Hockey Headlines

Friday, 31 May 2013

HBIC Playoff Pool Prizing

The NHL Conference Finals begin tomorrow night, and I'm still hopeful a couple of vendors come through with some good stuff for the HBIC Playoff Pool. In any case, I have nine prizes - possibly ten if I can wrestle one more down tomorrow - for the top-ten prognosticators in the HBIC Playoff Pool. Hopefully, you'll be one of those people who earns the right to select a prize based on your standing in the pool, but I need to post what's available in order for you to plan your choice. I need to post a few rules first, though.

Whoever wins the pool will get to select from all nine prizes. The remaining eight prizes will be offered up to second-place, and the remaining seven will be offered up to third-place, and so on and so forth until no prizes remain. That also means that if I happen to acquire any other prizes that more people could benefit from my begging of vendors and people. Cross your fingers if you're tenth-place right now.

I want to thank my good friend Tim for providing a handful of prizes. The rest of prizing has been acquired along the way as I've been building towards this day for a few months. So without further adieu, here's what you're competing for in the HBIC Playoff Pool.
  • PRIZE ONE: Original Six-ing It. There is a home XXL Detroit Red Wings jersey, and a copy of Toronto Maple Leafs: Diary of a Dynasty, written by Kevin Shea. No customizing on the Red Wings jersey.
  • PRIZE TWO: Be-Leaf It. This prize has an XL "I Love Leafs" t-shirt, made by Bulletin, and a copy of Toronto Maple Leafs: Diary of a Dynasty, written by Kevin Shea.
  • PRIZE THREE: NHL Losses. This prize features an XL Quebec Nordiques t-shirt, made by Bulletin, and a copy of Hockey's Greatest Tragedies, written by by Timothy Peige and reviewed right here on HBIC.
  • PRIZE FOUR: Cap It Off. This prize is an XL Washington Capitals t-shirt, made by Bulletin.
  • PRIZE FIVE: Force Of Hab-It. This prize is an XXL Montreal Canadiens long-sleeve shirt, made by Old Time Hockey.
  • PRIZE SIX: Running With The Devils. This is an XL New Jersey Devils t-shirt, made by Bulletin.
  • PRIZE SEVEN: Top Of The East. This prize features an XL Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt, made by Reebok.
  • PRIZE EIGHT: Just Ducky. This prize is an XL Anaheim Ducks t-shirt, made by Bulletin.
  • PRIZE NINE: Fanning The Flames. This prize features an XXL Calgary Flames t-shirt, made by Bulletin.
Now, if you've played the HBIC Playoff Pool before, you probably expected more. Of course, I'm at the whims of those who generously donate prizes, so I apologize if you were expecting more. The nice part is that nine people, as of right now, will receive a prize in a playoff pool that costs you nothing except a few minutes in filling out a spreadsheet and sending an email. It's that old "gift horse" line that one can use, I suppose. All in all, prizes are still prizes, and free is always better than paying for a prize.

As it stands, there's the prize bag right now. If you have questions, feel free to email me. Personally, that's a solid haul, I believe, and good luck to all who are in the HBIC Playoff Pool!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Hockey Show - Episode Thirty-Eight

I need to know what you're doing tonight at 5:30pm CT. Why, you ask? Well, The Hockey Show moves to its new one-hour format tonight! If you missed the big announcement last week, The Hockey Show will air from 5:30-6:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM every week going forward until they finally decide to cancel us. Which, hopefully, will be never. We're looking forward to bringing you, the listener, more hockey chatter and some crazy fun, so please adjust your schedules for the new 5:30pm CT start time!

We're extremely excited to have Jared Aulin on the show today! Jared played in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings for a short time, but he was involved in one of the biggest trades in Colorado Avalanche history when his rights were traded to Los Angeles as part of the Rob Blake deal that sent the defenceman to Denver. We'll chat with him about those events, his time with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, a woman he reportedly dated in Los Angeles, his time in the AHL, his playing days with the CIS Calgary Dinos, and his eventual move to playing hockey in Sweden with Leksands and Örebro! We'll also chat about him almost quitting hockey, and we'll find out about life in Sweden compared to North America. This should be a great interview, and we really want to thank Jared Aulin for giving us some time today!

From there, we'll try to squeeze in another four Survivor: NHL Playoffs exit interviews, and have some fun with those. We'll chat about the upcoming series between the last four NHL Stanley Cup Champions, and try to determine winners in terms of who we like. MJHL official Jeremie Gauvin will be there with us as well, so we'll see what he thinks of the upcoming series as well.

All of this and more on the one-hour version of The Hockey Show starting at its new time of 5:30pm CT!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

HBIC Playoff Pool Round Two Results

That was a pretty exciting second round in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, no? Two Game Seven games in the Western Conference followed the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins establishing themselves as the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and now we get to the final four teams. Of course, a number of you were expecting updates on Tuesday, but I figured I'd let it slide for a day since Round Two ended tonight. I hope this didn't ruin anybody's day or anything, but a few people did very well in this set of series. Let's take a peek.

There were two people who broke the thirty-point mark in this round, and I was quite impressed with their prognosticating skills. Congratulations go out to Terry M. who scored 35 points in this round, and to Dan F. who tacked 31 points onto his score. Well done, gentlemen, on your excellent predictions!

CHICAGO vs. DETROIT

The two highest scorers in this series were the only two entrants who called Chicago in seven games. Congratulations go out to Joe M. and Ryan H. for correctly predicting a Chicago win in seven games, earning you both five points! Joe correctly predicted the winner in Games One, Three, Four, Five, and Seven for an added five points, while Ryan correctly predicted the winner in Games One, Two, Three, Five, and Seven! Well done, gents, on your predictions!

LOS ANGELES vs. SAN JOSE

This is the series that gave Terry M. his massive jump up the standings. Terry picked up an incredible 16 points in this series as he correctly called the winner in all seven games for seven points. He added the game-winning goals in Game One (Voynov) and Game Five (Kopitar) for another four points. And to top it off, he called the Los Angeles Kings to advance in seven games for another five points. In this series alone, Terry outscored everyone's second-round total except for five people! WOW! Incredible work, Terry, and keep it going in the next round!

PITTSBURGH vs. OTTAWA

One person came away with a solid 12 points in the series, and that person was Jay F. Jay correctly called the winner in all five games, added Evgeni Malkin's game-winning goal in Game One, and called Pittsburgh's series win in five games. That's five plus two plus five points for a total of 12 more onto his score! Well done, Jay, in calling this series!

BOSTON vs. NEW YORK

If there was one series that threw everyone for a loop, it was this series. The Bruins won in five games, and no one called that. However, Tyler J. came away with the top score in this series with six points! Tyler correctly predicted the winner in Games One, Two, Four, and Five, but also correctly called Gregory Campbell's game-winning goal in Game Five for a total of six points! Well done on winning this series, Tyler!

As it stands, the HBIC Playoff Pool Top Five are:
  1. Andy S. - 82 points.
  2. George C. - 73 points.
  3. John M. - 70 points.
  4. Jay F. - 69 points.
  5. Thomas O./Ty F./Westin F. - 67 points.
As stated earlier this week, there are some great prizes available, and I'll post the list of free gear on Friday for everyone. The jersey I was able to get is for a team that has already been eliminated from the playoffs, but I feel it might be off the table pretty quick based on which team it is. Needless to say, any secondary prizes are going to be good too!

While we're at it, you have until Saturday's puck drop in the first game to get your HBIC Playoff Pool Round Three picks in. Same rules as last time, so you should be used to this by now. Send all spreadsheets to HBICPLAYOFFPOOL-at-gmail-dot-com! If there's any advice I can offer to those further down the list, it's this: follow Terry's lead! Try to predict the series, and then pick up all the extra points. You're not out yet, so predict wisely!

If you missed the above link, click here for the Round Three spreadsheet.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Moving Cup

I had the opportunity to take some incredible hockey action this past Saturday as I was invited to cover the prestigious ReMax Cup ball hockey tournament at Richmond Kings Arena! For the third year in a row, the organizers of the tournament invited the best ball hockey teams they could find in Winnipeg for one massive tournament of the "who's who" in ball hockey. The two-time defending champions in The Mob returned, so they had a target on their backs as seven other teams lined up to try and knock them off while vying for the trophy seen above. Honestly, this was some of the best ball hockey I have ever seen, and I am glad to have seen this tournament's action!

I have played enough street hockey and ball hockey in my time to have seen some good players. The only problem is that none of those players would have measured up to the talent and skill the seven teams had in this tournament. Games were fast-paced, exciting, and entertaining, and there were never any hard feelings after the games as guys shook hands and exchanged some laughs. All in all, I watched hours of excellent hockey played by guys who simply love the game.

You may noticed that I wrote "seven teams" above. In a tournament such as this, there's a small rule that's fairly easy to follow: "pay to play". If you don't pay your registration fee, kids, you don't play. It's that simple. One team didn't pony up the cash, thus paving the way for the organizers to excuse them from the tournament before anyone stepped onto the arena floor. Therefore, teams now had a one-in-seven shot of winning the championship!

I'll start with the team that literally looked like a professional ball hockey team. The Mob was absolutely dominant again this year, winning handily in each game. Seen here wearing their distinctive red uniforms, The Mob were incredible to watch as they seamlessly swapped positions with forwards dropping back to play defencemen and defencemen leading rushes down the floor. Their ball control was unparalleled, and they looked like an NHL team when out on the powerplay with their passing and shot selection. While other teams were good, The Mob were simply great. As a result, they ended up capturing their third straight ReMax Cup with a 10-3 victory in the final. Congratulations go out to The Mob on their three-peat!

Jersey of the tournament went to a goaltender whose name I wasn't able to catch after they lost in their playoff game. However, this goaltender sported a gorgeous WHA Cleveland Cavaliers jersey with Gerry Cheevers on the back. While he played well, his team fell 6-4 in their game in the playoffs, sending him home with no hardware to show for his efforts. Personally, that jersey alone may have been worth the price of admission, so kudos to the unnamed goaltender for picking a beauty!

Overall, the event was run extremely well by the volunteers who were at the rink Friday evening and all day Saturday. Many thanks go out to all the volunteers from the Church of the Rock who gave their time and energy with passion for this event. Many thanks go to Kevin Wilson for his invaluable assistance on Saturday. I also want to thank photographer Trinity for showing me the ropes and allowing me to infringe on her space a little for getting some photos. Huge thanks to friend Stu Eckert of Bank of Montreal, one of the sponsors of this tournament, for getting me in touch with Kevin and getting me out to this tournament. And certainly last but not least, thank you to the players for putting on an incredible display of hockey. It truly was one of the best ball hockey displays I have ever seen, and I will certainly be on-hand next year for the next installment of the ReMax Cup thanks to your awesome work on the weekend.

Ball hockey is something a lot of us grew up with as we played in gymnasiums, out on a front street, or in the driveway as we worked on our shots. These guys haven't let that passion die, and they put on a heck of a display of hockey. Mark your calendars, kids, and come see some incredible hockey played by some excellent teams next year!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the floor!

Monday, 27 May 2013

News And Notes

There have quietly been some things happening in corners of the hockey world that I thought I should touch upon today before we get into some major stuff down the road. The NHL Playoffs are rolling on, and I am happy to say that a few vendors came through with some awesome stuff for the HBIC Playoff Pool! If you're playing, you'll be happy with the haul of gear this year. If you're a fan of The Hockey Show, we move to our new one-hour time slot this week starting at 5:30pm CT, and I'll have some details about that below. Without further adieu, though, let's get to the news that may have been missed by most major news outlets.

KHL's Top Awards

The KHL held their annual awards ceremony, and a few players and teams were recognized for their outstanding efforts this season. Sergei Mozyakin of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, who played alongside Evgeni Malkin, was the leading goal scorer with 35 tallies this season, and he also led the KHL in points with 76 points. Because of these totals, Mozyakin was also awarded the "Golden Stick" as the league's Most Valuable Player this season.

Renat Mamashev of Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk was the highest-scoring defenceman with 10 goals and 32 assists. The Alexei Cherepanov Award for the best rookie this season was won by Traktor Chelyabinsk forward Valery Nichushkin. The Best Goaltender Award as well as Playoff MVP Trophy went to Alexander Yeryomenko of Dynamo Moscow. Dynamo Moscow coach Oleg Znarok won his second consecutive Coach of the Year Award.

Eye Spy

Reader Mike E. was watching Game Five between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings when he spied something on the back of Antti Niemi's uniform.
It's pretty clear that Niemi is wearing a Reebok vector on his neckline as opposed to the wordmark. How old is that uniform he's wearing, and how many do the Sharks still have left over? I went hunting and there was no twentieth anniversary patch on the sleeve, so this uniform might be the last of a very old batch that the Sharks have kicking around. But you'd assume that the equipment manager would have caught that pretty quickly, no? Wow. Great eyes, Mike!

Sixty Minutes

If you missed the announcement on The Hockey Show last week, we're moving to a new time slot! Starting this week and for the week's going forward, we'll be on at 5:30pm CT for one full hour until 6:30pm on Thursday nights! That means more insanity, more of your calls, and lots more hockey chatter to satisfy your and our hockey needs!

This week, we'll be featuring former NHL star Jared Aulin as he brings his perspective to the show! Jared's been lucky enough to have played in the NHL, the AHL, the CIS, and in Sweden, so it will be interesting to get his take on each of those leagues. He also suffered a fairly serious injury that almost cost him his hockey career, so we'll chat about that. We'll also chat a little about his love life, particularly one young lady in Los Angeles that he was attached to in social circles.

From there, we'll feature four more Survivor: NHL Playoffs exit interviews as the second round will have come to a close. The Rangers and Senators are already out, so Isabelle and Josh will be required to speak. And we'll see in the coming days which two Western Conference teams will be joining those two at tribal council! All that and more as we begin our one-hour shows on Thursday at 5:30pm CT! Tune in on 101.5 UMFM for the fun!

Ball Hockey Awesomeness

Spent my Saturday at Richmond Kings Arena where I was privy to witnessing some of the greatest ball hockey teams Winnipeg has to offer playing for the right to hoist the REMAX Cup at the third annual tournament! Honestly, there were a few teams there that could have put some NHL teams to shame with how they moved the ball. Of course, ball hockey is different from ice hockey, but it was still impressive to watch these teams play. Incredible hockey!

I want to thank Stu E. and Kevin W. for inviting me down to the event! I had a blast, and really enjoyed the hockey and the interaction with the players! Many thanks go out to Trinity, the official photographer, for putting up with my chatter! I'll have a full write-up about the tournament later this week, so stay tuned for that!

That's about all I have for today, kids. Just wanted to make sure that I got a few smaller stories out to the world, and that I've done. Remember to tune into The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM at 5:30pm CT for the one-hour show!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Mooseheads Claim The Crown

Four teams met at the start of the Mastercard Memorial Cup to determine the Canadian Hockey League's top team. The Saskatoon Blades, hosting the event, were the first team to be sent packing as they lost in the three-versus-four game to the OHL's London Knights. London would advance to play the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, and Portland would send them back to Ontario. That left the top two teams in the CHL this season to face-off against one another for the biggest prize in Canadian major junior hockey as the Portland Winterhawks and the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads met tonight.

Halifax came out en fuego as they pumped three goals past Mac Carruth and the Winterhawks in the opening frame. The key in all of this? The top line for Halifax of Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon, and Martin Frk had seven points on the three goals. Performances like that are why the Mooseheads is a top team in the nation.

The second period was a different game, though, as the Winterhawks rallied for a pair of goals to close the deficit to one goal. It could have been a tie game had Ty Rattie put a stick on a puck he handled in the crease, but rubber never hit wood and the goal that was awarded on the ice was called back. Nevertheless, the two teams entered the final frame with Halifax leading by a single marker.

Halifax looked like they were in the driver's seat after going up 5-2 in the third period, but two goals late in the period made it a 5-4 game with 1:16 to play. Tension was high, but, in the crunch, good players deliver and the Mooseheads got another clutch goal. Memorial Cup MVP Nathan MacKinnon finished off his hat trick with an empty net goal that iced the championship for Halifax, giving them the 6-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks to claim victory!

Halifax was simply incredible this season. Including the QMJHL Playoffs and the Memorial Cup, the Mooseheads put together a 77-8-4 record this season! If you're into winning percentages, that's a ridiculous .865 winning percentage. Halifax also went 66-0-1 when leading after two periods, showing that not only can they grab a lead, but they can defend a lead as well. Needless to say, this team was dominant this season.

With Nathan MacKinnon's incredible performance in the final of three goals and two assists, there will be much debate as to which player will go first overall when the Colorado Avalanche step to the podium. You can't discount the impact that Jonathan Drouin had tonight either as his five assists were crucial in allowing MacKinnon to flourish. Seth Jones was kept in check for the majority of the evening, but he's still the best defenceman in the draft and that fact cannot be overlooked as well. Regardless of who goes first, the top three players chosen should make Colorado, Florida, and Tampa Bay much better teams.

Congratulations go out to the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads on their first Memorial Cup Championship in franchise history! They absolutely deserved the honor after their outstanding game tonight and overall through the season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

TBC: Larionov

I have read a few books published some time ago, and they usually end up being more of my favorite tomes thanks to the new perspective they provide. Today's entry in Teebz's Book Club is no different as I was lucky enough to find this book at a local thrift store while searching for something else. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present Larionov, written by Igor Larionov, Jim Taylor, and Leonid Reizer, and published by Codner Books in 1990. While a book about "The Professor" may seem more like an archive of hockey history, Larionov is an amazing look at his rise to prominence in Russia before his eventual escape from Tikhonov's grip to join the Vancouver Canucks. This alone had me intrigued.

From the book's dust jacket, "Igor Larionov was one of the true superstars of world hockey, centering the Soviet Union's famed KLM Line of Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov. Larionov, wife Elena and daughter Alyonka now live in Vancouver, where he is playing his second season with Vancouver Canucks." Larionov went on to win three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, but also played with the San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, and the New Jersey Devils before returning to Russia to join the KHL club SKA St. Petersburg as director of hockey operations. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Also from the dust jacket, "Jim Taylor is a nationally-known sports columnist with the Vancouver Province. He is the author of four previous books: Dirty 30 (with Jim Young), Inside the Dynasty (with Dan Kepley), Gretzky: From the Backyard Rink to the Stanley Cup (with Walter Gretzky), and Man in Motion (with Rick Hansen)." Taylor was voted in as a member of the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 as a writer. He started with Victoria's The Daily Colonist in 1954 before making a jump to the Vancouver Sun in 1966 and then the Vancouver Province in 1979 where he wrote for the next 17 years. He retired in 2001 after writing for six years with the Calgary Sun. Taylor recently received the 2010 Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award for BC journalism. He still lives on the west coast today.

There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the first Soviet players to arrive in the NHL, but books such as Larionov and Tal Pinchevsky's Breakaway have begun to peel away this mystery by providing factual and biographical accounts of the struggles these players faced on a daily basis in regimes for which they cared not. The story told within the covers of Larionov is one of an independent thinker in Igor Larionov who saw the faults of the hockey dictator in Viktor Tikhonov and the way he ran the hockey program under the Red Army moniker.

Larionov's hockey start wasn't made in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Instead, he got his start in Voskresensk, a small industry city approximately 88 kilometers southeast of Moscow. The small team there, Khimik, produced amazing hockey teams under the tutelage of Nikolai Semenovich Epshtein that would defeat the larger state-run teams such as Dynamo Moscow, Central Soviet Red Army (CSRA), and Sport Red Army from Leningrad. In a long season where a playoff series would expose Khimik as one of the smaller teams, the bigger teams won. But during the season, Khimik would pull off the upsets with regularity as teams would often leave Voskresensk bewildered and frustrated. Igor Larionov learned his hockey here.

One can only advance so far in a small city team, though, so Larionov reluctantly agreed to join the Central Red Army in order to play hockey and possibly star with the Soviet Union's National team. It was in 1981 that Igor Larionov decided to leave for Archangel, the Soviet training center for the CSRA hockey team, where he would first meet Viktor Vasilevich Tikhonov. The training schedule was rigorous if not brutal: ten months per year, the players would be sequestered at Archangel to prepare for games. There was no contact with family, friends, or colleagues outside of the single phone at the end of the dormitory. Usage for that phone was an hour per day for the entire team!

As the Soviet Union's National team gained notoriety through their impressive wins and seemingly unbeatable style, cracks began forming in the solidarity of the team as promises made by Tikhonov to his players were rarely kept. Even if they were kept, there were always conditions and concessions made on these promises so that the full promise was never kept. This drove Larionov and his linemates crazy as they felt they had earned what had been promised with each win.

The relationships between the players was examined in length by Igor Larionov as well. His relationships with Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov were entirely different, but he respected each man for their own style and personality. Vyacheslav Fetisov is held in high regard by Larionov, and he speaks very highly of the three men mentioned. The one man that Larionov holds a lot of contempt for is Alexei Kasatonov. He makes no excuses for the reasons he dislikes Kasatonov, and he holds nothing back when speaking about his former linemate.

If there is one thing that stands out about Larionov in Larionov, it's his description of how he and his linemates played hockey. There was a paragraph that stood out where he quotes Slava Fetisov in describing how the KLM line played hockey, and it really provides some excellent insight as to how this unit operated.
I say improvisation. That is the word upon which we five built our play. Fetisov often compared it to music. "To me, improvisation for a hockey player is the same as for a jazz musician," he said. "But for the whole line to improvise, it is possible only when every player is strong, well versed in his tactical scope and rich in technical repertoire, when all together they understand one another with half a word and half a glance and even without one of the other, when to everyone it seems tedious to move only according to the plan of the hockey textbook, as we say, in the groove."
How perfect is that in describing the play of that line from 1981 until 1987? This is the kind of deep thinking and thoughtful prose that Larionov has through its pages, and it was a delight to read. In terms of having the nickname of "The Professor", Igor Larionov lives up to his anointed name.

Larionov covers a number of topics in Larionov - from Mogilny's defection to his meeting and marriage of Elena to the joy of finally voicing his thoughts on Tikhonov's reign over Soviet hockey - and he does so in an eloquent, intelligent way. The thoughts on the 149 pages in the book are extraordinary to read when you consider how the western world knows so little about what was happening behind the Iron Curtain when it came to sports. Larionov is detailed in his descriptions, capturing the essence of what it was like in the former Soviet Union as a high-level hockey player. Larionov is an excellent read, and it absolutely deserves Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Look for Larionov at your local library, or see if you can find this gem at a used bookstore or thrift store like I did. I guarantee you that you'll look at Igor Larionov's career in a whole new light after reading this book!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Many Jersey Changes

With the end of a season comes many changes. Players move to new teams, staff are fired and hired, and teams rebuild and retool for the next season. With hockey, though, it seems we get a vast number of changes in uniforms as teams look to capitalize on merchandise sales through the summer with new buzz about the team. Today, we'll look at a few changes that were brought about because of teams moving to new leagues, new cities, and new identities. In short, this will be the first of many in what will be a busy summer for new looks in many leagues.

We'll start in the WHL where the Prince Albert Raiders have gone away from their "Raiderman" logo. If you recall, the Raiders wore this uniform set last season.

The Raiders had worn this design, or a variation of, since 1996. Some of the Raiders who wore this look included Scott Hartnell, Chris Phillips, and Nick Schultz. With the Raiders announcing a few days ago that they are implementing a "Green Movement", they also announced rebranding of the logo and uniforms that the Raiders will use. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your 2013-2014 Prince Albert Raiders in full technicolor!
Overall, I can live with these. First off, I really endorse the idea of using green as a primary color. If there's one color that has been overlooked egregiously in hockey, it's the color green. Secondly, the new logo is alright - nothing bad, but certainly not as cartoonish as the Raiderman head. Third, it's modern and updated, giving the Raiders a new look to build their brand on. I think this has a good chance at being a popular look. Thumbs-up from me.

We move to a former AHL franchise that literally was left out to dry. With the Vancouver Canucks purchasing the AHL franchise that was based in Peoria with the intention of moving it, the Rivermen no longer had an affiliation in the AHL. With the team left in limbo, they went out and found a new league to play in. The Peoria Rivermen are now a full-fledged member of the SPHL! With that comes a whole new look, including both logo and jerseys!
As per the Rivermen website, the "new logo and color scheme is a throwback from the original concept for the 1984-85 season. The team's official colors are navy, red and gold with red being reintroduced into the the logo for the first time since the 2004-05 season", their last in the ECHL. I'm alright with a throwback look for the Rivermen. Honestly, the SPHL doesn't get a lot of mention, so it's good to see the Rivermen embracing their past as they move forward with their franchise. Thumbs-up from me.

One team that is staying in the AHL is the Texas Stars. The Stars will enter 2013-14 in their fifth campaign, so it was thought there might be one of those ridiculous anniversary jerseys. Thankfully, the Stars had better sense when they introduced their new looks.
The Stars actually have excellent descriptions of the two uniforms on their website.
Texas is replacing the all-black away uniform with a primarily dark green jersey, the same dark green that is featured in the team's logo, and the crest patch will feature the team’s secondary logo. The shoulder cap is white with a primary logo patch on each side. The collar is gold and includes a white lace tie-up. The sweater will also have thick white bands on each sleeve and along the bottom hem, trimmed with black and gold. The matching socks will be principally dark green with three bands of black, gold and white just below the knee.

Texas' new home jersey is a jersey that was unveiled initially as the team's alternate jersey prior to the 2011-12 season. The jersey is a predominately white jersey trimmed in dark green and gold, emblazoned with the Texas Stars primary logo on the front crest. The shoulders are dark green and have small patches featuring the Stars’ secondary logo. During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons the team wore the alternate jersey with the original home socks, which were half white, half dark green, bisected by a thick gold band. The 2013-14 home uniforms will feature a newly designed sock of all white with bands of dark green and gold.
I'm not against either of these uniforms per se, but does the home uniform really need "Texas" over the Stars logo? Secondly, why does the road uniform have different colored name and number, but the home uniform does not? That seems unnecessary and - gasp! - un-uniform, but I'm no designer so what do I know?
In any case, the new uniforms look pretty good after putting those minor quibbles aside. Overall, the Stars make the grade enough for a thumbs-up from me.

The Carolina Hurricanes set Twitter abuzz today with a message and the following image. Needless to say, the Hurricanes will have a different look in 2013-14.
As per the linked webpage above, "The team's primary logo and colors will remain intact", so doesn't expect some radical re-design. In fact, as long as they don't come back with the all-black look, I'm willing to give this move a thumbs-up tentatively. June 4, 2013 is the big reveal, so stay tuned as HBIC will certainly be reviewing this change.

And just to keep things on an even keel, the Dallas Stars have also announced their big reveal for June 4 as well for their new re-design. According to the Stars, they are working towards a "rebrand that is classic, simple and true-to-hockey". Strangely, though, Mike Modano chimed in on Twitter with this cryptic tweet.
What does it mean? Only Modano knows, it seems. HBIC will be busy on June 4 as I'll be posting pictures and my thoughts on all of the events surrounding the Dallas Stars!

There are your announcements regarding new looks for now. Again, HBIC will try to stay on top of the breaking news as it hits. Of course, I have yet to post my thoughts on the Houston Aeros moving to Iowa to become the Iowa Wild, but I want to post that info separately. In any case, that article will be posted soon because I have strong thoughts on the AHL leaving Houston. For today? Five teams with announcements. That'll do, Teebz.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Hockey Show - Episode Thirty-Seven

The Hockey Show is back in action tonight, and we'll be talking all sorts of stuff. Why, you ask? Well, we have all sorts of playoffs going on: NHL, AHL, ECHL, and Memorial Cup. We'll look at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins historic comeback against the Providence Bruins in the AHL. We have World Championship chatter to run down. We have the Survivor: NHL Playoffs pool still running. We have MJHL official Jeremie Gauvin in the booth tonight to talk officiating and calls in the playoffs. We'll be talking about one team's announcement about new uniforms scheduled to be unveiled on June 4. Needless to say, we're going to be busy tonight!

We may also have a major announcement about The Hockey Show itself. Things have been going great, and we couldn't have had as much fun without our listeners, so this potential announcement has everything to do with you, readers and listeners, as it does us. We're really excited about the opportunity that is on the horizon, so tune into The Hockey Show for the announcement tonight!

Finally, we do want you to call in with your thoughts about all of the on-goings in the world of hockey right now. We're on the air at 6pm CT tonight on 101.5 UMFM, so feel free to call us at (204) 269-UMFM (8636) to chat some puck!

Wanna rip a team a new one over their playoff perfomance? Call us!
Have an issue you want us to weigh in on? Call us!
Disgusted by the officiating seen so far? Call us!
Wanna talk about the mystery team's new threads? Call us!
Wanna praise us or crap on us over the announcement? Call us!

Basically, give us a call regarding anything in hockey tonight, and we'll get you on the air! The Hockey Show is on at 6pm CT on 101.5 UMFM, so call us at (204) 269-UMFM (8636) to talk hockey!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Comeback Of The Year

There haven't been many, so when a team rallies from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, it's a pretty big deal. When a team looks like it's dead in the water, it's an even bigger deal. The Providence Bruins had won the first three games of their second-round series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins by outscoring the Penguins 14-9, and it seemed all hope was lost for the Baby Penguins. The Bruins were making preparations for travel to and accomodations in Syracuse, New York.

That is, until this guy was sent to the blue ice. Brad Thiessen was given the start in Game Two after Jeff Zatkoff struggled in Game One, and things began to change in the Penguins. Backstopped by one of the best young goalies in the game, the Penguins looked more confident in their defensive play. They dropped Games Two and Three, but it was Thiessen who was the story from Game Four on. Thiessen allowed two goals over the final four games of the series, capping off a historical comeback by the Penguins as they eliminatd the Bruins.

For just the third time in the AHL's 77-year history, a team has rallied back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series. The Penguins also became just the 18th team to rally back after being down 3-1 in series, and were the eighth team in AHL history to win Games Six and Seven on the road. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton joined the 1960 Rochester Americans - who beat Cleveland - and the 1989 Adirondack Red Wings - who beat Hershey - as the only teams in AHL history to overcome the 3-0 series deficit.

If there is one guy who might eb feeling this pain more than anyone, it's Trent Whitfield. Whitfield was also a member of the 2010 Boston Bruins who, as you may recall, were up 3-0 and staring down a berth in the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the upstart Philadelphia Flyers who shocked everyone by downing the Bruins in four straight games instead, sending Trent Whitfield and the Bruins home as only the third team in NHL history to lose after being up 3-0 in series.
If you're keeping score at home, that's two series in which Trent Whitfield has been part of the Bruins organization that has become the third team in that league's history to lose after leading the series 3-0. I'm not saying that Trent Whitfield is a jinx or anything, but the odds of that happening twice to a player in his professional career are pretty astronomical.

Let's give credit where credit is due as well. The Penguins buckled down and really played well in front of Brad Thiessen. They outscored the Bruins 14-2 in the final four games, using timely special teams goals and solid checking to help their own cause. They outhustled the AHL's best regular-season team in winning races to loose pucks, they capitalized on scoring chances, and they suffocated the Bruins in their defensive zone. In short, the Penguins played as well as the scores indicated in those final four games.

It's not like the Bruins didn't have chances, though. Game Six was led by the Bruins before the Penguins tied the game midway through the second period. Despite Providence firing 47 shots at Thiessen, the Penguins prevailed on their 18th shot of the game in overtime when Trevor Smith scored. If you're going to throw 46 pucks at a goaltender, you'd expect to score more than one goal, but Thiessen was equal to the task on all but one of those shots. In that case, you have to dig deeper and find a way to win. Providence simply could not.

With the victory, the WBS Penguins advance to the Eastern Conference Final where they will play the Syracuse Crunch. Syracuse, as you may recall, was the Norfolk Admirals team last season who won the Calder Cup before Tampa Bay made the decision to move their AHL affiliate to northern New York. Needless to say, the Crunch have been there before, so don't expect them to roll over for the Penguins either.

The first game of the 2013 Calder Cup Eastern Conference Final goes Saturday, May 25 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Expect a great game with rowdy fans on Saturday after the Penguins' stunning comeback. Syracuse was 5-3 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, proving that this series may be tougher than Syracuse's previous series where they swept both the Portland Pirates and the Springfield Falcons out of the playoffs. Trevor Smith of the Penguins was a member of the Norfolk Admirals last season, so he may be able to provide some insight into defeating the Crunch. All in all, though, this looks like it's going to be a great series of hockey!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Pool Updates And Updates

I apologize for this, but the HBIC Playoff Pool stats have been updated. I would have had them updated sooner, but a scheduling conflict led to some confusion and problems on my end where I couldn't be at HBIC HQ this evening. Nonetheless, the pool stats are updated. Get your fill in the contest section to the right.

I have also added a pile of new photos to the Musicians in Jerseys article/record-keeping that I scribed a while back. I'm not trying to draw the ire of Nashville's Mike Fisher, but his wife - Carrie Underwood - probably has one heckuva jersey collection on her own! Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for additional images, so if you see any, please email them to me! I will credit you with the find as well!

Lastly, if you're in the Survivor: NHL Playoffs pool, all packages will have been mailed by Thursday's show. I apologize, but I don't work at the station full-time or anything, so I'm at the mercy of those that do. Mail goes out regularly, but apparently our show's prizing threw a bit of a wrench into the mail pickups. Regardless, those prizes will all be gone by Thursday. So for Jared Keeso, expect your Tim Horton's gift card in the mail shortly!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Were You Watching, Jets?

When the first version of the Winnipeg Jets played at the Winnipeg Arena, Tie Domi was a fan favorite. He fought, he battled, he scored a few goals, and he was generally the kind of blue-collar player that Winnipeggers take pride in as a member of the team. Fast forward to today, and there's another Domi of the same bloodline coming through the junior ranks that looks like he'll make everyone in Winnipeg forget about his dad. That is, if the Jets are lucky enough to draft Max Domi in this year's upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

I have been impressed with Domi's play all season long despite his efforts being overshadowed by teammate Bo Horvat. Horvat is unquestionably the finisher on the London Knights roster, but Domi is the engine that keeps that line running and performing at peak efficiency. Domi goes into the corners, heads to the high-traffic areas, and routinely shows that his nose for physicality neds to be respected thanks to his soft hands and keen vision.

Case in point? How about tonight's magic against the Portland Winterhawks at the Mastercard Memorial Cup? Check this out (sorry about the ads - that's a Sportsnet thing).

Holy dynamite! I hope Kevin Cheveldayoff was watching that sequence because Max Domi just pulled off some magic unseen in the NHL, AHL, or CHL playoffs currently going on. I'm not saying that he's going to be able to recreate that creativity in the NHL, but the kid can play. Chevy better be penciling his name into the Jets' #13 slot at the draft. Letting him get away would be criminal!

Max Domi may have the best assist of the year in any league. Looks like he, like his dad, will play in the NHL for a long time based on his skill set.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

In My Thoughts Tonight

The above skyline is that of Oklahoma City. If you hadn't heard by now, OKC is in the midst of one of the worst tornado seasons in recent memory, and there is sure to be loss of life and devastation left behind once the twisters have moved on. In light of this, I just want to say that the people of Oklahoma City are in my thoughts tonight as they try to avoid these tornadoes and be safe.

I was lucky enough to visit Oklahoma City on a roadtrip to Houston a few years back. It's a gorgeous, vibrant city with some of the nicest people I have met on my travels. Southern hospitality was certainly on-hand in spades when I needed some help from the front desk clerk at my hotel and during a stop at a convenience store to ask for directions to a local venue. The people at the store and in line went out of their way to help, and I can only say that it was a positive experience for a guy who turned left when he should have gone right. Thanks, OKC, for helping this guy out.

I wrote a pretty solid article - in my opinion - about the hockey culture in Oklahoma City thanks to the CHL's Oklahoma City Blazers. The AHL's Oklahoma City Barons are the new hockey franchise in town, and they've provided the crowds with an exciting team thanks to be stocked with the Edmonton Oilers rookies and kids.

The Barons are still competing for the Calder Cup this season as they await the winner of the Toronto Marlies and the Grand Rapids Griffins, but I'm pretty sure that hockey will take a backseat to the devastation the city is facing thanks to the wrath of Mother Nature. Here's hoping that everyone in the Barons organization forgets about hockey to help the fans.

I wish nothing but the best for Oklahoma City. It's a scary time there right now, and hockey should take a backseat to anything but safety. May everyone be safe.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Love This Tradition

The Mastercard Memorial Cup started yesterday, and there's always something to look forward to when the three best teams in Canadian Major Junior Hockey gather in a host city for the championship. The host team always plays on the opening night of the tournament to ensure that they kick off things right - hopefully with a win - for the hometown fans, but there's always a second reason I look forward to this game: the Memorial Cup jersey worn by the host team.

We've seen this in past years as Kitchener, Rimouski, Brandon, Mississauga, and Shawinigan have all participated in the past five years. It's fantastic tradition of having the host team honor a local detachment of the Canadian Armed Forces with a jersey commemorating their contributions in World War I. The best part? "Proceeds from the auction will go towards the Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund. Poppy funds are spent to support veterans and their families, buy hospital equipment, support cadet groups, and provide student bursaries. The MasterCard Memorial Cup Theme Jersey Program was created in 2008 and have cumulatively generated over $100,000 for the fund."

Saskatoon took to the ice on Friday against the OHL Champions in the London Knights in these Mastercard Memorial Cup jerseys.
In a quick glance, they don't seem all that fantastic and could be easily mistaken for an everyday Saskatoon Blades uniform. But upon closer inspection, there are a number of uniform additions to make this uniform an excellent addition to the Mastercard Memorial Cup jersey set.

Let's start with the logo. The outer circle honors the three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces in the Air Force, the Navy, and the Army. The stylized maple leaf worn inside the circular logo isn't any maple leaf worn on a military vehicle that I can find, but it's a very appealing design nonetheless. The poppy is worn over the heart for all Memorial Cup teams, and is one of he best championship series patches in any sport.

On the right arm, you can see the Memorial Cup 13 patch on the shoulder. I do have a slight problem as there really needs to be an apostrophe on "13" because this actually the 95th Memorial Cup tournament. the "'13" would indicate the year rather than leaving some question as to what it meant. The addition of the word "loyalty" above the sleeve number is a nice touch.

On the left side, the Saskatoon Blades logo is worn on the shoulder, and the word "courage" sits above the sleeve number. Courage and loyalty are excellent traits to highlight on these uniforms as all heroes, including those men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms, possess these traits.

The backs of the jerseys did contain the names and numbers of the players in the game, and they look quite like the Blades' normal uniform fonts. Nothing out of the ordinary here as they are easily read on the white background of the uniform.

Overall, the good guys took to the ice in white as all home teams should. The Blades wore these uniforms proudly, playing a spirited game before finally falling to the London Knights by a 3-2 score. The uniforms look great on television, although the chest logo was a little hard to identify when the players were in full flight. But anytime the cameras isolated a Blades player, the uniform looked fantastic, and the Blades should be commended on designing an excellent uniform in the mold of the previous participants in this program.

What say you, readers: pass or fail with these Memorial Cup uniforms?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Disgusting

Eric Staal, seen to the left clutching his leg, was having himself a pretty nice little World Championships as the captain of the Canadian team. The team finished second in its pool behind surprising Switzerland, and Staal was looking to lead the Canadians past Sweden and into the semi-finals at the World Championships for the first time in three years. Things were going pretty well for Eric Staal and the boys until an ugly play derailed Staal, the team, and Canada's hopes for World Championship gold.

I'll be honest in saying that I'm not a Vancouver Canucks fan by any means, but I do have respect for the guys who worked their way through the Manitoba Moose in becoming Vancouver Canucks. Guys like Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Mason Raymond, and Cory Schneider will always have my respect. After yesterday's game against Canada, Alex Edler will have none nor will be receive any for as long as he shall play the game.

I'll let Rogers Sportsnet anchor Don Taylor set this one up.
I think you know what's coming after watching that hit, right? Let's start the rant.

First off, what the hell was Edler thinking? Edler has been suspended for the remainder of the tournament, but I would be pushing for him to have a longer suspension from international hockey if that's possible. Edler skated in from the blueline, didn't deviate from his line, and skated his knee directly into Staal's knee. He didn't even try to get out of the way when he saw Staal changing course. If he had changed some direction or even tried to swing his leg out of the way, I might come off more tolerant. Instead, Edler should be banned for a long time for doing something extremely dangerous and stupid.

Secondly, much like he did for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Edler shows up for fifteen minutes with Sweden before packing it in. Thanks for coming, jerk. Why bother showing up at all if this was the contribution? He may be one of Sweden's best players not in the NHL Playoffs, but that's a horsepoop move he pulled. Personally, if I'm Eric Staal, I'm dropping the gloves and destroying Alex Edler in the first shift when Vancouver and Carolina meet up next season. There was no need for this kind of hit, and hopefully it will not derail a rather successful career being carved out by Eric Staal.

Lastly, none of these players are getting paid to be over in Europe to play these games. To see Alex Edler pull off something like this is absolute garbage when everyone is over there trying to win for country. If I'm Peter Karmanos, I'm furious with Edler and the Canucks right now as this might affect the Hurricanes in 2013-14 as the extent of Eric Staal's injury is still unknown. Regardless of how bad the injury is, there will undoubtedly be some owners who will not want their players to participate in extracurricular activities such as the Olympics and World Championships thanks to the Edler hit.

That's a disgusting hit when you consider the distance traveled and target of the hit. Alex Edler is a good player with a lot of upside who has a long career ahead of him. For now, most fans will only remember him as "that Canuck who went knee-on-knee with Staal". And rightfully so.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Hockey Show - Episode Thirty-Six

The Hockey Show returns tonight with a pile of Survivor: NHL Playoffs interviews! There are six people who have pre-recorded interviews for tonight's show, so we'll air those. If I am unsuccessful in getting the last two teams accounted for, Beans and I will deliver the eulogy for those teams. I've left messages for the two people who are MIA, but we can't wait forever to do this.

If you're been over to the Survivor: NHL Playoffs roster page, you'll notice a number of teams have been grayed out. Those are your eliminated teams. Those are the people who will either give their thoughts on why their team was eliminated in a Survivor-style exit interview OR we'll go to that team's opposition to have the eulogy delivered for the team that was defeated. That's how we roll on The Hockey Show. Don't hate the game. Everyone was told this was going to happen. Insert evil laugh here.

We'll also bring MJHL official Jeremie Gauvin in for another look at some of the calls or missed calls in the NHL Playoffs. We'll have a lot to talk about after Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals decided to complain about the officiating in their series against the Rangers. We'll also get his thoughts on the second round of the NHL Playoffs, and his predictions on who will be moving on to their respective conference finals.

It should be a fun night on The Hockey Show, so tune in on 101.5 UMFM at 6pm CT for all of the Survivor: NHL Playoffs fun!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Getting A Step Up

I'll be honest in saying that I've always thought a ladder was a ladder. I know there are different types of ladders as well as ones that are specifically used in certain situations, but they all kind of accomplish the same goal in the end. What makes one ladder better than another? Well, Werner Co. - maker of ladders - wanted to show Canadians what kind of ladders they make as they expand into Canada with their products. Again, I'm no ladder expert, but I think the marketing campaign used by Werner Co. might catch a few Canadians' eyes!

From their press release, here's their campaign.
Werner Co., announced the Head-to-Head challenge that pits the company's climbing equipment against the competition. To help kick off the campaign and drive product and brand awareness, Werner has launched an entertaining hockey video featuring players who drop their gloves and end up going at it with... ladders.

Recently Werner has expanded into the Canadian market and provides a comprehensive product portfolio for both DIYers and professional contractors. As part of this Head-to-Head campaign, Werner is testing its products against the competition in Canada to highlight the company's product advantages and unique distinctions in safety and overall quality. Through a series of videos that are available online at www.wernerheadtohead.ca, several products were put to the test in areas of safety, durability and reliability; issues important to today's Canadian tradesmen.
Interesting. Guys who drop the gloves and attack each other with ladders? Is this a hockey-centric ladder commercial or a WWE-on-ice commercial?

Let's check out the commercials to see if these guys are offside.
Yeah, I'm no official, but I'm pretty sure a ladder fight will get you suspended in a major way. Surprisingly, there's a second part to this commercial as Werner Co. continues with the theme!
I absolutely get that this is a satirical look at the violence in hockey while showing how Werner Co. ladders outlast the competition, but the use of ladders in hockey is actually pretty rare. Like fixing-plexiglass-during-a-stoppage rare. There are a pile of reasons that one should consider Werner ladders when working on a job site or a project, but I'm pretty sure that anyone who brings a ladder over the boards is insane.

While I get that anything hockey appeals to Canadians, this is one set of commercials that may have missed the net entirely. I get what they are trying to do, but Werner Co. is way offside on this one in my view.

What say you, readers: does this commercial hit the mark? Leave me comments!

Until next time, keep your sticks ladders on the ice!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Round One Updates

The HBIC Playoff Pool is updated through the end of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and there were some significant shifts in point totals for a number of people. There's a new leader after week two of action, and we'll highlight the best of each series as we look at who did what. Round Two's spreadsheet is posted, so get your next entries in before tomorrow night's games!

Chicago vs. Minnesota

One person showed up with a twelve-point effort in this series as Michael J. put together all five wins, a game-winner in Game Two, and called the Blackhawks to win in five games. Well done, Michael, in calling this series correctly!

Anaheim vs. Detroit

Three people put up eight-point efforts in this series: Brandee T., David F., and Rick K. I won't run through the series, but it seemed as though Anaheim was the favorite amongst most poolies due to the fact that a lot of people called Anaheim in seven. In any case, kudos to the three above who picked up eight points in this series.

Vancouver vs. San Jose

I realize that no one called San Jose in a sweep, so it was surprising to see only one person grab five points in this series. Ethan Calof called three San Jose wins in the four games played, and tacked on the Logan Couture game-winning goal in Game Three. Well done, Ethan, on grabbing five points in this series!

St. Louis vs. Los Angeles

Two men who share a name, or at least a portion of it, took the crown in this round. Frank M. and Franklin W. both picked up a solid eleven points in this series. Frank M. called every single game right, picking up the extra five points for calling Los Angeles in six games. Franklin W. called Games Two, Three, Four, and Six correctly, tacked on Dustin Penner's game-winning goal in Game Six, and called the Kings in six games. Well done, gentlemen, in picking up a solid eleven points!

Pittsburgh vs. NY Islanders

Only one poolie picked up eleven points in this series, and that was Ty F. Ty called Games One, Four, Five, and Six correctly, added the John Tavares game-winner in Game Four, and called Pittsburgh to win in six games. Total that up, and you get eleven more points added to Ty's total. Well done, Ty, on your predictions in this series!

Montreal vs. Ottawa

This may have been the one series that messed everyone up simply due to how efficiently Ottawa dispatched the Canadiens. Tony H. and Ryan H., however, were able to pick up six points each in this series! Tony H. correctly called the winner in Games Two and Four, added Kyle Turris' game-winner in Game Four, but incorrectly picked Montreal in five games to only award him an additional two points. Ryan H. called the winner in Games Two and Three, called Brendan Gallagher's game-winner in Game Two, but also called Montreal in five games for only two points instead of five points. Even in calling the wrong team to win, both Tony and Ryan come away with six more points. Well done, gents!

Washington vs. NY Rangers

There were four people who picked up an impressive twelve points off this series: Andy S., Brandee T., Corey D., and Terry C. There were a lot of people who called this series as a seven-game series, but a lot of people went with Washington over the Rangers. Not the four people above, though. Those four individuals picked up twelve points to add to their totals! Well done all!

Boston vs. Toronto

Andy S. was the winner of this series as he put up an incredible fourteen points as the highest point-earner of any series with his predictions here. Andy correctly called Games One, Two, Four, Six, and Seven, called the Nathan Horton game-winner in Game One and the Phil Kessel game-winner in Game Six, and correctly called Boston to win the series. All totaled, Andy adds an impressive fourteen points to his total from this series! Great job, Andy!

Round One Leader

Andy S. used his two Eastern Conference series to put up half of his points in the opening round of the NHL Playoffs. His twelve points in the Washington-NY Rangers series and his fourteen points in the Boston-Toronto series gave him 26 of his 56 points, and he currently has a four-point lead over second-place Thomas O. as we move into the next round. Congratulations on leading the pool thus far, Andy, and here's hoping you can continue to predict accurately!

Get your entries in by puck drop tonight, kids. If you think you're out, you're not. I saw a number of people make jumps in this opening round and in past pool by simply focusing on correctly predicting the series instead of worrying about getting every game right. Earn the big points first, and then tack on the extra points through game-winning goal scorers and winning teams. You're not out, though, until the Stanley Cup is awarded!

I should have a prize list before the end of the second round of the NHL Playoffs. I'm just waiting on a few vendors to see what can be supplied, and we'll go from there. Thanks to everyone who is playing, and good luck in the next round!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 13 May 2013

HBIC Playoff Pool - Round Two

How about the finish in that opening round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs? Seeing Boston nearly implode before destroying the dreams of Leafs Nation will probably be one of the more incredible stories from this srping. Washington's total collapse in yet another Game Seven - this time at the hands of the New York Rangers - will only further infuriate and frustrate Capitals fans. And with those games in the books, it's time for Round Two of the HBIC Playoff Pool!

THE NEW SPREADSHEET IS LINKED HERE. Same rules apply: fill this out and send it back to me WITH YOUR NAME AS THE NAME OF THE EXCEL DOCUMENT (ie. Teebz.xls). Again, send Round Two picks to hbicplayoffpool-at-gmail-dot-com. Entries sent to any other email address that you have for me will be categorically deleted so that I can keep all of the HBIC Playoff Pool entries in one place.

If you missed the link for the spreadsheet, it's right here again. You have until Wednesday evening before the puck drops to submit your picks. Yes, I'll essentially give you the opening game of Ottawa-Pittsburgh if you like. Just make sure the entry is in before the games start on Wednesday. Clear? Clear.

The one guy I feel sorry for in all of this? James Reimer. It's not that I feel bad because he struggled to control rebounds or because he allowed four goals over a fourteen-minute span that sealed Toronto's golf dates for the spring. No, I feel bad because Toronto thought they could play a "prevent" defence for nearly sixteen minutes against one of the NHL's best offences when it catches fire. And it became an inferno last night as Reimer denied wave after wave of Boston chances. If that was a coaching strategy employed by Randy Carlyle, he should be fired immediately. As they say in football, a "prevent" defence only prevents you from winning.

And personally, I wouldn't have had Dion Phaneuf on the ice in the final two minutes. The guy looked gassed by the middle of the second period, yet Carlyle kept rolling him out there. If you're Dion Phaneuf, I get that pride might take over, but if you're gassed, let the coach know. Those two goals in the last two minutes of the third period were partly your fault. And you know it. Don Cherry called you out for it, Aaron Ward called you out for it, and I'm calling you our for it. You cannot let Chara and Lucic stand in front of Reimer without paying some sort of price. Horrible call by Carlyle to put you out there and leave you out there, and it was worse in that you stayed out there and made the same mistake twice. Within two minutes!

The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins move on. Pittsburgh and Ottawa kick things off in Round Two tonight from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Get your picks in by tomorrow eve!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Detroit Went Hunting

Two of the division winners in the Western Conference are done, sent home by lower seeds who, for whatever reason, were written off before the playoffs had ever started. Detroit, as they were told, was too old and filled with replacement parts, no longer the dominant team they were for over two decades. But like an old car in the Motor City that just was misfiring, the Red Wings were realigned and put back on the road. After some sputtering, things began firing right, and last night they took down the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks to advance to the second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Contributions from some of the guys who regularly find the scoresheet were important, but, to me, the big goal was the Justin Abdelkader shorthanded marker. Abdelkader's goal at 16:37 of the first period put Detroit up 2-1, and it appeared to really take the wind out of Anaheim's sails after they had tied the game at 1-1 three minutes earlier.
I'm not sure what François Beauchemin was thinking in trying to make a blind, spin-o-rama pass at the blueline to Sheldon Souray with his back to the offensive zone, but Abdelkader jumped on the mistake, put the puck between Jonas Hiller's pads, and put the Red Wings up 2-1 with the shorthanded goal.

The Red Wings - apparently in a "rebuilding" year - have once again found a way to win, and full credit goes to Mike Babcock and his coaching staff for having the Red Wings prepared for a difficult battle in the first round, and to Jimmy Howard for bending but not breaking when the Anaheim Ducks brought their offensive game in the waning minutes. The Red Wings surrendered a powerplay goal late, but Howard held the fort until the final horn sounded just as he had in Games Two, Four, and Six.

Things won't get any easier on him as the Red Wings will meet long-time rival, and President's Trophy winner, in the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round. Detroit was beat up by the Blackhawks this season, outscored 14-5 in four losses to the 'Hawks. If this series against the Ducks was a test, consider the series against the Blackhawks as your bar examination because it's going to be worse.

The Anaheim Ducks will be going home, and they can't be happy after the excellent regular season they had. A lot of players will need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they did all they could in this series. Corey Perry finished the series with just two assists. Sheldon Souray had just one helper. Andrew Cogliano had but one assist. That's not the kind of contributions the Ducks needed from those three, but credit to the Red Wings for not letting them score. And, of course, it may be the last time we see Teemu Selanne on skates in an NHL game. The 42 year-old has to be looking at his options, but he's always non-committal until the summer starts anyway.

The Anaheim Ducks are the latest team to fall in the playoffs, and will have a lot of time to reflect on this playoff loss to the older, retooling Detroit Red Wings. Especially when they're out enjoying the Anaheim sun.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

That Was Fun, No?

Rarely do we see playoff series where you're actually rooting for the next season to start for the losers so quickly. Brooks Orpik's overtime goal to end the series between the Penguins and Islanders kind of left me with an empty feeling because I actually enjoyed this series for its quick transitions, massive swings in momentum, and all-out offence shown by both teams. In the end, the Islanders will be going home, but you secretly wished this was a best-of-fifteen or so just to witness some more fantastic end-to-end action from both teams. Through it all, though, the Islanders are showing that they are on the verge of becoming a power in the NHL once more.

You look down the Islanders' lineup and you see a lot of promise with the likes of Granber, Okposo, Moulson, Tavares, Cizikas, Bailey, and Hamonic, but there were key contributions from veterans as well. Evgeni Nabokov showed some incredible play through the regular season and the playoffs, Mark Streit was invaluable over the season once more, Keith Aucoin was poised and professional all season, and Lubomir Visnovsky showed the world that the Islanders knew more than they let on when they traded for him. In short, there are still a few holes to be filled on the roster, but the Islanders have built themselves a very dangerous team that has now experienced the playoffs in living color.

Honestly, everyone knows that John Tavares is a great player, but he really showed his intelligence and skill in this series against the Penguins. This kid is going to be a fixture on the Islanders - and Team Canada when available - for a long, long time. I can't say enough good things about how he plays this game, and he really reminds me of a young Steve Yzerman in terms of how he can simply impose his will on a game when given the opportunity. He's not quite at the level where he can physically take over a game from start to finish, but he does have the ability to put the Islanders on his shoulders and take over for a period or so. He's scary-good, and he may become an even bigger star once the Islanders move to Brooklyn.

If there's one phrase that can describe Michael Grabner, it would be "speed demon". I had the pleasure of watching play for the Manitoba Moose, and it was clear that Grabner was going to be a difference-maker for a team if and when he was given the chance. While he was never properly used in Vancouver and written off way too early by the Florida Panthers, the New York Islanders gave him a chance and he exploded for 34 goals. It seemed he was everywhere on the ice in the Penguins-Islanders series, and he was constantly a disruption to the Penguins defenders with his speed and dogged determination in getting the puck. Grabner's the kind of player every coach loves to have on the bench.

While they had disappointing regular seasons, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo really emerged in this series. Bailey was a solid two-way performer, playing strong particularly in his own zone. He set up a couple of nice goals, and was inches away from having a couple of deflections become goals. The thing for me was that Bailey looked like Jordan Staal when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup: strong, poised, confident, responsible. A coach can't ask for much more than that.

Okposo became the power forward that the Islanders have been needing for a while. He was physical, he scored goals, he caused disruptions, and he was in the middle of many scrums. In short, he was the second coming of Clark Gillies in some fans' eyes. Okposo really showed some excellent skill in his emergence in the postseason, but there's no denying that his physicality caused a lot of the Penguins to let up as they heard the footsteps coming. That intangible can't be quantified when looking at Okposo's stats, but his three goals tied his with Tavares for the team lead - an easily-quantifiable statistic in terms of his importance to the Islanders.

The last guy I was really impressed with Travis Hamonic. Hamonic's development has taken a little longer than perhaps the Islanders would have liked, but the results are turning into excellence. Hamonic routinely played against the Malkin line, and frequently was seen shutting Malkin down at every turn. Hamonic was excellent against Malkin in limiting his scoring chances to a mere two goals. Perhaps where that didn't show up, though, was due to the fact that Malkin set up nine other goals. That being said, the physical price that Malkin paid every time he was up against Hamonic had to affect the big Russian's play, and Hamonic looks like he's going to be a physical force for many years to come.

As a Penguins fan, I'm not complaining about the outcome of this series. I have, however, maintained that the Islanders play an exciting, up-tempo brand of hockey that really should be seen by more people. They forecheck like demons, they hustle and hit all over the ice, and they score some timely goals off turnovers they create. While I'm happy that Pittsburgh advanced, I actually am a little sad that the Islanders won't be playing hockey any longer this season.

They may not have gone as far as they liked in terms of advancing in the playoffs, but they came out of the six-game series a lot further ahead that where they were at this point last season. The New York Islanders appear to be a playoff fixture for a long time if they continue to develop as well as they have. And they'll be led by a lot of good young players.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 10 May 2013

TBC: The Power Of Two

It's been a while since I've been able to post one of these, but I've taken some time to settle back into reading, and I'm happy to report that Teebz's Book Club will be returning in a big way. Today, TBC is proud to bring to you a review of a book that really should be read by every hockey fan. I am proud to review The Power of Two, written by Susan Foster with Carl Brewer and published by the Fenn Publishing Company Ltd. If you don't know who Carl Brewer is, he was a very interesting man who had a great hockey career in the NHL and on the international scene. But perhaps he is more famous for the battles he had off the ice against the NHL establishment and, ultimately, Alan Eagleson regarding player pensions and Eagleson's eventual guilty plea in mismanaging the pensions of hundreds of players.

Susan Foster actually had a pretty nice career as a high school English teacher lined up before her and Carl Brewer began battling with NHL owners and Alan Eagleson. While it took a number of years before it became official, Foster and Brewer eventually became a couple, seemingly knowing that they were meant for one another from their first meeting. Her work was instrumental in bringing about sweeping changes to NHL player pensions and the eventual incarceration of Alan Eagleson for the mismanagement of those funds. Susan Foster resides in Toronto today, retired from teaching and amateur lawyer work.

Carl Brewer is former NHL defenceman who starred with the Toronto Maple Leafs on three Stanley Cup-winning teams in the 1960s. Brewer also played with the Detroit Red Wings alongside Gordie Howe with whom he forged a long-term friendship. Brewer also played with the Canadian National Team and a number of European teams in his hockey career before officially retiring from the game in 1980. The three-time NHL All-Star was the driving force behind the changes to the NHL player pensions, and he was at the front-and-center in forcing Alan Eagleson into a guilty plea for the mismanagement of those pension funds, leading to his incarceration. Brewer passed away on August 26, 2001 after battling heart problems. He was 62.

At first, I wasn't sure that I would enjoy The Power of Two. Normally, I like crime-related stories, but I wasn't sure that this reflection on Carl Brewer's life was going to delve into the details I was expecting. Instead, what I found within the pages was an excellent biography of Mr. Brewer woven into the story of how one man led the charge against hockey's czar.

Miss Foster's writing style is very descriptive and extremely thorough, most likely due to her abilities as an English teacher. She doesn't miss a detail of any of the trials and tribulations that her and Mr. Brewer went through in their numerous battles with the NHL and its power brokers. But she also brings out qualities in Mr. Brewer that one may not expect of a battle-tested hockey player through her well-crafted words, and it's here that we see that Carl Brewer was a very emotional person who extremely conscientious of others and their feelings. The dichotomy of Brewer's personality - crying at movies yet willing to go to war with the Maple Leafs over $100 - shows that he was not only a complex individual, but a very thoughtful and determined man once he was involved in anything.

There were many who branded Carl Brewer as "crazy" and "obsessed" in his pursuit of Alan Eagleson, but, without him, hockey players today wouldn't have the salaries, the pensions, and the benefits they do. Many players were afraid to take on the NHL's power brokers - John Zeigler, Bill Wirtz, and Alan Eagleson - but it was Brewer and a few other players who won the battles that led to the investigation and sentencing of Alan Eagleson for racketeering, fraud and embezzlement of NHL player pension monies. The few chapters devoted to the fight that Brewer took to the doors of the NHL and Alan Eagleson are very impressive and should be mandatory reading for all hockey fans.

"A pot of international hockey money had remained with the NHLPA and was referred to as "bonus pension"; this was always represented to the players as pension money. It was discovered that Eagleson had been using this fund as his personal bank for years. I first became aware that Eagleson was lending out money he managed on behalf of his clients when I watched the Vaclav Nedomansky trial back in the early 1980s, but I had no idea he had been doing so - liberally - with the bonus pension funds. The work Ed Garvey had done in 1989 revealed that Eagleson routinely and systematically lent those monies, to the tune of approximately $2 million, to friends, family and clients of his law firm over many years. In doing so, he was in a blatant conflict of interest: he was acting for the lender - the NHLPA, which was the rightful owner of the funds and which paid him to look after its interests - and he was acting on behalf of the borrowers, who were invariably clients of Eagleson, Ungerman. We tracked scores of such deals."
Honestly, the amount of evidence documented in The Power of Two that was dug up by Miss Foster, Mr. Brewer, and the scores of reporters working with them in this investigation is documented well, and it's not hard to see why Alan Eagleson was convicted of the crimes with which he was charged. While I enjoyed the portion of the book about Mr. Brewer's career, the second half of the book where Mr. Brewer battled the NHL and Eagleson was worth the price of admission alone.

The Power of Two is an extremely well-written story of Carl Brewer's career in and out of hockey. Miss Foster highlights all of Mr. Brewer's achievements in hockey, but also allows the reader into the mind and emotions of Carl Brewer, one of hockey's enigmas as most would have one believe. The work in documenting all of the efforts that went into Carl's battles with the NHL and Alan Eagleson are nothing short of spectacular, and Miss Foster should really be commended for writing a book with such excellent attention to detail. Because of these reasons, I am obliged to award The Power of Two the prestigious Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

The 333-page book does contain a few instances of PG-rated language, but the writing can easily be handled by teens and older. Look for The Power of Two at your local bookstore or library!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!