Scott Hartnell is a polarizing figure in today's NHL. Known mostly as a bruiser, folks tend to forget he's a three-time 60-point man whose career-high is 37 goals with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-12, prompting the team to sign him to a contract extension that was sure to come bite them in the ass later, unless they traded him away eventually. Which they did, to the Columbus Blue Jackets, with whom his points totals went from 60 to 49 to 37 this year.
That's fine production for a 35-year-old physical player, by the way. But his playing time dipped in his second season in Ohio, a trend that will continue as the Jackets continue to improve with their current crop of youngsters. Hartnell has already lifted his no-move clause, so the Vegas Golden Knights may want to pick him up this summer. His actual salary will only be $3M while his cap hit sits at $4.75M, which could help the Knights underpay to reach the cap floor, exactly like the poorly managed and always-tanking Arizona Coyotes have been doing for years now. Except I trust the Knights to be a much better team than the Coyotes from the get-go.
I used to dislike expansion teams. The San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and the like, they meant nothing to me and I mostly wanted to watch them fail time and time again. It was different for the Minnesota Wild and the Blue Jackets, because those teams were in actual hockey markets (Columbus had a team in the very first professional hockey league, along with Pittsburgh, Detroit, Sault Ste Marie (Ontario) and Sault Ste Marie (Michigan), with Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa, but the teams in non-traditional markets used to anger me. Especially the relocated teams. The Dallas Stars started out rich and bought themselves a championship early on, but I could never get behind the Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes. I still hate that the Canes have a Stanley Cup, and I hope the Sharks never do.
For some reason, though, I'm rooting for Vegas to do well. Just like I always root for the Jackets and Flyers to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins. Which brings me back to Hartnell, seen here wearing Philly's retro/current home jersey, on card #97 from Panini's 2010-11 Pinnacle set and City Lights sub-set: