Decoding the Emotional Woman Sports Fan narrative

I am a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a bad sports fan. Sure, there are sports fans who are bad people, but the act of supporting a sports team isn’t something that can be policed. Maybe you watch every game, memorize every stat, and can list the team’s starting goalie from 1964 to today, or maybe you just watch every once in awhile because you think a player is cute. In both situations, and every situation in between, you are contributing to that team’s popularity and success, and that makes you a fan.

I don’t really have a lot of problems convincing people that I’m a “real” sports fan anymore. I watch as many games as I can, and even if I don’t, I get enough live updates from social media and news outlets to form a decently logical opinion. I also can dress myself in literally an entire outfit, shirt-pants-socks-slippers, of entirely Penguins gear. I’ve more than earned my spot at the table.

Recently, I’ve noticed a different kind of fan discrimination. There seems to be a clear dichotomy between the idea of a “real” sports fan – ie, someone who pays attention to performance, stats, and numbers, versus the portrait of a more casual, less serious sports fan who is invested in the player as a person. This “emotional” sports fan knows personal facts about the athlete through their public presence on social media, in interviews, and in the press. And much like the idea of the “real” versus “bandwagon” sports fan, the latter is mainly used as a way to invalidate and exclude women sports fans.

I remember being portrayed as what I’ve termed an emotional sports fan from the beginning. As a 13 year old girl who supported the Pittsburgh Penguins, the “joke” was always that I watched the games because I thought Sidney Crosby was cute. And yeah, he is! But it’s silly to think that I watched 82 games a year just to try and catch a glimpse of Sid’s face behind his mask on a blurry television feed. And so I vehemently denied, denied, denied any attraction to the Captain, desperate to prove myself as one of the boys, one of the real sports fans.

But, in reality, I did find myself interested in the player’s life off the ice. In fact, the very thing that made me start watching hockey in the first place was HBO’s Road to the Winter Classic documentary, which highlighted the personal lives of the players alongside the drama on the ice. The communities of (predominantly women) sports fans that I associated with also developed an interest in the lives of athletes off the ice. My friends and I joked about their bad Instagram captions and questionable choices in clothing, and, yes, we knew exactly which model they were dating. We liked hearing the gossip. It was fun to be a fan in this way, especially because being an “emotional” sports fan did not prevent me from also being a “rational” sports fan. I still know and appreciate the rules of the game, as well as what my favorite players are posting on Twitter. It’s not mutually exclusive.

But my life as an emotional sports fan continued to serve as my dirty little secret. I remember during the past Olympics when NBC tried to justify broadcasting the Games on tape delay by arguing that women viewers preferred emotional stories to the sports themselves. It’s still a terrible, sexist statement that portrays women as 1) Not Real Sports Fans, 2) Emotional beings who prefer dramatic reality shows to real life, and 3) Incapable of being both emotional and rational fans. It’s a really great example of the Emotional Sports Fan myth in action. But I remember my immediate reaction being a desperation to distance myself from these female emotional sports fans, and again I overcompensated, practically yelling to anyone who would listen that YES, I, THE REAL SPORTS FAN, WOULD WATCH EVEN WITH CARDBOARD CUTOUTS IN PLACE OF THE ATHLETES, #FORTHELOVEOFTHEBEAUTIFULGAME. Even out of my awkward teen phase and secure in my above-average sports knowledge, I was still desperate to prove that I wasn’t one of those sports fans, not one of those fangirls.

But I’m now, finally, coming to the realization that the emotional sports fan is a continuation of the mythology that women are less than because of their inability to control their emotions, and that young women in particular are so irrational, so emotional, so hormonal that their interests and beliefs are laughably unworthy of consideration. Teen girls are too crazy and emotional to know real music, so we dismiss their favorite musicians. And when those teen girls – actually, those fangirls come to support the same team that we do, we brush them aside as being too crazy and emotional to be real fans. And this narrative is repeated ad nauseam whenever teen girls express interest in anything from Snapchat filters to coffee shops. Whatever they like and whatever they do is considered beneath us. So many female sports fans are so desperate to prove ourselves as not being one of those girls that we abandon ourselves and the women around us so we can be validated by men.

And to those who would paint me as an emotional sports fan, I have two things to consider. First, we must realize that there is no purely unemotional way to watch sports.  We watch sports because of the way they make us feel, even if that feeling is simply rest and reprieve after a long day at work. Sports fans and athletes display emotions of anger, sadness, and joy at all points of the season without having their legitimacy as a fan questioned. And even the most by-the-book fans use meaningless buzzwords like “grit” and “character” to evaluate athletes, which are ultimately the result of an emotional analysis of a player’s attitudes and behaviors. In fact, a lot of these “character” evaluations are based on, you guessed it, gossip! Finally, think back to why you became a sports fan. So many of us are attracted to sports because of particularly charismatic or impressive athletes, like Derek Jeter, Lebron James, or Serena Williams. It’s this emotional connection that draws us to sports in the first place, that encourages us to spend the rest of our lives having our emotional state dependent on the outcome of a game. Why are these emotional expressions of sports fandom considered more valid than those of the emotional sports fan? Why do we hate on teenage girls, who check social media accounts and team videos as a part of being a fan, when their core motivation for these actions is the same as the actions of any other sports fan?

Secondly, there is nothing wrong with the uniquely female interpretation of being an emotional sports fan. Examining an athlete’s public portrayal (social media platforms, interviews, the way they conduct themselves in public) is not a bad thing, in fact, it helps me and other women to be better fans. I cannot separate on-ice performance from off-ice conduct, nor should I. If an athlete thinks social media is an appropriate place to make sexist “jokes” that perpetuate rape culture, or if they think it’s appropriate to make jokes about smallpox blankets, or if they demonstrate abusive behavior, I have a right to know so I can stop supporting them. I can’t control who gets to become a professional athlete, but I can control the name on the back of my jersey. I can keep myself from perpetuating the idolization of certain athletes. I do not have to support athletes who do not respect my basic humanity or the basic humanity of those I love. Being an emotional sports fan who is aware of an athlete’s personal life helps me to remain a fan only of those who deserve my fandom. Sure, I know a lot of useless facts about professional athletes too, but is memorizing Corsi any more useful?

Identifying as a woman while being a sports fan is not easy, as I’m sure you’ve gathered from my writings #onhere. Professional sports are inherently unequal and therefore inherently unwelcoming to women and other underrepresented groups.The stereotype of the Emotional Sports Fan is yet another narrative created by men to try and police the actions of women in the sports world. But we as women do not need to meet male expectations in order to be valid. My fellow female sports fans – the next time you see the Emotional Sports Fan narrative in action, call it out. We have a right to enjoy ourselves how we see fit, no matter what men think of it. And most importantly, let’s all personally vow to stop shaming other female sports fans, ourselves included, for displaying behaviors associated with the emotional sports fan! We must fight for an equality that doesn’t come at the expense of other women. After all, who else is going to admire a good-looking playoff beard with us?

 

 

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Sports leagues want millennial support? It’s time for a new marketing strategy

A little over a week ago, Major League Baseball announced a change to the intentional walk rule. Rather than throw the four meaningless pitches, teams can now simply use a dugout signal to walk the batter. The league also announced limits to the amount of time used for instant replay reviews, as well as the implementation of pace of game warnings and fines. The decision itself wasn’t popular with pitchers, or really anyone, and seemed especially bizarre considering that intentional walks were used only every 2.6 games in the 2016 season. Ultimately, many suspected that it was part of an effort by MLB to speed up the sport, as the average game takes three hours. Other news outlets such as The New York Times seemed to suspect similar motivations, even posting an article asking for reader feedback on how to speed up the game.

But why change the game? Ultimately, Major League Baseball is facing a crisis of declining viewership among young people. Nielsen ratings report that over 50% of baseball viewers are 55 or older, up an incredible 41% from ten years ago. Their solution – more social media presence, of course, but also a concerted effort to make the game more exciting by speeding it up. Because nothing shows that you understand millennials like associating us with smartphones and short attention spans, right?

Personally, I think it’s essential that sports leagues come to terms with the notion that marketing the game to young people requires new strategies. American millennials (who we will define here as people aged 18-36) are a vastly different group of people from our predecessors. We are a formidable group, making up 24% of the population. And we are also the most ethnically and racially diverse generation – 19% Hispanic, 14% African-American, and 5% Asian. We like urban environments, 38% of us are bilingual, and we really, really dislike Donald Trump. Essentially, the majority of us are not cis white men, and if major league sports wants to win us over, they are going to have to realize that millennial values are vastly different from those of older, whiter generations.

Sports have long been an unwelcoming environment for the traditionally disenfranchised and minority communities that make up a significant portion of millennials. Changing that culture is not an easy, nor a quick, task, but sports leagues have shown no interest in even starting that conversation. Their team Twitter accounts use popular hashtags from sports websites like Barstool, whose brand seems to be built on sexualizing barely-legal young girls and posting critical articles of powerful black women like Beyoncé. The only real representation of women at Big Four sports events are the often sexualized female dance/cheer teams, who serve as a supporting sideshow to the main, male event. While leagues have been making more of an effort to reach out of LGBTQ people with events like You Can Play Nights, most of these changes are simply cosmetic, and seem more self-serving than anything. While black athletes are increasingly represented, teams continue to stamp out their ability to show any personality (think the PK Subban trade) or use their platform to advocate for causes specific to their community (see the new US Soccer rule forcing players to stand for anthem, or John Tortorella and Mike Babcock’s comments on kneeling during anthem). Athletes continually take to Twitter and other social media platforms to express their support for President Donald Trump, a man who has called Mexicans rapists and has implemented what he himself describes as a Muslim ban. The message to fans who come from these communities is clear – you are not welcome here.

It’s also important to discuss the sort of message that a culture of exclusion sends to professional athletes. From the perspective of trying to win new fans, forcing uniformity on athletes stifles the growth of the sort of colorful personalities that attract new fans in the first place. After all, you don’t need to be a devout boxing fan to recognize the name Muhammad Ali. But far more importantly, players who come from minority communities must also feel the pressure to conform by hiding essential aspects of their identity. Players who wish to show support for the LGBT community or racial and ethnic minorities may avoid doing so for fear of losing their job.

Ultimately, conformity is damaging.

Not only does exclusion prevent new fans from enjoying the game, but it also turns existing fans away. Personally, I find it difficult to watch sporting events where players accused of rape are glorified as All-Stars, and I am discouraged from spending money on teams owned by open Trump supporters. As a woman, I can’t use sports as my escape from the stress of the real world anymore. If I have the time to watch a sporting event, I’m far more inclined to choose more welcoming leagues like the CWHL and NWHL over a Big Four league. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

So, sports leagues, you want millennial support? It’s time for you and your marketing team to come to terms with the facts. To be successful, sports teams must learn to include women, people of color, the LGBT community, Muslims, and other minority groups. It’s time to make systemic changes. Encourage more diversity in management positions. Help spread the game to non-traditional markets. Help make the game accessible for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Take accusations of homophobia, racism, and violence against women against your players and owners seriously. Change is scary, but it’s also the only way your business will survive.

My Depth

After many years of swimming, the word depth is the 12 feet between the surface and the bottom of the pool. I can remember when I first started swimming how much that depth terrified me. While others sailed quickly to the bottom and back, I could barely accomplish the same feat without my lungs burning, desperate to take another breath, hoping I’d make it to the surface in time. The depth was painful, it was frightening. As time passed and I grew more comfortable in the water, the depth became easier, my lungs adapted to accommodate more air. To seem my age, I voyaged down to the bottom more often, but it still made me uneasy. The water has always made me uneasy.

Depth is emotional, too.

Depth is panic. Depth is looking above you, squinting to catch a glimpse of the surface, kicking with all your might and praying to God that you’ll break the surface in time. Depth is that feeling you get when the darkness sets in and you feel like you can’t breathe in the space you’re given. Depth is desperately fleeing your apartment to wander the city, trying to catch your breath, trying to calm the beating pulse of your heart and to silence those panicked voices in your mind. Depth is drowning in your own thoughts, except these thoughts aren’t your own, but they are in your brain and you can’t control them. Depth is trying not to cry when it feels like you just can’t take it anymore, even if you’re not entirely sure what it is.

For me, depth is my depression. It’s the feeling of wanting to give up. Yet no matter how many times I find myself 12 feet under, with the weight of the world and the water on my shoulders, I still manage to find a way to kick, to pull, and to come back to the surface. I hope that every struggle, which takes mere seconds but feels like years, it making my lungs stronger so I can keep surfacing time and time again. But in the back of my mind, I worry that someday, the depth will be too deep and my legs won’t work fast enough, the kicks won’t be hard enough, and I’ll never make it to the top again. I worry that every single struggle to make it to the top will have been for nothing. I worry that I’ll finally drown. But if there is one thing that I have learned about my depth, it is that you should never give up. The feeling of taking that first breath is always worth it, as is everything and everyone who waits for me above the water. And that is why I just keep swimming.

As soon as I saw today’s Daily Post, I immediately thought of the quote that has always had so much meaning to me – Just keep swimming. Competitive swimming was the one thing that I always felt saved me from my depression, and it’s also the most useful metaphor I’ve found for explaining depression. Writing this post brought back so many emotions, but I really hope it helps someone else find the voice that being in the depth takes away from us.

To My Platonic Boyfriend’s Girlfriend: Find Your Chill

Today, I was guilty of allowing Facebook to click-bait me into reading an Elite Daily piece of garbage titled “To My Boyfriend’s Platonic Girlfriend: Thanks for your help, Okay Bye”. As the platonic girlfriend to many guys, I was intrigued as to just what a miserable site like Elite Daily had to say about me.

The article starts on a positive note – first, giving me “a whole-hearted thank you for the years you’ve invested in our boyfriends” – essentially, thanks for getting fucked over by other boys so my boyfriend can see how hurt you are and not inflict that same pain upon me. Despite the passive-aggressive language, I can empathize with the message. I do believe it is beneficial for men and women to be friends because we can see how the actions of the opposite sex both negatively and positively impact our friends, and in turn we can learn from these reactions.

Don’t get too comfortable, though! The article quickly turns sour – I guess we’re at “Okay Bye” now. All while pretending to be a holier-than-thou friend, Elite Daily promises:

I’m not breathing down his neck, placing boundaries against you in our relationship.

That, however, is false. The letter to the platonic girlfriend is an extremely problematic, sexist, and false piece of writing that I fear will negatively influence women everywhere. In response, I have crafted my own letter to any and all of my platonic boyfriend’s future girlfriends who would dare to take advice from this article. I have titled it Chill Out! Not Every Girl is Out to Get You!

In all seriousness, it is not easy to be a girl who is friends with boys. As much of I love my friends, I do not love the stereotypes associated with being “one of the boys” – I’m a slut who’s surely slept with all of them, or I have difficultly making friends with girls because I’m so awful. In fact, none of these facts are true. And while I’m never one to let the false opinions of others affect me, it really is hurtful when it comes from the girlfriend of a guy I’m friends with. While I’ve never lost a guy friend to an equivalently Elite Daily-loving girlfriend, I can say that it has damaged our friendship, largely because she views me as a threat.

In general, girls in relationships have a problem with viewing other women in their boyfriend’s life as dangerous. While that’s an issue for another article, I encourage you to keep that in mind as you read. Women need to stick together, not drive each other apart.

So let’s dispel the sexist, cruel, and downright inaccurate stereotypes about your boyfriend’s platonic girlfriend!

This isn’t a battle.
Elite Daily has told me that my friendship is essentially over once my guy friend starts dating a girl:

As much as he values your friendship, he gets enough venting girl drama from me now, and he’d rather play Xbox with his bros than dissect a female crossfire that doesn’t end in “thank-you-for-listening-to-me-complain-I-love-you-sex.”

To begin with, this statement is just so dangerously sexist. I can’t pretend I haven’t annoyed my male friends with “girl drama” before, but the idea that conversing with women in general is an annoyance is just terrible. Not to mention, this friendship between us wasn’t forced on my end – your boyfriend and I are friends because he cares about me and wants to be there for me, even when that means listening to my complaints.

But my friend dating a girl does not mean that he has to choose between us. It is possible to be an excellent boyfriend and boy friend at the same time. Listening to my “drama” does not mean he can’t be there for yours, too. Girls fight each other over boys enough, and we are better than this.

We can spend time together alone.

The Elite Daily girlfriend is terrified of me spending time alone with her boyfriend:

He’s not going to be interested in a movie night at your place, and any movie night at his place will indefinitely involve me.

Here’s the thing – this statement would never be okay if it was about a male friend. You would be labelled clingy and crazy by everyone if your presence ruined boy’s night. But because I’m a girl, it’s somehow acceptable to be concerned with us alone together.

No relationship should ever change the nature of a friendship, no matter what the gender dynamic happens to be. It is concerning that you think your existence is enough to alter years of friendship. Additionally, what sort of relationship is this if you can’t trust your boyfriend alone?

You can trust me, however. I’m a girl who knows how much it hurts to have a relationship ruined – in fact, you thanked me for this in the beginning, remember? On that same logic, I would never agree to being “the other woman”, especially with my friend.

I don’t want to be in your place.

You see, I’m not the enemy here. I know there might have been a part of you that wanted him to be single forever, so you could live out the “If we’re both single when we’re 40….” pact.

There’s a grand misconception that girls are only friends with boys, and vice versa, because we want to sleep together. It’s a classic TV trope – the two lifelong platonic friends finally reveal their deep feelings for each other and end up in love. But that’s not always reality. I don’t dream of being in your place and I haven’t secretly planned my dream wedding with your boyfriend. We are just friends, no different from any other purely platonic friendship you or I have experienced in our lives.

In fact, I’m totally okay with my friend dating, mostly because I’m not a sociopath. I, too, have seen other people. As normal, healthy friends, we support each other’s relationships. We listen to each other’s problems and share joy at each other’s successes. If you’re dating, chances are your boyfriend told me about it before, and I was incredibly happy for him. I probably look forward to making you a part of my life, and I will never try to shut you out of his.

I want this relationship to succeed.

So, realize that the time your best friend spends with me is time well spent. Don’t be catty toward me, like you were to the flames of his past. Make an effort.

Again, as a sane person, I am cool with my friend dating people. I do not actively try to destroy his relationships out of some sort of deranged, pent-up obsession with having him all to myself. Friendship means wanting to see your friend happy, and I believe that a girlfriend can have an unbelievably positive influence on his life. That excites me! I hope I can have the same! And I would never actively try to make him unhappy by taking him away from you.

There is one condition though.

I can’t promise I won’t intervene if you turn out to take relationship advice from Elite Daily.

We both love him. And he loves us. But here’s the thing: I’m the girl you wanted him to end up with all along.

 

Believe me, he can do better.

A Note to Allison Schmitt

This past week, Olympic gold medallist Allison Schmitt opened up about her struggle with depression following the 2012 Olympics. Here are my thoughts:


Dear Allison Schmitt,

I really just want to say thank you.

Any woman who wins an Olympic gold medal in swimming is a hero to me, but by opening up about your depression, you became the biggest hero of them all. It is not easy to own up to a mental illness. Too many people will brush off depression as simple sadness or apathy, as something made up in your head. It is far too easy to pretend that your suffering is the result of anything else.

I know I did.

I didn’t know it was depression at the time. In my mind, it was difficulty adjusting, a lack of real friends, a lack of support. Anything that wasn’t my fault. And when the depression started to affect my performance in the pool, it was far easier to blame it on a hurting shoulder than on my complete and utter self-hatred.

I didn’t think anyone would understand. I thought it was all in my head. I didn’t know at the time that my disastrous emotional state was the result of unbalanced chemicals in my brain. It wasn’t me. It was the depression.

Even when I knew, even years after I had reclaimed my true self, it was still hard for me to admit to friends, coaches, and teammates that my shoulder was the least of my worries. I used that minor annoyance as a crutch, a way to keep from admitting to mental illness. It was just easier. There were less questions, less judgement, less problems. Athletes are supposed to be strong. We’re not supposed to show our emotions or speak up when things are tough. It took that fight with depression to show me how destructive that line of thought can be.

It really means everything to me that a public figure like you was willing to admit to depression in such a public way. You are showing the athletic and swimming communities that mental illness is a fact of life, even for the toughest and most talented of athletes.

Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone.

Thank you for letting thousands of young girls in the swimming world know that their feelings are valid, and that it is okay to ask for help.

Thank you for showing coaches, teammates, and swim parents that depression is a real illness, and teaching them how to help.

Better yet, know that you too are not alone.

I wish I had a quick answer for how I got better, but the truth is that I do not know. I know that swimming helped – setting little goals and achieving them made me feel a little better. Devoting myself to working out helped keep my mind off the uglier things. Surrounding myself with positive coaches and teammates made a world of difference, too. I also know that devoting myself to my friends and my studies helped me to feel a stronger sense of self. So know that, much like you don’t wake up one day knowing that you have depression, you won’t wake up one day and know that you are cured. It will take weeks, months, maybe even years. There will still be days far from now when the ugly feelings will come back. Know that it is temporary and know that you are still greater than your illness.

Know that there is a huge community of swimmers out there who, whether or not they have lived through a mental illness, want nothing more than to see you happy again. Know that we will support you through the ups and downs. Know that we will stick by you.

Know that you can do it.

Know that the journey will not always be easy.

But, most importantly, know that it will always be worth it.

Rant of the Day: An open letter to the cancer teammate

*dons baby boomer glasses* What is it with kids these days and joining things that they aren’t committed to?

Seriously.

It seems like the sports teams in my life have all been afflicted with an ugly case of apathy. Since entering high school, it seems like every upcoming class of freshman has gotten more and more lazy. I thought it was just a swim team thing, encouraged by an easygoing coach who had no rules and lots of cookies. However, this year, my friends on the cross country team have noticed the same issue. Girls are joining the team only to cut miles during practice and walk during actual races. It’s the same deal on the swim team – tons of girls join, skip practice, and can’t be bothered to do the actual workout when they care to show up.

What’s wrong with people?

So you, lazy, unmotivated teammate – this one’s for you. This is my open letter to the cancer teammate.

A commitment is a commitment. It involves responsibility, selflessness, and time management. It’s one thing to have to miss a practice every once in a while for personal reasons, like a doctor’s appointment or a family gathering. But no one has enough personal issues to warrant only showing up to practice once a week. That’s ridiculous. Rule of thumb: don’t commit to something if you aren’t positive that you can fully devote yourself to being the best you can be. Of course, you should do this for your coaches and teammates but most importantly for yourself. You are valuable. You only have so much time to spend on this earth. Why spend it being mediocre at something? Why spend it half-assing a practice? That makes no sense. Everyone should strive to be the best. If you can’t find that passion, that desire within you, perhaps making a commitment isn’t for you.

This is an issue bigger than yourself. Think about how many people are involved with just one sports team. Your coaches, your manager, your captain, your whole team, the mom who makes sandwiches before every game, your parents, the girl who offers to drive you to practice – that’s a lot of people. Don’t waste their time, either. It’s disrespectful. Your coach doesn’t need to show up to practice or to spend HER time writing workouts just for YOU. Believe it or not, coaching pays next to nothing despite being a hugely influential and important career. What if your coach started cutting corners like you did? You would be upset, right? You would feel like you’d been cheated? Well, that’s probably how your coach feels when she finds out that you can’t even respect her enough to put forth the most minimal amount of effort possible. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for them. They care when you don’t. And if you can’t respect and appreciate that, well, you shouldn’t be a part of a team.

Finally, think about your teammates. Your captain. The people who stay after practice for hours, refining that one technique that will make them just half a second faster. The devoted, the dedicated, the hard-working. We hate teammates like you, to be honest. You take up space on the bus, in the locker room, in the pool. We would kill to be your age again just for another shot at being the best and taking advantage of every opportunity we can find. It kills us to see you wasting time at practice because someday, you will want to be the best, but you won’t be able to because of all that lost time. Not to mention, your sour attitude brings down the whole team. No matter how hard we try, we still here your “I don’t want to” “Let’s take this one easy” and “Let’s skip this last one”, and it sticks in our head and messes with our psyche. Sports are a mental game, too, and you hurt your teammates with your negativity. And, of course, when you goof off at practice or lose big at the meet, we also have to suffer those punishment workouts even though we don’t deserve them.

So, in conclusion – what’s wrong with you people? Why are you here? Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s on something you don’t care about. It’s that simple. Don’t be a jerk. Quit the team, or better yet, don’t sign up in the first place.

All my best,
The annoyed teammate

Addition through subtraction

The PIttsburgh Penguins went in to Free Agent Frenzy with eleven UFAs, and so far none of them have been resigned.

Which is probably a good thing.

brooks

Various NHL teams have offered some tragically laughable contracts for former Penguins. Joe Vitale, who had 14 points in 53 games this past season, was given a 3 year deal from the Arizona Coyotes with an AAV of $1.117 million. That’s a little under $80,000 per point. Wow.

Later, the New York Rangers acquired fourth liner Tanner Glass, who also had an underwhelming last season with just 13 points in 67 games, to a three-year, $4.53 million deal.

But the ugliest contract given to a former Penguin award would have to go to the division rival Washington Capitals. Defenseman Brooks Orpik had an often unpredictable season after he was concussed and attacked by Bruins’ Shawn Thornton. Most games, he was just downright awful. Naturally, the Capitals awarded him with a five year, $27.5 million contract. Orpik will be 38 years old when the deal is finished.

So, yeah, the Penguins may have dodged a bullet or three there.

In the meantime, Rutherford made some key acquisitions. He added a fourth-line right winger in Blake Comeau (1 yr, 700k AAV). The team gets all the more German with goalie Thomas Griess (1 yr, 1mil AAV) and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (1 yr, 4mil AAV). Griess will serve as a backup to Marc-Andre Fleury. Considering that Jeff Zatkoff was not supposed to be our backup this past season, Griess is a great move. He will allow Zatkoff more time to develop in Wilkes-Barre. Ehrhoff adds depth and experience to the defense, which will need more bodies after losing Orpik and Niskanen. He’ll likely serve on the power play unit as well. Ehrhoff’s leadership will be valuable as Derrick Pouliot and Simon Despres move up to the show.

Former Penguin Jussi Jokinen signed in Florida with former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. And now, we wait to see where Matty “$$$” Niskanen will receive his payout.