Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Berkshire Hathaway (and Marek Svatos)

The results are normally inconsistent when you have a non-sports publication writing about the NHL. This article over at Forbes is just that - it raises some interesting points but falls flat on others.

Given that the article compares the Penguins to Berkshire Hathaway, I knew I had to read it. Berkshire, if you don't know, is probably the most successful company in the world. It is run by Warren Buffett and a single share of the stock currently costs $115106 (for a Class A share). The cheaper shares used to cost 1/30th of that (so still over $3500) until they recently split the stock. Buffett is called the Oracle of Omaha (where Berkshire is based) and is the world's most successful investor.

The immediate implication of the article title is that the Pens are brilliant not only in the moves that they make, but also with the timing that they make them. Buffett is famous for his attitude of "be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful".

Anyway, the article, by Mike Colligan (a writer over at, makes some interesting points:
  • Asham had other offers that were better, but came to Pittsburgh because he thought it was the best shot to win the Cup.
  • Several examples of players accepting less to play in Pittsburgh
  • An interesting contrast with the Blackhawks, as Chicago has had to dismantle a large part of their secondary cast this summer while the Pens opened the wallet and signed two premier defensemen.

I do have a few issues with what Mr. Colligan writes, however:
  • Sid is cited as taking less to stay in Pittsburgh, but the article makes it out to be better than it is. Sid signed for $8.7m per season and the article implies he could be receiving $11.88m. While it is true that he could renegotiate his contract to get that maximum, when he signed the deal, the salary cap was lower and the maximum that Sid could have signed for was a hair over $10m. Still, it was nice of Sid to provide the discount.
  • The Blackhawks issues this off-season were partially due to aggressive spending (hello, Brian Campbell), but also due to an offer snafu last year that forced the Blackhawks to sign several players to contracts that were much larger than what they ordinarily would have received (see Versteeg and someone else I can't remember - Seabrook or Sopel?)
  • A bizarre advertisement, essentially, for Marek Svatos at the end, citing Svatos as one of the players that the Pens have the luxury of choosing. I'm sure Svatos would love to play for the Pens (heck, anyone that is in danger of falling out of the NHL would love to), but he hasn't played well for two years running. While the earlier part of the article shows how Berkshire picked up quality companies, the last example of Svatos doesn't line up.
All told, however, I think it was an interesting way to consider how the Pens are perceived around the NHL by players and their agents.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Penguins sign W Arron Asham

The terms are one year, $700K.

It's a low risk move to be sure, but do the Pens need more gritty players? Here's a list of the potential third and fourth line players on the roster right now (and I'm assuming Staal and Dupuis are in your top 6, given the lack of other options currently):

Cooke, Rupp, Talbot, Adams, Kennedy, Asham, Godard

I guess the question is, do you want Asham filling a temporary role in Pittsburgh for a year, or would you rather see someone like Tim Wallace or Dustin Jeffrey getting an extended look on the roster? This signing might say more about the lack of confidence in some of the young guys than anything else.

Maybe given the potential changes on the third line, Shero sees the value in adding a responsible forward that can play either wing and occasionally chip in on offense.