Wednesday 28 March 2007

Hockey - A Canadian Commercial Game

This post is all about hockey commercials. The NHL and its various sponsors have created some excellent commercials over the course of their partnerships, and some have been very funny. However, Molson Canadian Brewery has produced some hilarious commercials for hockey and the NHL. Here are some of Molson's greatest clips, found on Canadian television.

This commercial was played during the lockout, and is for Molson Canadian beer. Honestly, the guy who asks "do you really want to make me cry" is the highlight. These same guys were featured in another Molson Canadian commercial as well.

The boys are back with another song for their love of the game. This commercials was played over and over and over and over when the lockout ended. Again, the guy who is dancing for his life is the highlight. Thumbs-up to Molson Canadian for a couple of solid commercials.

If you've ever played hockey or lived with someone who did, you know how bad hockey equipment gets in terms of its smell. Molson uses this approach to create a funny commercial.

The original Joe Canada commercial. This is how Molson created the "I Am. Canadian" slogan. Several commercials followed in this good-natured ribbing of things that Canadians are stereotypically known for.

Molson throws out the Canadian stereotypes again. An American identifies all that is stereotypically Canadian to a Canadian... before the Canadian takes care of the issue in a Canadian way.

Molson takes the beaver, a truly proud and noble animal, and works it into the equation of Canadian stereotypes.

Molson shows that you don't shave your playoff beard if you're in the playoffs. But what do you do if you can't grow a beard?

Molson didn't just make fun of Canadians. They threw an American spin in on our good-natured friends to the south.

And Molson took a shot at how Team Canada rules the world in hockey. Again, all in good, clean fun.

Some funny looks at a long-time NHL sponsor's commercials during the NHL season and the Salt Lake City Olympics. For 30 seconds worth of airtime, they are good for a chuckle. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice, eh?

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Wade Belak - Toronto's Secret Weapon

I really have nothing to say on this. This is hilarious. If Toronto makes the playoffs as the 8th-seed, be aware of Wade Belak. The guy could score 30 goals easily. But he fills a role. And championship players know their role.

Saturday 24 March 2007

Patch It Up - Part Three

The last examination of the patch phenomenon is here. In case you missed the first two, you can find Part One here and Part Two here. There are a number of patches worn by the teams in this section, so it's a long article. However, the patches worn are quite interesting, especially when you make it to the bottom where three special patches are looked at - the Hockey Hall of Fame Game, the All-Star Games, and the Throwback Games. Let's get this show on the road, then.

Here are the last fifteen franchises, alphabetically-speaking. There are a number of patches that have been worn by these teams, and several that have yet to be worn.

Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens most-recently played in the 1989 and 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. If you notice on the 1989 patch, everything is in English. However, the Stanley Cup Centennial Finals patch is completely in French on the Canadiens’ jerseys in 1993. That is the only time that the Finals patch has been different for the two teams in the Finals. Los Angeles wore an all-English patch. Moving on, the Habs hosted the 1993 All-Star Game, and wore a patch for the event. They celebrated the life of one of the greatest players in NHL history, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, by wearing a patch in 2001 during the warm-up and ceremony celebrating his career after he passed away. The Canadiens wore a patch to commemorate the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal. They also wore an all-French Stanley Cup 100th anniversary patch. On November 18, 2006, they wore a patch for Serve Savard's retirement ceremony. On January 29, 2007, they did the same for Ken Dryden's retirement ceremony. Following the same routine, they wore a patch on November 19, 2007 for Larry Robinson's retirement ceremony. The Canadiens donned another patch on February 23, 2008 for Bob Gainey's retirement ceremony, seen here on Carey Price and Alexei Kovalev. In 2008-09, the Canadiens began the celebration of their 100th anniversary by wearing this patch. They also were hosting the NHL All-Star Game that season, and wore an all-french patch to reflect that. November 22, 2008 saw the Canadiens retire Patrick Roy's #33, and they wore a patch for that event.

Nashville Predators: The Predators have a couple of team-specific patches in their short time. They celebrated their 5th anniversary with a patch. Apparently, they will be wearing a 10th anniversary patch next season, and it may look like this. The Predators took part in the Japan Game One festivities in 2000 as well.

New Jersey Devils: The Devils visited the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995, 2000, 2001, and 2003. They are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a patch this season. They celebrated the life of John McMullen, long-time owner, with a memorial patch after he passed away in 2005. They also celebrated the careers of Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko with patches. Thanks to an anonymous tipster, the Devils wore a 10th anniversary patch on the rear of their jerseys. On October 27th, 2007, the New Jersey Devils wore a patch commemorating the opening of their new arena, the Prudential Center.

New York Islanders: The Islanders have worn a couple of patches in their time. They celebrated their 25th anniversary with a patch on the Fisherman jersey. They also honoured long-time Islander great Bob Bourne with a patch on their Hall of Fame night. Thanks to Joe, I found the 20th anniversary patch the Islanders wore. On November 3, 2007, the Islanders wore a patch to commemorate Al Arbour's 1500th NHL-coached game. However, they had some problems when it came to the captaincy and alternate captains in terms of patch placement.

New York Rangers: The Rangers have worn a patch for almost every significant event. Of course, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994. The Rangers celebrated their 50th anniversary with a patch in 1976, and celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2001. The Rangers also played host to the 1994 All-Star Game. They also wore a ribbon patch in memory of the 9/11 tragedy. The Rangers also played in Puerto Rico in an exhibition game against the Florida Panthers, and wore the Puerto Rican flag on their sleeves. The Rangers also honoured defenceman Brian Leetch with a patch after his retirement ceremony during the 2007-08 season. February 3, 2009 saw the Rangers retire Adam Graves' #9, and they wore a patch to reflect the event. February 22, 2009 saw the Rangers retire Andy Bathgate's #9 and and Harry Howell's #3, and the Rangers donned another patch for the event.

Ottawa Senators: The Senators have worn only memorial patches on their jerseys. The first was a “Smitty” patch, worn in memory of Brian Smith, an Ottawa sports television anchor. In 1995, he was shot outside the CJOH television studios by a man who thought the station was sending television signals to his head. Smith, unfortunately, happened to be the first person he recognized from the station. The second memorial patch was for long-time NHL coach Roger Neilson. Neilson was a coach with the Senators at the time he was diagnosed with cancer. He did not win the battle. The Senators had both a home patch and an away patch in Neilson’s honour.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers have a few patches in their history. They played in the 1997 Stanley Cup Final. They wore a Pelle Lindbergh memorial patch in 1985-86 after Lindbergh sped in his customized Porsche into a wall after drinking, fatally injuring himself and injuring two others. The Flyers hosted the 1992 All-Star Game, wearing a patch for the occasion. They celebrated their 25th anniversary with a patch during the 1992-93 season. They will also be celebrating their 40th anniversary next season with this patch. They also were the first team, from what I’ve found, to wear a Stanley Cup patch on their jerseys after winning the Cup, but these were never worn in a game.

Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets: This franchise has worn a few patches. The Jets wore two versions of their Goals For Kids patches: the old, and the new. The Jets celebrated their 10th anniversary as a hockey club with a patch. The Jets also wore a special patch during their last regular season in Winnipeg. After they moved to Phoenix, they started the same Goals For Kids program. The Coyotes celebrated their 10th anniversary of moving to Phoenix this season with the “Decade in the Desert” patch. The Coyotes celebrated Wayne Gretzky’s career, although he never suited up for the Coyotes nor the Jets, by wearing his number on their jerseys. They also have worn a Phoenix patch on their shoulder. I have no clue what that patch is supposed to mean.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins have worn a number of patches. The Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991 and 1992. The Penguins hosted the 1990 All-Star Game. The Penguins played in the Japan Game One promotional tour in 2000. They wore a memorial patch for former head coach “Badger” Bob Johnson who passed away from a brain tumor during the 1991-92 season. The Penguins celebrated their 25th anniversary with a patch, and their 35th anniversary with a patch, but this patch was not worn during the 2000-01 season. The Penguins are sporting a Pittsburgh 250 patch in 2007-08 in celebration of the city of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary.

San Jose Sharks: The San Jose Sharks were supposed to host the 1995 All-Star Game, but missed out due to the strike. However, the NHL awarded San Jose the 1997 All-Star Game in place of the 1995 game. The Sharks have also worn their 10th anniversary patch. The Sharks have also worn a WAS patch in memory of goaltending coach Warren Strelow who passed away this season.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues have worn four patches. They celebrated their 25th anniversary with a patch. They honoured two men with memorial patches: Dan Kelly and Barclay Plager. Dan Kelly was a broadcaster for the Blues who passed away from cancer in 1989. He was the voice of the Blues from 1968 until that day. Barclay Plager was a life-long Blue, serving 11 seasons as a defenseman and then as coach. He passed away from cancer in 1989 as well. The Blues also honoured Al MacInnes in a ceremony last season, and wore a patch to commemorate the event. Thanks to Matthew who pointed me in one patch's direction, I actually found another that I was missing. Matthew pointed out that I missed Brett Hull's retirement game patch. In looking for this one, I found the 1988 All-Star Game patch as well.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning have worn several patches. They played in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals (seen here on the Flames’ jersey). The Lightning hosted the 1999 All-Star Game. They celebrated their 10th anniversary with a patch. They also wore a patch in honour of former assistant captain John Cullen who was battling cancer in 1998.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs have a patch for almost everything they have ever done. They hosted the 2000 All-Star Game. The celebrated the 65th anniversary of Maple Leaf Gardens with a patch, the club’s 75th anniversary with a patch in 2001, and the city of Toronto’s 150th anniversary with a patch in 1984. In 1986, the Maple Leafs wore a Heart & Stroke Foundation patch on their sleeve to help the Foundation get their message out about heart diseases and strokes. In 1986-87, the Maple Leaf franchise lost a long-time employee King Clancy. They wore a patch in his honour of serving the team in some capacity since 1931. In 1990-91, the team honoured long-time owner Harold Ballard with a patch after he passed away. The honoured former Maple Leaf captain Ted “Teeder” Kennedy with a patch in 1993-94. They also honoured Turk Broda and Johnny Bower with patches in 1994-95. They remembered Maple Leaf Gardens after it was closed with the Memories and Dreams patch. November 22, 2008 saw the Maple Leafs honour long-time captain Wendel Clark by adding him to the honoured numbers, and wore a patch for the game. The Leafs donned an "Ace" patch in honour of Ace Bailey on January 21, 2009 - the last game before the All-Star Game in Montreal. The very first All-Star Game unofficially took place to help Bailey after his career was cut short due to an on-ice injury. More info about the Ace Bailey Benefit Game can be found here. The Leafs honoured another one of their great players on January 31, 2009 when Doug Gilmour's number was raised to the rafters. The Leafs have also been involved in all the Hockey Hall of Fame games, but I’ll explore those below the team-specific patches.

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have worn a number of patches to date. They played in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. The Canucks hosted the 1998 All-Star Game. They celebrated their 20th anniversary in 1990, and their 25th anniversary in 1995. They celebrated Expo ’86 in Vancouver with a patch. The honoured Scouts Canada with Scouts Night in 2000. They honoured long-time owner Frank Griffiths with a patch in 1994 after he passed away. Thanks to Nuk, I was pointed in the direction of two more memorial patches, and reminded me of a patch I forgot. The Canucks wore a Babe patch in honour of Walter "Babe" Pratt who passed away in 1989. The Canucks alumni wore an LA patch to honour Larry Ashley, their long-time trainer, who passed away. They played in the first Game One promotional game in Japan. The Canucks also wore a Canuck Place patch on their shoulder. Canuck Place Children's Hospice opened its doors in 1995, offering specialized care for children with progressive life-threatening illnesses and for their families. Thanks to funding support from individuals, organizations and corporations, hundreds of families from across B.C. have access to Canuck Place's services, at no cost to them.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals have worn a few patches in their time. They played in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. They honoured Jack Button, their late director of player personnel, with a patch after he passed away. They celebrated the Capitals Centre’s 10th anniversary with a patch in 1984, and celebrated the franchise’s 25th anniversary with a patch in 1999. They also wore a 9/11 patch as a memorial to the tragedy that occurred in Washington on that day.

Ok, so there are the teams. There are lots of patches on the three separate articles, and lots of reasons for wearing them. However, we’re not done.

Hockey Hall of Fame Game: Each year, since 1999, the NHL has held the Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Toronto to coincide with the announcement of the new inductees to the Hall of Fame. The Maple Leafs are always a representative in the game, but the team they play against changes from year to year. Here is the list of years, and who participated. The link is to the patch that both teams wore.

All-Star Game: The All-Star Weekend features two games – the All-Star Game, and the Young Stars game. If any player is voted to the Young Stars game, they wear a Young Stars patch showing they played in the All-Star festivities. The All-Stars, however, wear three patches – the All-Star Game patch, their team’s logo patch, and their nation’s flag patch. You can see Adrian Aucoin’s team patch on his jersey from the Minnesota All-Star Game. All three patches can be seen on Ray Bourque’s jersey from the 1998 All-Star Game. Janne Niinimaa wore all three patches in 2001 in Colorado. In what may be a first, Ilya Kovalchuk wore the Dan Snyder memorial patch on his All-Star jersey during the Minnesota All-Star Weekend, the first-time I've ever seen a team-specific patch worn on an All-Star Game jersey. Since the Minnesota All-Star Weekend, the teams have not worn their nation’s patch on their shoulder. This year’s All-Star Game in Dallas was no exception.

Throwback Games: The NHL has also seen teams wear throwback jerseys as alternates. This jersey normally has a vintage jersey patch attached.

Ok, if you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in. As you can see, there have been a pile of patches worn, and some that may be worn next season. I don’t think this trend will end, so I’m sure, at some point, there will be a follow-up article to this one. If you find a patch that I may have missed, put it in the comment section, and I'll give you credit for the find. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 23 March 2007

Part Of Our Social Fabric

We know the expressions that define our social fabric: "As American as apple pie"; "good Canadian beer", and many others. I'd like to think that we, as Americans and Canadians, are as unique as we are similar. We speak the same first language, with the exception of Quebec, but we all know a second language. However, our choice for sports as entertainment significantly are different. America's pasttime is baseball, and some could argue that the NFL is America's game. Canada has two official sports: hockey in the winter, and lacrosse in the summer. The only sport that crosses the border most frequently is hockey. There is one MLB team in Canada (Toronto Blue Jays), and one NBA team (Toronto Raptors). There are no NFL teams. So why is it that hockey is embraced so passionately in Canada, and not in the United States?

My first thought was that America loves entertainment. Hollywood has always been appealing to people, and the thought of instant stardom, especially in today's Internet-savvy age, can make people do crazy things. In fact, it appears that today's society likes violence. Movies like 300, the Saw franchise, and Gladiator are all heavy on violence in terms of their stories, yet all three have done exceptionally well at the box office. Why is this? Do we crave violence as a society? If so, why do Americans not take to hockey as us Canadians do? Hockey is just as violent as the NFL in terms of hitting, and fighting is legal in the NHL whereas it is not in the NFL.

And you can't tell me that fighting is not appealing to North American societies. UFC, Pride Fights, boxing matches... all have experienced exponential growth in their viewership in the last ten years. People cheer wildly at hockey games when a fight breaks out. Take the Buffalo-Ottawa game where Andrew Peters fought Senators goalie Ray Emery. People stood and cheered the entire time. Is this what hockey should be known for? The next fight venue? It failed miserably in Canada when a pay-per-view event was held to determine who the toughest guy on skates was.

I believe, and this is my own opinion, that the problem lies in the NHL expanding to markets that don't have hockey woven into their social fabric. The state of Texas now has more professional hockey teams than the country of Canada. This was due, in part, to the Dallas Stars' efforts in growing hockey in the major centres in Texas: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. All four centres have some sort of professional hockey team. It didn't start like this, but through the continuing efforts of the Stars organization, the game grew. Having success also helped with the growth of the game, and having marketable stars certainly aided their effort.

Teams like Phoenix, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Nashville and Atlanta need to capitalize on the business model designed by Dallas. Carolina won the Stanley Cup last season, but they are still fighting sports like NCAA basketball, NASCAR racing, and baseball for fans. Tampa Bay has attracted a fans by winning the Stanley Cup in 2004, and they have started to market their good, young nucleus of Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards. Hockey in Tampa is no longer an afterthought, but it's not quite the first thing on everyone's mind in TeeBay either. This is the reason why Nashville brought in a couple of stars by the names of Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg. Attendance spiked after the acquisition of those two, and Nashville needs to capitalize on their growing popularity by winning the Stanley Cup this year, or at least going to the Western Conference Finals. Atlanta is in the same boat. They have to go deep into the playoffs if they want the fans to keep coming out.

As for Phoenix and Florida, they need to work backwards. They aren't very good teams at this point, so they had better start working in the community to get their name out there. Hold charity street hockey games. Go to schools. I'm not a parent of a child yet, but I do know that most parents use their hard-earned dollars to entertain their children in some way. Hockey allows for families to go to games together, and spend time with one's child(ren) while watching an entertaining sport.

If you don't understand the game, that's ok too. Real hockey fans are people who appreciate the non-hockey fan's learning of the game, not those who go to games and get hammered off $7 beers. If you're there to learn, ask the guy/girl next to you, and tell him that you're new to the game. If (s)he is a true hockey fan, I'm sure (s)he won't mind explaining the finer points of off-sides, icings, and penalties. You can usually identify these people if you listen to them talk about "the horrific calls" being made, or the "stupid line change" the home team just completed. Or simply look for someone who isn't hammered off expensive, watered-down beer who is genuinely into the game.

As for Canadians and the northern markets like Detroit, Denver, and Minneapolis, we grow up with cold, long winters. Hockey is something to do in the winter when it's cold because there are rinks everywhere. The Original Six teams were bred into us, almost telling us genetically who to cheer for. If your father was a Bruins fan, you were usually a Bruins fan. If you were French-Canadian, it was obligatory to cheer for the Canadiens. If you were born outside of Quebec in Canada, you were bred to cheer for anyone but the Canadiens.

Because we grew up with hockey, the passion runs deeper in these markets than it does in the southern United States. However, the Blue Jays caught on in Toronto in the summer, so there is no reason why hockey can't find solid footing in the south.

Like the movies, it is entertainment, and it has to be packaged right for people to notice. This is where Dallas capitalized, and should be sharing their experiences with their southern-based brethren. If you live in the southern US, go to the games. Support your team. If you do, they'll do the same.
NHL general managers agreed to a policy change last month at the GM meetings in Florida and this week a memo has been distributed league-wide, outlining the new initiative to enforce teams be more forthcoming.

Teams are now being told to identify the approximate location, nature and severity of the injury.

A charley horse in the arm is no longer an "upper body injury". A bruised shin is no longer a "lower body injury". The team has to report the problem as it happens, and not be as vague as they currently are.

It's this grey area that may provide the traditionalists in this group a loophole to resume business as usual.

As one NHL manager puts it, "exception swallows the rule." With the playoffs on the way, no GM or coach likes to show his hand regarding an injured star.

The league warns any false or misleading information won't be tolerated, going as far as to threaten discipline for the clubs who violate or abuse this newly implemented policy.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Part Three of the Patch It Up series is almost done. I will post it tonight. Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 22 March 2007

You're Wearing That? - The Sequel

Since the first version of You're Wearing That? was so popular, I decided to go on a hunt for more astoundingly painful jerseys to discuss. Honestly, it must be a minor-pro hockey thing to make one's jersey hideously ugly compared to another team. In the last examination, it was painfully obvious that some teams have no eye for fashion or style or any compassion for those that suffer seizures, considering some the of the designs that were rolled out. The NHL only had a few themed jerseys, worn by the San Jose Sharks in practice, and auctioned them off later to raise money for charities. The minor-pro teams also auction off their jerseys, but it must be embarrassing for teams to hand over a handful of change they raised during their efforts. It causes shame, as seen in the picture above.

In any case, here are more of the nausea-inducing jerseys. Enjoy!

- The Adirondack IceHawks of the UHL celebrated Christmas in 1999-00 by wearing this jersey. Not bad, but not all that great either. However, it appears their marketing department went on holidays during the 2000-01 season because they celebrated New Year's by wearing these jerseys. That's New Year's? What kind of party looks like that? Oh right, a bad one.

- The Austin IceBats of the Central Hockey League decided they wanted to honour America with a jersey. I don't know about you, but that might be a better Halloween jersey with that scary bat taking up most of the jersey front. Simply terrible.

- I've seen teams wear sponsor patches on their jerseys. However, the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL took it a step too far when they wore a McDonald's-themed jersey. I'm not lovin' it, Cincy.

- The Hershey Bears of the AHL have worn several themed jerseys. They celebrated Halloween in 2004-05 with a jersey. If you ask me, not very Halloween-ish compared to some of the teams I've seen. However, the Bears came back strong with their New Year's jersey in 2005-06. The back of the jersey used an interesting font. The Bears made a statement at Christmas by wearing this jersey. Thumbs-up to that jersey. And the Bears also wore a jersey to honour America. The back font is a nice touch. The only thing I don't like is how low the sleeve numbers are, but there's normally something flawed on these promotional jerseys as it is. I can live with this one, though.

- The Jacksonville Lizard Kings of the ECHL wore an intersting jersey in 1995-96. The back of the jersey was similar to the front. In 1997-98, the Lizard Kings decided to wear a jersey for Halloween. I believe this is where Cincinnati got the design idea for a McDonald's jersey. I'm not fond of the original logo, but changing the logo to suit the Halloween theme makes it look worse.

- The Laredo Bucks of the Central Hockey League make it back onto this list again, but this time for their New Year's jersey. The Laredo Bucks took a step back with this season's Valentine's Day jersey.

- The Lubbock Cotton Kings of the Central Hockey League make both the good and bad on this list. The bad? These Hawaiian jerseys. Far too busy, and the number on the back of the jersey is hard to read. That ugly nameplate doesn't belong there either. The good? These Halloween jerseys. The back of the jerseys look just as good as the front. My only request is that they remove that eyesore of a patch off the front of the Halloween jersey.

- The Louisiana Ice Gators of the ECHL celebrated their 10th anniversary with a jersey. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: anniversary patch is a yes; anniversary jersey is a no.

- The Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL have worn some interesting jerseys. In 2004-05, the Wranglers held "Elvis Night". The rhinestone suits that Elvis wore were bad enough, but these are just as bad. They wore a throwback jersey this past season which somewhat looks like the old Houston Astros jerseys. They also honoured America with a jersey, but I find the Las-Vegas-comma-USA to be quite tacky. Is there another Las Vegas in the world that might confuse us?

- The Quad City Mallards of the United Hockey League have one jersey they wear for warm-ups, and I find it to be hideous. The Mallards also had a Sheriff Night. Why does it feel like I'm watching a cartoon or a video game with those jerseys? Maybe due to their cartoonish design?

- The Mobile Mysticks of the ECHL actually became the Margaritaville Mysticks for one game during the seasons from 1999-2002. They changed their logo to include a parrot, as well as wearing these jerseys. The back of the jersey wasn't much better. They also ran a "Black Out" promotion with these jerseys, but I fail to see what this promotion is trying to promote.

- The Memphis River Kings of the Central Hockey League wore a decent Christmas jersey. It's simple which makes it easy on the eyes, and adding a Santa hat to the logo is a simple, yet effective, design element.

- The Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL make another appearance on this list, thanks in part ot their honouring of Bob Uecker with a jersey. If you stare at them too long, you may go blind. The Admirals' 2007 St. Patrick's Day jersey, however, is pretty good.

- The Orlando Seals of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League wore these Christmas jerseys. They are one of the best promotional jerseys I have seen to date. They are simple and slightly cartoonish, but very suitable for the promotion.

- The Peoria Rivermen of their ECHL days will be remembered for Disco Night. Again, good use of changing the logo to match the promotion, but the jerseys leave something to be desired.

- The Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League in the Canadian junior system designed themselves a 25th anniversary jersey to be worn in 2000-01. Seriously, what's with all the feathers? I have never seen anyone, aboriginal person or not, wear feathers that stand upward. I am praying that the Chicago Blackhawks never see these jerseys. Besides being somewhat offensive, they are boring.

- The Richmond Renegades have worn a number of promotion jerseys. They celebrated Valentine's Day. They wore these jerseys for Christmas in 1999-00. They aren't very Christmassy, if you ask me. They celebrated Halloween with these jerseys in 1999-00. In being a promotional jersey, I appreciate the different pattern on the back to include more elements of the promotion. The Renegades celebrated the season of spring with these jerseys in 1999-00. Flowers aren't very intimidating on a hockey jersey. The Renegades also had a Racing Night. In keeping with hideous jerseys, the Renegades wore an alternate jersey in 1999-00 sponsored by Target. Why is the "R" so huge? Those last three jerseys don't impress me. At all.

- The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees of the Central Hockey League created a jersey to celebrate the release of Star Wars 3: The Revenge of the Sith. No word on whether George Lucas is a part-owner of the team, or how much of the gate revenue he took from ticket sales to pay for the licensing. The jersey is neat, though.

- The San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League wore some interesting Halloween jerseys in 1999-00. The only thing that bothered me was the font colour on the back. It's hard to read from a distance. I like these jerseys. They're very different from all the other Halloween ones that have been seen to date.

- The San Diego Gulls of the ECHL had a Molson Canadian Night. This is the first game-used jersey that I have ever seen to promote beer in a professional hockey league. And the first American team to promote something so Canadian.

- The Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League in the Canadian junior system wore special Armed Forces jerseys. The blue camouflage looks alright, but I'm not sold on the red font.

- The NHL's St. Louis Blues were poised to introduce this alternate jersey during the Mike Keenan era. Thankfully, someone killed off this idea before it came to be.

- The Topeka Scarecrows of the Central Hockey League introduced an alternate jersey that might be better suited for a Halloween jersey. The back of the jersey isn't very impressive, though.

- The Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League experimented with pinstripes on their jersey in 1996-97. I find the pinstripes to be distracting from the logo and information on the back of the jersey. Unlike the Yankees, these stripes are very noticeable in their thickness.

- The Tulsa Crude of the United States Hockey League don't have anything wrong with their jerseys. It's the name: Crude. I get the oil part of it, but why "Crude"? That's a terrible name.

- The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL honoured the men and women of the Armed Forces with a military jersey this season. I like the design as it is simple and a good tribute. The Penguins also wore Christmas jerseys in the 2005-06 season. Another simple design by the Penguins, but what's with the number on the left hip? I'm not liking that idea.

- The Youngstown Steelhounds of the Central Hockey League celebrated St. Patrick's Day with these jerseys in 2005-06. The gloves, pants and helmet don't match, but the jersey itself is pretty good, complete with logo additions to reflect the holiday.

Ok, so that's some more jersey that may make you wince or smile. Honestly, they aren't all bad. I'm sure there are more out there, so if you see something you think should be added, put it in the comments section. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 21 March 2007

The Doctor Is In

Congratulation to Mike Modano, who recently surpassed Joe Mullen for career goals by an American-born player. I'd also like to say sorry to Mike as well for the ranting that Dallas Stars' President Jim Lites did on his behalf. Mike Modano broke the record in Nashville, scoring his 503rd goal. The Predators did not stop the game to honour the accolade, and Stars' President Jim Lites took exception to this. Don't get me wrong: this is a huge distinction for Mike Modano, and will certainly get him into the Hall of Fame. Mike has been a great ambassador for hockey in the southern United States, and a contributor to USA Hockey for many years. Not unlike what Wayne Gretzky did in Los Angeles, Mike Modano has been the face of the Dallas Stars franchise since they arrived, and continues to help promote the game within the city of Dallas and the state of Texas.

Jim Lites, however, should keep his opinions to himself regarding what other teams do to honour a player from another team. I don't know if Jim Lites has a general hatred towards the Predators franchise, but judging from his comments made to the Dallas News below, I believe that Lites hates all things Predator.

Nashville Predators management did a disservice to the game of hockey Saturday night by not informing the crowd of Mike Modano's achievements, Stars president Jim Lites said Sunday.

And further, coach Barry Trotz's comments praising Jordin Tootoo for showing calm when punching Stephane Robidas was "patently ridiculous," according to Lites.

"Their owner, management, public relations people, coaching staff – I think they all failed the game," Lites said. "It's because of people like Mike Modano that they even have a team in Nashville. He has helped pioneer the game in the South, and for him to be treated like that in a milestone moment ... it's just a horrible thing."

The fact Modano was approaching Joe Mullen's record for goals scored by an American-born player was not mentioned over the arena's public address system Saturday. Nothing was said when Modano tied Mullen at 502 goals nor when Modano broke the record at 503. Instead, the crowd booed Modano for his part in a skirmish that led to Tootoo being penalized and continued to boo him the rest of the night.

"I understand it's a competitive situation, but we're also working together to sell the game," Lites said. "They get more money from revenue sharing than any team in the league, they voted against the new schedule because they wanted to have an easier schedule for themselves. They take and take and take and take and never give back, and I'm sick of it."

I'm all for honouring Modano's achievement. He's a great guy who has served his time in the NHL trenches, resulting in a great achievement. But there is no obligation for Nashville to stop the game, spray confetti, roll out the hors d'oeuvres, and have a party for Mike Modano. This is where Lites seems to miss the point. If it had happened in Dallas, have yourself a grand old time by all means. I don't see why Nashville has to celebrate what Modano has done. It's not like games anywhere else stopped to marvel in his achievement. As for Nashville "failing the game", I find it ironic that the Stars, who left a hockey hotbed in Minnesota, think that Nashville failed the game, yet they have not. Choose your words carefully, Lites. You sound like a pompous ass with no regard for the history of the game.

Oh, and by the way, the Stars did honour Modano when they returned home to face the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Stars honored Modano with a video during a television timeout in the first period Sunday at American Airlines Center. Modano received a standing ovation while red, white and blue confetti fell from the ceiling.

Phoenix center Jeremy Roenick, who is third behind Modano on the American-born goal-scoring list with 492, stood across from the Stars center in the faceoff circle and tapped Modano's pads while the crowd cheered.

If you asked Modano, I'm sure it doesn't bother him as much as it does Jim Lites. And for that, I am sorry for Mike Modano. It's his accolade. Jim Lites needs to keep his mouth shut in public, and send an email or make a phone call to the Predators. That's all.
A classy move by a classy organization in letting Chris Chelios have some time off to spend it with family. Chelios' kids are on spring break right now, and the Red Wings told him to take the next five days off to "rest before the playoffs" so he would be fresh. Honestly, call it what you want, but if Chelios can spend time with his kids and use the time to rest for the playoffs, the Red Wings will benefit.

You stay classy, Red Wings franchise.
Part Three of the patch examination will be posted by Friday. There are lots of patches worn by the teams. Look for it by Friday evening, although I hope to have it posted by Friday morning.
Todd Bertuzzi will most likely suit up against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. It will be interesting to see what line he plays on, and who plays alongside him. Knowing Mike Babcock, I assume that Big Bert will probably play between 15-17 minutes, and might see some time on the second powerplay unit in front of the net, much like Tomas Holmstrom.

The bigger question that remains is can Bertuzzi rediscover his old self like he was in Vancouver before the Steve Moore incident? I don't believe it will happen this year in the last ten games. If that's the case, Bertuzzi might find himself playing less in the playoffs than he'd like.
That's all for now. Remember: Patch It Up - Part Three by Friday. Keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 19 March 2007

A Lesson in Futility

Have you ever got that gut-wrenching feeling in your stomach when you've done something you thought was good only to have it completely backfire? Welcome to the Edmonton Oilers and their 2006-07 season. The Oilers, at this time last season, were on a tear to make the 8th-seed in the Western Conference. They had just acquired Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov to add to their solid team. However, things began to fall apart shortly after Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals when Chris Pronger demanded a trade. I'll start from that point.

Chris Pronger demands a trade, and gets one. He is sent to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Ladislav Smid and Joffrey Lupul. Smid, while young, has great potential, and Lupul is a goal-scorer, something the Oilers could use. In reality, Smid has scored two goals and seven assists in 67 games while posting an -12 rating. Lupul has 15 goals and 11 assists in 71 games while posting a -22 rating. I'm not saying this was a bad trade at the time, but hindsight says "ouch".

The Oilers also lost several key free agents in the off-season. Gone were Jaroslav Spacek, Georges Laraque, Sergei Samsonov, Ty Conklin, and Mike Peca. Again, through no fault of his own, Kevin Lowe tried to keep some of these men on his roster. However, he could not.

The Oilers battled in most of their games during the 2006-07 season. They were up and down, but always hanging around that 8th-spot in the West. But that's where the good story ends, and the Mr. Hyde of Kevin Lowe's persona comes out. For all the good he did last year with the deals he made, he made two trades that may have destroyed this entire season, and possibly the next few to come.

On February 20th, 2007, Kevin Lowe swapped Marc-Andre Bergeron, the Oilers' leading-scorer in terms of defensemen and the only guy who could carry the puck out of the defensive zone for the Oilers, to the NY Islanders for Denis Grebeshkov, a prospect with potential. The Oilers were not out of the playoff race yet, but this was a significant blow to their chances.

And Mr. Hyde kept working his magic on the phones. In the eleventh-hour of the 2007 NHL Trade Deadline, Lowe swung a deal with the Islanders again, trading heart-and-soul captain Ryan Smyth for Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra. Nilsson has one goal in two games for the Oilers so far, but has not been near the player that Ryan Smyth was for the Oilers. I know that's an unfair comparison, but it's one that has to be made.

I've written before about these two lousy trades. I've said how bad these trades will make the Oilers. But here's where I bring to light how Kevin Lowe may have potentially ruined several seasons.

First, some history. In 1984, the Pittsburgh Penguins were poised to miss the playoffs once again, and began focussing on the draft. They were interested in a young Laval Titans player named Mario Lemieux. However, one team stood in their way: the New Jersey Devils. After watching Lemieux destroy the record books in the QMJHL, the Penguins decided to "throw in the towel". The Penguins jettisoned their best players to other teams and tanked the season, finishing dead-last with the rights to draft Mario Lemieux. The Devils, coincidentally, finished second-last and took Kirk Muller.

What does this have to do with Kevin Lowe, you ask? Not much. However, the problem lies in that the Oilers have far too many points to finish dead-last in the NHL this season. Had they finished last, they could have had the rights to draft Angelo Esposito or Alexei Cherapanov. This draft year has already been called "one of the weakest draft years in history". If the Oilers were convinced they didn't have a shot at the playoffs, why not shut it down earlier and tank the season to be able to draft one of the two best young players available?

In trading Ryan Smith, the Oilers got two decent, young players back, but they may not be able to re-sign Smyth in the off-season. For all the contract squabbling that the Oilers and Smyth have done, the trade to the Islanders may have ruined any chance of re-signing Smyth in the off-season.

Who is your most marketable player at that point? Ales Hemsky, most likely. How long do you think he'll want to be there if the Oilers can't win? How will the Oilers attract free agents? How will the Oilers keep other talented, young players if they don't want to pay them? These are extremely tough questions to answer.

Let me be clear: I'm not trying to hang more trouble on the Oilers. They are winless in ten straight games since trading Smyth, and have looked quite lost on some of those nights. What I am saying is that Kevin Lowe, despite adding good, young players to his roster, may have killed this season and the following season.

Sometimes, good management means you have to lose to win. I'm not sure that Glen Sather or John Muckler had ever taught that to Kevin Lowe. My only hope is that the Oilers break out of this funk they're in, and start playing good, up-tempo hockey again. Otherwise, they may start losing the most important piece of their franchise: the fans.

Keep your sticks on the ice!

Frozen Four Time, Baby!

The NCAA's version of the playoffs starts on March 23rd. The Frozen Four features the top sixteen Division-One NCAA hockey teams vying for college hockey supremacy. The top four seeds in this year's tournament are: (1) the Minnesota Golden Gophers (30-9-3); (2) the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (31-6-3); (3) the Clarkson Golden Knights (25-8-5); and (4) the New Hampshire Wildcats (26-10-2). As much as I like the competition of the Frozen Four, I am a huge fan of the Frozen Four Skills Competition that runs during the Division-One Men's Championship. It is a showcase of the top talent at the collegiate level, and features the next wave of potential NHL talent.

The Skills Competition will take place on April 6th at the Scottrade Centre in St. Louis. The competition will be conducted in an East versus West format with each team having six male position players, six female position players, two male goaltenders and two female goaltenders. An alternate list has been established in the event that players have to withdraw from the competition due to other commitments, such as their team's participation in the men's Frozen Four.

To be eligible, all players must have exhausted their collegiate eligibility and be nominated by their head coach. Players were selected by representatives from the American Hockey Coaches Association, the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee and the National Youth Sports Corporation.

The competitions will include puck control relay, fastest skater, hardest shot, rapid-fire shooting, accuracy shooting and penalty shot. Each competitor will receive a complete set of equipment and a full uniform from Nike Bauer Hockey.

This is a little different from the pro leagues because the NHL Skills Competition in that the NHL players wear their team's jersey. The AHL is the same. However, the NCAA's competitors will be wearing these jerseys in this year's competition.

The men's portion of the East squad is highlighted by the one of the nation's current leading goaltenders, John Curry of Boston University. The other goaltender is Jason Smith from Sacred Heart. The six male skaters on the East squad include Kyle Bozoian, Fredonia State; Reid Cashman, Quinnipiac; Kirk MacDonald, Rensselaer; Jacob Micflikier, New Hampshire; Mike Morris, Northeastern; and Andrew Ramsey, Air Force.

The women on the East squad include Crystal Connors, St. Lawrence; Kristin Gigliotti, Providence; Cara Hendry, Boston U.; Natalie Vibert, Connecticut; Lindsay Williams, Clarkson; and Sheila Zingler, Yale. The goalies will be Melissa Bourdon, New Hampshire, and Jana Bugden, Providence.

The West team is loaded with three of the nation's top 10 scorers: Michigan 's T.J. Hensick, Nebraska-Omaha's Scott Parse and Niagara's Sean Bentivoglio. Also on the West squad will be Lars Helminen, Michigan Tech; Aaron Johnson, Augsburg; and Andrew Joudrey, Wisconsin. The West goaltenders will be Notre Dame's David Brown, who is currently leading the nation in goals against average, and Lake Superior State's Jeff Jakaitis.

The women's portion of the West roster includes Wisconsin's Sara Bauer, who is one of the nation's top five scorers. Also on the team are Julia Colizza, Mercyhurst; Kelly Hart, Bemidji State; Noemie Marin, Minnesota-Duluth; Sammy Miller, Minnesota State; and Maggie Souba, Minnesota. The two female goaltenders will be Riitta Schaublin, Minnesota-Duluth, and Erika Vanderveer, Ohio State.

The full Division-One men's bracket is available here. I'm going to try and catch as much of the Frozen Four as possible as there is always drama in a win-or-go-home tournament. Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 17 March 2007

Patch It Up - Part Two

Part One of this series of patches brought some good looks at patches and patch placement that may have surprised some people. I'll tell you right now that the number of patches worn by the teams for something specific to them is large. It took me a long time to find some of these patches, but I have searched high and low on the web to find these. That being said, I don't doubt that I am missing a few, and am aware that teams have worn more. I am really only interested in patches that teams have worn post-1990 since this is when the epidemic of a patch for everything started. If you want to read Part One of the look at patches, please click here. Part One deals with patches worn by all teams.

I’ll run through this section in alphabetical order for the teams. If they’ve worn a patch, I’ve tried to find it. If there isn’t a picture out there, I’d be happy to have anyone submit one or many and I’ll give credit for the find on this blog.

Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks: The Mighty Ducks wore the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals patch when they advanced to the Cup Finals. They also wore an inaugural patch during their first game in the NHL, and followed that up with a patch commemorating the rest of their inaugural season. The Ducks also participated in the Game One promotional series in Japan in 1997. Thanks to Scott who directed me to the Frank G. Wells patch, in honour of the long-time Walt Disney President and CEO. On April 3, 1994, Frank Wells died in a helicopter accident in Nevada.

Atlanta Thrashers: The Thrashers wore a Dan Snyder memorial patch in memory of the late Dan Snyder. They were supposed to host the 2005 All-Star Game, but that was cancelled due to the lockout. They never wore this patch. They did, however, commemorate their 5th anniversary with a patch. The Thashers did get to host the 2008 All-Star Game in place of the 2005 game missed due to the lockout.

Boston Bruins: The Bruins have many patches. They held Johnny Bucyk night this season, and wore a patch to honour Johnny Bucyk and all his contributions over the 50 years he’s been with the team. The team wore a number 9 on the right shoulder for the game. The Bruins also celebrated their 75th anniversary by wearing a patch for the anniversary on all their jerseys, including the teddy bear alternate during the 1999-2000 season in place of the 2000 NHL patch. As a bonus, the Bruins wore a 50th anniversary patch in 1974, and a Massachusetts bicentennial patch in 1976. The Bruins also sported an All-Star patch for the 1996 All-Star Game in Boston, and wore the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals patch when they made it to the Finals. The Bruins wore two patches in memory of the closing of the Boston Gardens: the "Thanks For The Memories" patch, and the "Last Hurrah" patch on the final night of the Gardens.

Buffalo Sabres: The Buffalo Sabres wore a 20th anniversary patch on their jerseys during the 1989-90 season. Five years later, they celebrated their 25th anniversary. Five years after that, they celebrated their 30th anniversary, but were forced to remove the patch due to the NHL mandating the 2000 patch be on all jerseys. They wore a Lake Placid Olympics patch in honour of the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Sabres also wore a #16 patch in honour of Pat Lafontaine’s retirement ceremony, and #1 patch in honour of Roger Crozier, and another patch in honour of Seymour Knox III, the former owner of the Sabres. The Sabres also wore the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals patch.

Calgary Flames: The Calgary Flames have worn a couple of patches in their time. The Flames celebrated their 10th anniversary with a patch, and their 25th anniversary with a patch. They wore the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals patch when they played against the Lightning. The Flames participated in the 1998 Game One promotional series in Japan against San Jose. They wore a patch to commemorate the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. The also wore a patch to celebrate the city of Calgary's 100th anniversary in 1984. In 2007-08, the Flames added the Alberta flag and the Canadian flag to their sleeves.

Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers: The Hurricanes have used a few patches in their short existence. The 2006 Stanley Cup champions wore the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals patch, but also participated in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. They remembered Steve Chiasson who passed away after the 2002 Finals in a car accident. They honoured Ron Francis in a retirement ceremony. They also commemorated their inaugural season by wearing a Raleigh Arena patch. The Whalers wore a patch commemorating 10 years of hockey in Hartford in 1982. They also held the 38th annual All-Star Game in Hartford. Carolina wore the 10th anniversary patch for their ten years in Carolina in 2007-08. The Hurricanes honoured Glen Wesley in a retirement ceremony on February 17, 2009 by wearing his name and number on their chests, as well as a #2 in the hurricane on their left shoulder. You can see both clearly here.

Chicago Blackhawks: I am proud to say that the Blackhawks have rarely slapped a patch on their jersey for anything. They have used a few, though, during their time. They wore the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals patch when they played the Penguins. They held the 1991 All-Star Game in the old Chicago Stadium. The Blackhawks also celebrated their 75th anniversary with a patch. Here's a close-up of the 75th anniversary patch. In 2007-08, the Blackhawks wore a Bill Wirtz Memorial Patch after their longtime owner passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. The Blackhawks hosted the 2009 Winter Classic which saw them wear this patch.

Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques: The Avalanche have used a few patches during their short existence as well. They wore the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals patch and the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals patch, winning the Cup both times they’ve been to the finals. They hosted the 2001 NHL All-Star Game, and wore the All-Star patch to commemorate it. They have recently celebrated their 10th anniversary by wearing this patch. The Avalanche also wore a memorial patch for the tragedy at Columbine High School. The Nordiques wore one patch that I could find. Quebec City hosted Rendez-Vous '87, and the Nordiques wore a patch to commemorate the event. Rendez-Vous '87 was a two-game series between the NHL All-Stars and the Soviet stars that replaced the All-Star weekend that season. The Nordiques also wore an all-french patch for the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup.

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have only worn one patch to my knowledge, and that was to commemorate their inaugural season. Columbus wore a patch in 2008-09 in memory of their first owner and the man that brought the NHL to Columbus in John H. McConnell.

Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars: The Stars franchise has participated in three Stanley Cup Finals – 1991, 1999, and 2000. The North Stars also celebrated their 25th anniversary with a patch in 1991-92. Dallas hosted the NHL All-Star Game this year. The Dallas Stars also celebrated their 10th anniversary in Dallas with a patch. I found two patches for John Mariucci worn on the Minnesota North Stars during the 1987-88 season: a home patch and a road patch. Mariucci is regarded as the man who revived a dying sport in the state of Minnesota, leading it to the hockey hotbed it is today. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders Category in 1985, won the Lester B. Patrick Trophy in 1977 for his contributions to hockey in the United States, and was one of the charter members of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings have worn the Stanley Cup Finals patch in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2002. The Red Wings celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1975-76, their 60th anniversary in 1985-86, and 75th anniversary with patches. The honoured the Norris family with a patch for 50 years of ownership. They honoured their long-time captain, Steve Yzerman, with a patch during his retirement game this season. The Wings also remembered two people on a patch honouring their efforts in winning the 1997 Stanley Cup – Vladimir Konstantinov and masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov, who were critically-injured in a limo accident six days after winning the Cup. The Detroit Red Wings participated in the 2009 Winter Classic in Chicago, and wore this patch to reflect their involvement.

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have worn two Stanley Cup Finals patches that I could find – 1990 and 2006. The Oilers also celebrated their 10th anniversary with a patch, and their 25th anniversary with a patch. The Oilers honoured Mark Messier this season by raising his number to the banners in a retirement ceremony, and by wearing a patch to commemorate the event. They honoured Paul Coffey by wearing his number on their jerseys. The celebrated Wayne Gretzky's career by wearing a patch during his Edmonton retirement ceremony. The Oilers also celebrated Alberta's 75th anniversary of becoming a province in 1980, and the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 with patches on their jerseys. They also celebrated the city of Edmonton's 75th anniversary with a patch in 1979. In 1989, the Oilers hosted the NHL All-Star Game. The Oilers wore a patch in 2008-09 commemorating their 30th anniversary as a franchise.

Florida Panthers: The Panthers have one Stanley Cup Finals patch to their name, and they wore it in 1996. The Panthers also celebrated their inaugural season with a patch, their 5th anniversary with this patch, and their 10th anniversary with a patch. The Panthers hosted the 2003 All-Star Game, and wore a patch to reflect that. The Panthers honoured Scouts in America by wearing a patch in their honour in 2001. The Panthers also have the distinction of being one of the two teams to play an exhibition game in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They wore the Puerto Rican flag on their right shoulder.

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have worn a number of patches in their time. They played in the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals where they wore a special Finals patch that commemorated the Stanley Cup’s 100th anniversary as well. They wore a patch to commemorate the hosting of the 2002 All-Star Game. They celebrated Wayne Gretzky’s career and retirement by wearing this patch. They celebrated their 20th anniversary with a patch, and 25th anniversary with a patch. They also wore a special patch as a memorial to “Ace” Bailey and Mark Bavis who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy. They honoured long-time owner Jack Kent Cooke with a patch after he passed away in 1997. The Kings also wore a patch to celebrate Gretzky's 802 goals, the most by any player. In 2007, the Kings wore a patch to honour the brave men and women of the California Firefighters Association in their battle with the wildfires in southern California. While it's hard to see on Brown's jersey, the patch was actually the logo of the California State Firefighters' Association.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild have worn three patches in their short existence. They commemorated their inaugural season, and celebrated their 5th anniversary with patches. Thanks to "Sammy Sosa" who reminded me that the Wild also hosted the 2003-04 All-Star Game. The 2007-08 season saw the Wild don the "Team of 18000" patch to honour their fans on the final home game of the season.

Ok, so those are the first 15 franchises. The other 15 franchises, plus some other patches, will be soon to come. Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 16 March 2007

If You Build It, They Will Come

I have been searching the good ol'Interweb thingy to see what I can find in regards to the deal agreed to by the Penguins and the government. Basically, I wanted to see who agreed to pay what, and how much. I know that it's probably a pipe dream to think that I'd find the actual legal documents, so I set out looking for an overview of what is covered and by whom. As the picture to the left indicates, it's time for the Penguins franchise to start adorning their uniforms with rhinestones because they got themselves one helluva deal. Now, I'm not saying they got off rent-free like they would have if they had moved to Kansas City. In fact, the Penguins are going to be paying their fair share of the costs, and possible overrun costs if that's what comes to fruition. So who is paying what, and how much does each entity have to contribute to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh?

According to the Pittsburgh Gazette, it breaks down as follows:

- $7.5 million a year for 30 years from Pittsburgh casino winner Don Barden.

- $7.5 million a year for 30 years from gambling-financed state economic development fund.

-$4.2 million a year, including $2 million annually in naming rights, from the Penguins. Also included in the $4.2 million team share is $400,000 a year from a parking surcharge once the new arena is opened and $200,000 a year from parking once Mellon Arena is demolished.

-The city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority will pay the Penguins $8.5 million for the team-owned old St. Francis Central Hospital.

-$10.5 million from the state, including $8.5 million toward construction and $2 million for marketing.

-$15 million credit to the Penguins as part of an agreement on development rights to 28 acres of the Mellon Arena property. The Penguins must develop 2.8 acres a year or lose the rights.

-Construction cost estimated at $290 million. If the guaranteed maximum price for the arena ends up between $290 million and $310 million, the Penguins and the state will split the cost. Penguins will cover any cost overruns beyond the guaranteed maximum price.

More info, as released by the governor's office, can be found here, in .pdf format. If you need a free Adobe reader to view it, please click here.

Just so you know, the Penguins average attendance this year is 16,302 people per game, or 96.1% capacity. For the season, they have drawn in 570,603. If they charge $5 per car to park, and there are 4 people per car at the game, the Penguins have taken in a total of $713,253.

I think this deal will certainly work out for the Penguins.

Keep your sticks on the ice!

Your Playoff Hopes Just Got Jerseyed

There were a few good games last night in the NHL, all with some sort of playoff implications in terms of teams trying to get in. I'm a big fan of teams that have no shot at making the playoffs playing the role of spoilers down the stretch. Nothing makes me smile more than when a team who has been mathematically-eliminated from the playoffs in January ends up causing other teams to miss the playoffs by beating them down the stretch. This is where you play for pride if your team is out of it, and nothing feels better than to deliver a severe blow to another team's playoff chances. It's also feels just as good if you know you're already in, and you put another nail in the coffin of some also-ran.

That being said, the biggest nail delivered last night was delivered to the Carolina Hurricanes from the New Jersey Devils. Carolina has now played in 72 games, and have three teams within two points of them: Toronto, the New York Rangers, and Montreal. The key here, though, is that both the Rangers and Maple Leafs have two games in hand on the Hurricanes, and the Canadiens have one. Last night's 3-2 loss to the Devils might have put Carolina in dire straits. I'd say they have to win six of their last ten games to beat out the Rangers and Maple Leafs.

The Hurricanes weren't the only team that may have taken a costly loss last night. The Islanders currently are tied with the Hurricanes at 78 points, but they have two games in hand over the 'Canes. However, the Islanders came out flat against the Ottawa Senators, and ended up losing 5-2. With the Rangers, Canadiens and Maple Leafs being two points behind the Islanders, the Islanders have to keep winning if they want to remain in 7th-spot in the East.

The Florida Panthers' loss last night might have sealed their playoff fate. At 71 points, they trail the Hurricanes by seven points with eleven games to play. The Panthers lost to the Barney Rubble Hairpieces by a score of 5-3, allowing Buffalo to keep their hold on first-place in the East. The Panthers are now playing must-win hockey until the end of the season for a shot at the playoffs.

The Minnesota Wild extended their lead over the Calgary Flames in the West with a win over the hopeless Edmonton Oilers, who have lost nine straight games since trading Ryan Smyth. The Wild's win, combined with Calgary's loss to the Dallas Stars, opened up a five-point gap between the 7th-seeded Wild and the 8th-seeded Flames. The Wild win also allowed them to keep pace with the 5th-seeded Dallas Star and the 6th-seeded San Jose Sharks. All three teams have 89 points. The Wild also remain one point behind the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks, who sit as the 3rd-seed with 90 points. Dallas, San Jose, Vancouver and Minnesota all posted victories last night.

Can the Philadelphia Flyers, the worst team in the NHL for most of the season, play the role of ultimate spoilers this season? Philadelphia won again last night, beating the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers by a score of 3-2. Tampa Bay trails the Thrashers by two points in the standings, and has a game in hand. The Thrashers currently sit as the 3rd-seed in the East, but would fall to the 6th-seed if Tampa Bay wins the division or is tied with the Thrashers at the end of the season due to the tie-breaking rules.

The last dozen games of the season appear to be a race to the wire for four Eastern Conference teams. As for the Western Conference, it's all about jockeying for position, and I am looking forward to it! Keep your sticks on the ice!