Darren Dreger is so awful, I can’t believe he has a job. I’m watching a PVR’ed edition of “TSN Drive with Dave Naylor”, and at the 15 minute mark he does his “Leafs at 6″ segment, which he does every day. Except that today the Dave Clarkson trade news broke at the same time.
And he doesn’t understand it, visibly. On HockeyInsideOut, we right away understood the pros and cons, what each team would gain from the trade. The Blue Jackets get a player for their real dollars they’d have to spend on an injured Nathan Horton, and the Leafs get to place him on LTIR, and use the cap relief to spend another 5 mill in real dollars on other players, which for them isn’t a hurdle, but is a huge issue for cash-strapped Columbus. The Leafs get a mulligan, the five mill they were sinking on Dave Clarkson, they’re now sinking on Nathan Horton, with the bonus now that with him on LTIR they have the ability to spend another five mill past the cap if they so wish.
The Blue Jackets get a player, and the Leafs get an extra 5 mill in cap space, a contract mulligan in this trade. Easy peasy.
We had that worked out in five minutes on social media. But Darren Dreger is on camera, with a ‘deer in the headlights’ expression, almost despondently saying there was no scuttlebutt on this, and re-hashes that there is a lot though on Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak, like Bob Cole nowadays when he backtracks and explains why he thought there was a penalty, but the stoppage in play was actually because of the end of the period, that’s why that siren was making all that racket, but it looked like a Leaf had tripped Henrik Sundin on that play, everything was happening, …
But Steve Simmons is obviously going through this mental calculus, and is aquiver, his headphones askew, in a positive lather, and he asks directly: “Can the Leafs put Horton on long-term injury, and not have the same cap ramifications?”
There it is. The setter has put up the ball perfectly, all the Insider has to do is spike it.
His response: “Uuuuuuhhhh, I would assume so…”
Simmons: “So this might be a great deal for the Leafs?” (Which it is.)
Dreger: “Uhhh-it’s a salary dump by the Toronto Maple Leafs. You have to assume that, you know, they’re… they’re going to place Nathan Horton on long term injury, and insurance kicks in. Right? If he never plays again, you know, Horton still gets paid, the money that is owed to him. Contractually.”
Brilliant analysis. Darren is pretty sure NHL contracts are guaranteed, almost certain.
Steve Simmons then references Pat Gillick, who once said that every GM makes mistakes, lots of them, but the good ones recognize them and fix them.
Simmons: “Today has to be a good day for Dave Nonis.”
Dreger: “I would think so and obviously we’re going to hear from Dave Nonis at some point in the foreseeable future…”
Still with that look, that expression of loss of control, that the world doesn’t make sense anymore. How could his own brother-in-law do that to him, not call him and give him the scoop? ‘I’m supposed to be an Insider, dammit’, he exudes with every beaten puppy look he casts about. You can tell he’s making a mental note to reduce the budgeted amount for Dave’s birthday gift coming up.
Dreger: “…This one was NOT on the radar.”
More Dreger, after repeating all the Leafs he was sure were more likely to move: “So… it’s a dump! It’s getting out from under a contract that was going to be problematic for the future.” Still not getting it, not understanding the quid pro quo, our Insider, who likes to tell us how “complex and complicated” the CBA is.
Naylor: “How much do we know about he likelihood that Nathan Horton may ever be able to play again in the NHL?”
Dreger: “Well not a lot of late. But it wasn’t that long ago that we on ‘Insider Trading’ were speculating that this probably wasn’t going to be a good thing for the long term future of Nathan Horton.” (?)
“But maybe something has changed, obviously we have to do some work here to figure out if that’s the case, or if the Toronto Maple Leafs are, as we already suggested, are simply taking on what can be minimized down to an insurance case. But we’ll have to wait and see. I mean, quite frankly, because of the information coming out as abruptly as it did, we’re kind of speculating here.” Still, still not getting it, Darren is.
As Dave Naylor and Steve Simmons carry the conversation, Darren Dreger stands up and walks away. The host explains that their Insider has to excuse himself to take some calls. I dearly hope it’s a manager calling him, telling him “Stop talking! Stop talking now, you nincompoop!”
Steve Simmons says “He (Dreger) may not want to be with us anymore.” And I’m not sure if he doesn’t realize what he’s saying, or if it’s a fully intentioned swipe at him, for not being any help, and not answering any questions, and not providing any insight.
When Dave Nonis gets fired, does Darren Dreger keep his job?