Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Some Interesting Garbage

It's not often that I'm busy for the entire day on Saturdays. Usually, I'm out doing something, but still have time to catch a game or two on TV, on the radio, or over the internet that interests me. Today, though, I'm busy all day. That will, of course, limit my blogging output to basically nil later today. Because of this, I'm relying on Sports Illustrated to pick up the mantle and run with it today. The story being presented is of one of the most interesting teams that lasted just two years in any league.

The UHL's Danbury Trashers played out of the Danbury Ice Arena in Danbury, Connecticut in the UHL's Eastern Division. They lasted from 2004-2006, and their entire history is littered with crazy stories. Founded by James Galante, a garbage disposal mogul, after seeing the enthusiasm for the game at his son's high school games, the Trashers took advantage of the New Haven Knights folding and the NHL lockout. What went on behind the scenes, though, is the stuff heard only in legends and in the movie Slap Shot.

Here is Sports Illustrated's telling of the story of the Danbury Trashers. There is some PG-rated language, so just a warning to those with tykes who may read this blog.
Ok, let's run down the amazing stuff the Trashers did.
  • AJ Galante was named President and GM of the Trashers at the age of 17. According to reports, UHL commissioner Richard Brosal thought the announcement was an April Fool's Day prank.
  • AJ's friends designed the logo. Let me rephrase: teenagers designed the logo.
  • The team, at some point in their two year history, employed the following players: Rumun Ndur, Michael Rupp, Brent Gretzky, Jon Mirasty, and Stephen Peat.
  • In two seasons, the team won no fewer than 44 games, and lost in the UHL Final in the second season.
  • In both of their seasons, the Trashers eclipsed 2200 PIMs, averaging over 30 minutes in penalties per game in their two seasons.
  • As heard in the video, the Trashers trainer "washed their jerseys in Crisco" so opposing players couldn't grab onto them.
  • In Season One, Ndur was suspended for 20 games for attempting to kick a linesman during a donnybrook. Unhappy with the officials' work in the game, James Galante went to ice level, entered the penalty box, and reportedly punched a linesman. As a result, the linesman was also suspended five games for his part in the fracas!
  • In another brawl in that season, Chad Wagner broke free of a lineman escorting him off the ice, charged the Adirondack Frostbite bench, and grabbed the Frostbite head coach while two other Trashers players pummeled him. As a result, Wagner was banned from the UHL.
  • In June 2006, James Galante was charged with 72 various charges including racketeering. As a result of the many charges and fines, the Trashers were forced to disband.
Wow. That's a heckuva story written by the Trashers. With the way the game is played today, I'm almost certain we're never going to see a team like that again. And that's probably a good thing based on how the history of the Trashers ended.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Longevity Achievement

The last couple of decades in the NHL have limited the scoring output for most players. From the "dead puck" era where the trap was used by the majority of teams to Michelin Man-like goaltenders using equipment that turns them into mobile walls, scoring has been down considerably when compared to the free-wheeling NHL of the 1980s. Knowing this, reaching milestone achievements is a remarkable accomplishment. Tonight, we were treated to one of those accomplishments in grand style.

We usually only get the "former Canuck Roberto Luongo" storyline when Vancouver and Florida meet, but there was hope that longtime Canuck Henrik Sedin would score his 1000th point at home. The Canucks, in a battle for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division, needed the win as much as Florida did to keep pace in the Atlantic Division, but there was anticipation in Rogers Arena as the hometown crowd waited to see one of their heroes reach a milestone mark in his career!

The Canucks were trailing 1-0 midway through the second period when Daniel and Henrik went to work.
How classy was the tap on the shinpads from Roberto Luongo as Henrik skated by? Yes, Luongo was treated less-than-classy in his final season with the Canucks, but Luongo and Sedin were friends and teammates and it appears the goalie still holds that fact to be true. As you heard on the broadcast, only 84 players before him have hit the 1000-point mark. Henrik Sedin is now the 85th player to add his name to that prestigious mark.

For as much as people like to razz the Sedins for the way they play the game, there is no doubt that both brothers will be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame once their careers are over. Henrik might have ensured that with his 1000th career point, and Daniel is a mere 32 points back of that mark. He'll basically have to be a point-per-game player to accomplish it this season, but the Sedins would be the only brother tandem in NHL history to do so if Daniel can make it happen in the next 35 games.

Tonight's honour is a huge accomplishment for any player. It's nice to see Henrik Sedin get to that mark after all he's done in a Canucks uniform over the course of his career.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 226

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns tonight to UMFM's radio waves. It's always a big night when we can bring in a great guest, and tonight's show features a guy who never skips leg day. Ok, maybe just once. Tonight, we at The Hockey Show are excited to welcome one-half of the dynamic, dangling duo from the Letterkenny Shamrocks, Reilly!

That's right, folks! "The Flow" will join us on The Hockey Show tonight as we chat with Dylan Playfair about his life, his acting career, and more! We'll find out what it was like living with a dad who played and coaches in professional hockey, talk to Dylan about his own career, the moment he decided to switch his focus to acting, and some of the great roles he's had. We'll even ask him about his dad's major blow-up while with Abbotsford and how that affected him and his career! Of course, there will be a pile of hockey chatter as well, so please join us tonight at 5:30pm!

I'm sure why you haven't done this yet, but if you own an iDevice or Android device you should have already downloaded the UMFM app. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows, so get to it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today!

If you're all over social media, we try to be as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

We talk to Dylan Playfair about his life, career, hockey-playing family, and more on The Hockey Show only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: January 19, 2017: Episode 226

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Team They Should Beat

Yes, he's back. I had the privilege of being on CBC's Up To Speed with Ismaila Alfa Tuesday afternoon to talk about the Winnipeg Jets recalling Ondrej Pavelec amidst their current goaltending woes, and he started tonight against the Arizona Coyotes, also known as the NHL's second-worst team. It might be a good jumping-off point for Pavelec's return to the NHL since the Coyotes basically ice an AHL team as it is right now, but all eyes at MTS Centre and across Winnipeg were on the player in the blue paint as the game between the Coyotes and Jets got underway shortly after 6:30pm CT.

The first shot came at 2:49 off the stick of noted sniper Josh Jooris as he wired a wrist shot inside the far post past Pavelec. A collective silence fell over the crowd as I'm guessing a lot of fans had the thought of "here we go again" creep into their minds. One shot against, one goal against, zero saves made. Would we see similar results to what had happened in the last four games with the Jets falling behind?

Bryan Little redirected a Josh Morrissey shot past Mike Smith less than a minute later, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson would put the Coyotes back on top with his goal on a five-on-three man-advantage. Through one period of play, the Jets trailed, but didn't play poorly despite trailing on the scoreboard 2-1 and in shots 12-8. Having lost to Arizona a couple of weeks ago by a 4-1 score, the Jets needed a big second period to get themselves going.

Blake Wheeler and Andrew Copp scored 1:39 apart early in the middle frame, and Joel Armia made it a 4-2 game with his redirection through Smith's five-hole at 12:49. And then Ondrej Pavelec decided to hit the highlight reels across the continent.
I guess if one has been out of the public's eye for some time, one needs to make a big splash to be noticed again. That's a helluva splash if one was ever going to make a splash, but the save off Vrbata was called "lucky" by the netminder as he spoke to reporters.

"It was kind of my fault, I couldn't hold the rebound," Pavelec told the scrum post-game. "Lucky save. It's nice to have that save, that's for sure. It feels really good. But we were up already 4-2 and it just [was a] lucky save."

Head coach Paul Maurice had a much broader assessment of Pavelec's night.

"What was good about his game was just build through it," Maurice told reporters. "There would be some nerves in that first part and he built and got stronger. Then he pulls the one out only a really talented man can do. I'm really happy for him, really happy for him. Going to the minors at his point in his career is a humbling thing and he figured out how to handle it right, get himself ready to get back up here."

Before we starting handing him the Vezina Trophy and nominating him for the Hart Trophy, let's remember that Ondrej Pavelec is 1-0-0. He backstopped the Jets to a win over the 29th-place team in the NHL in a game the Jets had to win. The real test will come in the next few games as the Jets welcome the Blues, Ducks, and Sharks to MTS Centre. If Pavelec can go 3-1-0 or - dare I say it - 4-0-0 in those games, the Jets may have a reason to keep the veteran around for the entire 10-game audition or 30 days of service. But let's be very clear about this: Connor Hellebuyck is the guy going forward without any doubt in the franchise's mind.

Credit to Ondrej Pavelec for coming into a situation where a bad game would have had the masses with torches and pitchforks at the doors of MTS Centre. He played well enough to snap the four-game losing streak, he played well enough to have the Jets take another look at him on Saturday against the Blues, and he played well enough for him to stick around a while longer. His games right now are essentially an audition for a different club next season, so it's in his best interest to play well.

Can the Jets take advantage of that?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Second Dismissal

It looked like Florida's decision to relieve Gerard Gallant of his head coaching duties might be the only move behind the bench this season. For some time, though, it has been rumoured that New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano was on his way out, especially with the dreadful season that the Islanders have been having. They started the season horribly and have been playing catch-up ever since. It was strange to hear GM Garth Snow give Capuano a vote of confidence in November when everyone thought the inevitable would happen. It may have taken two months longer, but Jack Capuano was fired today by the New York Islanders. Assistant coach Doug Weight will take over in the interim as the Islanders now look for a replacement.

Capuano's Islanders are sitting at 17-17-8 with 42 points which is the lowest point total in the Eastern Conference. Capuano's overall record in seven seasons was a respectable 227-194-64, and he was the man calling the shots when the Islanders won their first playoff series in 23 years last season when they dispatched the Florida Panthers. In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, though, they sit eight points out of a playoff spot despite their start and seem to have come around when it comes to winning games. It wasn't enough for Capuano to remain with the team, however, and the Islanders made the move to possibly light a fire in Brooklyn despite the team going 11-7-4 since November 25.

"Obviously we're not in a position where we want to be standing wise," Snow said via conference call today. "At the end of the day organizationally I don't think Jack was probably going to be a coach that we were going to bring back."

That one word - "organizationally" - was particularly interesting to me because it sounds like this move was made not from Garth Snow's office. For seven seasons and through a rebuild that one could arguably still claim is happening today, Jack Capuano was the man tasked with guiding the good ship Islanders. He took them to heights they hadn't seen in a generation and, while they may have fallen short when it came to lofty expectations, he got more out of the team than what most expected. It was Snow's next comment that really started to put things into focus regarding this change.

"I don't know that Jack fell short of expectations," Snow told those on the call. "I think when you're a coach in this league sometimes you're a victim of different circumstances."

What circumstances, you ask? New ownership is slowly integrating themselves into the everyday operations of the Islanders, and it seems that they may have wanted to go in a new direction "organizationally". Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky publicly gave Snow and Capuano their votes of confidence just last summer, but it seems their patience may have worn thin when it comes to the Islanders making the playoffs and making the two owners some real money.

With major changes to the roster, a loss of some major offensive players, and new players performing woefully poor, the team seems to have made the change simply to shake up the room. Snow acknowledged this fact on his conference call, referring to the adage of how it's easier to fire the coach than to make a bunch of changes to the team. One of those changes that came in the off-season was Andrew Ladd who has had a dreadful start to his Islanders career. Signed to a monster deal for nearly $40 million over seven years, Scott Malkin was part of team that recruited Ladd to sign with the Islanders as he told Arthur Staples that he "spoke with Malkin on the phone during Ladd's visit to Long Island".

With fingerprints of Ledecky and Malkin starting to appear all over this team, it's clear that the two owners are intent on making this their team. And that's fine as they have every right to do so. The problem is that we've seen this time and again where owners meddle in the hockey operations, and the result is the hockey operations side suffers dramatically. Owners can certainly play a part in selling the franchise to free agents and draft picks, but digging their fingers into coaching changes and personnel moves usually turn out bad. That's why they're owners and not GMs.

The Islanders will push on without Jack Capuano, and they'll probably win a few more games in the second-half of the season. They were winning games with him as proven by their record since late November, but I guess picking up only 59% of the points available wasn't good enough to offset the poor start the Islanders had. With the team looking for a new coach next season as indicated by Snow, the timing of this move could have happened anytime after January 1 based on the Islanders' start.

Jack Capuano will land somewhere and have an impact. Like Gallant, though, ownership expected this team to be in a better position than where they were based on the calendar, so changes were made. Between injuries and poor performances, both Gallant and Capuano deserved a better fate based on their recent track record of successes with their former teams.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!