It's with great sadness that I have to start this article today with the news that Paul Newman has passed on. Besides the fact that he was a food entrepreneur and huge Hollywood name, Paul Newman was a generous fellow who routinely gave away piles of money to various charities and organizations. His role in Slapshot, as the leader of the Johnstown Chiefs in Reg Dunlop, wasn't his defining moment by any means, but it certainly is one of his most memorable. It was in this movie that I first discovered Paul Newman as a young teenager during my hockey days, and he will certainly be missed as an iconic figure and voice. Paul Newman was 83 years-old. Rest in peace, Mr. Newman. You've most certainly deserved it.
- Members of the Blackhawks donned Chicago White Sox jerseys a week ago as the Sox featured several players throwing out the first pitch at US Cellular Field. I'm not big on cross-sport promotions as the jerseys normally upstage the entire event. However, with Toews, Kane, and others bringing respectability back to the Blackhawks, this promotion is alright. And it appears these appearances are working well. As of Friday evening, the Blackhawks have already sold over 13,000 season tickets!
- With the Flyers playing their last game ever inside the Wachovia Spectrum, the Flyers' staff went retro on Saturday afternoon. Those bring back memories of old-time hockey, including the retro Hockey Night In Canada logo and announcer jackets. You just don't see that anymore. That's old-time hockey - something that Reg Dunlop would be proud to see.
- The Anaheim Ducks finally pulled the trigger on a deal for Mathieu Schneider. Schneider was traded from the Anaheim Ducks to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for defenceman Ken Klee and forwards Brad Larsen and Chad Painchaud. I had commented last Friday that I saw him moving to either Los Angeles or Atlanta as both teams had considerable cap room to add his salary. I think this is a great move for Atlanta as they could use a guy like Schneider to mentor young Zach Bogosian, as well as being a solid outlet passer for guys like Kovalchuk. The Atlanta powerplay now has a solid quarterback as well. Atlanta will be better for this trade this season and for seasons to come.
- Last year, I had written about the new junior team that the QMJHL was awarding to Montreal, and showed off these jerseys. The jerseys are alright, so nothing to worry about there. They hired Pascal Vincent, former head coach of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles; they went out and traded for Atlanta Thrashers' prospect Angelo Esposito; and they drafted well in their first draft in the "Q". But the Montreal Juniors? Why can't they come up with a better team name? This is the lamest team name in junior hockey that I have ever seen. Absolutely brutal considering the rich history that Montreal has, both as a city and as a hockey hotbed.
- Petr Nedved's attempt at resurrecting his NHL career came to an end on Friday when the New York Rangers cut the veteran. He was hoping to make the team as a third- or fourth-line centerman, but the Rangers opted to go with youth as Tom Renney had indicated. It is expected that Nedved will return to the Czech Republic where he will play for Liberec.
- In what seems to be a major oversight on their history's part, the OHL's Oshawa Generals have announced that they will retire Bobby Orr's #2 jersey in a ceremony on November 27 before a game against the Peterborough Petes. I was thoroughly critical of the Oshawa franchise in February after they announced they would be retiring Eric Lindros' number before retiring Orr's number. I guess "better late than never" serves here, and it will be special to see Orr's number raised to the rafters. Congratulations to Bobby Orr for this honour, and well done to the Oshawa franchise!
- The Ottawa Senators sent some baggage to Binghampton on Saturday, including Brad Isbister, Matt Carkner, and Brendan Bell. All three were definite longshots to make the NHL club, but I still question why the Senators signed Isbister. He's been invisible since his days in Edmonton, and I expect him to remain that way during his AHL stint. Maybe it's time to look for a front-office job? The Maple Leafs may be hiring.
- Toronto Maple Leafs' chairman Larry Tanenbaum has officially stated that he is interested in building for the long term rather than winning now. I guess all those years since Doug Gilmour led them to a Western Conference Final have finally sunk in. Toronto has been good, but never good enough since 1993. They have missed the playoffs once too often. While other teams, such as Detroit and Montreal, have gone through the dark periods of rebuilding - which is to be expected - the Maple Leafs continually tried to buy their way into the upper echelon of the NHL. Why did it take Larry Tanenbaum so long to learn that hockey is a cyclical sport? And why does he still have his job?
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!