See the $4.5 million beside Blake's name? I trust you understand the difference, sport.

eyebleaf said...

Honey, for a God damn unrestricted free agent, that's what $4 million will get you. You're comparing players that are much, much younger than Blake to him. And obviously those contracts will be skewed. Age factors into the contract too, "sport."

When most people are looking at players' salaries, they're interested in the cap hit. That half a million don't mean shit to me, honey, it ain't my dollars. I'm interested in the cap hit. I trust you understand the difference.

And, just in case you didn't get it the first time, get off your white horse, Kobe.

kushnir said...

this is the most entertainment ive had all day.

*makes some popcorn. finds a seat*

eyebleaf said...

Enjoy the show, Kush. You're a rudey.

And cferneyh, apologies if I came across as kind of a douche. I love a good debate, and you brought the heat. Cheers, mate.

cferneyh said...

This is fun!

I trust you see the irony in stating that you don't care about the extra $500K because "it ain't my dollars", while at the same time justifying the $4 million you thought he got paid.

But it is a good point. I don't give a rat's ass about his salary either. What bugs me most about Blake is that he has simply stopped doing the things that made him a 40 goal scorer to begin with.

Remember when he was with the Isles and he was a total pain in the ass? Remember him getting on Crosby's nerves? Remember him getting on Tucker's nerves? Remember him using his speed to crash the net and score ugly goals? Remember that Jason Blake? I do. And that's the Jason Blake I want.

Instead we get this watered down version of Jason Blake who seems to mail it in 98% of the time and is only motivated to play against ex-coaches. We get a guy who thinks that he's got Ilya Kovalchuk's shot, and as such, takes ridiculously weak shots from the top of the faceoff circle five times a game, despite the fact that he NEVER scores from there. I'd love to see replays of each of his goals this season, because I'm fairly confident that the vast majority of them were scored the same way he scored his goals last night - driving to the net and paying the price.

Hell, if he scored 11 goals all season but was at least busting his ass the way he did last night, I'd be much happier with him.

Steve said...

After watching the Juniors win gold for the 5th time, it's clear that fast skating and showboat goals make for an exciting hockey game. Blake offers both. In a day and age where 6'2" 220 lb behemoths dominate the ice, having a little guy that can skate around them is a good thing. 4 mill? Who cares. When a half dozen teams are losing 20 million+ per year but offering fat contracts anyway, who cares? He, like everyone else, is worth what a company will pay.

cferneyh said...

And no apologies required eyebleaf. Ultimately we're on the same team, we just see things differently. And that's what the comments section is for.

showcase29 said...

I think Blake has been playing like the Blake of old recently... and its no coincidence that him playing this way has bolstered his production. A rough and in-your-face Blake is a more productive Blake. I think I said Blake too many times.