From John Ferguson Jr. to Cliff Fletcher (part II) to Brian Burke to Dave Nonis, the annual free agent frenzy has been nothing short of a recurring nightmare for Maple Leaf general managers (recent) past and present. Each and every July 1st signing has brought with it excitement and all too large expectations only to fizzle into one pricey disappointment after another. Now helming another rebuild in Calgary, Burke often described the day in disastrous terms for the NHLs management community, decrying the slew of exorbitant contracts with "unrealistic values and unrealistic term…that bite you right in the butt at some point". Value, all too important under the confines of a cap system and best found in homegrown products, is never harder to find than on July 1st – a day that sees the contracts get larger and sillier with each passing year. It began in earnest for the Leafs shortly after the outset of the cap era in the summer of 2006. John Ferguson Jr., fighting for a job that would soon run its course, plugged two holes on the Toronto defence that July with a pair of expensive free agent additions. Formerly a member of Tampas Cup winning squad in 2004, Pavel Kubina was inked for four years and $20 million and Hal Gill, once a towering defender in Boston but far less effective under the free-flowing rules of the league post-lockout, raked in more than $6 million for three years. Both were overpaid from the outset – especially in the case of Kubina, one of many to struggle under the weight of an onerous contract – and both were eventually traded. 2007 Jason Blake came next. Scoring more frequently as an Islander in 2006 than at any other point in a 13-year career, Blake – age 33 – signed with the Leafs for five years and $20 million in the last significant move of the Ferguson Jr. era. Blake, predictably, could not live up to the expectations of such a large contract, never coming close to 40 goals again; he was dealt to Anaheim alongside Vesa Toskala for J.S. Giguere in 2010. 2008 Mostly forgotten now, but of considerable damage to the organization during a brief 10-month tenure, Fletcher continued the free agent plight in 2008. Maybe even more stunning now than it was then, Fletcher handed former Avalanche defender Jeff Finger, he of 94 games of NHL experience, four years and $14 million. Finger played 62 forgettable games in a Leaf uniform, was eventually buried in the minors, never to be heard from again. Joining Finger in the free agent trot that day was Niklas Hagman, a Finnish winger who scored 27 goals the year prior in Dallas. Hagman also cashed in under Fletcher, lured for four years at a bloated $12 million. Though he scored 42 goals in two seasons with the Leafs, Hagman was consistently inconsistent, soon to be dealt to Calgary in the famed Dion Phaneuf trade. 2009 Still months from pulling the trigger on the noisiest (and most controversial) move of his busy Toronto tenure – the hotly debated Phil Kessel trade – Burke sought a big and ultimately failed splash in his first summer as the Leafs front man. It was all about truculence then and truculence he got. There were the four years and $4 million pitched to former Rangers heavyweight, Colton Orr; five long years and $22.5 million to Mike Komisarek; three years at just over $11 million for Francois Beauchemin. Orr lingered as a mostly unused tough guy for Ron Wilson before being briefly banished to the minors (he eventually returned to the NHL). Komisarek, a step or two slow for the speedier new game, tumbled quickly under the burden of a deal he could never live up to and was bought out by the organization last summer. Beauchemin eventually found his game, but not in Toronto. He returned to the Ducks in the Jake Gardiner-Joffrey Lupul swap, finishing fourth in the 2013 Norris Trophy voting. 2010 Still trying to fill various holes through free agency, Burke added the veteran grinder Colby Armstrong from Pittsburgh the following summer (three years, $9 million). Armstrong never found much health as a Leaf though and preceded fellow free agent signee, Komisarek, on the buyout line. 2011 Tim Connolly recorded just 42 points in his final go-around in Buffalo, but still landed $9 million for two years in the summer of 2011. Connolly never hit the desired mark of No. 1 centre for the Leafs (he had 36 points in 70 games), was demoted to the Marlies after a year and is now out of the NHL. 2013 And then last summer there was David Clarkson, the first signee of Nonis as Leafs GM. In perhaps the worst deal of the aforementioned bunch, Clarkson landed in his hometown for seven years and more than $36 million on July 1st, 2013. Year 1 was an all-out nightmare and while theres every chance of a bounce-back of some kind in Year 2, his talents are unlikely to ever match the value of an incredibly burdensome contract. Clarkson was just the latest in a line of July 1st blunders. The fundamental flaw in continually swinging big in free agency is the lacking value the process ensures – players are almost always overvalued on Day 1 of the contract. As demonstrated yet again by the L.A. Kings earlier this summer, team building (and sustained success) is best accomplished through successful draft and development, not pricey spending on a mistake-laden day. And so while impending UFAs like Paul Statsny may appear to solve long-standing needs, Nonis (and Brendan Shanahan) would be wise to approach with caution. The answer, especially in Toronto, is almost never found on July 1st. Player Contract End Result Pavel Kubina 4 years, $20M Traded Hal Gill 3 years, $6.25M Traded Jason Blake 5 years, $20M Traded Jeff Finger 4 years, $14M Demoted Niklas Hagman 4 years, $12M Traded Colton Orr 4 years, $4M Demoted * Mike Komisarek 5 years, $22.5M Bought Out Francois Beauchemin 3 years, $11.4M Traded Colby Armstrong 3 years, $9M Bought Out Tim Connolly 2 years, $9M Demoted David Clarkson 7 years, $36.75M N/A Nike Air Max 270 Womens Discount .com) - Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau has been selected as the NHLs Rookie of the Month for December, the league announced Friday. Fake Air Max 270 For Sale . Karlovic of Croatia used his big serve to beat Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7). 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Central Michigan enjoyed a strong 2014 campaign, finishing 5-3 in Mid-American Conference play. This is Central Michigans sixth bowl game appearance in program history, with the latest postseason contest for the Chippewas occurring in the 2012 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which coincidentally was against WKU and resulted in a 24-21 win over the Hilltoppers. Western Kentucky got things started on the right foot in 2014 with a resounding 59-31 victory over Bowling Green. The team finished it off by taking down previously unbeaten Marshall, 67-66, in overtime. This is only the second bowl game for WKU since moving up from the Division I-AA (now FCS) level. The other bowl game was the loss to CMU in 2012. That clash in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in 2012 has served as the only time Central Michigan and Western Kentucky have met on the football field. Although Central Michigan is entering this clash coming off a loss to Western Michigan, 32-20, the Chippewas should be fired up after the success the team was able to sustain this season, especially on the offensive end. Quarterback Cooper Rush was much improved, leading his team to a 25.2 ppg average by throwing for 2,664 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Its been Central Michigans run game, though, that has surprised at 158.7 ypg. Thomas Rawls is at the center of that core groups of backs, averaging 122.6 rushing ypg with 10 touchdowns in just nine games played. Rawls is probable to play in the Bahamas Bowl after dealing with leg issues for a good portion of the season. Either way, Devon Spalding (four touchdowns) and Saylor Lavallii (four touchdowns) will be ready to provide assistance if necessary. Rush was boosted by the return of several top targets this season, including that of senior receiver Titus Davis. Davis missed time in the season due to injury, but still hauled in 54 passes for 843 yards and nine touchdowns in just nine games played. Jesse Kroll provided a nice secondary threat for Rush if Davis was swallowed up by an opposing defense, catching 32 passes for 473 yards and four touchdowns, though he did most of his damage early on in the year. Defensively, the Chippewas came together at certain points during the season, but it wasnt as cohesive and smooth as coach Dan Enos probably would have liked. The Chippewas averaged 23.2 ppg allowed to opponents, which is a respectable number. But 144 points for the opposition this season came off of Central Michigan turnovers, something Enos would naturally like to eliminate moving forward into next season. Linebacker Justin Cherocci led Central Michigan with 107 tackles this season, adding in decent numbers in tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (ffour).dddddddddddd Linemen Joe Ostman (10 tackles for loss, three sacks) and Blake Serpa (11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks) were much more disruptive in opponents backfields over the course of the season. Tony Annese (three interceptions, 10 pass breakups) and Brandon Greer (three interceptions) will try to lock things down against a strong WKU passing game. I want to thank the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl for the invitation to be a part of its inaugural game, Enos said. Playing in our sixth bowl game in the past nine seasons is a great accomplishment for this program. Western Kentucky is a great team and I expect a hard fought game when we face off on Dec. 24. The Chippewas will have their work cut out for them defensively, as they prepare to take on the nations top statistical quarterback in Brandon Doughty of Western Kentucky. Doughty leads the FBS with 4,344 passing yards and 44 touchdowns, which is six more than Oregons Marcus Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy. Doughty is the main reason the Hilltoppers average 44.0 ppg and 525.2 total offensive ypg. The teams running game hasnt been too shabby either, even following the loss of Antonio Andrews to the NFL. Leon Allen paces the Hilltoppers this season with 1,490 yards and 12 touchdowns out of the backfield for a WKU offense averaging 160.2 rushing ypg. Anthony Wales contributed four touchdowns on the ground during the season as well. Doughty had a strong year passing the football. Jared Dangerfield led the Hilltoppers with 64 receptions and 10 touchdowns, though his 738 receiving yards fell just short of Taywan Taylors 739-yard mark. Willie McNeal and Taylor each hauled in seven touchdown catches, and Antwane Grant caught five. While WKU did a steady job burying teams offensively to the point where the opposition simply couldnt keep pace, the teams defense appeared capable of taking some time off. The Hilltoppers allowed opponents to score 39.2 ppg this season and gain over 500 yards of total offense per outing. Nine times this year Western Kentucky surrendered 31 points or more in a game, and four of those opponents scored at least 50 points. Nick Holt registered a team-best 103 tackles this season with seven tackles for loss and four quarterback hurries. Though he led the team in the tackle category, the real brightest stars on WKUs defense were Branden Leston (four interceptions), Bryan Shorter (5.5 sacks) and Wonderful Terry, who had several game-clinching turnovers. The WKU defense allows 229.7 rushing ypg to opponents, so Central Michigan will really be hoping for Rawls to be healthy in this one. It is a tremendous reward and opportunity for our players and coaches who have worked incredibly hard this season, said WKU head coach Jeff Brohm. A bowl game is one of our goals at the beginning of every season, and to be able to realize and achieve that goal is a credit to their attitude and willingness to put in the effort to get better each and every week. ' ' '