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In (Partial) Defense Of Scott Howson's Recent Trade History

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Old
09-13-2012, 03:49 PM
  #1
Viqsi
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In (Partial) Defense Of Scott Howson's Recent Trade History

Advance warning: If you're here just to reply "tl;dr" or "lol" or similar - this is not an attempt to find who specifically doesn't care to consider or discuss viewpoints other than the groupthink norm, so such input is neither helpful nor necessary and is therefore generally unwelcome. Just an advance FYI.

* * *

There seems to be a running perception that Scott Howson is not just the GM of the team that did the worst last year, but also that he's far and away the worst GM in the NHL at everything he does. This seems a tad excessive, and is generally not a conclusion based on rational analysis. Anyone could tell you that his team-building attempt last offseason was a failure, but folks have run with that information to an absurd degree.

In particular, Howson is getting vilified as being horrible at trades. This makes most folks who follow his moves regularly laugh incredulously, but it's become a truism of HFBoards, enshrined along with other pieces of inalienable "wisdom" such as "Luongo can't win big games", "Pavel Bure was a cherry-picker", "Every (Leafs/Habs/Oilers/etc.) fan is a homer", and "Phoenix and New Jersey will miss the playoffs next year."

It's to the point that I've started to distinguish between Scott Howson, semicompetent GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and "Scott Howsen", village idiot of the Colombus Blow Jackets. Unfortunately, many seem to assume that they're the same person.

Let's take a quick look at those three recent big trades that seem to be the center of the issue, and see how groupthink accentuating the negative affects conclusions as to how they are perceived. As a comparative, I've included "conclusions" based on similarly overaccentuating the positive for Columbus - and yes, I laughed at them too.

And no, I'm not even bringing up Nikita Nikitin. Well, okay, not in any significant fashion.

So!


#1: Jeff Carter to Columbus for Voracek, CBJ 1st 2011, CBJ 3rd 2011.
Most folks would think it constructive because:
* It's fair value for a fairly effective goal scorer.
* Possible chemistry with Nash aside, Columbus had never been high on top-line talent players and could significantly benefit.
* The 1st was well outside of any position where folks could normally get a major impact player, especially after the Devils won the lottery and thereby kicked it back from 7th to 8th overall.

HOWEVER:
* To say Carter didn't work out here would be a gross understatement - his reaction to coming here was literally unprecedented in the history of the NHL in terms of just how badly he reacted, performed, and treated everyone else on the roster.
* Sean Couturier inexplicably dropped to 8th overall after some curious draft selection choices - particularly by Ottawa and Winnipeg.
* Folks started noticing Voracek as the player he is - not the player he could be, but what he is - and instead of reaching the accurate conclusion that they're not paying enough attention to CBJ players and had underrated him, instead perversely concluded that Voracek had somehow "broken out" after being "freed" from the Jackets.
* This is Columbus we're talking about here. They finished last overall, y'know.

RATIONAL CONCLUSION:
This was a trade that seemed justified and well-dome at the time, but has backfired badly - both due to bad luck (Couturier, the unprecedented extent of Carter's madness) and due to issues that should have been foreseen (that Carter would be frustrated at all). It is a black mark.

CBJ HOMER CONCLUSION:
CBJ would have won this trade, but everything conspired against us. It was all bad luck.

HF GROUPTHINK CONCLUSION:
Columbus lost this trade badly, and Howson is an idiot and a fool for having not seen that every bit of this would happen.


#2: Jack Johnson and LA 1st (2012 or 2013, CBJ option) to Columbus for Jeff Carter.
Most folks would think it constructive because:
* See above re: how Jeff Carter damn near destroyed what little cohesion was left among the Jackets. He was a poison pill and had to be removed ASAP.
* Columbus's blueline had been ravaged by injuries; adding a quality player like JMFJ really helped.
* Unlike Carter, JMFJ was (and is) enthusiastic to be part of the Jackets and happy to turn what had become a malignant locker room into an uptempo, uplifting place.
* By the end of the year, JMFJ was a plus player (for the first time in his NHL career) and is looking like the favorite for the since-vacated captaincy.

HOWEVER:
* JMFJ has a hatedom, especially among advanced stats folks.
* Carter's record in Columbus was, as previously stated, g-dawful... and somehow that's held against this trade for reasons I cannot adequately explain beyond "people are stupid".
* The doctrine of "every trade always and inevitably has exactly one winner and one loser" in this case pays more attention to the fact that the Kings won the Cup.
* This is Columbus we're talking about here. They finished last overall, y'know.

RATIONAL CONCLUSION:
This was a very well executed trade that did an excellent job of making up for an earlier error, particularly given the extent to which Carter was dogging the team.

CBJ HOMER CONCLUSION:
CBJ won this trade by a country mile because JMFJ is a much better player than Carter and we got a 1st too!

HF GROUPTHINK CONCLUSION
Columbus gave away a quality forward for nothing, Howson is actively destroying anything resembling a team, and CBJ completely and utterly lost this trade AINEC.


#3: Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, NYR 1st 2013 to Columbus for Rick Nash.
Most folks would think it constructive because:
* Nash had asked for a trade because thanks to Jeff Carter destroying the place, pretty much all team progress had gone out the window and at least a reshuffle was inevitable.
* Between this trade and ongoing development, Columbus went from having one top-line player and not enough quality forwards to fill out the rest of the top-6 to having enough capable players to run three "second lines". Scoring-by-committee, GO!
* Columbus actually got more back than predicted by the HF groupthink mob - given that most folks were suggesting deals along the lines of one roster forward (Dubi), one lesser-quality prospect forward (sometimes Miller), and a 1st.

HOWEVER:
* Howson revealed the trade request, which was... ill-considered at best.
* Columbus didn't get Chris Kreider - they had to settle for NYR's #2 prospect in Tim Erixon. (Never mind that this was partially predicted by the aforementioned groupthink mob...).
* Dubinsky is perceived to have had a "down year" based on his point scoring totals, and nobody thinks rebounding in someplace like Columbus is possible. (Nobody ever rebounds in Columbus, after all, right? Pay no attention to JMFJ.)
* Erixon treated Calgary poorly in the past, and so folks assume he'll do the same to Columbus. (To be fair, this is also a fear of many Jackets fans, although his initial comments post-trade have partially alleviated this.)
* While Columbus might actually have enough top-6 capable forwards to fill out an entire top-9, there are no generally accepted and/or proven top-line forwards left on the roster. (Unless, of course, some kids break out, but that doesn't qualify as "proven", and nobody ever gives any Columbus prospects any credit whatsoever.)
* Since folks have already concluded that the prior two trades were badly lost, there's now an assumption that Howson inevitably loses trades "by default".
* This is Columbus we're talking about here. They finished last overall, y'know.

RATIONAL CONCLUSION:
This was a quality hockey trade, despite the self-sabotage at the deadline.

CBJ HOMER CONCLUSION:
This trade means we have enough quality forwards that we'll make the playoffs next year. It's a winner based on that alone. /thread

HF GROUPTHINK CONCLUSION:
Colombus lost this trade so badly they don't even have a team capable of competing in the AHL or ECHL anymore, and Howsen is not just easily the worst GM in the NHL AINEC but probably also incapable of tying his shoes in the morning and not drooling on himself.


Overall conclusion: Howson's judged as a poor trader because folks are accentuating the negative and ignoring the positive, and in some cases (Voracek evaluations especially) compounding existing ignorance with further ignorance. What's happened is that a high-profile target backfired spectacularly - in ways that partly could and partly couldn't have been forseen - and Eternal Damnation has unfairly resulted.

To be sure, we probably could (and probably should) do better than Howson. But let's not overstate the issue by claiming he's the worst GM of all time.

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Old
09-13-2012, 03:56 PM
  #2
BonMorrison
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That was very well-written.

I laughed really hard at "the unprecedented extent of Carter's madness".

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09-13-2012, 04:02 PM
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Good stuff!

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Old
09-13-2012, 04:05 PM
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I agree with your #2, disagree completely with #1, and I'm halfway on #3. The Nash trade I'm okay with, lots of character guys and a good defensive prospect for a disgruntled star? Sign me up. Acquiring Carter, they got absolutely boned no matter what way you look at it. I like the JJ acquisition, seems like he really did well once he joined CBJ.

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09-13-2012, 04:14 PM
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Ched Brosky
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To be fair I thought the Carter trade was terrible for Columbus especially after Couturier fell. Voracek was a great player in Columbus and I knew in Philly he'd only get better.

I thought the Carter to LA trade was a great trade for Columbus as they got rid of a locker room cancer for a great young d-man and a 1st.

Last but not least I think Columbus lost the Nash trade at 1st glance but if Erixon doesn't do what he did to CGY and Dubinsky + Anisimov can go back to being 40+ point players, I'd say they got a decent deal considering the circumstances.

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09-13-2012, 04:25 PM
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He also got Nick Foligno for Marc Methot which I think is a great trade for them as well .

I'm rooting for Columbus this year as my 2nd team in the west , I will watch closely and also to see how JMFJ does !

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09-13-2012, 04:31 PM
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I thought the Carter trade was bad at the time, and just because Couturier happened to fall to 8th doesn't make it less imprudent. If Philly had drafted Hamilton, Bartschi, or Murphy, it would still look pretty bad. It was known at the time that it was a strong draft, so they should have known either way that the 8th pick would have been a good one.

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09-13-2012, 04:31 PM
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Howson's biggest mistake was not addressing the team's goaltending... This remains his biggest mistake.

If he traded the 8th overall for Schneider last year, CBJ fights to make the playoffs and likely still has Nash.

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09-13-2012, 04:35 PM
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I think he has done the best that he can being in the situation that he is in. The team has a very good dmen group and some depth up front. They have to make sure that they develop the kids well though. I think the Bob deal was a bad deal, he should of went after a better goalie as I find that is the weak spot.

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09-13-2012, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverback91 View Post
To be fair I thought the Carter trade was terrible for Columbus especially after Couturier fell. Voracek was a great player in Columbus and I knew in Philly he'd only get better.
This I object to, simply because Voracek hasn't "gotten better". He's still scoring somewhere around 15 goals, somewhere over 30 assists, and somewhere close to 45-50 points. That's what he did here, and that's what he's done in Philly - and he did that in Philly spending time with and getting tips from his childhood hometown idol.

To be fair, what he is is very very good. I'd still happily take him back if we could. But he's not more than that. Not yet, anyways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingsfan1 View Post
He also got Nick Foligno for Marc Methot which I think is a great trade for them as well.
I think of that one as good for both sides, but it depends on how the players are used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJOpus View Post
Howson's biggest mistake was not addressing the team's goaltending... This remains his biggest mistake.

If he traded the 8th overall for Schneider last year, CBJ fights to make the playoffs and likely still has Nash.
I agree with the first line, with one caveat - he attempted to address the goaltending situation here, and got the double-whammy of 1) not addressing it sufficiently to begin with (bringing in Dekanich to be the full-time backup and having Sanford as a last-ditch guy), and 2) having the insufficient solution backfire badly (Dekanich, thanks to injuries, played all of 10-15 minutes in a CBJ uniform... in the first preseason game.)

The second line, I think, is nonsensical and inaccurate. Goaltending alone did not destroy us last year. Carter was a poor fit and screwed up the locker room, Arniel was worse than hopeless at fixing it (he actually made the situation worse), and we suffered more and bigger blueline injuries than any other team in the NHL. Goaltending issues just added to the Perfect ****storm.

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09-13-2012, 04:50 PM
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Suters gone, Lids retired, and we didn't pick up anyone significant so I would much prefer the Jackets continue to be near the bottom of the league, thank you very much.

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09-13-2012, 04:55 PM
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In professional sports results matter. By that measurement Howson has been a poor GM. How a GM goes through last season with that kind of goaltending is baffling. You can make a case in the defence of almost any GM but in the end the goal is to win and if you're not winning or can at least show that you're making major strides then you're not doing a good job.

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Old
09-13-2012, 05:56 PM
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Well written, but you forgot to mention him declining the offer of every single pick in the Islanders' draft for the 2nd overall.

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09-13-2012, 05:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viqsi View Post
RATIONAL CONCLUSION:
This was a very well executed trade that did an excellent job of making up for an earlier error, particularly given the extent to which Carter was dogging the team.

CBJ HOMER CONCLUSION:
CBJ won this trade by a country mile because JMFJ is a much better player than Carter and we got a 1st too!

HF GROUPTHINK CONCLUSION
Columbus gave away a quality forward for nothing, Howson is actively destroying anything resembling a team, and CBJ completely and utterly lost this trade AINEC.
I respect that there can be differing opinions on this issue; however, I don't think it's helpful to go ahead and label one position as "rational" and the other "groupthink." Without support, it's all opinion. And of course no one can know the future for certain.

As far as Jack Johnson's "hatedom," you seem to think it's all based on irrational emotion. The stat crowd doesn't like JJ because he gives up a lopsided amount of shots and scoring chances at even strength. This has been measured and documented. The bulk of his offense comes on the power play, where he's excellent; however, most of the game is played at five on five.

I happen to like JJ. I think he's a great guy. I hope he turns the corner. But there are drawbacks as a defender there.

As for the rest, I wouldn't have traded for Carter because I didn't think he'd fit with Nash. However, I think he got a decent return for Nash. Everyone makes a big deal out of prospects, but you can't ignore promising young players like Dubinsky (who had horrible shooting luck last year and is due for a bounceback) and Anisimov are already established NHLers. The same people who are anti-JJ use the same kind of stats to point out that Dubinsky and Anisimov did well against tough competition.

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Old
09-13-2012, 06:02 PM
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The trade for Carter busted horribly. The other two trades he had to make and did OK with what he got back.

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09-13-2012, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJOpus View Post
Howson's biggest mistake was not addressing the team's goaltending... This remains his biggest mistake.

If he traded the 8th overall for Schneider last year, CBJ fights to make the playoffs and likely still has Nash.
He didn't address it for the near future. I think he, at least in potential addressed it for the future.

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Old
09-13-2012, 06:23 PM
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I disagree about the groupthink on #2. I remember pretty much everyone thinking Howson got more than we expected.

I also disagree about #1. Even from the beginning it seemed like a panic move from Howson trying to get his team into the playoffs at the expense of building for the future. The team just had too many holes IMO to be giving away top 10 draft picks to upgrade a 40-50 point guy to a 60-70 point guy. Not to mention a shoot-first guy to play with your shoot-first superstar.

Those are just my opinions though. Thanks for the read.

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09-13-2012, 06:32 PM
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WarriorofTime
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyLager View Post
I disagree about the groupthink on #2. I remember pretty much everyone thinking Howson got more than we expected.

I also disagree about #1. Even from the beginning it seemed like a panic move from Howson trying to get his team into the playoffs at the expense of building for the future. The team just had too many holes IMO to be giving away top 10 draft picks to upgrade a 40-50 point guy to a 60-70 point guy. Not to mention a shoot-first guy to play with your shoot-first superstar.

Those are just my opinions though. Thanks for the read.
http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...d.php?t=931337

Lots of people thought it was a good move and really gave Columbus a lethal 1st line with Carter and Nash.

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09-13-2012, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverback91 View Post
Last but not least I think Columbus lost the Nash trade at 1st glance but if Erixon doesn't do what he did to CGY and Dubinsky + Anisimov can go back to being 40+ point players, I'd say they got a decent deal considering the circumstances.
Re the Nash trade - I thought CBJ got a good haul for a 60-70 point player earning $7.8m.

Do you hold onto a guy who will bring you 60-70 points at $7.8m/y because you are afraid he might do better somewhere else and make you look bad? or do you trade him for guys that make you a better team? Sure Nash might be a 90 point player somewhere else but he wasn't going to be that for them. Who was the last $7+m 60-70 point player that fetched a good return? Gomez?

The Carter to LA deal was decent, might turn out great of they get something good from the 1st.

The only bad deal, and it was pretty bad was the Carter from Philly deal. A deal made out of frustration. In many ways the Nash deal is the opposite - depth in rather than out.


Last edited by me2: 09-13-2012 at 06:55 PM.
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Old
09-13-2012, 06:50 PM
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I knew from the start Carter to Columbus wasn't such a good idea, they could've done better without doing that, maybe Holmgren should've traded both to LA, might of worked better that way, who knows.

They had Johansen, might of done better being first line centre with Nash, Voracek is another story and the 1st rounder, I wanna say it was going to be.... lets say one of Hamilton/Siemens, because I knew they would've taken a defenseman, don't think they would've been better, but not last place if they got Carter, or they could've went after someone else trading Brassard and Voracek, for someone like... Backstrom or something.

But whatever, its too late now, just speculating, but I wonder how he still has a Job, I could even do a better job as GM, well, alot of us.

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09-13-2012, 06:54 PM
  #21
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The biggest problem with trading for Carter wasn't his off ice problems but the fact that he and Nash don't complement each other on the ice. They play the exact same way ("power scoring") but not in harmony. They both need a pure playmaker to be at their best and Columbus didn't have enough to separate them on 2 lines or giving them a legit playmaking linemate.

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09-13-2012, 07:09 PM
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I somewhat agree with your first assessment, though regardless of Couturier dropping I still thought Philly got the slight edge in that deal. However, I look at the 2 Carter deals in conjunction and feel CBJ recouped their losses. JMFJ is better than Voracek, and if the whole season is locked out and we have another lottery for the draft, the Jackets are laughing. 3 picks, their own having 3 lottery balls, should give them an excellent chance at nabbing one top 5 pick for sure. Couple that with the fact the 2013 draft promises to be one of the best drafts in a while and a little lottery luck could erase some bad memories pretty quick.

The Nash trade was fair value given his contract.

The Wiz signing was a poor move IMO.

All in all though, I agree Howson gets more flak than he deserves.

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09-13-2012, 07:18 PM
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I agree with 1, 2. But 3rd trade was just horrible. Anisomov isn't really a good top 6, let alone an avg. one. And Dubinsky had 3rd line value at the time. + A late pick and a good prospect for a 30-35 goal scorer

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09-13-2012, 07:29 PM
  #24
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I agree with 1, 2. But 3rd trade was just horrible. Anisomov isn't really a good top 6, let alone an avg. one. And Dubinsky had 3rd line value at the time. + A late pick and a good prospect for a 30-35 goal scorer

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09-13-2012, 07:35 PM
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There's redeeming qualities in all GMs. Why don't you propose which ones you actually did worse last season since end of the day people will say he sucks/should be fired based on comparisons with other GMs.

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