Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Celebs Do Bubble Hockey

As we found out last season, Jimmy Fallon is a hockey fan. Jimmy took to the The Tonight Show to show his support for his New York Rangers, even going as far to bet the Montreal Canadiens with the loser having to wear the opposition's jersey. Needless to say, Youppi! ended up wearing a Rangers jersey for a day. I always like when Jimmy does something hockey-esque on his show, and Friday night saw him engage in some hockey fun!

Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games movies, stopped by The Tonight Show on Friday, and he and Jimmy settled a score. I'll let Jimmy and Josh set this one up.
Yes, Jimmy scores on himself to give Josh the victory - OWN GOAL! - but it's awesome to see Jimmy getting other celebrities into hockey. His passion for the game is incredible, and I'd hope that he does more hockey-related segments as the playoffs near. In any case, Jimmy Fallon is a great celebrity hockey fan!

My high school lunch hours were spent hammering other players at bubble hockey, but I haven't played it in over a decade now. I'm pretty sure I'd be easy prey for Jimmy, but Josh did what he had to do in keeping the puck out of his shot glasses, and he caught a bounce. Sometimes, that's all bubble hockey is - a bounce or two one way or another.

Sounds like real-life hockey, doesn't it?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Del Boca Vista Acquires Jagr

After Jaromir Jagr spoke to the media about not getting the playing time he wants and possibly shutting it down with the Devils due to miss the playoffs, it was inevitable that GM Lou Lamoriello would have to make a move. Jagr, who has never been afraid to speak his mind, will now get to do so in the retirement community of Del Boca Vista Sunrise, Florida where he'll try to help the Florid Panthers overtake the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But the questions should be whether or not this is a good fit, and how long will Jagr be staying in southern Florida.

Honestly, I couldn't stop laughing at the thought of Jagr moving in beside the Seinfelds and the Klompuses at Del Boca Vista. There are a pile of Seinfeld storylines that could be built around an eastern European moving into the complex and running as Phase II President - Jack Klompus worries about Communism, the Seinfelds befriend Jagr and Klompus accuses Morty of being a Communist, the Mandelbaums adopting Jagr - it's literally a smorgasbord of hilarious Seinfeld episodes! However, we're not here to write a sitcom. There are playoff spots at stake, and the Panthers could use some of that home-date playoff revenue!

The first thing that we need to consider is Jagr's age and, therefore, his experience. Jagr has been in all sorts of situations, including playoff races and, ultimately, playoff series. There are ten players on the Panthers' roster who weren't even born when Jagr made his NHL debut, so it goes to show that having a guy who has been there before can be useful to the youthful Panthers.

Secondly, Jagr is a guy who doesn't get high or low when the team hits a streak. Sometimes with younger players, you can see them sag when things aren't going right. In a playoff race, the last thing you want to see from younger players is their confidence evaporate. Jagr has been through these ups and downs in his career, and he's certainly weathered them well in amassing a ridiculous number of points. If he can pass on that ice-in-his-veins mentality to some of the younger Panthers, this team will be set for the future.

Third, no one has ever questioned Jagr's dedication to the game, his preparation, and his practice methods. There is a reason why Jagr is one of the all-time best to lace up the skates, and a lot of it has to do with the effort he puts in outside of games. He was routinely seen working on aspects of his game after practice, after games, and any other time he was at the rink so that he keeps his skills at tip-top shape. If you start hearing about some of the Panthers at midnight work on stick-handling after a game in their flip flops and shorts, you know he's leading this locker room.

Where the Panthers need to be wary is whether or not they can keep Jagr around for a few months. They gave up a 2015 second-round pick for Jagr in what is turning out to be a very deep draft class. They also acquired a conditional third-round pick in 2016 that comes with a big asterisk. The condition on third-round selection is that the Devils have the choice of which pick they use: Florida's original pick or the one they received from the Minnesota Wild in the Sean Bergenheim trade.

If they lose Jagr to free agency this summer, that's an expensive rental for a team that is building well through youth and draft picks. Florida has used their picks wisely in adding guys like Huberdeau, Ekblad, Bjugstad, and Barkov, so giving away a second-round pick this year could be costly if Jagr walks. Again, there are good players to be had into the second-round of the NHL Entry Draft this season, and the Panthers will miss out on adding another solid player if Jagr walks.

They haven't announced what line Jagr will be on yet, but expect him to start imparting NHL wisdom on the kids as soon as #68 enters the locker room. The two-time Stanley Cup champion is a good fit for the playoff run in my opinion, but the Panthers need to sit down with him and sign him for at least another year to make this trade worth it.

Otherwise, this "timeshare" isn't really worth the cost.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 128

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with a pile of stuff to go over as this past week has been busy! We had CIS playoff action, a pile of NHL trades, a potential new logo dug up by a colleague, some injuries to discuss, and a couple of announcements regarding upcoming guests! In other words, we're going to move fast tonight, but the phones will be open for your calls!

The image to the left? Apparently, that's the one of two logos that is being trademarked by Barclays Center as per NetsDaily.com's twitter feed. HBIC contributor John from Capitol Islander District posted all the details on his site, but it's interesting to note the similarities between the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and this logo. Also, it should be noted there is no mention of "Islanders" despite the Islanders moving into Barclays Center next season. The one thing that really caught my attention is how the "B" looks very similar to the Bruins' "B". I'm not sure how far this will get or what the final intentions of these new logos are, but we'll chat a little about this tonight!

On top of that, we're going to talk about last weekend's playoff games between the Bisons women's team and the Regina Cougars and their upcoming weekend series against the UBC Thunderbirds and what they need to do to win. We'll talk about the newest Jet, Jiri Tlusty, and the trades made by Minnesota for Sean Bergenheim, Pittsburgh for Daniel Winnik, and Los Angeles for Andrej Sekera. We'll also toss in our opinions about the injuries to Tyler Seguin and Patrick Kane and how they affect their respective teams. And we have announcements about the next two shows as we're excited to welcome some incredible guests!

The phones will open tonight so give us a call at 204-269-8636 (UMFM) to be a part of the action! The show, as always, will be live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like 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 have lots to go through tonight, so give us a call to have your take added to the mix!

PODCAST: FEBRUARY 26, 2015: Episode 128

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

TBC: Face-Off

Teebz's Book Club hasn't had an entry for a while, but I am happy to report that I have a number of books to read in the coming weeks which, in turn, means more Book Club entries. It's not often that I get a chance to review an out-of-print book, but today's entry was out of production for a period of time before being brought back for younger readers. Teebz's Book Club is proud to feature Face-Off, written by Stacy Drumtra-Juba and published electronically by Smashwords. The story revolves around two fraternal twin brothers, TJ and Brad McKendrick, who find that life sometimes throws a few curveballs, and they have to find a way to deal with these unexpected turns in their lives.

From the Smashwords site, "Stacy Juba has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag: she pursues whatever story ideas won't leave her alone. Stacy's titles include the adult mystery novels Sink or Swim and Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, the children's picture books The Flag Keeper and the Teddy Bear Town Children's E-Book Bundle (Three Complete Picture Books), and the young adult novels Face-Off and Dark Before Dawn. She is also the editor of the essay anthology 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit."

We find the McKendrick boys in a bit of personal struggle as the twins don't really have a relationship with one another. They're both talented hockey players, but they go to different schools and don't show much brotherly love towards one another. Adding to this layer of interpersonal problems are problems between their parents as Thomas and Barbara McKendrick aren't seeing eye-to-eye either due to a number of factors. In short, we find this family in distress before we even get deep into the book.

While Brad and TJ have their own circle of friends, they're also role models to their younger siblings, Chris and Jory. Chris and Jory are becoming solid hockey players as well with the elder Chris looking to captain his team this year in the same way that Brad and TJ are potentially in line to captain their respective teams.

That is, until Mr. and Mrs. McKendrick deliver some devastating news to TJ. Because work has been slower for Mr. McKendrick's architectural business, they have to pull TJ out of Hayden Preparatory Academy private school and enroll him into Bayview High School. Brad's high school. TJ's dream of captaining his team to a state championship suddenly came to a screeching halt.

As you may have guessed, Brad isn't thrilled at this news either, and this causes the rift between the two twins to open further as they both aim to make the Bayview High hockey team. Brad tries to keep TJ from invading his circle of friends, and, to make matters worse, Brad finds out that TJ has befriended Sherry, a young lady that Brad has a crush on!

As you can see, Miss Drumtra-Juba has many layers of personal interactions happening in Face-Off at the same time. The hockey portion of the book plays a valuable role in helping TJ and Brad find their ways as brothers and teammates, but it's written with very little hockey jargon, making it easy for younger readers to to tackle the hockey portions without needing a lot of hockey knowledge. Secondly, Miss Drumtra-Juba has also removed some of the outdated references in Face-Off to make her story a better read for younger readers. No obscure retired hockey player references here!

There are a lot of relationships that need some work in Face-Off. Do Brad and TJ ever find a way to co-exist as brothers and teammates? Do they remain as role models for Chris and Jory despite their fractured relationship? Do Mr. and Mrs. McKendrick work things out? If they don't, how does it affect their four kids and their well-beings? Does Bayview High School have a successful hockey season in spite of Brad's and TJ's relationship with one another? All of these questions have an answer, but you'll have to read Face-Off to find out!

If you are lucky enough to find a physical copy of Face-Off, it's not a very long read at just 117 pages. This makes it a perfect length for adolescent readers and younger readers. There are a pile of moral lessons in Face-Off to help teach readers about the ups and downs of relationships with family and friends, and these are reinforced throughout the book by both the McKendrick family and by TJ's and Brad's coach.

As an older reader than the targeted audience, I would have liked to have read the unedited version with the references to older hockey players and music from the 1990s. However, that's nothing to complain about whatsoever, so I am happy to say that I enjoyed reading Face-Off, and Face-Off certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

I'm not sure if you'll find Face-Off at your local bookstore, but the link leads to the Smashwords site where it retails for a mere $2.99 USD for an e-copy. You can find the book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, via Kobo, through Audible, and on iTunes! I highly recommend you pick up the e-copy for your young reader!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Best. Fan. Ever.

I don't know who this young lady is, but I'd like to know. She was at the MTS Centre for the game between the Jets and Stars tonight after spending the day getting chemotherapy for cancer. This young lady may very well be the best fan in Winnipeg as it appears nothing would stop her from seeing the game. I am very impressed with her dedication, and I want to do something awesome for her.

As you may be aware, I host a radio show. We'd like this young fan to join us on the show where we can shower her with Manitoba Bisons merchandise and talk to her about her love of the Jets. I want her to share her story. I want to see her face light up when she talks about her heroes. I want to make her the star of The Hockey Show because she was a shining star tonight. I'd like her to meet some of the ladies from the Bisons women's team as well, and maybe we'll try to work a special guest or two in for her to meet.

This young lady is officially the best fan in Winnipeg, hands down.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 23 February 2015

I'm A Fan

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you're fully aware of who the team to the left is. That's Örebro wearing their Pride Night uniforms as they participated in the day's events celebrating the rights of LGBT individuals. They walked in the Pride parade earlier in the afternoon, and they recognized the importance of equal rights throughout the game. In other words, Örebro is a great community-based team!

Julius Hudachek, affectionately known as the "HudaShow" for his post-game celebrations, went one step further after Örebro defeated Frolunda by a 4-2 score. Normally, Hudachek takes to the ice on his own and celebrates with the fans, but he decided to bring a few more teammates on the ice after this game.
Hudachek and the guys danced to The Village People's YMCA in a show of solidarity for LGBT rights, and I have to admit that they do a pretty good job. The various hats they wore made it fairly easy to see what they were up to once they stood across the blue line.

I want to give Örebro full credit for being deeply involved in their community and helping to fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. If there is one team who deserves a mark of certification from the You Can Play project, Örebro would certainly meet the requirements.

Well done, Örebro! Yet another reason why I'm a fan of this team!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Dramatic Rubber Match

These ladies are legitimately trying to give heart attacks to their fans. The Manitoba Bisons and Regina Cougars met in Game Three of the best-of-three Canada West Quarterfinal series tonight, and this one had all the makings of a "game for the ages". After Manitoba took Game One on Friday night by a 4-1 score and Regina responded with an incredible come-from-behind 4-3 double-overtime victory last night, tonight's game continues to deliver on the theatrics in the most heart attack-inducing way!

Manitoba jumped out to a 2-0 on Alanna Sharman's first-period goal and Maggie Litchfield-Medd's second-period goal. Again, the Bisons were a mere twenty minutes from advancing, but these Regina Cougars seem to enjoy the challenge of rallying from behind.

Emma Waldenberger, who stands 6'0" off skates, used her imposing frame to corral a puck and fire it past Rachel Dyck on the power-play at 5:58 of the third period to make it 2-1. If you have that "here we go again" feeling, well, here we go again.

Bailey Braden, with Toni Ross on the bench and six attackers on the ice, fired a shot that somehow found its way through a maze of players including goaltender Rachel Dyck with 1.3 seconds remaining in the game. Yes, you read that right - Regina tied the game 2-2 with one second left. And once more, we were off to overtime between these two teams.

However, the results would not be duplicated. At 3:56 of the first overtime period, the Manitoba Bisons would break into teir happy dances as Courtlyn Oswald drove the net hard after Lauren Keen's initial chance, and she would bury the opportunity for what is likely the biggest goal of her hockey career thus far! Manitoba wins the game 3-2 in overtime and takes the series 2-1!
"Oh gosh... I've scored a few goals with the Bisons, but I don't think any goal is going to compare to that," Oswald told reporters after the game. "There's no better feeling."

Indeed! With her goal, Oswald and the Bisons now advance to next weekend's three-game series against the UBC Thunderbirds in British Columbia. Manitoba dropped two games in Vancouver on February 6 and 7 by scores of 4-3 and 5-2, respectively, but defeated UBC 2-1 in overtime and 3-1 here in Winnipeg earlier this season. Manitoba will have to be at their best this weekend if they hope to defeat the Thunderbirds, but they've proven that it can be done.

Congratulations to the University of Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team on their quarterfinal victory over the Regina Cougars!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A-Gavelin We Go

I said it yesterday in my CIS Women's Hockey Quarterfinal preview of Game One that Kylie Gavelin is the most dangerous member of the Regina Cougars. Being that I work on radio, I was invited to be the color commentator for tonight's game, and I got a first-hand look at why Miss Gavelin was the leading goal-scorer and leading scorer for the Cougars this year. To be honest, she's an amazing hockey player despite her playing for the enemy this weekend, and I might have seen one of the greatest individual efforts all season in tonight's game against the Manitoba Bisons.

With the Bisons leading 3-1 on the scoreboard with 8:08 to play and 1-0 in the best-of-three series, it appeared that some solid defensive ply would send the Bisons to BC to play the UBC Thunderbirds in the semi-final. Instead, Kylie Gavelin put the Regina Cougars on her shoulders as she willed her team into the rubber match of this three-game series.

She already had an assist on Carleen Meszaros' second-period power-play goal, and she would get one of her own in the third period. Alexis Larson's low shot into the slot area was deflected beautifully by Gavelin past Bisons netminder Rachel Dyck just 47 seconds after Manitoba took the 3-1 lead, and we had a game on our hands once more.

Late in the game with goaltender Toni Ross on the bench and six attackers on the ice, Gavelin went back to work. I had said repeatedly on the broadcast that the Bisons need to be aware of where Gavelin was on the ice, likening her presence to that of Alexander Ovechkin in terms of her goal-scoring prowess. Unfortunately, that memo never hit the Bisons' bench because Kylie Gavelin jammed home an Alexis Larson rebound with 27 seconds to play in the game as she skated into the scrum from the top of the right face-off circle unimpeded.

No one picked Gavelin up, no one checked her as she skated in on Dyck, and no one stick-checked her as she pushed the puck across the goal line to make it a 3-3 game, sending Game Two to overtime. As the Bisons players stared up at the rafters lamenting their misfortune, the jubilation on the Cougars' bench was unbridled. You could sense the tension in the air.

The first overtime period saw no goals scored, and I happened to mention at the start of the second overtime period that a goal would most likely be scored in the second overtime period thanks to the long change that the teams were being forced to make. Little did I know that my prediction would neither be the work of fatigue nor a line change miscue.

On a shot that would end up behind the net just over a minute into the second extra frame, Kylee Kupper recovered the rebound and threw it towards the slot. Rachel Dyck, who had slid across the goalmouth to defend against the shot from the point, had the puck bounce off the back of her leg and into the net.

Heartbreak for the Bisons. Celebrations for the Cougars.

Guess who was behind the net that poked that puck to Kupper as she was being checked? If you guessed #13 Kylie Gavelin for the Regina Cougars, winner winner.

Gavelin was in on all four goals for the Cougars tonight, and generally was causing havoc for the Bisons when she wasn't scoring and setting up goals. She is the leader for this Cougars team, and appears to be poised to be one of this country's best young players if her development continues. She's already one of the Canada West's best players in this writer's view, and she has given her team one more shot at eliminating the Manitoba Bisons tomorrow night.

Can you ask for anything more?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Herbivores Take Game One

The Canada West women's hockey playoffs began tonight, and the Manitoba Bisons faced off against the Regina Cougars in one of two series that will determine the next round's match-ups. The Bisons finished third in the conference with 54 points while the Cougars ended up sixth with 38 points. In five games this season, Manitoba went 4-1 against the Cougars, losing their October 4 meeting by a 3-2 score. The two teams played a few close games, so this one should be a closer game than what their respective records may indicate. Like the Rondy Marji image above, I expect this best-of-three series to be a battle with some good physical play while both teams look for the knockout punch!

The Bisons will have to be aware of Regina's Kylie Gavelin. Gavelin led the Cougars in goals and points with 13 and 21, respectively, with five goals coming on the power-play. Gavelin makes up a large portion of the offence as she also leads the team in shots-on-goal with 112 - 26 shots more than both Emma Waldenberger and Bailey Braden. Carleen Meszaros brings some offence from the blue line as she has six goals and 12 points on the season, ranking third in scoring for the Cougars. If the Bisons are going to win, they need to contain these two players.

Toni Ross was the starting goaltender for the majority of the season, but Regina seemed to split games down the stretch as Jennifer Schmidt saw more action. Ross was 7-7-1 this season with a 2.33 GAA and a .922 save percentage. The Cougars, though, seemed to play better in front of Schmidt as she went 8-4-1, but had a 2.35 GAA and only a .915 save percentage. The Bisons are 2-0 against Ross and 1-1 against Schmidt in regular season play, but they may carry the psychological advantage into Game One as they bombed Schmidt for five goals in a 6-1 win on January 17.

The game started rough as the two teams set the tone early with physical play. Regina's Brooklyn Moskowy was whistled for roughing at the 3:40 mark, and it seemed to draw the line in terms of how much physical play would be tolerated by the officials. The two teams would trade chances, but the first goal would be a result of some physical play yet again.

With Regina's Caitlin Dempsey in the sin bin for boarding at the 16:14 mark, the Manitoba power-play went to work very quickly. Alana Serhan found Maggie Litchfield-Medd off the face-off, and Litchfield-Medd fed it Michelle Pawluk whose shot found the back of the net behind Toni Ross, and Manitoba had the 1-0 lead at the 16:23 mark of the first period.

Manitoba would carry that lead into the second period, but it wouldn't last long. The aforementioned Kylie Gavelin found herself in behind the Manitoba defence, and she broke in alone and buried a shot past Rachel Dyck at 3:36 to equal the score at 1-1. The two teams would battle hard for the next 16 minutes, but they would remain deadlocked as the second period came to a close.

The third period would be another tight-checking affair, but Carleen Meszaros took things a little too far as she was whistled for body-checking at 6:29. Manitoba went back to the power-play and they would strike again. After a couple of failed attempts, Erica Rieder's point shot was redirected by Maggie Litchfield-Medd in front of Toni Ross, and Ross could not track the deflection as it dented the twine behind her as the power-play expired at 7:29! Regina needed to open up the game a little, and they got caught at 17:48 when Courtlyn Oswald made it a 3-1 Manitoba lead. 1:11 later, Lauren Keen would ice the game with her goal as Manitoba would skate to the 4-1 victory!

With smiles on their faces and a win in their pocket, Bisons head coach Jon Rempel seemed to like what he saw from his squad despite the close score through most of the game. "I think we got back to playing really tough defensively and our puck possession was really good, I think we got in the cycle and wore them down as the game went on," Rempel told John Gaudes of gobisons.ca.

Game Two goes tomorrow night at Wayne Fleming Arena at 7:00pm. As a bonus, you can catch the game on the radio and via the internet on UMFM! If you're in the Winnipeg region, set your radio to 101.5 MHz for game action tonight. If you're outside Winnipeg, hit up the UMFM website! Chris Zuk and I will have the call for all the action tomorrow night!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 127

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns tonight with an action-packed show that should have people talking if things go as planned. We'll be down one tonight as Columbus has ventured south of the border for a week at home, so we decided to call two up as we try to fill that void! Both of these guys are dynamic, skilled players who should shake things up in The Hockey Show lineup!

Tonight, we pit two long-time hockey fans against one another in a battle to the death! Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but we will feature two fans who know hockey, love their respective teams, and do a bang-up job in defending the positions of their teams despite the standings. Here are the two distinguished call-ups we're featuring tonight.

No, we're not featuring Teemu Selanne despite how awesome that would be. Instead, we're going to talk to the guy who has his name scribbled on the sign held by Teemu. Ryan Connelly is a Pittsburgh Penguins fan who has some love for the Florida Panthers, is an amateur hockey star, and is an all-around great guy. He might be a little wobbly tonight, though, as he celebrated a birthday last night. Happy birthday, Ryan! Ryan's the kind of fan who will tell it like it is, and won't be afraid to criticize Crosby if necessary in looking at the recent struggles by the Penguins.

The other guy we're going to feature is not Matt Duchene despite how cool that would be. He does enjoy a good Matt Duchene highlight, though, and he's certainly in favor of his Avalanche star dropping the gloves and administering a little tough love on opponents. He's simply known as "Anthrax Jones" and he could be one of the most entertaining Avalanche fans on Twitter. He routinely calls out various teams - most notably the Columbus Blue Jackets - and has no issue being blocked by various celebrities on Twitter. We'll discuss some of that and more with this Avalanche fan as we bring down the Central Division!

Tonight, we'll break down the results of the Jets-Sabres trade after having seen both teams in action at this point. We'll have Anthrax break down why the Avalanche went from heroes to zeroes this season as it appears they will miss the playoffs. We'll ask Ryan why the Penguins suddenly look like also-rans as the playoffs approach and why they can't win in their division. We'll also talk about some of the bigger trades seen at the deadlines, and which players each person would like back for their respective teams if they could have a trade mulligan!

The phones will be closed tonight as we speak with Ryan and Thrax, but the show will be live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like 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. Two crazy fans join two crazy radio hosts tonight, so you should too!

PODCAST: FEBRUARY 19, 2015: Episode 127

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

In Case You Missed It...

The image above is probably the most accurate way to depict Dustin Byfuglien when he has a player in his cross-hairs. Usually, the result is mass carnage and chaos as he hits with the momentum of a runaway freight train, and it was on display on Monday night when the Jets played the Oilers.

The victim? Luke Gazdic who, in his own right, is a tough hombre.

The problem? Mark Fayne's suicide pass to Gazdic with Byfuglien charging down the tracks. This one is ugly, kids, so be prepared for a wince or two.
That looked like it hurt a lot. Gazdic left the game immediately after that hit and did not return. Byfuglien continued to play as he and Ryan Hamilton seemed to develop a bit of a jousting match for the rest of the night possibly in response to Byfuglien sending Gazdic to the dressing room. In any case, Freight Train Byfuglien left another victim in his wake.

The Oilers returned home to play the Boston Bruins tonight, and Gazdic was not in the lineup. As you can see to the image to the right, it appears that Gazdic's head, neck, and face took the brunt of the fall after the hit on Monday. Thankfully, I am happy to report that Gazdic was not concussed on that play. His chin, however, was not so fortunate as it required eight stitches to close the wound that Byfuglien's hit left on him. Officially, the Oilers have him day-to-day, and that's always a good thing to hear when you see the image above.

There's a reason why they call passes like Fayne made "suicide passes". Fayne should have been screaming at Gazdic after making that pass to warn him about the oncoming train wreck, but it appears that he either did not warn Gazdic or Gazdic didn't hear him. Either way, the result was scary. Thankfully, Gazdic will be back to battle once more.

As for Byfuglien? Look both ways when crossing his tracks!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

He Said, He Said

They have battled on bigger stages, but I'm pretty certain that Alexander Ovechkin and Ryan Getzlaf won't be sending each other Christmas cards this season. Ovechkin had a four-point game against the Ducks on Sunday night while Getzlaf was held off the scoresheet. However, it wasn't what they did on the ice that has everyone talking. These two have traded barbs through the media at one another, and these shots have turned personal as Ovechkin and Getzlaf try to one-up the comment made by the other.

I;m not even going to set this one up. The video speaks for itself. Let's get things started with Ryan Getzlaf's comments post-game on Sunday night.
Alright, so we know Getzlaf thinks that Ovechkin was diving all over the place in that game, leaving the Anaheim centerman unhappy. And Ovechkin responded this morning.

"No response," Ovechkin told Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post before offering one. "Maybe he's just jealous. I have hair, he don't have hair. We can start talking about it all day long. I think it was comment because he was disappointed they lost. Again, it is what it is.

"I don't think somebody can call me diver in this league, but how I said, maybe he's disappointed in all the kind of moments that happen."

Really? I get that the 29 year-old Getzlaf has long been follicly-challenged, but I'm not sure that Ovechkin needed to bring that up after Getzlaf's allegations. Nevertheless, Ovechkin's comments got back to Getzlaf, and we have another response thanks to Puck Daddy's Jen Neale.
I'm glad that Getzlaf could laugh everything off, and he's right about not hashing it out in the media. If Getzlaf feels that Ovechkin is a diver, I'm sure those two can discuss it at the next NHLPA meeting. There was most likely some frustration in Getzlaf after having an unusually quiet night on the ice as well, so we'll leave this one amongst the players to resolve.

After all, there's no need to lose one's hair head over it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Live Blog: 1990s NFL Matchup

This is not going to be an article where we talk about NFL at all other than mentioning the two teams' names tonight as the Jets and Oilers get ready to tangle in Winnipeg. The Oilers are looking to secure their tank position as they work towards one of Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel joining their team despite their need for Noah Hanifin. The Jets, having made a blockbuster deal, brought in two players who were key in their win over Detroit while stocking the cupboards a little more. These two teams are moving in opposite directions, but we'll live-blog tonight's game between the cellar-dwellers and a possible playoff team!

PRE-GAME STUFF

  • No Rob Klinkhammer for the Oilers tonight as he's back in Lethbridge with his wife as they are expecting a baby. Kudos to MacTavish for letting him go home to be with his wife.
  • Michael Hutchinson will start for the Jets tonight.
  • The Oilers are starting a hot dog vendor who played street hockey as a kid. I wonder if they know that they're playing in Winnipeg and the vendor is a Jets employee? 
  • The Oilers have decided to start working on their golf games because they heard that the team that finishes with the lowest score in the standings win!
  • Drew Stafford will be on the top line tonight, replacing Blake Wheeler on the line. Wheeler will slot in beside Scheifele and Perreault. It's similar to how the Jets finished in Detroit. Not surprising since they won that game!
  • Looks like Myers and Stafford will start the game tonight. Classy move, Maurice!
  • Jets beat the Oilers at home in overtime by a 3-2 score in their only meeting thus far. The Oilers, at that point, hadn't started the tank job.
  • As a note, Jay Harrison is listed as a healthy scratch. Good to see he's out of the injury bay and ready to roll for the Jets down the stretch.

FIRST PERIOD

  • Eberle with an early chance, but he doesn't care about scoring any longer.
  • Wheeler and Perreault almost open the scoring. Perreault needs just a little extra stick on that attempt, and Winnipeg would be up.
  • Have all the Oilers spent time in the AHL this year?
  • Did the Oilers as a team win some promotion from the AHL? 
  • You gotta feel bad for Craig Ramsay. He's been with some bad teams. Including Atlanta. He might not ever see the playoffs again. 
  • Tyler Myers: everything Bogosian wasn't.
  • Speaking of Bogo, the guy had a monster game against Philly with Buffalo last night. Congratulations to him for settling in with his new team. 
  • Mathieu Perreault was hit by Jeff Petry, and he's laboring. Jets will be down a forward as Perreault heads to the dressing room being helped by trainers.
  • Perreault is walking with a bit of a limp down the chute. He might be back. I'll keep you posted as to what I see. 
  • Remember how much we heard about how great Mark Fayne's advanced statistics were? The guy is a pylon. Not sure what advanced stats would have pointed to that. 
  • Jets on a power play as Keith Aulie was called for tripping. Cheater. 
  • Pouliot without a stick and playing the weak side of the diamond. I'd be setting up one-timers all day on his side. 
  • What did I just say? Enstrom rips a cross-ice pass from Wheeler that Fasth just gets a piece of, and Bryan Little taps home an easy goal for his 22nd of the season! 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • Had Little not got a stick on that, we'd be talking about an Andrew Ladd goal. Hi, Edmonton. You need to play defence occasionally too!
  • Edmonton would struggle against most WHL teams this season. Do they just give tickets away in Edmonton now? I'm not sure I'd pay to be a fan of these guys. 
  • Dennis Beyak: trying to be the new Pierre McGuire with all that useless info. 
  • Keith Aulie didn't see enough of that power play from the sin bin, so he volunteers to watch some more. Interference on Aulie, and the Jets will go to work. Cheater.
  • '80s band reference #1: INXS fans and Oilers fans both love Bitter Tears.
  • Nothing doing on that power play. Fasth stopped four shots. He'll be called to MacT's office between periods to go over the finer points of tanking. 
  • Maybe it always was Eakins? Nail Yakupov with a great set of hands as he walks around Chiarot and finds a seam on Hutchinson. 1-1 TIE GAME.
  • Andrew Ladd will sit for being a dirty hooker. Oil Tankers to the PP!
  • Yes, I have renamed the Oilers as "Oil Tankers" for the rest of the game.
  • Can I just say how irate I get when I see lazy stick infractions? If I were Maurice, I'd bag-skate any player who takes a lazy penalty. You don't want to move your feet? Then bag-skate in practice. 
  • Anton Lander scores on the power play. Maybe the Jets are trying to ruin the Oilers' tank job? That was garbage defence. 2-1 EDMONTON.
  • And we have a scrap! Anthony Peluso and Luk Gazdic are tossing fists at one another. It should be noted that Ottawa's Chris Neil broke his thumb on Gazdic's head earlier this week. Peluso should take note.
  • Wow. That one went on forever. Both men look exhausted after they danced for over a minute. Neither went down, and both connected. Great scrap! 
  • Jordan Eberle will sit for two minutes as he tried to dig Byfuglien's eye out with his stick. Winnipeg to the power play. Cheater.
  • And Tony Enstrom will bag-skate tomorrow for tripping Pouliot. Dummy.
  • Viktor Fasth is handling that puck like a grenade covered in butter.
  • Something that hasn't been heard since the late-1990s: Derek Roy makes a defensive play. He breaks up the rush by Wheeler. 
  • MTS Centre ice surface looks like a lumber yard with all the broken sticks. 
  • Dear Byfuglien: try hitting the net. Thanks. 
  • That'll do it for one period. Winnipeg played horribly. Man up.
  • '80s band reference #2: INXS is playing in the MTS Centre. Need You Tonight. Beauty!

SECOND PERIOD

  • Tyler Myers is back on the ice. Good to see.
  • No Perreault yet. He might be done for tonight.
  • And Beyak just confirmed Perreault is done. 
  • Fasth might be a little sore after having six players collide with him.
  • Fasth hangs in there. He'll be alright. 
  • Aulie corkscrews Stafford. Stafford two-hands Aulie. Neither ref puts an arm in the air. Is this the old Smythe Division? 
  • It appears Edmonton will ice the puck for the next 34 minutes to try and hold this lead. Not sure about this strategy, but it's working. 
  • Every time Beyak says "Pakarinen", it sounds as if he's saying "Pekka Rinne". 
  • Remember when the Oil Tankers won the Justin Schultz sweepstakes?
  • Bryan Little finds iron on that shot. 
  • Hutchinson improves his save percentage to .800 with that save. 
  • It looked like a replay, but Chiarot goes down the left wing boards into the corner, tosses the puck to the front, and Little hits the iron for the goal! 2-2 TIE GAME.
  • Andrew Ladd is being double-shifted on the fourth line. Or is it demoted?
  • Does anyone actually know that Teddy Purcell is still in the NHL? 
  • When you take a raise to play in Edmonton, just know that extra money will be used on green fees and golfing bets in May. Benoit Pouliot regrets his decision. 
  • Dustin Byfuglien lays out Gazdic. Lots of hugging between the teams as they chat this one out. 
  • Gazdic is off to the dressing room. He left a donation of plasma on the ice. 
  • Myers: 6'8", uses a 6' stick. Enstrom: 5'10", uses a 6' stick. 
  • Jets are playing breakaway pass right now. Oil Tanker forwards are lost in the neutral zone. Is that a Star Trek reference? 
  • The Jets' fourth line is literally a Corsi nightmare. 
  • Slater, Peluso and Lowry are the only Jets without a shot. Two of them play on the Jets' fourth line. Coincidence? 
  • Thorburn just tried to pass the puck to Byfuglien who had lost his stick seconds earlier. This is the Jets' fourth line, people. Oi vay. 
  • Third time tonight that Jeff Petry has been beaten on the outside. And this guy is considered to be one of the defencemen teams are looking at?
  • The second period comes to an end. One period to settle this.

THIRD PERIOD

  • Jets change lines like the Oil Tankers tank - POORLY. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fires one past Hutchinson early, and the Oilers are in the lead. 3-2 EDMONTON.
  • I'm not sure if there are actual trained referees on the ice. Keith Aulie has groped about six Jets tonight, and has only sat twice. 
  • Drew Stafford is now in the dressing room. Not sure what happened there. 
  • TYLER MYERS WITH A BOMB! Face-off win back to Enstrom, and the big defenceman loads up the cannon! #57 with his first as a Jet! 3-3 TIE GAME
  • This game feels like an old Smythe Division game. Bodies all over the ice, chances at both ends, and goals being scored. Thankfully, no Gretzky. 
  • Sara Orlesky reports that Stafford is done. Upper-body injury. 
  • If the Jets hit the net more often, it could be 10-3. 
  • Fayne wears the "A" in Edmonton? How is that even possible?!? 
  • Andrew Ference: prepping the "welcome to the team, kid" speech he's delivered to more players than he ever figured he'd have to in his career. 
  • The Oil Tankers have a forward line of 51, 67, and 62 on the ice. AHL much? 
  • Frolik is called for tripping Viktor Fasth by Mike Leggo from the JETS BLUE LINE! Kelly Sutherland, who is ten-feet away, makes no movement.Are you kidding me? Fasth fell, and Leggo rewards him for the dive? GARBAGE!
  • On the replay, Frolik's skate caught Fasth's skate. It was a trip. But Sutherland had one job, and he failed miserably on it.
  • The Jets' PK is garbage. Nail Yakupov off a cross-ice pass down low by Benoit Pouliot has his second of the night with a Jets defenceman watching. Yikes. 4-3 EDMONTON
  • Well, Wheeler decides that won't stand. His backhander is stopped, but Andrew Ladd on the rebound slips it past Fasth as four Oilers watch. 4-4 TIE GAME
  • 42 seconds between those goals. 
  • Is Mike Leggo on the Oil Tankers' payroll? No call for about four seconds before Leggo decides to whistle Ladd for the trip on Klefbom. Wow.
  • No one will argue that wasn't a trip. But what is with these officials? 
  • Oil Tankers had about eleventy billion chances there. No dice, says Hutch.
  • And this one will need overtime!
  • More to come...

OVERTIME

  • This is end-to-end insanity! Great action!
  • Viktor Fasth is ridiculous. WOW. He's saved the Oil Tankers often.
  • Hit the net! C'mon, Scheifele! 
  • Viktor Fasth: 9700 saves tonight. 200 of them in OT.

SKILLS COMPETITION

  • Blake Wheeler - puts on the brakes, dekes Fasth out of his underpants, and buries it. 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • Fasth is down and hurt. This is a groin injury, folks. He's done. Underpants will be recovered from the seventh row later.
  • Richard Bachman will come in cold for Edmonton.
  • Nail Yakupov - slows up, shoots it wide. 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • Bryan Little - comes down the left side, rings it off the bar! 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • Derek Roy - dipsy-doodles into Hutch's pad. 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • Andrew Ladd - down the left side, Bachman makes a desperation save. 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • Jordan Eberle - goes to the backhand, and Hutch with the save! 1-0 WINNIPEG.
  • WINNIPEG WINS 5-4 in the shootout!
  • Hutchinson improves to 14-for-14 in the shootout!
  • Give the Jets 70 points on the season! WOOT!
That'll do it, kids! The Jets pick up another key two points as the Oil Tankers will leave with a single point, putting them seven up on Buffalo and five back of Phoenix!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

No Place Like Detroit

The player wearing #25 and making the deflection in the image to the left is former Detroit Red Wing forward Cory Emmerton. You may not have known where he's playing, but he has been in Russia all season with the KHL's Sochi Leopards. He's having a decent season with 17 goals and 29 points in 56 games, but I'm pretty certain he never expected anything like what happened in their weekend game against Vityaz. In fact, depending on what the results come back with, he may not even remember it happening.

I had read an article written on The Faceoff Circle by Andrey Osadchenko about this, but I needed more details. To set the scene, you have to know that Vityaz was fighting for their playoff lives in their 57th game of the season. A loss would mean they were eliminated from the playoffs, so this game was definitely a must-win game. Sochi, who holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings ahead of Vityaz, could make their trek to the playoffs a little less crowded with a win. The stakes were obviously high in this game.

Things didn't go so well for Vityaz in the game on Friday. Sochi had built a 5-0 lead through the first two periods before Maxim Afinogenov broke the goose egg for Vityaz. Being that his goal came far too late to be of any significance, Vityaz's Alexei Kudreman decided to take matters into his own hands with four seconds remaining in the game. Here's the video, although it won't give you much to work with yet.
Emmerton is the player at the end skating away from the crowd with his arms up as he yells at the referee. There are four seconds left in the 5-1 game, and Emmerton looks pretty angry. Why, you ask? Maybe because this is what Kudreman did to Emmerton in the corner.
Yeah, that looks somewhat serious. Emmerton is reportedly suffering from a concussion from that cut on his head that required five stitches to close, and Sochi is reportedly looking at pressing assault charges against Vityaz's Kudreman for the unprovoked attack on Emmerton.

"We will look into the possibility of filing criminal charges," Sochi head coach Slava Butsayev told reporters. "These are not just words. I'm not saying that for the sake of scaring someone. There are certain things that shouldn't be forgiven. If this kid thinks he's going to go on like nothing happened, he's mistaken."

Apparently, there was some skirmish earlier in the game where Slava Solodukhin, the Vityaz captain, was injured. According to Vityaz General Manager Igor Varitsky, "Kudreman wanted to put Sochi players back in their place."

Um, what? Look, I understand the idealism of eye-for-an-eye when it comes to equaling a wrong committed against your team, but viciously attacking Emmerton - he of 22 NHL PIMs in 139 career games - is the wrong way to do it. Solodukhin is Chekhov Vityaz's leading goal scorer with 21 goals, yet there is no word on the KHL site or anywhere else about the injury or the severity of the injury that Solodukhin suffered. For all we know, he could be back by next game.

Since Varitsky seems to have spoken to Kudreman about what his intentions were, this sounds like it was a calculated attack premeditated by a player in his fifth KHL game who, for all intents and purposes, is expendable. Not only should there be a suspension for Kudreman, but there should be a serious fine handed out to Vityaz for this attack on an unsuspecting player. It's garbage hockey, and it's a reason why the KHL is still used as a punch-line for North American hockey players.

While Vityaz wears red and white like his former club, I'm quite certain Cory Emmerton would rather be playing with the Red Wings than sitting in a Russian apartment dealing with concussion symptoms. Kudreman, for however long his suspension will be, won't be missed.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

They Look Comfortable

For all those in Winnipeg who have an Olli Jokinen jersey in the back of their closets, you might want to dig them out and get the name bar on the back changed. Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers played a large role in the Jets' shootout victory over the Detroit Red Wings tonight, and they appear to settling in with their new teammates quite nicely. Myers had a pair of assists, including a gorgeous rush that led to Blake Wheeler's goal, and Stafford had a goal - assisted by Myers - and the shootout winner! I'm not about to anoint Winnipeg as the winners in the trade that brought Stafford and Myers to Winnipeg just yet, but tonight's game was a glimpse of why I was so high on these two players back on February 3.

Myers played a big role in bringing the Jets back from a 3-1 deficit as his rush, created by a neutral zone poke-check he utilized, caused Howard to make a big save on Myers, leaving him out of position as the rebound sat in front of the yawning cage. Cue Blake Wheeler as the big power forward charged in and deposited the rubber disc into the net, and it was 3-2.

Myers looked exceptionally confident in that rush, and that was something rarely seen in Buffalo. Whether it was the risk of being hung out to dry on the Sabres' blue line or Ted Nolan simply instructing him not to carry the puck, the Jets and Jets fans got a glimpse of Tyler Myers' Calder Trophy-winning form on that rush. But Myers wasn't done there, and he helped his former Buffalo teammate get in on the action.

Granted, that goal wasn't of the highlight reel type, but it was an important goal for the Jets. For Stafford, that's his first in the new uniform, and I thought the newly-formed line of Stafford-Scheifele-Frolik was decent tonight. It wasn't the most offensive line we've seen the Jets roll out onto the ice, but they were very effective in the two-way game that Maurice likes to play.

The two teams would trade goals in the third period to send the game to overtime, and nothing would be solved there. So it was off to the shootout, and here's how it ended.

While they don't give game-winning goals to shootout winners, Drew Stafford was wearing the fighter pilot helmet after the game as the Jets recognized his effort, but it was Tyler Myers named as first star in the game by the Joe Louis Arena staff. Needless to say, though, this game's outcome was certainly affected by a couple of former Buffalo Sabres.

"Coming here, even after two games, it's not so much defensive-zone play. The way these guys play is the right way to play the game and it allows each and every guy to get the most out of what they can do," Myers told Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press. "I've never gone through anything like that before. It was a whirlwind 24 hours. I definitely had some nerves going into the game in Nashville. This was so much more comfortable and I just want to continue playing at this level for this team."

Both Myers and Stafford looked very comfortable in this game, and that's an excellent thing to hear as the team gears up for a run down the stretch and in the playoffs. If Stafford and Myers can continue to bring efforts like tonight's to each and every game, it will be hard to ague against the thought that Winnipeg won this trade.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 13 February 2015

Kulikov Ruins Two Seasons

The Dallas Stars have been somewhat disappointing this season as they were expected to challenge for a playoff spot and, possibly, the division lead in the Central Division. Instead, they're simply trying to keep their playoff hopes alive at this point as they sit in sixth-place in the division. While a number of things haven't gone right for the Dallas Stars this season, tonight saw Florida's Dmitri Kulikov basically drive the final nail in the coffin for the Stars' season with one move.

While it's hard to imagine Florida being able to derail the Stars' season as they play in a different division and conference altogether, it was Kulikov exclusively that may have ended any hope for the Stars reaching the playoffs tonight. Here's how he did it.
That's a tough call to make on whether it was dirty or not, but it certainly is dangerous. Had that hit occurred along the boards, we might be talking about a solid hip check. However, in open ice, you can see in a couple of the replays that Seguin's knee absorbs the punishment as Kulikov goes low on him. When knees are the focal point of punishment, things usually doesn't get well for the punished.

Regardless of what I think of the hit, there are two unavoidable facts: Seguin will be on the injured list, and Kulikov will get a hearing for this hit. Again, Kulikov didn't have to make this hit, but he did anyway. It's that fact that I believe makes it a reviewable hit, so Kulikov should expect a phone call from the Department of Player Safety in the coming days.

With that hit, though, Kulikov essentially ended any hope of the Dallas Stars making the playoffs as Seguin appears to be seriously hurt in the video above. Seguin is Dallas' leading scorer, an integral part of their offence, and is certainly irreplaceable at this point in the season when the Stars need him most. Without him, it's basically over for 2014-15 for the Stars.

Because I have Seguin on my fantasy hockey team, my chances at catching the leaders are essentially over now as well. Thanks, Dmitri. My run as champion will end at one year with that hit. So much for another cash windfall for me for winning the season's pool.

Kulikov got a five-minute major penalty for clipping and a game misconduct. Dallas gets a higher draft pick than they may have anticipated. That doesn't seem fair, does it?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 126

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, returns tonight in the wake of the "Evander Exodus" as we get our alliteration on. As much as this will be on the minds of everyone tonight, you're probably at the point where you're thinking you've heard enough. We appreciate that, and we certainly know that you tune into The Hockey Show for our unique look at hockey. In saying that, we're not focusing on the trade. Instead, we're bringing you something different!

Nicole Haase, our favorite NCAA and women's hockey writer, joins us on the program, and we're going to talk about a number of topics. We'll chat about the current rankings in the NCAA for both the men's and women's programs. We'll talk about Harvard upsetting Boston College in the Beanpot Championship and what that means for the rankings. We'll talk about Shannon Miller's dismissal at UMD and whether her allegations of sexual discrimination hold water. We'll talk about Nicole's interview with Shannon Szabados and Shannon's revealing of a number of interesting topics. And we'll ask her how far the Wisconsin Badgers are going to go in this year's Frozen Four tournament!

Ok, and we'll even discuss the Evander Kane trade and how it affects the Jets and Sabres. It will be a small mention at the end of the program, though, so be prepared for a lot of NCAA chatter before it. To be honest, the stories and information that Nicole is bringing to the show tonight aren't reported in Canada, so this is a show you should certainly hear.

The phones will be closed tonight as we speak with Nicole, but the show will be live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like 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're excited to talk some cawlidge hockey tonight!

PODCAST: FEBRUARY 12, 2015: Episode 126

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Everything Changes

The news came swiftly today as it was announced that the NHL had a "blockbuster" trade to announce. The Winnipeg Jets - not known to make trades involving NHL-ready players - made a move today that shook the cages of a number of NHL teams looking to tweak their teams as they enter their stretch runs. The Buffalo Sabres finally shook themselves of a player they seemingly wanted, but couldn't ever pull off the market. Both teams changed their teams dramatically as a seven-player deal was made between the two teams.

Let's be upfront here: this was a pure hockey deal. Far too often, teams are negotiating with an eye on the salary cap, but both of these teams had room to deal with the ability to pick up some salary. In saying that, neither team assumes a ton of salary one or the other, but both get a chance to improve their teams through this trade. For the first time in a long time, we get to see a pure hockey trade which resulted in a multi-player deal that should help both teams.

As for the deal itself, here are the particulars. The Winnipeg Jets traded Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and unsigned RPI goaltender Jason Kasdorf to Buffalo for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, current Barrie Colts forward Brendan Lemieux, current Rochester Americans forward Joel Armia, and a 2015 first-round draft pick. The first-round pick will be the lowest of the three first-round picks that Buffalo owns, meaning it will be either St. Louis' or the New York Islanders' pick this season. As it stands right now, it would be St. Louis' pick that Winnipeg would receive in the deal.
WOW.

The Jets were actively shopping Kane, and they certainly wanted a decent return for the disgruntled winger. I don't think anyone imagined it would be the haul they received from Buffalo. Vancouver and Washington were reportedly in the discussions regarding Kane's availability, but Buffalo clearly anted up the best deal in this poker hand, and they will now have Kane's services at their disposal for the foreseeable future.

Let's take a look at each of the players involved in this deal.

OFF TO BUFFALO...

EVANDER KANE: There is no doubt that Evander Kane has the potential to be a dominant player in this league. Realizing that potential, though, is something that seems to be a fleeting thought in his head because Kane has only cracked the 20-goal barrier once in his six seasons in the NHL. Some will point at the Thrashers/Jets organization in terms of the perceived lack of opportunities provided to Kane, but the player is at least partly responsible for his own situation as to where he slots into the lineup. Kane rarely did himself favors off the ice in the public's eye with his antics, and he was far too often a "ride-along" for the Jets on the ice. In short, his antics both in the public realm and behind closed dressing room doors never bought him the benefit of the doubt that he thought he deserved. Part of that is due to the unrealized potential that he left on the table.

In Buffalo, he'll get a chance to start over with a team that is in full rebuild mode. Kane could and should occupy one of the winger spots on the top line next season with Sabres, and will most likely be looking at one of Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel, or Connor McDavid as his centerman. He shouldn't have a problem being the shooter from any of those exceptional setup men, and we could see him breakout of his perceived lack of production in Winnipeg.

With Buffalo being somewhat similar to Winnipeg - a small market, hockey-mad city - fans will love his showmanship if he lights the lamp repeatedly. He can't lose focus, though, or he'll hear the fans in Buffalo calling for his head as often as they did in Winnipeg. If his childish antics begin to creep into the locker room once more, expect Ted Nolan to set him straight. If he doesn't get that message, he'll be on the trading block once more as Nolan won't put up with some of the stuff that was swept under the rug here in Winnipeg.

ZACH BOGOSIAN: A lot of people - both players and fans - in Winnipeg will be sad to see Bogosian on his way out, but this is simply a case of circumstances that sees Bogosian headed to upstate New York. Bogosian is a very solid defenceman that seemingly found a home in Winnipeg, but Buffalo needed someone to replace the traded Tyler Myers. So why Bogosian? It became a combination of his salary, his lack of offensive production, his inability to remain healthy for a full season, and some of his reported off-ice behaviors that may have prompted GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to opt to send the Massena, NY native to Buffalo. Buffalo needed a defenceman and Winnipeg had a gluttony of them. Straws were drawn, and Bogosian drew the short straw due to the factors above.

Bogosian will be a steady presence for the Sabres as they rebuild. He certainly won't win any Norris Trophies, but he'll stabilize a defence corps that couldn't find a home for Tyler Myers. He's generally safe in his own zone, can be a wrecking ball when needed to be, and should be a presence on the Sabres' blue line for some time at the age of 24. A lot of people have said how underrated Bogosian was with the Jets. I disagree with the idea that he was underrated as much as he was unnoticed. Being unnoticed as a defenceman usually means you're doing your job well, and Sabres fans will appreciate that aspect of Bogosian's game.

JASON KASDORF: I hate to suggest that Kasdorf was a throw-in on this trade, but the 2011 sixth-round pick by the Jets wasn't going to get many opportunities with the NHL club after being slotted behind Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie. That being said, the Winnipeg native wasn't exactly setting the NCAA on fire with RPI this season either with a 9-14-0 record, a 2.94 GAA, and a .900 save percentage in his first full season as the starter. Kasdorf had yet to be signed by the Jets and there may have been questions as to whether he would sign knowing where he sat in the depth chart, so this may be the Jets tossing Kasdorf a lifeline in sending him to Buffalo. Regardless of the reasons the Jets threw him into this trade, he's now going to be working his way up the Sabres' depth chart going forward.

COMING TO WINNIPEG...

TYLER MYERS: The former Calder Trophy-winner had seen his stock plummet along with his stats to the point where he was no longer a player sent onto the ice in the final minute of a game. Myers' confidence probably took a beating if he read the newspapers and listened to the radio shows in Buffalo, and a broken player is a tough thing to fix in a toxic environment. The trade to Winnipeg should provide Myers an opportunity to shed the baggage he may have been carrying in Buffalo. He won't be expected to be the 50-point guy he needed to be in Buffalo every night, and there will be some rebuilding of that confidence by the Jets in seeing if Myers can find the form that had him resembling a world-class defenceman in 2010.

Like Kane, untapped potential is what the Jets see in Myers. Head coach Paul Maurice has seen a case like Myers before as he had a young Chris Pronger in Hartford. It will be up to Maurice and assistance coach Charlie Huddy to groom Myers and bring him back to the form that saw him win the Calder Trophy. Pairing him with Toby Enstrom should help the youngster, and Maurice has stated that he'll work with Myers in the same vein that he worked with Dustin Byfuglien to refine his game. That has to excite Winnipeg fans and the Jets organization if Myers can discover his game as much as Byfuglien has.

While this won't be what Jets fan want to hear, if things with Myers simply don't work out over the next month for whatever reason, the Jets can still look at dealing Myers to a team needing a defenceman. There were rumors that the Detroit Red Wings were looking at Myers before today's trade. Could the Jets find a way to bring in Teemu Pulkkinen if he were available in a Myers-to-Detroit deal? Of course, the Jets don't want to be in that situation, so let's toss Myers some credit here in that he'll buy into whatever it is Maurice and company have in store for him, and he becomes the next Pronger or Chara in this league. After all, 6'8" defencemen don't just fall out of trees in the NHL.

DREW STAFFORD: Stafford finds himself in a somewhat similar position to Myers where his stats seemingly had fallen off compared to previous seasons. The Sabres retain half of Stafford's $4 million salary for this season and he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season, so he's literally playing for a contract for next season in his Jets' debut. He'll be a serviceable third-line winger if he can chip in a few goals and lay out a few bodies, but there's hope he can push for a second-line spot if he can push his game to another level. With that contract hope in the back of his mind and being on a new team, Stafford should be properly motivated to play his tail off in Winnipeg.

Stafford's downfall, however, is his ability to become invisible. Too often in games this season, he's neither contributed on the scoresheet nor has he piled on the secondary stats. Part of that has to do with his roster slot in Buffalo, so he'll need to bring it every night if he hopes to convince the Jets' brass to sign him to a contract next season. He doesn't need to be a point-per-game player if he can block shots, throw hits, and stay on the plus side of the plus-minus, but he certainly can't skate fifteen minutes and record nothing tangible. The Jets will expect him to hold up that end of the bargain in this deal.

JOEL ARMIA: The 16th-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has only spent two seasons, including this one, in North America. However, his impact with the AHL's Rochester Americans has been felt. The Finn has racked up 17 goals and 35 assists in 87 AHL games thus far, and the Americans were only starting to see his potential before the trade. He has incredible hands and stick-handling skills, and has shown a flair for goals when he finds the slot. While he's still a little slight in terms of his weight for NHL work, he should be considered as another piece of the deep Jets prospect pool that continues to grow. Armia should push for a roster spot within a season or two, and he could be the next Finnish favorite in the Manitoba capital if he continues to develop. He's not as polished as Nikolaj Ehlers, but he could push for a second-line spot with his abilities.

BRENDAN LEMIEUX: I'm quite excited to see Lemieux in the Jets' fold. The 31st-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft is a talented goal scorer with a mean streak to boot. His numbers are pretty impressive with the OHL's Barrie Colts: 111 games played to this point, 62 goals, 41 assists, and a mere 265 PIMs. He's going to be a longer-term project with the Jets than an Ehlers or Petan, but he'll be a solid contributor once he figures out the pro game. Lemieux plays like his father, Claude Lemieux, and reportedly has an intense compete level that few rival. His want for the puck makes him extremely hard to defend, and he has an incredible ability to play in front of the goalie and deflect pucks. He's an asset already, and he's only 18.

FIRST-ROUND PICK: Not only do the Jets have their own first-round pick, but they add a late first-round pick in this deal. This year's NHL draft class is deep, and the Jets will have options late in the opening round. Maybe they look at a scoring winger like Charlottetown's Daniel Sprong? Maybe they look for a solid two-way forward like Colin White of the US U18 team? Perhaps a defenceman like Sweden's Jacob Larsson is available? Whatever the Jets decide at their draft position, there are a lot of great players still available late in the round. Winnipeg's prospect pool just keeps getting deeper and deeper, and we haven't even spoken about the possibility of trading this pick with another piece - Pavelec? Postma? Others? - to upgrade the team even further.

SO WHO WON THE TRADE?

Man, I hate that question. Winning and losing a trade all depend on optics. You could say the Jets won by trading Evander Kane's contract to the Sabres. You could say that the Sabres won by getting Tyler Myers off their blue line. You could say that the additional pieces Winnipeg received gives them the upper hand, but there's no guarantee any of Armia, Lemieux, or whoever they pick in the draft will make it to the NHL.

In the short term, it appears Winnipeg wins simply due to the fact that Kane is done for the season with his shoulder injury. However, we won't start seeing the fruits of Buffalo's moves until next season because of that fact, so let's leave this one as "they're both happy".

ARE YOU HAPPY?

Hell yes. I love that Winnipeg is actually willing to take a chance on Myers and Stafford. In fact, I asked this very question on Twitter on February 3. I took some heat for this tweet:
I'm not saying I called this trade at all, but it seemed like something that would be easy to do considering both teams' needs when I looked at the pieces of the deal. I had suggested Bogosian, Postma, Galiardi, and a mid-round pick to go to Buffalo, but that was before the Kane fiasco in Winnipeg. When that story broke, all bets were off and Kane was, as we now know, a marked man.

SO IN SHORT...

Let's call it as it is: both teams got what they wanted, both teams added pieces they think they need, and both teams come away happy with the results. Sometimes, hockey trades just work for both sides. This is one of those deals where the real results of the trade may not be seen for several seasons or longer.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Luong-OH NO!

There's no denying that Roberto Luongo is an elite goaltender. He's helped a rather inexperienced Florida Panthers club push for a wild card berth with his play this season, and he was selected an NHL All-Star for his work. While there may still be some fans in Vancouver who hold a grudge, there's no denying that Luongo looks happier and seems to be playing to the best of his abilities in Florida. However, elite goaltenders are still human which means they can err, and Luongo proved tonight that he is human in Florida's contest against the Anaheim Ducks. Needless to say, this one won't be on Luongo's "Greatest Saves" film.

With Anaheim trailing the Panthers by a 5-1 score in the latter portions of the second period, Luongo had done all that had been asked of him in helping the Panthers handle the Ducks to that point. Perhaps he was on auto-pilot as he saw the puck cleared from the Panthers' zone or perhaps he was thinking ahead of the play that happened, but Anaheim's Tim Jackman won't score an easier backhanded shot this season.

Ouch

Make no mistake, this was simple an "oops" on Luongo's part. If the game was closer, it could have spelled disaster, but he can laugh it off at 5-1 on the scoreboard. The Panthers did finish off the Ducks in the 6-2 victory, and I'm sure there was some fun ribbing in the dressing room at Luongo's expense. In any case, Roberto Luongo is a great guy with a fantastic sense of humour, so I'm sure he had no trouble absorbing a little heat from his teammates.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Lemme See Your War-Face!

Stan Butler had his "war-face" on tonight. You might remember the scene from Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket where Sergeant Gunnery Hartman asks to see Private Joker's "war-face". Stan Butler's war-face looks as it does to the left. Why did Mr. Butler have his war-face on? Well, it could be for a few reasons, but it occurred during tonight's game between the North Bay Battalion and the Ottawa 67s. Needless to say, the players seated behind Stan Butler look like they're fearing for their lives as he holds the stick in his hands as a samurai would hold a katana sword.

The Butler-coached Battalion led 4-1 at one point over the 67s before things began to turn sour for the Battalion. The video below of Butler showing off his war-face came after Ottawa's Dante Salturo had cut North Bay's lead to 4-3. Butler felt that North Bay, who were to be called on a delayed penalty, touched the puck sufficiently before Salturo's goal. The result? Butler's war-face.

North Bay wound up losing 6-5 in a shootout. I can't imagine the post-game war-face Butler would have had in the dressing room, but I'm pretty sure that OHL Commissioner David Branch may want to speak to Butler about his overall performance last night. There won't be a war-face seen by Butler in that meeting.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

He Became Abraham Ford

Abraham Ford is one tough hombre in AMC's The Walking Dead. He nearly killed Eugene in the series after it was revealed that Eugene was lying about a cure for the zombie problem, and that revelation seemed to change Abraham's persona. As I'm demonstrating, I am a fan of The Walking Dead which means that I'm watching the mid-season premiere of the show tonight rather than watching the Grammys or anything else that might be on TV tonight including hockey. At this point in the series, it's hard to imagine anyone else playing Abraham other than Michael Cudlitz at this point with his prominent red hair and mustache, but Cudlitz's start in the movies actually has a hockey tie-in!

Michael Cudlitz played a character named Cole in the 1995 movie D3: The Mighty Ducks. Cole was one of the members of the varsity team that confronts the ragtag Mighty Ducks team after they all received scholarships to the prestigious Eden Hall Academy!

Cudlitz has a pretty memorable scene in this rather forgettable movie. Playing the varsity team's enforcer, Cudlitz's Cole decides to take a run at the Mighty Ducks' Dean "Bash Brother" Portman. A little Hollywood magic later, and Cudlitz's scene is a bit of a hyperbole.

Being that this movie was produced by Walt Disney, I don't need to tell you that the Mighty Ducks prevail. However, there's a glimpse into Michael Cudlitz's early Hollywood work!

And just to add one more cool hockey relation to the cast of The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira, who plays the katana-wielding Michonne, was actually an excellent field hockey player during her time living in Zimbabwe! She was a swimmer, she was a sprinter in track-and-field, she played some tennis, and she played a lot of field hockey! Unfortunately for field hockey fans, Danai joined a Children's Performing Arts workshop in Zimbabwe at age 13, and she had to cut down on her sporting life.

It's pretty cool to know that two cast members of one of the most popular shows on TV have some hockey in their backgrounds. While they haven't wielded a hockey stick in the TV show to eliminate a zombie or two to this point, they certainly know how to use one if it ever comes to that.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!