Monday 31 August 2009

Time, Why You Punish Me?

When people speak about bands of the 1990s, it's tough to come up with a "definitive list" of bands from that era. There were a lot of good bands that produced a lot of good music. However, it seemed that the world became enchanted with Hootie and the Blowfish after their 1994 album, Cracked Rear View, went platinum sixteen times. On that album was a song called "Time", and the opening lyrics asked, "why you punish me". That's how I feel right now. The good news is that the majority of baseball ends tomorrow night with the deciding game in our best-of-five final, so time will no longer be working against me. And things will start to get back to normal. Until then, let's look at some headlines.

  • Paul Kelly was officially ousted as NHLPA boss last night, and lawyer Ian Penny has been named as the interim executive director. Penny is reportedly not interested in the position full-time, and will stick around until a new director can be appointed. Personally, this is a highly questionable move by the NHLPA as they look at re-opening negotiations with the NHL in 2011. Some players feel they are giving up too much to the league, and this has onimous overtones in terms of looking at another work stoppage. For a league that has increased the salary cap each year since the lockout, I fail to see how the players are thinking they're getting a raw deal. There's more to this story, but the removal of Kelly, who was thought to be too close to Bettman and Daly, seems to be nothing short of idiotic.
  • If there are teams with salary cap space to absorb Dany Heatley's albatross contract, the Los Angeles Kings have some room. However, count them out as a team interested in Heatley's services. You know Heatley is becoming an untradable asset when opposing GMs are saying things like he might be attractive if "he grows up". Maturity in a leader, especially an on-ice leader, is vitally important in a youthful group like the Kings, and Dean Lombardi knows best as to what his team needs. And apparently it's not Heatley.
  • A nice little accolade went out to New York Rangers' forward Chris Drury on Sunday as he was enshrined in the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence. Drury led Turnbull, Connecticut to the 1989 Little League World Series title as the winning pitcher in the big game, and he was on-hand to accept his place in the Museum at the 2009 Little League World Series Championship. Congratulations to Chris Drury on his spot in history!
  • It looks like the captain of the Vancouver Canucks will remain with the team for a long time. Reports indicate that goaltender Roberto Luongo and the Canucks are close to inking the star goalie to a long-term contract before Luongo's self-imposed September 13 deadline. By locking up the most important piece of the puzzle in the Canucks organization, it appears that the Canucks are set for a few runs at hockey's greatest prize. As long as they can get some decent scoring this season, the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place for the 2009-10 season as well. Details are supposed to be announced later this week.
There is your quick update for Monday. Again, I'm busy tomorrow night, so I'll try to post something by tomorrow afternoon. I have a couple of things I have been working on, so we'll see if I can get some of that stuff posted.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 30 August 2009

Minnesota Mighty Wild

As September nears, there are six NHL teams waiting to tease fans with "coming soon" ads and "new look" commercials on their websites. Of course, this is the season normally when new jerseys and uniforms are unveiled, so let's start with today's new look brought to you by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks Minnesota Wild. As you can see to the left, Derek Boogaard is modeling the newest threads that will be seen in Minnesota this season, and while I'm happy they didn't go black, the fact that the Wild's "Forest Green" looks very black in the images makes me cringe. When I think of forest green on the Minnesota Wild, this comes to mind. Maybe it's due to the striping on the old green jersey or the accent colours, but I much prefer that green. None the less, it's not black so it's already a vast improvement over some other alternate jerseys.

The colour scheme of the new Wild alternates immediately brings to mind the jerseys worn at the 2004 NHL All-Star Game in St. Paul, Minnesota. Of all the recent All-Star Game jerseys worn since the turn of the century, those ones from the Minnesota All-Star Game are, in my opinion, still the best of the bunch. These new Wild alternates pick up on that classic hockey sweater look, and use the forest green-wheat colour combo well. The hint of red at the neck adds to the sweater rather than detracting from it, and the logo on the front is clearly seen against the dark green background.

Speaking of that logo, according to the Wild, here's what you're looking at:

"The jersey crest features a script 'Minnesota' with 'WILD' emblazoned below. The script look, including the classic 'M', harkens back to historic Minnesota teams of the past including Minneapolis and Saint Paul teams of the 1930s and 1940s. The familiar 'north star' element, borrowed from the primary Wild logo, dots the 'I' and adds a decorative detail to the stylized 'M'."
I can see exactly what they are describing in the logo, and it really makes for a well thought-out logo. But what bothers me is the amazing similarity between the new Wild alternate jersey logo and the old Mighty Ducks third jersey logo. I'm not saying that the designers, New York City-based SME, copied what the Mighty Ducks did, but the similarities between this jersey and this jersey are close.

However, if that's the biggest complaint - it looks like someone else's discarded laundry - there isn't much to complain about. The socks and breezers are simple and classic. Now someone may be thinking that Reebok has changed their logo on the breezers from the vector to the wordmark. I am here to tell you that all equipment made by Reebok has the wordmark on it, and all on-ice merchandise that can be purchased commercially by the public - gloves, skates, jerseys, helmets - has the vector on it. Please don't think you'll start seeing a second name on jerseys. It's not going to happen, according to Reebok.

Speaking of names, the font is classy and easy to read on the rear of the jersey, so there shouldn't be too much confusion as to who is carrying the puck. The bright wheat colour stands out against the forest green nicely, and both the TV numbers on the rear and sleeves are highly visible.

So what do I think? These get an above-average passing grade. While I would have liked to see a return to the old green, the forest green here works well with the wheat accent colour. The logo has several interesting aspects, but I really like the "north star" addition to the logo, harkening back to the old Minnesota hockey days. Again, it might look like another team's old laundry, but it's not as bad as I thought it could have been. Personally, the only thing missing from the shoulders is this.

The Wild will break out their new duds against the Colorado Avalanche on October 21, and continue wearing them throughout the season. Including that game, the Wild will wear their new alternate uniforms 13 times on home ice, and twice on the road for the maximum, NHL-approved 15 dates. Keep an eye out for these new threads!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 29 August 2009

Sore, Sunburnt, and No Hockey

Another slow news day in the hockey world. Not much happened, and there is basically nothing to report. What does one do when there is not much to talk about, and even less to link back to? Well, if you're me, you go searching through YouTube. I'm a little sunburnt after the tournament today, and my foot is aching due to an injury, so I came home looking for news. And I found nothing. And I have this itch called "hockey" that needs to be scratched. Because there's no hockey on television, I decided to scour YouTube for about 15 minutes because it has some solid hockey highlights.

How about some shootout goals?

How about making a defenceman look like a pylon?

How about some spectacular saves?

I miss hockey. Please come back. I need you in my life.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 28 August 2009

Chronologically Challenged

I'm going to be brutally honest here for a few seconds. I am running out of time more often than not at the pace I am moving at. I cannot seem to find enough hours in the day to get everything done that I want to get done, yet everything that needs to be done is completed. It's the "want" that seems to get sacrificed, and I'm not sure I like that. By the time September 10 rolls around and I leave for my vacation, I'm almost certain the first day will be spent lying on a hotel room bed catching up on some sleep. Which is exactly what a vacation is not supposed to be in my books. Vacations are all about seeing the sights and exploring new locations, not crashing in a hotel room and trying to recover from the chaos one just left.

Ok, enough belly-aching. Let's get to the major stories from the hockey world. I apologize that my writing time has been occupied with other more pressing events, but that's life. Curveballs, sliders, and the occasional knuckler to throw you off kilter. I just want to focus on hockey.

  • News out of Toronto today has the Maple Leafs offering a tryout spot to MIA NHL star Jason Allison. Allison hasn't played since the 2005-06 season, and the 34 year-old wants to resume his career with the team that last employed him. Personally, I'm not sure why GM Brian Burke would want him aside from some scoring and, perhaps, some leadership, but it appears that the Leafs will give him an opportunity. Good luck to Mr. Allison!
  • RDS is reporting that free agent Alex Tanguay has decided to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It has been reported that contact from Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis was enough to convince the winger to sign in Tampa. While injuries slowed his season with Montreal last year, having a capabale centerman and a healthy Tanguay could see him produce like he did in Colorado. The jury is out on this signing.
  • The Vancouver Canucks transfomed their blueline in one day from "maybe good enough" to "significantly better" yesterday. We'll start with the trade. San Jose opened up over $4 million in cap room when they dealt defencemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich for defenceman Daniel Rahimi and forward Patrick White, the Canucks 2007 Entry Draft first-round pick. Shortly thereafter, the Canucks signed veteran blueliner Mathieu Schneider to a one-year, $1.55 million deal. I like these deals by the Canucks as Rahimi's time with the AHL Manitoba Moose had seen him make steps forward, but was still a longshot to crack an NHL lineup. White is still green, and would have started the season in the NCAA or ECHL most likely. The Canucks pick up three very capable defencemen, and two that have won Stanley Cups in their careers.
  • The Peter Forsberg watch is back on as he suited up for Modo of the Swedish Elite League in a pre-season game in Switzerland. Wearing #7, he played on the first line in a 2-1 win by Modo over Geneva. He has also been included on Sweden's list of players they are considering for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Here's a quick note to NHL teams: don't waste the time or money looking at this guy. He still has boatloads of talent, but until he gets a clean bill of health? I'd pass on even mentioning his name.
  • With the ongoing saga in Phoenix, now we find out that the NHLPA has some problems. NHLPA boss Paul Kelly will reportedly face some intense questioning from members of the NHLPA on Sunday and Monday when the 'PA convenes for a meeting. According to TSN, "NHLPA interim ombudsman, Buzz Hargrove is expected to make a presentation to the committee identifying concerns within the association about Kelly's leadership". Just when you think that everything is good in the players' camp, more shockwaves are levelled. Sometimes, no news isn't good news.
  • Closing down the Patrick Kane idiocy, Kane was ordered to write an apology to the cab driver after he pleaded guilty to the non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct on Thursday. The good news? He can resume his hockey career without any sort of cross-border trouble or a having a criminal record. The bad news? His reputation has taken a beating, and he'll need at least a year to scrub the tarnish off. He's still a fantastic hockey player, and I can't fault him for that. He just needs to lay low for a while when it comes to bad situations.
  • In one of the best feel-good stories to come out of hockey in a while, former head coach Jacques Demers was named to the Canadian Senate on Thursday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Demers, as you may recall, had one heckuva tough upbringing, and revealed in 2005 that he was mostly illiterate. He had dropped out of school in the eighth-grade to drive a soft drink truck after his father, an alcoholic, verbally abused him to the point of being convinced that he was "dumb". In 1987 and 1988, Demers became the first man to win consecutive Jack Adams Trophies. In 1993, he coached the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup. All while being unable to read more than a few odd words. Congratulations on your appointment, Mr. Demers! Your passion for life should be an inspiration for the Senate, and please push hard for education while in office. Our childrens' futures can use your experience to help them do so much more.
  • Greener, from the always comical He Score, He Shoot blog, needs to you see your doctor if you are suffering from DDoSS - Dog Days of Summer Syndrome. Hilarious take on what be ailing you while hockey is not being played.
Ok, that's all for tonight, folks. I have more softball playoffs tomorrow, so I won't be around until later. Have fun, be merry, and have a great Saturday!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 27 August 2009

Off The Magazine Rack

I was out today at lunch, and happened to pass by a store that had their magazine rack prominently displayed through their front window. As I strolled past, I stopped in my tracks when I noticed a specific magazine on their racks. The Hockey News has published their yearbook, and they make all the predictions and provide all the stats you could ever want in this issue. It literally doesn't leave my desk until sometime in mid-June. I have all of them since 1995, and they are a vast wealth of knowledge for even the most die-hard of hockey fans. That picture above of Ray Emery? We'll get to the reason shortly as to why I have him up there instead of the actual cover from this year's edition. However, here are some of the highlights from the 2009-10 edition of The Hockey News Yearbook.

  • "I think Patrick Kane is a great player, don't get me wrong, but to me the guy you build the franchise around is the Toews kid. He's a will machine. He just keeps coming and coming." - Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. Incidentally, he is also coaching Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews is one of the 46 men at the Canadian Olympic orientation camp. Does anyone think Toews doesn't have a good shot at making the Olympic squad? More from Babcock on Toews: "You need a great human being who's a workaholic to set the tone. And that's what you have in him".
  • Great article by Kevin Oklobzija about players who are too good to be in the AHL, but can't seem to crack the NHL. He interviews two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar about his 42 NHL games thus far in his career despite being 29 years-old and having all sorts of success at the AHL level. This is article worth reading just for some of Haydar's quotes about what he has faced, and where his future may lie.
  • In what will surely delight Puck Daddy guru Greg Wyshynski, writer Jay Greenberg pens an article about how the charity point given to teams in extra time or the shootout is taking away from hockey's action and excitement. He makes a good argument, including the fact that "[t]wenty-three of 30 NHL teams had "winning" records last season, having nothing to do with parity; rather, inflation". If you hate the charity point, you'll love this article. If you like the charity point, you have to acknowledge that some of what Mr. Greenberg wrote is entirely true.
  • The Top 50 NHL Players, as ranked by THN, will certainly be an article for debate. Just to add some intrigue as to who may be ranked as the top player, there are seven forwards, two defenceman, and a goaltender in the top ten. Of those ten players, four teams from the Eastern Conference are represented while three teams from the Western Conference are represented. I'm not revealing who the top ten are, though. Get yourself a copy of the magazine!
  • Some good player interviews are in the magazine, including Detroit's Chris Osgood, Boston's Milan Lucic, Montreal's Carey Price, New York's John Tavares, and Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf. THN also has an interview with Toronto head coach Ron Wilson on what it's like to coach in The Big Smoke.
  • The examination of each team is included from page 63 onwards in the magazine, and is essentially the entire reason I buy this magazine each and every year. THN's writers hammer out the strengths and weaknesses of each team while providing in-depth analysis of the offence, defence, goalies, rookies, coaching, salary cap implications, and what the major buzz is surrounding each team. They provide their prognostications as to where each team will finish in their respective conferences, and what may push that ranking higher or lower. Also included is the depth chart, arrivals and departures, and the always-informative "future watch" section about each team's best prospects. This should be your bible for the upcoming hockey season. It should not leave your desk whatsoever for any reason.
  • The reason for the Ray Emery picture above? According to THN, he could be the difference between the Flyers struggling to make the playoffs, and the Flyers hoisting the Stanley Cup. I'm not too certain about this, but wasn't that said about the Ottawa Senators too? They also note that each time that Chris Pronger has moved teams, the new team he plays for has gone on to the Stanley Cup Final (Edmonton in 2006, and Anaheim in 2007).
  • With the Flyers as their pick for the upcoming season, they also state that another Detroit-Pittsburgh final is not out of the realm of possibilities. They also like the Bruins and Capitals from the Eastern Conference, and give some credence to Vancouver, Calgary, and Chicago coming out of the West. If you're an Islanders or Coyotes fan, it is their belief that you're looking at another long season as both are last in their respective conferences.
I absolutely love this magazine. If you aren't a THN subscriber, run out to your local convenience store, drug store, book store, or where ever they have a magazine rack, and pick yourself up a copy. It is truly one of the best annual publications of all magazines, and it's a must-have for hockey fans.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 26 August 2009

No Time Left For Me

Classic rock really has some great tunes. The Guess Who are still one of my favorite Canadian rock bands of all time, and their tunes seem to stand the test of time. They have had their music featured in a number of television shows and movies, and they still draw a big crowd when they play in Canada. However, like the 1970 hit "No Time", I've had absolutely no time for anything but work today. Because of my lack of time, I've had almost zero opportunities to get in touch with my hockey reading. Of course, this is a shame, and something that I should be following up on regularly. Because I was so busy today, this entry will be quick and painless. And almost require no time to read.

  • Journeyman Mike Sillinger called it a career today, ending his run of 12 teams in 17 seasons. Surprisingly, for all the praise he received in terms of what he brought to the table, he never spent more than three seasons with any one team. Enjoy your retirement, Mr. Sillinger. Perhaps now you can finally unpack those suitcases.
  • On Frozen Blog, a fantastic blog for Washington Capitals news, brings us the new look for the AHL Champion Hershey Bears for this upcoming season. I don't mind the home and road at all. They are fairly traditional, and look alright. That collegiate style jersey, however, has been played out to death in pro hockey. Teams need to start moving away from that look. On the bright side, at least it wasn't a black alternate.
  • John Grigg of The Hockey News shows us how much teams are spending on buyouts as a portion of their salary cap. Toronto is playing Darcy Tucker to play in Colorado, and Tampa Bay is paying Vaclav Prospal to play for the Rangers. And if you don't think Alexei Yashin is still ruining the lives of the New York Islanders, think again. The KHL star is still being paid by the Islanders for taking his game to Russia. And will be paid next season as well... to the tune of $4.8 million. Fantastic piece by Mr. Grigg, and a definite must-read.
  • And finally, a story of un-retirement as the NHL's Head of Officiating, Stephen Walkom, has decided that he wants to get back on the ice as a zebra. Walkom will join the men he was in charge of - and men who he had to discipline - on September 7 as the NHL officials convene for their training camp. The NHL is searching for a replacement, but will most likely start the season with no one in the hot seat. Good luck to Mr. Walkom on his return. He was definitely one of the better referees before he moved into the front office.
There are a few short stories as I haul my rear end off to bed. Another long day awaits me tomorrow, so be prepared for more short entries until I can get my life under control. And don't forget: if you're in or near the Portland, Oregon area between September 10 to September 21, fire me an email or leave me a comment, and we can go for a bevy and talk some hockey.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 25 August 2009

I Hate To Say "I Told You So"...

I can honestly say that the man to the left is not me. I'm not that old. My hair isn't that gray. I don't wear glasses. I don't have a beard. However, some may wonder if I have some sort of ability to peer into the future after today's motions in the Phoenix courtroom where the Coyotes' fate hangs in the balance. I'm going on record right here to say that this saga has gone on far too long already, and that the Coyotes will suffer mightily for the next few seasons due to the bickering and fighting that has happened in the desert. If you thought the red ink was flowing now, the dam has yet to burst. Things will get significantly worse for the Coyotes before they get better. But back to this peering into the future thing.

On Saturday, August 8, 2009, I wrote a piece regarding this entire legal battle that would change the landscape for both the NHL and Jim Balsillie's camp. Essentially, I asked a very simple question: why doesn't the NHL buy the Coyotes? It makes more sense than dragging the franchise through an auction and crossing your fingers with the hopes that a guy, who wants the team so desperately that he can taste it, doesn't get it. It makes too much sense when it comes to determining how to run and market the franchise because the NHL would have total control over that scenario.

Today - surprise, surprise! - the NHL has filed a motion and submitted their own bid for the Phoenix Coyotes. Exactly what I said they should do, the NHL goes out and does it 17 days after I proposed the idea. Word for word, here is the entire statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly:

"Today, the League filed its own bid to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes’ franchise out of bankruptcy in an effort to maximize the likelihood that the Club ultimately will be sold to an acceptable purchaser who is committed to operating the franchise in Glendale.

"We remain supportive of the other efforts that have been and are being made to purchase and operate the Coyotes in Glendale, and we will continue to do everything we can to assist interested groups in those efforts leading up to the scheduled sale hearing on September 10, 2009 and thereafter, if the NHL is the winning bidder.

"We believe this step was necessary at this time in order to best preserve and maximize the value of the Club asset for benefit of the Club’s creditors and for the community of Glendale.

"The bankruptcy petition and subsequent events have been incredibly damaging to the Club’s business, and the sooner the Club can be extricated from the bankruptcy process, the sooner Club personnel can begin to restore the team’s vitality and local fan base.

"In the event the League’s bid proceeds forward and ultimately is the one approved by the Court, we intend to conduct an orderly sale process to a third party buyer outside of bankruptcy.

"It continues to be our intention and hope to conclude satisfactory agreements with existing Club business partners that will allow the Coyotes to be owned and operated on a viable basis in Glendale for many years to come."
Now, without getting into dollars and sense too much, it works out that Balsillie's $212.5 million bid for the Coyotes can be matched if every single NHL owner, of which there are 29, puts up $7.4 million, give or take a few thousand bucks. If they increase that to an even $10 million a piece? Well, that's $290 million for their bid, and they haven't even broken a sweat yet. Jimmy B? That's a $77.5 million increase for the team from his original bid.

Now, I'm sure $77.5 million doesn't worry Jim Balsillie that much. The guy is a billionaire. But when does common sense take over? How much is "too much" for a guy like Balsillie? If the NHL owners increased their individual bids to $15 million each, the NHL's bid instantly becomes $435 million. That valuation would put the Coyotes up near the Maple Leafs and New York Rangers in terms of their "value" despite only being worth $142 million.

But we're not done there. Sure, the owners can contribute money and split the Coyotes 29 ways. Why not make it a nice, round number like 30, and cut the NHL itself in on the deal? The NHL makes a ton of money itself, and can certainly throw a few bucks in on the deal. Suddenly, the costs are reduced to $7.1 million for each of the 30 partners in the deal. And with every increase that they make, Balsillie has another competitor trying to force him out.

Which is exactly what the NHL wants.

The NHL has ruled that he isn't ownership material. They have talked until they were blue in the face about how he isn't the kind of guy that they want as a part of their team. We know this, Balsillie knows this, the court knows this, and I'm pretty sure aliens on Mars know this. Balsillie asked the courts to rule against this decision by the NHL based on past approved ownership groups that have had less-than-impressive credentials. And that's fine. He's well within his right to ask this.

Where he is stuck now is that when, not if, but when this proceeding goes to auction, the NHL has leveled the playing field when it comes to money. It was clear that Jerry Reinsdorf couldn't outbid Jim Balsillie when it came to an auction scenario, and Jerry Moyes was pushing for the biggest payout he could get. Balsillie alluded to his vast wealth when it came to the auction scenario whenever he could. What the NHL has done is taken the vast wealth of 30 people and matched it dollar-for-dollar with the vast wealth of one man.

If Jim wants to yap about how rich he is and how the franchise is his once it goes to auction, he now has competition. Serious competition, might I add. It's easier to spread the risk over 30 people than it is over one person.

And I'll point out that this is almost IDENTICAL to what happened in Major League Baseball with the Montreal Expos. MLB was forced to take over the Expos, and they proceeded to run the team until a suitable owner could be found. While the circumstances in which the NHL is being forced to take over a dying team are entirely different, if they are successful, this may play out exactly as it did in baseball. That is, the Coyotes would be bought by the NHL, and then could be sold to a group in a city like Kansas City with a brand-new arena in place, and they would play there after the NHL determined that the franchise in Phoenix was not salvageable.

I hate to say I told you so, but on August 8, 2009, I told you so. With both parties slinging mud, this situation is only going to dirtier.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 24 August 2009

The Flight Is Booked

For anyone of you that are based in the Pacific Northwest, I will officially be in Portland, Oregon on September 10 and staying until September 21. My flight back to the Great White North happens on September 22, so I'll write that day off now. If anyone out there wants to grab a pint or two, chat some hockey, or check out a Winter Hawks practice, let me know via email or in the comments. I'll also be venturing to the thrift stores and vintage stores looking for some hockey-related gear and items, so keep your eyes open for something I may like or want. Powell's City of Books will also be hit in my search for awesome hockey books, so you might find me sipping a coffee there while reading a book one afternoon. There's lots of stuff to do on my itinerary, though, so make sure you book a time if you want to chat some hockey!

  • The proposed game between Montreal and Washington at Olympic Stadium on November 28 in Montreal that was supposed to happen? No-go. The Canadiens squashed that today. As cool as that would have been, I'd prefer one Winter Classic per year, please. Good move by the Canadiens. Keep this game special.
  • Duncan Keith was the first player off the airplane today in Calgary for the Canadian Olympic orientation camp. This isn't news in any way, but I think it's cool that a 25 year-old was the first man there. If that doesn't show that some maturity, perhaps I'm misreading his actions.
  • Lots of chatter about who will captain this Canadian team, and the leading candidates appear to be Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. San Jose's Joe Thornton has gotten a couple of mentions, but my idea, like Sportnet's Mark Spector, is to give it to Iginla. The man leads by example on the ice, and isn't afraid to call out anyone in the dressing room if they aren't pulling their weight. Crosby will have his time. Iginla has the experience and motivation to carry the Canadian squad in 2010.
  • Puck Daddy comes up with 10 questions about the Canadian team, and these are doozies. If you thought it was hard enough to select 46 players to skate at the camp, try narrowing the list to 30 players. Who do you keep when you have 46 all-stars at camp? Worse yet, who do you cut, and what reason do you give?
That's all for tonight. Just a quick update. I have a pile of stuff to do tomorrow, and the rest of the week isn't looking good either. I'll be back with updates, though. I pledge my allegiance to this blog.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 23 August 2009

Vancouver's Hockey Numbers

With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver a mere 172 days away, I wanted to take a quick look at how hockey figures into the equation when examining Canada's numbers. This has nothing to do with the 46 players at the Olympic orientation camp in Calgary, nothing to do with rivalries and who-beat-who, and nothing to do with who has the best chance to win. Instead, this is simply an overview of a few important numbers that will involve hockey at the 2010 Olympic Games. There will be an American reference, a few Russian references, and the inclusion of some European countries in this, so you can't even say that this is pro-Canadian. But it will talk about Canada. Because that's how I roll.

Here are your numbers:

  • 4 - Most medals won by one person in the ice hockey event. Vladislav Tretiak of the USSR has three gold medals and one silver medal to his name, while Jiri Holik has won two silver medals and two bronze medals.
  • 7 - Canada's all-time rank for medals at Winter Olympic Games. Canada has won 119 medals all-time. Ahead of them, in order, are Norway, USA, USSR/Russia, Austria, Germany, and Finland.
  • 7 - Canada has won seven gold medals in men's hockey since it was first played in 1920 in Antwerp at the Olympic Games. This is second all-time to USSR/Russia.
  • 13 - Most goals scored in one game by one individual. Canadian Harry Watson set the mark twice in the same Olympic Games! In 1924 in Chamonix, France, Watson scored 13 against Switzerland before scoring 13 more against Czechoslovakia.
  • 22 - This isn't a number per se, but a date. February 22, 2010 will mark the 30th anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice" when Team USA defeated the heavily-favored Soviet Union in the men's hockey semi-finals.
  • 29 - This is the number of goals scored by the Canadian hockey team in the 1920 Antwerp Summer Olympic Games in winning the gold medal. This was the first time hockey was played. In winning the gold medal, they only gave up one goal.
  • 31 - The number of saves made in the 2002 Winter Olympic men's gold medal game by Canada's Martin Brodeur. Brodeur faced 33 shots in leading Canada to their first gold medal in 50 years with their 5-2 win over the United States.
  • 33 - The largest margin of victory in any hockey competition at the Olympic Games. Canada defeated Switzerland by a 33-0 score in 1924.
  • 53 - The number of wins posted by the USSR between 1956 and 1988 in men's hockey. During this time, the Soviet Union posted a record of 53-5-2 - an amazing .883 winning percentage - and collected seven gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal. Just to reinforce how dominant they were, they scored 411 goals-for compared to 111 goals-against.
172 days until Vancouver opens its doors to the world. 172 days until the pressure cooker of the hockey competition shifts into "unbearable". 172 days until the 2010 Winter Olympic Games open, and the world watches Vancouver for 16 days. And then the Paralympic Games kick off from March 12 to March 21!

The spring will be great for hockey talk!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 22 August 2009

A Collection Of Threads

People collect all sorts of things. Stamps, sports cards, bottle caps, bobbleheads, and coins seems to be fairly common collections that people own, but occasionally you come across some off-the-wall collections. This one to the left? Typewriter ribbon tins. Yes, you read that correctly. Essentially, that collection is a historical look at the various makers of ribbons that provided the ink for a typewriter - sort of a writer's historical collection, if you will. But if someone makes it, you can almost bet that someone collects it. As advanced as we are in today's society, we tend to "pack rat" stuff that we have an affinity towards. And yes, we all do it in some way or another. I'm also a victim of collecting. My collection deals, obviously, in hockey.

As you may have read on here, I am a proud owner of a New York Islanders Fisherman jersey. I do, in fact, love this jersey. I even got it customized with Darius Kasparaitis' name and number on the back just to show that this wasn't an impulse purchase. It occurred to me, however, as I re-organized my closet today that I may own the world's ugliest hockey jersey collection.

I have a lot of jerseys that have been cut down by various people in the hockey industry, so it's time that I open my closet up and give you guys a sense of what I look at every time I think about donning a hockey jersey. I'm not taking photos of these individually mainly because I don't have the effort or time to entertain that thought, but I will post pictures of each jersey that I own. And you can laugh and mock me. Or whatever.

A few things before we get rolling. I'm not selling any of these, so don't ask. If you ask, your comment - no matter how insightful it may be - will be deleted. For those jerseys that don't have names and/or numbers on the back, I'm open to suggestions. Please note that players who (a) didn't wear the jersey won't make the cut, and (b) players who didn't wear that style of jersey will also be ignored. For example, if you suggest that Todd Bertuzzi should go on my red Florida Panthers Starter jersey, it will be ignored. He wore the Reebok jersey, and never suited up in a Starter jersey while in Miami. Make sense? Alrighty then.

Here's my collection thus far.

  • Anaheim Mighty Ducks - no customization. Yes, I will take consider your opinion on who should be worn on the back of this jersey. It's the eggplant-coloured jersey that they wore for so long, and it's a Pro Player jersey. My initial thoughts were either Paul Kariya or Teemu Selanne for the customization. However, a friend of mine suggested either Sergei Krivokrasov or Tomas Sandstrom as a name. Those intrigued me.
  • Belarus - no customization. This is from the Nike collection. It is a red road jersey, and is a goalie cut. The reason I wanted this one? Andrei Mezin. You know, the guy who tended the nets for Belarus when they knocked off Sweden in the 2002 Olympic Games? That guy. Don't suggest anyone else. Mezin will be put on the back... if I can find a picture.
  • Boston Bruins - #34. I acquired the Bruins' alternate jersey through an eBay auction, and it came with some dude's name on the back. Needless to say, his name is going to be removed. The jersey is a Pro Player make, so I'm thinking that it has to be Rick Zombo or Bryan Berard on the back. My gut tells me Berard is a better choice.
  • Chicago Blackhawks - Tony Amonte #10. I love the red Blackhawks jersey, and this Amonte jersey looks sweet. It might be the only jersey I have that doesn't raise an eyebrow in this collection. Always loved Amonte as a Blackhawk. Great memories. Only my jersey has the alternate captain's "A" on it.
  • Columbus Blue Jackets - no customization. This is the early white home jersey with the interlocking "CBJ" on the front and the insect on the shoulders. It's also a Pro Player jersey. My thoughts were going with one of the original Jackets in Davyd Vyborny.
  • Edmonton Oilers - no customization. This is the alternate jersey designed by Todd McFarlane. I wore this at the 2003 NHL Playoffs that saw Dallas eliminate Edmonton in six games. I was lucky enough to attend Games Three and Four. Not sure who I want on this jersey, but I can tell you that I don't want Pronger or Smyth. Any suggestions?
  • Florida Panthers - #44. The red road jersey that they wore was always a hated jersey since the Panthers dumped the Penguins in the 1996 Eastern Conference Final. However, I have moved on since that time, and this jersey was part of the eBay auction as well. Again, some random dude's name on the back will be replaced with Rob Niedermayer's name on this Starter jersey to be accurate in terms of time period.
  • Florida Panthers - #34. The blue alternate jersey hasn't carried the same vibe as the red jersey did, but I still need a name on it. Removing this random guy's name might be more work than I thought. Any ideas on this one? Mathieu Biron or John Vanbiesbrouck are my only options for #34 in Florida, but the Beezer wasn't around for the alternates. I'm thinking that the Biron might be my only option.
  • Florida Panthers - #44. The last jersey from that eBay auction is another randomly-named #44 Panthers jersey from the same guy as the Starter jersey above. This one is a Reebok jersey, however, so it will only have one man's name on it: Todd Bertuzzi.
  • Frenso Falcons - Jarrett Konkle #71. I actually picked this one up through the Falcons website after they played host to a charity game. The promo jersey looks a lot like the Atlanta Thrashers alternate in its style, but the baby blue colour makes it entirely unique. The charity that benefitted from this game was the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as the Falcons helped to raise money for their "Light the Night" walk. Yes, the jersey is the same colour as the "Light the Night" site background.
  • Latvia - no customization. This was picked up after the Latvians surprised the Americans with a 3-3 tie at the 2006 Olympic Games. I thought there might be another surprising run like the Belarussians had in the previous Olympic Games, but it was not to be. I'm still happy with the selection, though, and I'll be getting Sandis Ozolinsh's info on the back. It's not a goalie cut so I can't get Arturs Irbe.
  • Manitoba Moose - no customization. This is the old Moose jersey from their IHL days when Bauer was still making their jerseys. I still really like this jersey, despite the diagonal lines on the bottom, because of the cartoony logo. It feels minor-pro, and it is. I'm torn between a Greg Pankewicz customization and a Chris Kontos customization. Your thoughts?
  • Nashville Predators - Shea Weber #6. I was always a fan of defencemen who played hard and had a cannon for a shot. Weber is a new-age, throwback defenceman who throws checks, has a cannon, and skates like the wind. How do you not like this guy if you're a fan? Thankfully, my jersey isn't an apron. It is a CCM home.
  • New York Islanders - Darius Kasparaitis #11. As stated above, I simply love the Fisherman jersey. There was no other player I wanted more than Darius Kasparaitis as he was always a thorn in the side of every star player. Despite me hating the Islanders for what they did in 1993 in ousting the Penguins, the Fisherman made up for it all.
  • Phoenix Coyotes - Teppo Numminen #27. I commented before about how the NHL lost a classy defenceman in Teppo Numminen when he announced his retirement, but I'll have something to remember him by. Yes, the jersey features the psychadelic Coyote, but they were unique, and Teppo was classy. I could have done worse, you know. My Numminen jersey is identical to the one that Gretzky is sporting here.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins - Mario Lemieux #66. This was the first professional jersey I ever bought. I had it customized when I was younger, and it has remained in my collection since. Sure, the size 48 jersey no longer fits, but it has memories for me. I still pull it out every now and then just to look at it.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins - no customization. Same jersey as above, only this one fits. I seriously am thinking of putting Ron Francis on the back of this one. Rarely do you see Francis Penguins jerseys outside of Pittsburgh. And if you ask me, he was the catalyst in the two Stanley Cup wins that the Penguins had in 1991 and 1992. Sorry to Hartford Whalers fans, but that trade is still the most lopsided in NHL history.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins - #15. I picked the diagonal Penguins jersey up off eBay as well, and this one came with no name. There are really only two players who wore #15 during this jerseys time, so I'm stuck with either Dmitri Mironov or Shawn McEachern. Yeah, I'm leaning heavily towards McEachern.
  • St. Louis Blues - Petr Nedved #93. No jersey gets more talk in St. Louis than the diagonal Blues, Gretzky-era jersey. It's actually not that bad of a jersey for my collection since most of my jerseys are horrid, but it truly was well-designed but poorly-received. Everyone asks why I didn't get Gretzky on the back, and I keep telling them that it would be like owning a Michael Jordan Washington Wizards jersey. It would only tarnish his career.
  • 1996 All-Star Game - Teemu Selanne #8. Teemu has always been a classy guy, and he was the wrong guy to trade when it came down to moving either him or Keith Tkachuk out of Winnipeg in a salary dump. I had to get Teemu on the ASG jersey because he always was an all-star in Winnipeg. Still one of my favorite Jets.
  • NHLPA jersey - no customization. This is the jersey worn in the four-on-four challenge that took place in Hamilton, Ontario during the NHL strike in 1995 by Team USA. If I remember correctly, there was a blue team (Quebec), a yellow team (Western Canada), a white team (Ontario), and a red team (USA). The red jersey, which I own, is modeled here by Steve Duchesne. I'd love to put Jeremy Roenick on the back of this one since he was in his prime, but I can't find any pictures of this tournament anywhere to confirm both my memory and what number Roenick wore.
That's a walk through my wardrobe, kids. Comments are certainly welcome on this collection of jerseys. As I said before, it's a collection of somewhat terrible jerseys, and that's what makes it fun. It's not your standard fanatic collection - it's simply jerseys that I wanted because they ranked low in terms of aesthetics.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 21 August 2009

Do I Care? No, Not Really

Remember this guy? I do. He was a dynamic hockey player in the prime of his career. He scored goals at will, and had the look of a game-breaker every time he touched the puck. Paired with a talented Russian in Ilya Kovalchuk, he lit the league up in 2002-03 to the tune of 41 goals and 89 points after winning the Calder Trophy the year before. It seemed as though Dany Heatley was on top of the world. He was an invincible force on the ice, and he seemed to be a pretty good guy off the ice. Then came the night of September 29, 2003 when some poor decisions led to tragic results. Suddenly, the prolific scorer wasn't smiling as often as he used to.

As a result of the auto accident that killed teammate Dan Snyder, Dany Heatley requested a trade out of Atlanta for personal reasons. Understandably. Heatley was dealt to the Ottawa Senators for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries on August 23, 2005. In Ottawa, he was matched with Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza on the top line, and lit the scoreboard up. He was the first Ottawa Senators player to score 50 goals and top 100 points in a season when he scored 50 goals and 103 points in 2005-06. Heatley's mojo was back, it appeared.

The following season saw him rack up 50 goals and 105 points. The Senators marched through the Eastern Conference in the 2007 NHL Playoffs to the Stanley Cup Final where they eventually lost to the Anaheim Ducks. Things looked good in the Canadian capitol as the Senators took advantage of Heatley and his chemistry with Alfredsson and Spezza.

However, a shoulder injury slowed him down to 41 goals and 82 assists the following season, and the Senators ran into the second-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. With the number of injuries that the Senators were facing, the Penguins dispatched the Senators easily, and Heatley was nearly invisible during the four games. There was immense internal turmoil in the Senators' dressing room all season long as well, and key players were jettisoned due to their attitudes - possibly affecting the Senators' overall standing.

After a few coaching changes, the Senators finished in 11th-place last season, well short of their goal. Head coach Cory Clouston had "demoted" Heatley to the second powerplay unit, and this didn't sit well with the superstar. Clouston, a former AHL coach, demanded hard work and effort over pure talent, and challenged all the players to work harder. The result? The Senators went 19-11-4 in their final 34 games, a marked improvement from their effort before Clouston arrived.

However, Heatley was unhappy with his "diminished role" on the team, feeling that his talents were being wasted as he sat on the bench while other players played. On June 9, 2009, TSN reported that Heatley had asked the Senators to trade him - a move that sent shockwaves through the hockey world and sparked outrage with Ottawa fans. Today, Dany Heatley spoke about the trade request, along with all the other details since June 9 that have been swirling around this story.

To be honest? He didn't clear anything up. Instead, the perceived notion from Ottawa fans is that he actually made his situation worse. According James Gordon's live blog, 92% of people think his teleconference today made him out worse.

Personally? There are a few things that I'd like to clear up for people who may have missed this whole ordeal. Here's the full transcript, and my ideas follow.

  1. There aren't many teams that are considered "elite" that can absorb a $7.5 million cap hit per season for the next four years. If Heatley is waiting for GM Bryan Murray to find one of those teams, he'll spend the next season in Ottawa without doubt. And maybe longer.
  2. The trade that would have worked - sending him to Edmonton - was vetoed by Heatley because he "wanted more options", and is now dead. The one team willing to take on his massive contract was told "thanks, but no thanks", and now Heatley is stuck in a city that doesn't want him in a situation he doesn't want to be in. Oh, and he's still waiting for other options. Because a lot of teams are willing to trade for a guy who throws a hissy-fit over being moved to the second powerplay unit.
  3. He claims to be a "team guy", citing that everyone who has played with him would back that claim up. Except that "team guy" wouldn't be complaining about his "diminished role" on his team, especially when he logged the second-most ice-time for his team. Perhaps it's time to look in the mirror and practice the line "it's not you, it's me"? You routinely hear team guys complaining about their role on the team. They rarely step up and do something about it. Excuse my sarcasm.
  4. He states that he knows that there are other teams out there interested in his services. Look, that's fine and dandy. There are probably at least 50 NHL and minor-pro teams interested in his services. The problem is that he signed a massive deal long-term with a no-movement clause, and none of those "other teams" are offering anything significant in terms of fair market value back to the Senators. The purpose of a trade is to make your team better, not to make someone else's team better. Bryan Murray knows this. Just because you want a trade, Dany, doesn't mean you're going to get one if the offer for you makes the Senators worse. Does that make sense?
  5. Handcuffing two teams - Ottawa and Edmonton - only proves this was about you, Dany. It had everything to do with you, and nothing to do with being a "team guy". If you really wanted out, you would have gone. But you just want to go to a winner. You never wanted to be "an integral part" of the Senators. If you did, you would have gone through the lows that accompany the highs. For examples, see players like Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, and Mario Lemieux on how to grow with and lead a team.
Be prepared, Senators fans. Dany Heatley will be playing for your team this season. He may not be happy about his role, but he will be required to play hard if he wants to play in Vancouver in February. So you'll probably see some of this, you'll get a healthy dose of this, and you might be lucky enough to see this, but chances are that you'll routinely see this. And that's not a look that fans want to see.

Kinda makes you want to wash that bad taste out of your mouth, doesn't it? All I know is that the fire under this story was re-ignited with Heatley's teleconference today, and I was all prepared to write it off completely.

Why? Because I really couldn't care less about Dany Heatley at this point. Or his image. He's a great hockey player, but he's selfish. And that's not the kind of teammate I'd want in the dressing room.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 20 August 2009

CapsChick Has Questions

And I have answers! In one of the cooler things being done on hockey blogs this summer, CapsChick, from the always-awesome A View From the Cheap Seats, put together a major hockey questionnaire for hockey bloggers to answer. I was lucky enough to be included in the list of people she sent the questionnaire to, and I answered all of her questions. Huge thanks to CapsChick for including me, a Penguins fan, on a Capitals blog with this awesome questionnaire. Head on over to her site, and check out all the other people who have answered thus far as well! I'm honoured to be a part of this group.

Here are my answers. Feel free to cheer me or condemn me.

What is the first jersey you ever owned? An old-school Winnipeg Jets jersey with #10 Hawerchuk on the back.

What is the last piece of hockey memorabilia – jerseys, cards, figurines, etc. – you purchased? Ironically, three Florida Panthers jerseys at once. Much like their ticket prices, I basically got three for the price of one.

Keep your ticket stubs or throw them away? Toss them. They just collect dust.

Who has the more intriguing hair – Brian Engblom or Barry Melrose? Melrose. I'm sure he is the reason for our search for new energy sources with all the products he uses in his hair.

Who is the most underrated player in the league? The most overrated? Underrated? Bryan Little of the Atlanta Thrashers. How a guy can score 31 goals in his first full season and not even be mentioned as a sniper in the NHL is beyond me. The most overrated? I have to go with Mike Komisarek. Highly overrated as a defensive defenceman, and does nothing offensively to warrant his ridiculous salary.

What current rule or penalty would you remove from the game and why? The instigator rule. It serves no purpose at all. It was originally put in to protect players from thugs, but it did the exact opposite in allowing thuggery to become the norm. Remove the instigator, and the guys who play dirty suddently have to answer the call when they do something stupid.

What one rule or penalty would you add? Visors for everyone. I'd grandfather this rule in, though. Every single player that comes out of junior and the NCAA have worn a visor. There's no reason to take it off. Visors for everyone on the ice - players and officials. The only exception is if you aren't wearing one now. For every player that enters the league from this point forward, you have the shield on.

Forget predictions and rankings and who finished where last year – all logic aside, what two teams (one East, one West) would you love to see compete for the Cup this year? Pittsburgh and Dallas. I'm a huge Penguins fan (I know, BOO!) so I'd love to see a repeat. Dallas has some really good youngsters coming up - Neal and Fistric - and Mike Modano is still one of the classiest guys in the NHL.

Complete this sentence: The next Winter Classic should be between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars, and take place at the brand-new Target Field.

More disturbing image – Crosby with a “mustache” or Crosby in bed with the Cup? Mustache. He's got the teen angst/high school senior 'stache going on, and that screams "creepy".

Which team has the best mascot? Without a doubt, it is Youppi! of the Montreal Canadiens. He's a multi-sport mascot in two professional leagues, and he's still one of the most recognized furry team members on the planet. And he's orange. And he's awesome.

Whose press conference would you rather listen to – John Tortorella, Bruce Boudreau or Ron Wilson? Boudreau. He's the only guy out of the three that seems to be able to crack a joke without me wanting to punch him in the face. Wilson is far too smarmy, and Tortorella just loves to pick fights.

Who is your favorite all-time player? Who is your favorite active player? Mario Lemieux is my all-time favorite player. My favorite active player, however, is Jonathan Toews. Gotta show some love for the 'Hawks captain and the hometown boy. And he's a pretty decent player too.

Give us your favorite hockey saying that doubles as a dirty euphemism. "I hate players that go backdoor on our goalie."

What game(s) on your team’s schedule are you most looking forward to this season? Since I don't follow one team, I really want to see the Winter Classic this season from Boston. That game will always stand out on the calendar every year.

Do you read team-specific blogs about teams other than your own? Which ones and why? I read them all as often as I can. I love reading other people's perspectives on stuff. It's the yin to my yang. It also provides good contrast to what I may be thinking and/or writing.

Do you think the NHL will ever put a team in Hamilton, Kansas City and/or Las Vegas? Hamilton - yes. But not in the foreseeable future. Las Vegas - no. People go to Vegas to bet on sports, not watch them. There's too much stuff there to do without dropping big bucks on sports tickets.

Everyone's got a guilty pleasure - what player and/or team do you like that you really shouldn't? My guilty pleasure isn't a player or a team per se. It's a jersey. I love - and I mean, I LOVE - the New York Islanders' Fisherman jersey. I can't explain how great it is except that it was way ahead of its time. And don't even try to tell me it sucks. I've killed for less, you know.

What team has improved the most this summer? I like what Washington has done. The addition of the always-underrated Mike Knuble combined with their solid minor-league squads should allow the Caps to win another Southeast Division. Brendan Morrison isn't the guy I thought they needed down the middle, but he is a setup guy, and could fit nicely between the dangler in Ovechkin and the power forward in Knuble. Losing Brent Johnson's character sucks, but Varlamov showed that he is ready for the spotlight, and could supplant Theodore from the get-go this season.

What is your favorite hockey memory? The 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games ice hockey gold medal games. For obvious patriotic reasons.

Which team has the worst jersey? How about the worst third/specialty jersey? I hate the apron jerseys. Colorado, Edmonton, Nashville... you know what I'm talking about. I cannot stand the useless piping that makes the players look like they are hosting a BBQ. As for worst third jerseys, the "Bolts", "Sens", and any black-for-black-sake jerseys - Carolina and San Jose, for example - are tied for the worst. Nicknames - you play in a PROFESSIONAL hockey league. This ain't the beer league, kids. BFBS - simply stupid. Black uniforms are so 1990s. Get with the times.

Roll out your favorite homemade player nickname. Tyler "Bang Bang" Kennedy. It came about on the goal he scored against the Red Wings in last season's Stanley Cup Final from Kunitz and Crosby where it was a tic-tac-toe play... and I just sort of yelled "bang-bang-Kennedy" during the goal. The guys I was watching the game with have never let me live it down.

If you could move any uprooted team (e.g. Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, etc.) back to their original home, which one would you move? Hartford Whalers. I love the Whale. They had one of the all-time greatest logos, and I loved their colour scheme. Their battles with Boston in the playoffs were always epic as well.

What will Jeremy Roenick’s next career move be? I'm hoping he replaces Pierre McGuire on TSN. Roenick should be a panellist for TSN at least.

Have you ever stopped rooting for one hockey team and started rooting for another? Nope. Always was a Penguins fan. Always will be.

Who had the better mug shot, Kane or Finley? Patty Kane. It's a 20-cent photo booth picture. What? Too soon?

Toss out the current divisions and propose a new divisional alignment for the league. I did that a while back. I hate the geographical divisions and conferences.

Do you follow other sports besides hockey or are you a one-sport fan? Leisurely, I follow other sports. But I have no allegiances to any teams.

Which free agent acquisition do you think will have the biggest impact on his new team? Martin Havlat. I think he could have a big season for Minnesota's anemic offence if he stays healthy.

Of the five lottery teams last season (Tampa, Atlanta, NY Islanders, Phoenix, Colorado) which one(s) will make the playoffs this year? None of them have made significant enough improvements to make the playoffs this coming season.

What is your favorite hockey reference in a non-hockey movie/TV episode? Mallrats. Jason Lee's championing of the Whalers defeating the Canucks is awesome in its 10 seconds of screen time.

What player from the other 29 teams would you love to have on your team? Duncan Keith. There is no greater player to have than an offensive, shutdown defenceman. Ask Detroit how important Nicklas Lidstrom is. The difference? Keith is younger.

Superlative time!

* Best one-on-one offensive player - Mario Lemieux.
* Best one-on-one defenseman - Duncan Keith.
* Best assist man - Wayne Gretzky.
* Best pure goal scorer - Brett Hull.
* Power-play specialist - Tim Kerr.
* Shorthanded specialist - Dirk Graham.
* Worst referee - Mick McGeough
* Goalie when you need one save - Vladislav Tretiak
* The guy you never heard of (but should have) - Valeri Kharlamov.
* When it gets chippy - Bobby Clarke.
* Coach for a must-win game - Scotty Bowman.
* Get under your skin guy - Scotty Hartnall.
* The home crowd - Winnipeg in the playoffs.
* Worst arena to play in as a visitor - Wachovia Center.
* Worst arena to play in as the home team - Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

And finally, quick picks. Do you prefer:

* Crosby or Ovechkin? - Crosby.
* Ovechkin or Malkin? - Malkin.
* Overtime or shootout? Overtime.
* 4-on-3 or 5-on-4? - 5-on-4.
* Sakic or Yzerman? - Sakic only because of his 2002 Olympic performance. Otherwise, both men rank extremely high in my view.
* Kerry Fraser or Bill McCreary? Fraser. That hair is legendary.
* Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens? The Forum.
* Roy or Brodeur? Patrick Roy simply because I share a birthday with him.
* Touch-up icing or no-touch icing? No-touch icing. Prevents unnecessary injuries.
* Fedorov or Mogilny? Fedorov. Better leader, and better two-way player.
* Top shelf or five hole? Top shelf. I like popping water bottles off the net.
* Eddie Olczyk or Pierre McGuire? Olczyk. I abhor McGuire.
* Slapshot or wrist shot? Slapshot. I'm a defenceman.
* Orr or Coffey? Bobby Orr. He left the game far too soon. Coffey stayed far too long.
* Coffee or tea? Coffee.
* Canada or Russia? Canada. For obvious reasons.
* Miracle or Mighty Ducks? Miracle. The other is crap.

Thoughts? Comments? Hate mail? Hit me up in the comments with them. And get over to CapsChick's site and check out the other people who answered the questionnaire!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 19 August 2009

The AHL Report

I'll be totally honest here. I love watching The Colbert Report. Steven Colbert's style of comedy is entirely awesome, and I am a fan. I'm also a fan of the AHL since that league contributes heavily to the success of the NHL. A lot of good young talent comes through the AHL, and the graduates to the NHL are plentiful. Today, Hockey Blog In Canada brings you the "AHL Report". Yes, you can pronounce it as "re-POUR" in the same way that Steven Colbert pronounces "report". It just makes it sound more sophisticated. Or something. Anyway, onto the news!

  • News out of Rochester today has former NHL centerman Mike York signing with the Rochester Americans for a one-year deal. York led the Syracuse Crunch in scoring last season with 58 points, and should bring both a scoring and a leadership influence to the youthful Americans team. York has appeared in 579 NHL games, and will be re-united with head coach Ted Nolan whom York played for while both were with the New York Islanders in 2006-07. This is a very good signing for the Amerks as they look to climb back to glory after an off-year last season.
  • The Manitoba Moose signed a former NHLer on Monday as they inked home-grown forward Marty Murray to a deal. Murray led the Manchester Monarchs in scoring last season with 54 points, and is excited to be coming home to Manitoba where he starred with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings. "Manitoba's a team that likes to win and they're hungry for a winner. Some teams at the American Hockey League level are content at just developing players, they don't care about wins and losses. This organization is different - they want to win right now," Murray told Paul Wiecek of the Winnipeg Free Press.
  • The AHL released its schedule, and the season starts on October 2 2009. October 2 features a rematch of the Western Conference Finals last season as the Moose play the Houston Aeros in Winnipeg, as well as the first game for Dallas' new affiliate in the Texas Stars as they meet one of their cross-state rivals as they visit the San Antonio Rampage.
  • In new team news, the Stars will officially open the Cedar Park Center one night later as the home-and-home series moves to Austin, Texas on October 3. Saturday, October 3 will also see the Adirondack Phantoms play their first game in their new home as Glen Falls, New York welcome the Worcester Sharks to town. The Abbotsford Heat, Calgary's affiliate, gets their season underway on October 9 as San Antonio makes their way into British Columbia for the first time.
  • The Albany River Rats signed former NHL goaltender Mike Morrison to a deal one week ago. Morrison played in 29 NHL contests with three teams. After playing in Slovenia and Sweden last season, Morrison makes his way back to North America. The veteran goalie should help to stabilize the River Rats' goaltending situation this season.
  • Thomas Greiss appears to be a mainstay as the "goalie of the future" for the San Jose Sharks. They signed the 23 year-old German netminder to a two-year deal one week ago. I actually really like this signing as Greiss has shown tremendous growth during his time with Worcester. The Sharks also inked another goaltender as they picked up Henrik Karlsson in a one-year deal. Karlsson was with Malmo of the Swedish Elite League last season.
  • The Puckdrawn blog, who has some impressive work on the site, and the Grand Rapids Griffins have seen a contest come to an end. The Griffins held the contest for two aspiring designers to come up with an alternate jersey design, and they settled on two fairly impressive jerseys: Chad B. Stilson's design, which will be worn on New Year's Eve this season, and Brian Oesch's design, which will be worn on January 30, 2010. Both jerseys will be auctioned off after their respective games. The auction for Stilson's jerseys will go to support the Grand Valley State University’s club roller hockey team, while the auction for Oesch's jerseys will help the Griffins Youth Foundation. Excellent designs, gentlemen! Two big thumbs-up from this writer, and kudos to both Puckdrawn and the Griffins for this awesome contest!
  • Speaking of aspiring designers, you have less than two weeks left if you want to get in on the Hartford Wolf Pack's jersey design contest. The Wolf Pack are accpeting submissions for their specialty jersey night, and you have a chance to put your artistry and design skills to work! Get at it, kids! I want to see a great design for the Wolf Pack!
  • Great little article here written by Kami York-Feirn, that is featured on the Milwaukee Admirals' site, where she speaks to Triston Grant, an AHL enforcer. Note how he refers to "the code". This is a guy who knows how to fight properly and fairly. Excellent article, and kudos to Miss York-Feirn on the great piece.
  • Everyone who follows hockey knows who Rick Jeanneret is. The man is a legend in the play-by-play world as his work on Buffalo Sabres' broadcasts is always entertaining. The Portland Pirates announced on August 12 that Rick's son, Mark Jeanneret, has been hired to call the play-by-play action for Pirates' broadcasts after spending twelve seasons with the OHL's Erie Otters. Could the Pirates be grooming the next Jeanneret for the Sabres' broadcast booth?
There's your AHL update for today. With hockey about a month away now, I'm starting to get pumped for any and all hockey updates. With the AHL schedule release, you know it's not far away now. Hockey is back... at least, it will be in a few short weeks!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 18 August 2009

A Day Late, A Dollar Short?

I'm glad to know that there are respectable news outlets on this planet that are reporting on things that are relevant to hockey. For all the "Patrick Kane apology" stories we got from mainstream media yesterday, you would think that maybe one outlet would be interested in USA Hockey's newest jerseys that they will be sending their teams to the 2010 Olympic Games in. Just one. That's all I wanted and/or needed. But I got none. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Bupkis.

Thanks to the phenomenal work at the Puck Daddy blog, Greg Wyshynski has now brought forth some great images of Team USA's new threads. I also have to throw a shout-out to Red and Black Hockey on Kukla's network as David Lee found some Wal-Mart digital photos of Team USA in their new uniforms as well. However, not wanting any sort of copyright infringement or anything on my hands, I didn't pilfer any pictures. You're welcome to the owners of those pictures.

As Greg wrote, it appears that the embedded images in the Canadian logo won't be the only things picked up by your high-definition television. According to Greg's info, Nike will embed their "Nike We the People Graphic" into the blue jerseys that will be worn by Team USA.

I don't mean to sound rude here, but that "we the people" design? Lame. It is way too busy, and simply doesn't allow your eyes to focus on anything in particular. But it's a Nike design on a Nike jersey at a Nike-licensed Olympics, so who I am to argue with selling out?

The jerseys, as stated by David Lee, are simply underwhelming. They have the traditional red-white-and-blue colours of America, but where is the hockey? These could be worn by any fan to any sporting event to encourage their favorite Americans. The jerseys don't immediately say "I'm here for hockey". Of course, due to the IOC's rules, the USA Hockey logo is gone, replaced with the boring "USA". Couldn't USA Hockey or Nike come up with a logo?

And what's worse is that the alternate jersey, sported here by Ryan Malone, have a distinct "New York Rangers" feel to them. I know the Big Apple is a great city and all, but is there nothing else that the designers at USA Hockey and Nike could come up with? While Greg is right in that they do bear a striking resemblance the "Miracle On Ice" squad's jerseys, perhaps the American men are asking the hockey gods for a little help in Vancouver?

All I know? Nothing overly special with the Team USA jerseys. Perhaps that's why no one reported anything about them - no one thought they were news. While I am a fan of the blue jerseys that USA wears on the ice, this "we are the people" thing is an entirely useless addition.

Your thoughts?

Kudos to both Greg Wyshynski and David Lee for digging into the USA Hockey uniforms. It's nice to see respectable news outlets doing what they do best: reporting news.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 17 August 2009

The New Look

Today was the big day for Team Canada's hockey teams when it came to uniform aesthetics. Of course, you are all aware of the battle that Hockey Canada and the IOC had regarding the previous Canadian jerseys due to Hockey Canada's logo being on the front. That, according to Olympic rules, is forbidden. Hockey Canada was forced to redesign their hockey jerseys or choose to not participate. Being that the 2010 Olympic Games are being held in Vancouver in hockey-mad Canada, the latter was not an option. Hockey Canada headed to the drawing board five times before settling on this new design.

First, a little history on how this jersey came to be. According to the Hockey Canada website,

Nike, in collaboration with Musqueam artist Debra Sparrow, designed a jersey that tells an intricate story by incorporating imagery from across our country. This unique design features many aspects of Canada’s rich history through icons and cultural symbols. The dominant imagery depicted inside the Maple Leaf crest includes smaller Maple Leafs representing the gold medal count for our men’s, women’s and sledge teams, the thunderbird and eagle, two powerful First Nations symbols supporting and protecting the central Maple Leaf – and of course the heralded hockey player and stick.

The graphic design of the jersey has Salish symbols and patterns that represent all First Nations across Canada. The graphic design celebrates First Nations artwork and also incorporates Canadian icons: the Maple Leaf, fleur-de-lis, hockey player, moose and beaver.
Without getting too political, this is the first Hockey Canada-endorsed jersey to feature First Nations' representation, and that speaks volumes in terms of the rich history that the First Nations people have in Canada. To display that artistry and imagery on the world's biggest sports stage is a step forward, and will hopefully be reflected in other ventures in future years. The inclusion of First Nations imagery in the Canadian logo makes me, as a Canadian, proud. For Canadian First Nations hockey players such as Jordin Tootoo, Wacey Rabbit, Carey Price, and Jonathan Cheechoo, I'm sure their level of pride is second-to-none right now. Huge thumbs-up from this writer for this aspect.

Ok, on to the fashions. Honestly, the jerseys aren't any different than before. Same stripes, same shoulder yokes, same thing, right? Even the rear font for names and numbers is identical to the previous version.

Where the jerseys are different are the logos displayed on the jersey itself. First, the chest logo has that intricate First Nations art incorporated into it. I'll let Miss Sparrow explain the imagery.
  • "The eagle is significant to all people: First Nations, non-First Nations. The eagle is an amazing spirit that represents not only freedom, but the strength to sore as high as you can go."
  • The thunderbird is "responsible for the weather. In our myths he brings the thunder and the lightning."
  • Inside the Maple Leaf image in the middle of the logo are "smaller Maple Leafs representing the gold medal count for our men’s, women’s and sledge teams".
  • Other imagery to bring the country together through this logo include the fleur-de-lis, moose, salmon, whales, beavers - cultural icons from across the Great White North.
This might be the most complete logo I've seen in any sport in any event. Miss Sparrow's traditional Musqueam art forms represent all the corners of this great land, and she brings it all together in a very symbolic way. HBIC cannot state how much I am behind this logo. If one has to find a drawback - and believe me, this is a stretch - it's that the artistry really can only be seen when one focuses on the jersey. It will be interesting to see how they look on standard TV, but high-definition television should show off the new logo nicely.

The other logo you might notice is the Vancouver Olympic Games logo on the left sleeve. That one will be standard for all hockey jerseys at the 2010 Olympic Games, I'm told.

Overall, pretty decent jerseys. There was some serious anticipation when Hockey Canada announced that it had to change their logo since the Hockey Canada logo is highly recognizable. However, I'd say they came out of this ordeal pretty clean, and the results are encouraging. Not to beat a dead horse here, but that aboriginal artwork is a phenomenal touch on this jersey. It pleases me to say this after seeing the abominations that Reebok rolled out in the NHL, but Nike got it right for this design, and a credit to them for working with both Hockey Canada and Debra Sparrow in creating this fantastic jersey.

As for the Team USA jerseys? Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

No, it appears that the mainstream media was more interesting in Patrick Kane's apology for something he did than they were in bringing to light the new duds that will be worn by the American hockey teams. You know, they were digging at a kid who, according to one writer, "brought an immediate torrent of abuse in the blogosphere" because he did something stupid. And today, the media was all over his apology for his actions. Those same actions that "the blogosphere" condemned him for.

You know, I'm not one to rain on anyone's parade, but perhaps it is time for the mainstream media to take a long gaze into the mirror with which they see the rest of the world. I'm not saying that what the media did was wrong as they are paid to pursue a story, but it was entirely what we, as bloggers, wanted to see - Patrick Kane apologized for his actions, and USA Hockey shut down any further questions regarding the incident. Why? Because the media in attendance would have flogged the kid with questions until the cows came home. And USA Hockey simply doesn't want the circus. But remember, kids: it's the blogosphere who are to blame for this, not the mainstream media. Patrick Kane apologized for doing something stupid - a volunteered admission of stupidity, no less - and Dowbiggin thinks we're to blame. How many bloggers were at that press conference today asking Patrick Kane to elaborate on the details of his apology?

Yeah, that's right: NONE. Stick that in your pipe, along with your pompous attitude towards bloggers, and smoke it, Bruce Dowbiggin. Your industry just pulled the old double-standard, not that you'd recognize it. You can condemn us all you like, but his apology is an admission of guilt. If he wasn't sorry for his actions in the events, he wouldn't be apologizing. So shut up.

And next time, maybe get some pictures of the new USA uniforms. Or, in layman's terms, do your damned job!

And on a final note, something awesome to end this on as my rant has me slightly off-kilter. The "third strong goalie", who writes the Third String Goalie blog, profiles the story behind the New York Islanders' Fisherman jersey while showing off the Ziggy Palffy jersey in his collection. As you know, I'm all about the Islanders' Fisherman jerseys because of their overall awesomeness, so I had to link it up. Commit to the Fisherman! Great article, Jeff! Mike Milbury is stunned by your work!

Just before I let you go, check out Hockey Canada's website where they've devoted an entire area to their new threads!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!