Sunday 31 July 2011

Rob Ullman Does It Again

If you recognize the man to the left, you know his name is Vic Lynn. Lynn has quite a distinction as an NHL player, especially when you consider that his playing career spanned from 1942-1962. I was quite impressed by how happy he appears in his photo, and in all the photos I looked at while researching this piece, he always seems to have a smile on his face. He truly looks like one of the happiest guys on the planet, but that's not why he's famous or why I'm talking about him today. Instead, I'll let the talented artist Rob Ullman tell the tale of Vic Lynn and what he did to receive some recognition and distinction in the hockey world.

Rob Ullman is an "artiste extraordinaire" in that he combines his phenomenal illo creations with sports, churning out art such as this inspiring Winnipeg Jets piece. Rob runs his website, the aptly-named Atom-Bomb Bikini, where he posts all sorts of work, and it really is excellent artwork. I have purchased a few of his comic books through his online store, and the quality of the work is top-notch. I'm happy to feature Rob's piece on HBIC that explains why Vic Lynn is an important figure in hockey history. Click on the image to make it bigger so you can read it, but enjoy Rob's work on the story of Vic Lynn!
Despite playing six games between the Rangers, Red Wings, and Canadiens, he did still appear in at least one regulation game for each of those teams. "The Saskatoon Streak" went on to win three Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1947, 1948, and 1949 before playing a couple of season with both the Bruins and Black Hawks to become the first player to play on all six Original Six teams in 1952.

Lynn closed out his career by playing eleven of his next sixteen in his hometown as he dressed for the Saskatoon Quakers. He also spent time in places such as Brandon, Manitoba, Sudbury, Ontario, and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. All in all, the three-time Stanley Cup champion played in 327 NHL games, recording 49 goals and 76 assists in the regular season.

A huge thank you goes out to Mr. Rob Ullman for his latest Old-Timey Hockey Tale on Vic Lynn, and please stop by his site for a look some awesome artwork. If you like what you see, head over to his store and help him earn a few bucks by buying some of his work. Again, you won't be disappointed in your purchase!

Thanks again, Rob, and keep up the great work!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 30 July 2011

Walking Away

It's official: Alexei Kovalev will not be suiting up for any NHL teams next season unless he wants to go through the waiver wire. Kovalev decided that he would be best to take his trade back to Russia where he signed a a two-year deal with Atlant Mytishchi of the KHL on Friday. The talented winger who never seemed to give 100% will now be one of the KHL's biggest stars after Jaromir Jagr jumped ship back to the NHL and Alexei Yashin announced that he was possibly looking for a suitor in the NHL. While Yashin's game has deteriorated significantly since the turn of the millenium, there was always hope that Kovalev would show more drive that what he did in his latter years in the NHL. So this image might be the best way for a number of NHL teams to remember Kovalev as he walks away from the NHL for at least two season.

Kovalev looked like a shell of the once-dynamic player that played for the Penguins long ago. His work in this year's playoffs after being acquired by Pittsburgh at the trade deadline was nothing short of dreadful for an offensive talent: one goal and one assist in seven playoff games. It was the worst statistical output of his career in the playoffs, and it seemed that he didn't even want to be there during the series against Tampa Bay.

I'm not here to disparage Kovalev as a human being because he always seemed like a decent man. It was, however, maddeningly frustrating to watch him night after night put in an effort that would have most players stapled to the bench. Backchecking? Foreign concept. Defensive awareness? Greek to him. He was an offensive force when he wanted to be, but the problem was that he rarely wanted to be. In short, the guy could score, but he wouldn't work hard for his goals, and he rarely put in an effort to stop goals from being scored against his team.

Don't believe me? I'm sure a lot of you remember this play from the 2004 NHL Playoffs where Kovalev's gaffe and "apparent injury" allowed Glen Murray to score the overtime winner.

Kovy, it's THE PLAYOFFS. Y'know, where guys play hurt all the time. You got tapped on the glove, and it looked you you took a bullet while completely forgetting about the puck. To make matters worse, you skate directly into Sheldon Souray, allowing Glen Murray to streak in on the partial breakaway and bury the puck. WHAT WERE YOU DOING AND THINKING???

And it's not like this hasn't happened in his career just once. Sports Illustrated's Michael Farber wrote an entire article in 2008 on how Kovalev's antics while with the Canadiens kept them guessing as to which Kovalev was coming to play: the talented scoring winger who could control a game, or the invisible, uninterested liability that cost Montreal games.

In 2007, The Hockey News' Ryan Dixon compared baseball's Manny Ramirez to hockey's Alexei Kovalev in terms of their amazing set of talents, but the unwillingness to put those talents on display most nights. As Dixon writes,
"Stop expecting more than skill-induced bursts of excellence. Just sit back, enjoy watching Kovalev make the puck dance the way only a handful of other players in the world can and when the inevitable other skate drops, just swallow hard and accept that’s Alex being Alex."
No one is denying that Alexei Kovalev is a world-class offensive talent. The guy can skate, score, shoot, and pass, and not many teams have a player of his amazing offensive abilities on their rosters. But Alexei Kovalev simply doesn't live up to his billing in the majority of games over his career. He plays, he notches a point or two, but his act seems to have worn thin on a number of franchises over the last decade especially.

I'm sad to see a guy of Kovalev's immense talent hop across the pond to the KHL, but you have to hope that Nikolai Borshevsky, head coach of Atlant Mytishchi, can somehow deal with Kovalev's apparent ADHD on the ice. If not, Kovalev's retirement could come long before his target-retirement age of 50. I think that, as a Penguins fan, I just became so frustrated with Kovalev that I simply wanted him stuck to the end of the bench where he couldn't do any less than what he was doing on the ice.

Good luck in the KHL and with Atlant Mytishchi this season, Mr. Kovalev, and I wish you nothing but the best as you embark on next step of your hockey career!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 29 July 2011

Baby Jets Will Enjoy "IceCaps"

It was possibly one of the worst-kept secrets in the hockey world, but the St. John's AHL franchise, formerly the Manitoba Moose, will now take to the ice as the St. John's IceCaps and will be the primary affiliate of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets.

"I am so pleased to present the St. John’s IceCaps and our new logo to fans, as we begin a new era of professional hockey in the province," Danny Williams, president and chief executive officer, announced today. "The IceCaps is a name that I am confident hockey fans will support as it captures both our rich hockey history with a reference to the Caps, while at the same time capturing a natural element that is iconic for the province, ice. We wanted to ensure that, although the team is based in our capital city, the province as a whole can identify with it and embrace it as their own."

The logo itself is indicative of the harsh climate that Newfoundland and Labrador are known for, and the name harkens back to the days of the senior hockey circuit where the St. John's Caps were one of the elite NAHA senior hockey teams in the 1960s. There are a number of good elements that the logo incorporates if you look closely.

"The beauty of the ice-capped mountains, the outline of Newfoundland and Labrador displayed prominently and the jagged look of the mountains themselves are all indicative of the robust nature of our province," Glenn Stanford, AHL Governor and Chief Operating Officer of the team, explained. "We also expect it to be a staple of our team: hard-working, tough and rock solid.

"It is critical to have a name and logo that fans at home can embrace and fans on the road will remember," Stanford continued. "This name and logo does both. The St. John's IceCaps will be a memorable and easily identifiable team in the league, and I am excited to start promoting it both here at home and abroad."

While some were quick to point out that Tim Hortons restaurants have a cool beverage known as an "iced capp", the team decided on this name for the AHL team amongst others such as "WhiteCaps" and "Regiment". So while there may be some jokes made about the popular frosty coffee beverage at Tim Hortons, Danny Williams is confident that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will rally behind their new AHL team.

"The secret for us now is the same with any marketing brand — whether it's Apple or Nike with the swoosh — having a brand and having a logo, it's about what you wrap around it, it's about what you make people believe it is and what it stands for," he emphasized.

It seems that getting AHL hockey back is something about which the people of St. John's are already excited. The team has reportedly 4700 season tickets of the 6200 available seats in Mile One Arena. St. John's has always been a particularly strong AHL market as they had great crowds when the St. John's Maple Leafs called Newfoundland home. The team is guaranteeing that 85% of season tickets, or 5100 total, will be sold before the season starts on October 14, and I'd say they are definitely doing a good job in fulfilling that promise.

Personally, I don't see much an issue with this name. It rolls off the tongue very easily, and I like the logo. The colour scheme appears to be that same as the Winnipeg Jets' colour scheme, so expect some sort of light blue-dark blue combination for jerseys and breezers.

Overall, this logo works for me as a legitimate AHL logo. True North has done a good job in incorporating features of the civic entities and landmarks which makes it a solid design. Well done, TNSE, on coming up with a very appropriate St. John's logo!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 28 July 2011

General Housekeeping

This is not going to be a post about needing more lemon-scented Pledge, although I will admit that Consuela's routine on Family Guy makes me laugh often. I do need to do some housekeeping around here, so I'm going to go through this as quick as I can. Bear with me if you've seen and/or heard some of these points before, but I need to get some of this mess at HBIC headquarters cleaned up before the next hockey season starts. I'm not going to draw this out any longer than it has to be, so let's get this party started with a few announcements.

  1. I asked a while back through my Facebook account what changes you, the readers, would like to see on this blog. Basically, it was a carte blanche in terms of making suggestions, and I got only one: update the logos on your banner at the top. I realize that it's outdated: the Thrashers no longer exist while the Bruins, Sabres, Blue Jackets, Predators, Senators, Sharks, Lightning, Canucks, and Capitals have all changed their logos in some way since 2007 when I started this blog. With my blog turning five years old in January, expect an announcement of some sort regarding a design contest for HBIC's new look. Yes, there will be prizes for the winner, and they will be great prizes. And yes, the new design submitted by you and chosen by me will replace my outdated banner at the top.
  2. If you want some free stuff, make sure you enter the Scotiabank/NHLPA "Ask a player" contest. HBIC is giving away t-shirts to all that ask a question via the Scotiabank Hockey Club Facebook page. All you have to do is ask a question, post the same question in the comments on this page, and you're all set! Mike E. will be getting a t-shirt at some point because he's the only person entered thus far!
  3. I just want to remind everyone that this blog is, and will continue to be, "of the people, by the people, for the people". If you or someone you know is an aspiring writer, send me your hockey stories, and I'll publish them! If you're reading this, and you have something hockey-related to get off your chest, write up your thoughts and email them to me! You can be a published writer on HBIC!
The HBIC Playoff Pool prize winners have been identified. I have everyone's email info except for one person: Matthew S. If anyone knows Matthew or if you're reading this, Matt, contact me before 11:59PM on Monday evening. If I haven't heard anything by then, I'm moving on with the awarding of the prizes. I can't wait on this forever, so please contact me ASAP.

This just in: Java is a hard language to code in if you're not very experienced with it. My ongoing struggles have set me back slightly, but I'm starting to get how this language works. Does it make sense? Not really, but I suppose any foreign language doesn't make a lot of sense when you're self-teaching yourself.

Tomorrow morning, the St. John's AHL team will be announcing their new team name and presenting its logo at a press conference. Rumours have the name being either "Capitals", "Caps", or "IceCaps". Personally, none of those names really stand out to me as being a very Newfoundland-sounding name, but there is history in each of those names. We'll find out tomorrow what Winnipeg's AHL squad will be called after having been the Moose for the last fifteen years.

That's all for today. Have a good one, kids, and get your names in for a t-shirt! And send me your hockey thoughts!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

TBC: Open Net

While this book wasn't on the list of books that I wanted to cover this summer, I jumped at the opportunity to take in this story. It seems that the CBC, the Bruins, and Don Cherry are getting a lot of coverage through Teebz's Book Club this summer, and the trend will continue today with regards to the latter two topics. I spent the last week reading through Open Net, written by George Plimpton and published by Lyons Press. Open Net looks at Mr. Plimpton's attempt to work through Boston Bruins training camp in 1977 as a goaltender followed by a look at the Edmonton Oilers in 1985. Mr. Plimpton's examination of the world is hockey is fascinating, funny, and very real when it comes to his experiences and how he relates them to the reader. Most of all, you get an inside look at why hockey is such an interesting sport from inside the locker room during one of the most pressure-packed times in a player's life: training camp as a rookie.

Mr. Plimpton lived an amazing life. He was primarily known as a journalist, author, and editor, but he was also a television and movie star in his own right. Born March 18, 1927 in New York City, Mr. Plimpton grew up under some impressive people. His grandfather, George Arthur Plimpton, founded the Ginn Publishing Company, and his father, Francis Taylor Pearsons Plimpton, was a successful lawyer and the US deputy ambassador to the United Nations from 1961 to 1965. George Plimpton was a Harvard graduate with a major in English, and befriended Robert F. Kennedy while attending school. In fact, Mr. Plimpton was one of the men credited with tackling Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, after he had shot for the late Democratic Senator (thanks, Captain Canuck!).

Mr. Plimpton's literary works featured his experiences in a number of sports. Out of My League spoke of his time pitching against the National League in a MLB All-Star Game. Paper Lion was written following his experience in preseason training camp as a quarterback with the Detroit Lions. He has written books on the NFL, the PGA, boxing, and story of MLB's Sidd Finch. He appeared in such movies as Reds, Volunteers, Just Cause, Good Will Hunting, EdTV, and Factory Girl, and had a recurring role on TV's ER as Dr. John Carter's grandfather. Unfortunately, Mr. Plimpton succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 76 on September 25, 2003. Rest in eternal peace, Mr. Plimpton.

Open Net starts with a phone call where Sports Illustrated's editor Mark Mulvoy calls Mr. Plimpton to inform him that he would joining the Bruins for training camp... as a goaltender! Mr. Plimpton already had reservations about his skating skills, and now he would be joining his beloved Bruins as a goaltender, a position about which Vladislav Tretiak once said "that there is no position in sport as noble as goaltending."

Noble is one thing, as Mr. Plimpton found out, but goaltending is a whole different world. He arrived in Fitchburg, Massachusetts where he roomed with another goaltender, Jim "Seaweed" Pettie. Seaweed got Mr. Plimpton up to speed on the game of hockey and the art of goaltending through their chats. Seaweed talked about everything: fighting, goons, protecting the crease, the players, who was good, who caused problems in the crease - everything was discussed by Seaweed and Mr. Plimpton. Along with Pettie and Plimpton, there were four other goalies in camp: Gerry Cheevers, Ron Grahame, Gilles Gilbert, and Dave Parro. Making the team would be tough for both men, especially when considering the careers of veterans Cheevers and Grahame.

Through his journalism work in training camp, you get to see how some of the players really were: Terry O'Reilly, Bobby Schmautz, Gerry Cheevers, and Don Cherry were regular interviewees of Mr. Plimpton. Through these interviews, you get to see that the on-ice personas of these men are vastly different than how they acted in the dressing. Terry O'Reilly, for example, was often remorseful about the fights he was in despite being one of the "big bad Bruins".

One of the chapters that I really liked talked about the goalies and how they got their starts, what they go through before each and every game, and what has been thrown at them as a stationary target on the ice. There were stories about a lot of the legendary goalkeepers of the past: Cesare Maniago, Wilf Cude, Gerry Cheevers, Vladislav Tretiak, Gump Worsley, Ken Dryden, Glenn Hall, and Chico Resch to name a few. There is nearly two pages on information on how the octopus tradition started in Detroit - something that a lot of hockey fans know, but know little about how and when it was started.

There's also an excellent chapter on fighting in hockey, albeit from a 1985 perspective through Mr. Plimpton's eyes. From as much as he could gather about the men who dropped the mitts, they were reserved and calm off the ice - almost an entirely different person compared to the aggressive figure on the ice. John Wensink, a Bruin that most people feared, built dollhouses as his favorite hobby off the ice. Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, Philadelphia's toughest hombre, would build and drive radio-controlled ships as his hobby, and they always had extensive detailing and craftsmanship.

"I remembered what I had heard 'The Hammer' Schultz's off-season hobby was - building radio-controlled ship models, painstakingly putting them together, lacquered and polished, and then he would put a crowd of miniature lead people aboard and launch them out into the lake from the shore, sitting in his beach chair with the radio set in his lap. It seemed such a benevolent hobby for someone who was a hockey fighter, but then his favorite trick was to sneak one of the ship models up on an unsuspecting swimmer lolling on his back out near the swimming float, who would become slowly aware of the presence of something close by, and turn to discover Schultz's PT boat or the Queen Elizabeth, or whatever, just inches away, with a crowd of people staring at him from the water level."
I simply cannot say enough good things about Open Net. It was a highly enjoyable read, the stories and information contained within the covers are excellent, and Mr. Plimpton does an excellent job in conveying the joy and anguish felt by a goaltender, especially in his five minutes of exhibition play against the Philadelphia Flyers. His reviews of the Oilers n the latter stages of Open Net were interesting as Mr. Plimpton participated in a practice. It seems the only thing he wanted to do while wearing the goaltender equipment was to identify Wayne Gretzky!

Overall, Open Net is a fantastic book, and is recommended for all readers. Mr. Plimpton does show off his English degree a few times in his vernacular, but the book is an absolute pleasure to read, and you'll actually learn a lot of stuff about the players that you never knew before you picked Open Net up. For that very reason, Open Net deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval! This book is truly one of the best hockey tomes I have had the pleasure of reading, and it deserves a look from all hockey fans!

And just for the record, #00 George Plimpton gave up one goal in his five minutes of work against the Flyers, and stopped a Reggie Leach penalty shot. That's not bad at all for an amateur goaltender in an NHL game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Paging Playoff Pool Winners...

So I've found out that I have a little problem. Actually, it's a big problem, and it's been happening for about a week and a half. In admitting this, I completely and fully admit that I think my brain hasn't been functioning for the past month as I work through some of the stuff that I'm tackling in life outside this blog. Hence the title of this blog, and my need to get in contact with the winners of the HBIC Playoff Pool. You see, I went mental (apparently) and decided to delete all of the emails in order to clean up the inbox. By doing so, I also deleted all my contact information for everyone. Stupid, right?

Because I have a touch of OCD when it comes to deleting email and keeping my mailbox neat and tidy, I also deleted all of the trash. And that's why I've been struggling with contacting a few of you. If any of the following people, their friends, or their family is reading this, please have them contact me here ASAP:

  • Matthew S. I have a prize for you.
  • David F. I have a prize for you as well.
As for the real life stuff, here's the deal. I start a brand-new job on Wednesday that has a lot of opportunity attached to it, but I'm still battling my way through a few more interviews with some companies who seem really interested in my services. It's been a real struggle to find good jobs such as these, and I've turned down a couple of job offers that really would have been limited in the opportunities that came with them. As it stands, I am officially employed by two companies starting Wednesday morning, and we'll see where this takes me. As for having more interviews, I have a second interview on Thursday with an interested company, so anything can still happen.

Finally, I am really excited about a book that I'll be presenting on Wednesday as the HBIC Summer Literacy Project continues. This one was not on the list of books that I had wanted to cover, but I think this is one of those books that should not be missed. I really enjoyed the book, and I'll present it tomorrow if work isn't too busy on my first day.

Thanks for hanging in there, kids. I know I haven't been as true to my word with prizes as I should have been, but I'm getting there. Real life just keeps interrupting this blogging stuff as I work towards a better life with as much hockey as possible in it. Every single time I come here, though, someone has some words of encouragement or a kind note, and those keep me coming back for more. Thanks for reading, everyone, and if you know one or both of the men above, have them contact me ASAP!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 25 July 2011

Helluva One-Dollar Deal

Think of all the stuff you can get in this world for one dollar. There aren't a lot of things that are available that can bring you home four Stanley Cup victories, a Selke award-winner, and get you 1000 NHL games worth of service. The Detroit Red Wings, however, invested wisely and brought home a valuable member of their organization in Kris Draper when they dropped off a one-dollar bill to the Winnipeg Jets in 1993 to acquire his services. After twenty games for the Jets over three seasons, Draper turned out to be one of the most valuable players for the Red Wings over the next two decades.

Draper arrived on the hockey scene in 1990 and 1991 as a member of the Canadian World Junior team. He elected to play with the Canadian National team rather than joining the OHL's Oshawa Generals after being selected in the fourth-round of the 1988 OHL draft. His choice to play with the Canadian National squad had little effect on his status as a solid underage player, and Draper was selected to be play in the 1990 World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

While Canada's entry was a solid team in 1990, the Czechoslovakians and Russians were the feared opposition. Robert Reichel and Jaromir Jagr led the tournament in scoring with 21 and 18 points, respectively. Draper didn't figure in much of the scoring for Canada that year, but he did have a pair of assists in the seven games, and his checking role shone through as he was assigned some major tasks: shut down Bure and Zhamnov against the Russians, and hold Reichel and Jagr off the scoresheet. The Canadians beat the Russians by a 6-4 score in their head-to-head meeting, and held the Czechs to one goal in a 2-1 victory. Canada would capture the gold medal as they finished 5-1-1 in the standings, but held the head-to-head win over the Russians as the tie-breaker.

Draper would return in 1991 where Canada and the Russians battled for the gold medal in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Draper scored the only goal of his World Junior appearances in the 1991 tournament, but it was in Saskatoon that Kris Draper became the incredible checking forward that we saw over his NHL career. Draper was assigned to shadow Pavel Bure once again, and head coach Dick Todd saw Draper turn in one of the best performances of his young hockey career.

"Dave Draper was the personnel guy who did the pre-scouting (in 1991)," Todd recalled to George Malik in 2009. "He went to the (Russia-Finland) game and gave us a great scouting report. One of the things that come out of it was that Pavel Bure was the key to the Russian team. We devised a strategy where we put a young player who, up until that point, had been frustrated with his game as far as scoring-wise goes. I went to him (Kris Draper) and said, 'We're thinking about sticking a man on Bure and we're giving you the opportunity. Do you feel that you'd like to take that opportunity? It means a lot of ice time, but it means, more or less, that you're sacrificing yourself to prevent him from scoring goals.'"

Draper had himself a whale of a game in the shutdown role, and John Slaney's late goal helped Canada to a 3-2 victory and their second consecutive gold medal performance. While his scoring prowess was still evident, it was becoming more obvious that Draper was a more effective force in preventing goals than he was scoring them. After his success at the World Junior Championships, the Jets assigned him to the AHL's Moncton Hawks.

After bouncing between the AHL, NHL, and the OHL's Ottawa 67's for a couple of years, Adirondack Red Wings General Manager Doug MacLean orchestrated the "trade" that sent Draper to the Red Wings. He spent the 1993-94 season with the AHL Red Wings where he scored 20 goals and added 23 helpers in just 46 games before being called up to the Detroit Red Wings. From that point on, he was a mainstay on the Detroit roster, spending the next 17 seasons with the red-and-white.

"I never thought that I would get a player at the cost of a smoothie at McDonald's. But it happened," Red Wings' owner Mike Ilitch said.

The 1996 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs saw Draper involved in one of the biggest moments in playoff history. Draper was on the receiving end of a vicious check thrown by Colorado's Claude Lemieux that saw Draper's face driven into the dasher on the boards after being checked from behind. The resulting injuries included a broken jaw, a broken nose, a broken cheekbone, and a concussion. Draper's playoffs were over after that hit, but he would return the following season after using the summer to recover from his devastating injuries.

The Red Wings were a team that looked hungry as the playoffs started in 1997, and they got key performances from players such as Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Vladimir Konstantinov, Larry Murphy, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Mike Vernon through the "second season". But it was the defensive play of Draper and linemates, Kirk Marlby and Joe Kocur, that Scotty Bowman relied on heavily to shut down opposing stars. Draper played against some of the biggest names in hockey during the 1997 postseason: Eric Lindros, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, and Brett Hull. After the dust had settled, the Red Wings swept the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Final and returned the Stanley Cup to the Motor City. Draper had two goals and four assists, but his contributions were much bigger than just what the stat sheet had to say as he kept some of the best scorers in hockey history off the scoresheet night after night.

Draper would also prove to be a valuable player en route to a second straight Stanley Cup parade in 1998. Again, he contributed with one goal and three assists in the playoffs, but he and linemates Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty had one of the best playoffs in history in stopping teams from scoring. The Western Conference Final saw the "Grind Line", as the unit was known, shut down the President's Trophy-winning Dallas Stars in six games. The Stanley Cup went home to Detroit after the Red Wings stymied the upstart Washington Capitals in sweep that saw Washington score only seven goals.

2001-02 was a banner year for Draper and the "Grind Line". Draper scored then-career highs of 15 goals and 30 points in helping Detroit capture the President's Trophy as the league's best team in the regular season. For years, the Grind Line was known as one of the league's premiere stoppers when it came to neutralizing the opposition, and they went on to win the 2002 Stanley Cup with the help of newcomers Luc Robitaille, Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, and Dominik Hasek. The Grind Line played a major role in shutting down the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final. With Colorado holding a 3-2 series lead, Detroit won Games Six and Seven by scores of 2-0 and 7-0. Game Six included the infamous Patrick Roy "dropped puck" moment.

After dispatching the Avalanche, the Wings went on to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in five games for another Stanley Cup victory, and the third time that Kris Draper would sip champagne from the Stanley Cup.

After the Red Wings were surprisingly swept out of the playoffs in 2003 by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Draper accepted a spot on the Canadian World Hockey Championship team where he would become a leader for the team. Draper was impressive in his checking role as well, helping Canada to the gold medal in a 3-2 win over Sweden! Just like the last time he was in Helsinki in 1990, Draper captured a gold medal!

2003-04 saw Kris Draper finally gain recognition for all the hard work he had put in while stopping star players from scoring. Draper scored career highs of 24 goals and 40 points, and he was nominated as a Frank J. Selke Trophy finalist. Draper finished with a +22 rating as a checking line centerman, had five shorthanded goals that season in helping Detroit to the best penalty-killing unit, and was eighth-best when it came to winning faceoffs. Draper was awarded the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward, beating out New Jersey's John Madden for the award!

Draper would be invited to join the Canadian team at the World Cup of Hockey in 2004 as well, and he did what he did best: shut down the opposition. While stars like Martin Brodeur, Vincent Lecavalier, and Joe Sakic were in the headlines as Canada earned the gold medal, Draper's leadership and defensive presence shut down a number of high-scoring players in this tournament: Martin Havlat, Milan Hejduk, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Pavol Demitra in the championship rounds alone.

Kris Draper would experience the high of winning one more Stanley Cup as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final. He nearly had a fifth Stanley Cup championship on his resume, but the Penguins downed the Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

Overall, it's hard to imagine that Kris Draper will be a Hall of Fame candidate based on his numbers alone. In 1157 NHL games, Draper recorded 161 goals and 203 assists - hardly overwhelming numbers when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration. There is, however, a better chance of having #33 hoisted to the rafters in Joe Louis Arena when you consider that he is one of five men who have played 1000 games in a Red Wings uniform, joining such stars as Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Steve Yzerman, and Nicklas Lidstrom. The first three men have their numbers hanging from the rafters, and there's no doubt that Lidstrom's number will join them. Should Draper's number join them?

Personally, I have to think that the Red Wings will do something to honour the long-serving foot soldier. Draper's contributions rarely showed on the Red Wings' side of the scoresheet, but there is no doubt that he was one of the best defensive forwards to have ever played the game, ranking him alongside such lofty names as Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, and Joel Otto. That, to me, is quite an honour for a guy who routinely was asked to play against the best players in the game, and especially when you consider how well he did his job against those players.

May you enjoy your retirement with your family and friends, Mr. Draper. HBIC salutes you for your longevity and ability. And that was one helluva return-on-investment!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 24 July 2011

Don't Waste Your Time

The only reason I am writing about this today is because I took some time away from HBIC headquarters this weekend. I had a lovely time being disconnected from the world for a few days, and I needed the break from life in general. But I caught reports that the guy lounging above - Alexei Yashin - wants to follow in Jaromir Jagr's steps and find a home in the NHL this season.

Jagr can probably still play at a high level for the Philadelphia Flyers this season as a winger. He'll be expected to be a finisher for whoever centers his line. He may not have the legs and speed he once had, but he should see lots of opportunities on the powerplay, and really showed he can control the game in the offensive zone from behind the goal line in the World Hockey Championships. In short, Jagr still has the hands and vision, and should be a boost for a Flyers team that dealt away a vast majority of their offence this summer.

Yashin, on the other hand, was on a continual decline in the NHL since 1998-99's high of 98 points for the Ottawa Senators. In fact, if you overlook the 2009-10 season with SKA St. Petersburg where he scored 64 points, his point totals have declined steadily for the most part over the last decade. At best, Yashin would probably have to accept a contract with little money, and he would have to accept a Mike Modano-type Detroit role with whoever took a very large risk in signing him.

In short, Yashin's not worth the trouble or the effort to sign, so why bother? It's a known fact that Yashin would love to come back to the New York area since his wife, Carol Alt, is still working there, but I can't see him rejoining the Islanders for any reason. I don't think the Rangers, Devils, or Sabres would even consider talking to him at length about a return.

Don't waste your time, Yashin. Retire, move to New York, and be gone. While you shone in the spotlight for your moodiness and continual contract holdouts, the NHL doesn't need the drama.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 23 July 2011

Is That Your First Or Last Name?

I can take the "Nashville" name written across the collar. But this Reebok wordmark is going to be the death of me sooner or later. I can hear some of you cheering and applauding already.

Seriously, why is the wordmark being used now? Was the vector logo not good enough anymore? Were people questioning whose logo was on the back of the jersey? WHY IS REEBOK PUTTING THEIR NAME ON THE UNIFORM AT ALL? More on this below.

Anyway, I was over on the site trying to preview some customizations for jerseys, and I found myself dumbfounded by the "customization rules" that the NHL has on jerseys. Here they are in full:

  • League player names must match current team rosters and the team for which they currently play. Team Rosters not available for custom t-shirts and fleece.
  • Retired player names cannot be printed on the team's jersey from which they retired.
  • Both adult and youth jerseys hold up to 10 characters.
  • Characters accepted: capital A-Z (name field only); 0-9 (number field only); spaces.
  • Each space counts as one (1) character.
  • Language deemed inappropriate, derogatory, or profane will not be accepted.
  • If your selection does not meet all of the above criteria you will be prompted to start over.
The first rule makes no sense. What if I wanted a Miroslav Satan jersey from his time with the Bruins or Penguins? Why can't that be done? He wore the jerseys the two teams are currently wearing, so why is this so hard? If you want my money, you'll acquiesce to my request, damn it.

Rule Two makes no sense either. "Retired player names cannot be printed on the team's jersey from which they retired"? I guess I can't order that Yzerman Detroit jersey that I wanted. Again, if you want my money,, you'll acquiesce to my request.

Rule Three is fine and dandy as most players' names are 10 letters or less. Unless I wanted that New York Islanders Mark Fitzpatrick jersey (11). Maybe I wanted a Carolina Hurricanes Alexei Ponikarovsky jersey (12). The rule would also prevent me from picking up a New Jersey Devils Andreas Salomonsson jersey (11). And my Flyers Branko Radivojevic jersey is screwed (11). I'll repeat myself: you want my money, you'll acquiesce to my request.

Rule Five is a little odd as well. While I get that some players have spaces in their names, this could cause a significant problem for David Van Der Gulik fans. Van Der Gulik played with the Colorado Avalanche last season, and, with the spaces, that would push the total characters in his last name to 13. I guess I'm not getting his jersey either.

I'm not sure why they limit the number of characters in the last name to ten. That, to me, seems ridiculous considering the number of European players who could potentially have more letters than ten in their names. And what are they going to do about fans who want Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' name on the back of their Oilers jerseys?

What I do know is that every player will officially have the name "Reebok" plastered above their own last name this season. For anyone who is supposed to be playing for the logo on the front, it's a nice kick to the gonads in being the second name listed on the back of the jersey. It's not like the players haven't earned that right. Instead, Reebok bought their rights, and now have their name featured over the players' names.

Has corporate advertising reached its lowest point by being the highest name on all NHL sweaters? Because of this, I may not purchase another NHL jersey for a long, long time.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 22 July 2011

I've Seen This Before...

The man to the left is Cory Schneider. This photo was taken before the game started at MTS Centre on a night where the Moose honoured the brave men and women of the armed forces by wearing this Royal Canadian Air Force-inspired jersey. Honestly, I have always been a fan of the Moose jerseys that reflected the branch of the military they were representing because of how classy they looked. This RCAF jersey is one of those jerseys, and it does look very good for a one-night performance. While Winnipeg does have a large military airbase located within the city limits, it seems as though the NHL Jets are looking to the RCAF for some inspiration. Besides all the "flying high" comments and puns you can make about jets and the Jets, the new Jets logo should give you a lot to talk about when you're discussing design merits.

Here, in rather large fashion, is what the new Jets will represent when it comes to the designs on their chests and shoulders starting in 2011-12.
Let's start with the obvious in terms of the primary logo. The jet is clearly visible, and the maple leaf gives the team its Canadian flavour. The white triangle that is omitted from the circular outline is indicative of a compass pointing north, entirely suitable for Winnipeg.

Most obvious, however, is that this logo has a very distinct RCAF look to it. While I'm all for honouring the bravest men and women in the world, I'm not sure why True North Sports and Entertainment feels it has to more or less "borrow" the RCAF logo for their own purposes. While the logo does has a throwback feel to it, I'm not entirely onboard with using the RCAF logo as the basis for the franchise's identity despite the team consulting with the Department of National Defence on the logo. While they have the DND's blessing, I just think they should have gone more original.

From there, the shoulder logo, or secondary logo, looks like something a pilot would wear in terms of him getting his wings. If we're continuing the military theme on these uniforms, this is completely appropriate. I like the look of the wings that will be "pinned" to the shoulder, and this gives the uniform a little character in terms of "making the team". What I'd really like to see is the captain, Andrew Ladd, and his alternate captains wear the appropriate sleeve stripes indicating their individual "ranks" in terms of their captaincies. That would be cool.

The wordmark? I'm not fond of it. I don't like the font chosen for the "Jets" portion of the wordmark. This one may need a re-design at some point simply because it removes the throwback feeling used on the other two logos. It feels like Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the others...".

Overall, I think these logos are starting to grow on me. At first, I was a little annoyed with True North settling on something that looks like the honoured RCAF's logo, but I think the primary and secondary logos are pretty good. I'm hoping that the uniforms are classy and understated so that the circular chest logo will stand out, but only time will tell as True North and the Jets get closer to opening night.

"True North Sports & Entertainment felt it was important for the new Winnipeg Jets to develop a strong new identity," said Mark Chipman, chairman of True North Sports & Entertainment, in a press release.

"We felt it was important to authenticate the name Jets and we believe the new logo does that through its connection to our country's remarkable Air Force heritage, including the rich history and relationship that our city and province have enjoyed with the Canadian Forces."

Honestly, who knew that Cory Schneider was ready for the NHL a few years ago? In associated news, Mark Chipman told Adrian Morrow of the Globe & Mail that "the team would consider issuing a vintage jersey in its second season, but did not have time to do one immediately". So don't mothball those old Jets jerseys just yet, Winnipeggers! Perhaps True North could just re-issue the Jets jerseys worn by the Moose for one of their heritage nights since it seems the Moose were the test subjects for the new NHL squad's looks?

In all fairness, I think that the logo will definitely grow on fans and be accepted. I know that the more I examine it, the more it seems to be growing on me. Even some of the well-known hockey minds are finding it to be acceptable. CBC's Elliotte Friedman tweeted, "That Jets logo is very well done. Nice work".

I think I agree with Mr. Friedman on this one in that the logo is very well done. I just have higher hopes for the uniforms that will sport these logos. Nice work, True North. You've found a fan in me with this design, and I suspect more fans will adopt the team's new look if you combine the logo with a solid background.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 21 July 2011

No Debate On Nine

I have been listening to the debate about whether Evander Kane should be allowed to wear #9 after that number was elevated to legendary status in Winnipeg by hockey great Bobby Hull. There are arguments for and against why Kane should or should not wear that historic number, and it appears that Kane will seek Bobby Hull's permission to wear the number while playing as a member of the new Winnipeg Jets. Honestly, I admire Kane for seeking out Hull to get his blessing, but there shouldn't be a debate. The former Jets franchise still exists, and their history has nothing to do with the current Jets history. Therefore, honouring the great players who played here before this version of the Jets arrived is a great idea, but keeping those numbers retired because they were retired Jets numbers makes no sense since the former Jets, along with all of their history and franchise records, is still alive in Phoenix.

When Brett Hull wanted to wear #9 to honour his dad when he signed a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, I understand he wanted his dad's blessing to wear his dad's former number. That makes total sense since Brett was asking Bobby to wear a number that was retired by that franchise at some point in their history. That makes logical and complete sense.

So why does it seem so difficult to separate the two franchises' histories when it comes to who is wearing what number? The old Winnipeg Jets are now the Phoenix Coyotes. The new Winnipeg Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers. They share no history whatsoever. The new Jets have publicly said that they will honour the late Dan Snyder in some way, illustrating that they will carry the history of the Thrashers forward with the new Jets team.

Therefore, I have to ask: can you have your cake and eat it too?

In comparison, the Manitoba Moose retired Mike Keane's number, and honoured him by raising it to the rafters. Mike Keane was a very popular player during his time with the Moose, and he was a great leader. Should anyone who wears #12 have to seek his permission to wear that number? After all, True North Sports and Entertainment decided to honour Keane with this accolade, and they own the new Jets. Does that mean that players like Josh Bailey, Paul Bissonnette, Mike Fisher, or Patrick Marleau would have to contact Mike Keane to get his blessing if they were to join the Jets?

Now some of you may argue that the AHL's Moose and the NHL's Jets are in separate leagues, both figuratively and literally, but the point stands: the same ownership group honoured Mike Keane in their building where the Jets will play. Does Mike Keane get some say as to who can carry the torch he held high in MTS Centre as the next #12 in Winnipeg hockey history?

The answer, to me, is no. These are two teams with entirely different histories. The AHL Moose have no historical connection to the current Winnipeg Jets, thereby eliminating any discussion over who can wear #12 in Winnipeg despite being owned by the same owners. However, because the Moose franchise relocated to St. John's, Newfoundland, Mike Keane's #12 should still be honoured on The Rock because it's the SAME FRANCHISE.

I fully respect and commend Evander Kane for getting Bobby Hull's approval on Kane wearing #9, though. That shows an immense amount of class and respect towards what Bobby Hull meant to the city of Winnipeg. I have no doubt that Bobby Hull will grant Kane permission to wear #9, so this should all be put to rest shortly.

If the new Jets franchise wants to honour players like Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, Teemu Selanne, and others, that's fine with me. But this franchise did not retire those numbers in its history, and therefore should not have any say regarding who can wear what number. If you want to honour Dan Snyder (which also shows class and which I respect), you can't bring up another franchise's history and make it your own.

Honestly, though, the more that I think about this, the more I'm not sure why there was a debate in the first place. Evander Kane is the only #9 for the new Jets, and deserves to get a clean sheet of paper to write his own history while wearing that number.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 20 July 2011

TBC: Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two

It's Wednesday, so that means that the HBIC Summer Project continues with another addition to Teebz's Book Club. I spoke a little about what Don Cherry was doing this summer earlier this week, and it was very coincidental since I was reading his latest book, Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two, told by Don Cherry, written by Al Strachan, and published by Random House, Incorporated. I have already read and reviewed a few Don Cherry books, including Grapes and Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff, so I felt that I had a good background in reading these next set of hockey stories that Mr. Cherry was volunteering. What I discovered was that for as much as I already knew about Don Cherry's life in hockey, there is still a lot that can be learned!

I'm pretty certain that Don Cherry doesn't need a long-winded introduction, but Al Strachan might not be as recognizable as Mr. Cherry. Mr. Al Strachan is a former columnist with the Toronto Sun, the Globe & Mail, and the Montreal Gazette. Mr. Strachan was a former panelist on the Satellite Hotstove segment of the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, and made regular appearances on The Score highlight channel on the Hardcore Hockey Talk show with Steve Kouleas and Steve Ludzik. Mr. Strachan has been involved in hockey for over thirty-five years, and has written other hockey books such as Go To The Net over his illustrious career.

Like the stories in his first book, Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two is a great look at life in hockey from a guy who speaks his mind. Mr. Cherry holds nothing back in speaking about former teammates, guys he coached in his career, Ron MacLean, and the teams he played for in terms of how he was treated. He talks about the Bruins, the Rockies, the Rochester Americans, and a whole cast of characters that become larger than life through Mr. Cherry's stories. In the vast majority of these stories, Mr. Cherry holds the person or persons involved near and dear to his heart, but he does question some of the motives and ideas used by others on occasion.

In similar fashion to Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff, the stories are told exactly in the manner that Don Cherry speaks. It feels like Don Cherry is chatting with you rather than dictating stories for a book, and the book is written exactly how Mr. Cherry speaks when he's on Coach's Corner! The book is very easy to read because of this, and you can picture Mr. Cherry in your head talking about all of these experiences very easily since it is in his style of chatter. Honestly, I really enjoyed reading this book because of the laid-back writing style used by Mr. Cherry and Mr. Strachan.

I really liked the final two "chapters", if you can call them that, written by his two children, Cindy and Tim Cherry. The stories told by Don's kids are a little more personal in terms of showing the softer side of Don Cherry, but there are still very good lessons to be learned from these anecdotes.

"Dad is very bar-savvy. He and Ron were in a bar in New York that was owned by two brothers. During the day, you'd always get a fresh, frosted glass with each round. Then they went in on a Friday night. Dad could see things had changed. Ron would finish his draft, with Dad having two sips left in his, and order another round. They would take Ron's glass and fill it back up, and pour Dad's in a new frosty mug, then give it to Dad who would proceed to gulp down the rest and hand the guy his empty glass. Three rounds later, with Ron having the same warm glass, Dad finally had to speak up and ask Ron if he didn't see what was going on. Nothing is accidental with Dad. Everything he does has some reason or logic behind it."
Overall, Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two was a very enjoyable and easy read throughout its 262 pages. There are some very funny stories, but the vast majority explain what life was like as a career minor-leaguer and a coach before Don Cherry became the icon that he is today. I really enjoyed the stories in Don Cherry's Hockey Stories, Part Two, and the book certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval for another round of stories through the eyes of Mr. Donald S. Cherry. I highly recommend this book for excellent summer reading at its finest!

Just as a side note, a portion of the proceeds from every sale of this book will go to help support Soldier On, a charitable organization that helps Canadian Forces Personnel and their families. Soldier On "encourages ill and injured CF personnel to attain and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. It supports these personnel in increasing their independence, in developing new skills and in achieving goals. It furnishes an opportunity for them to socialize and explore common interests, and share learning experiences". An excellent cause that deserves a little help, and all you have to do it pick up Mr. Cherry's book. That's a beauty!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 19 July 2011

BizNasty's Fashion Sense

If you're not a fan of Paul Bissonnette yet, I may have to provide more evidence as to why he's one of the most intriguing men in the NHL. As you may be aware, Mr. Bissonnette has made a name for himself thanks to his Twitter account, @BizNasty2point0, but now he's following Sean Avery's lead in becoming a fashion icon. Pictured to the left is Mr. Bissonnette and Fashion magazine's Sarah Casselman during his appearance on the Marilyn Denis Show, a talk show on CTV in Canada, where he talked men's and women's fashion with Marilyn Denis and Miss Casselman. Honestly, who knew that BizNasty was so in tune with fashion sense? Good on you, Mr. Bissonnette.

While I can't link the videos because either Marilyn's site or CTV won't allow it, I will provide the links for you to click on to get to the video. Mr. Bissonnette filmed a few segments with fashion topics and choices, but these topics aren't just him making recommendations about what clothes you should or shouldn't wear. He and Miss Casselman examine what men and women hate the most in current fashion trends.

Because I can't link the video, this entry seems a lot shorter than it should be, but I have admit that I like BizNasty as a television guest. He's been on another CTV-owned entity as well as he appeared on TSN's Off The Record with Michael Landsberg. Honestly, I thought BizNasty was hilarious on OTR, and he deserves some recognition for his solid additions to Canadian television.
"Press Box hat trick" - classic! BizNasty is probably one of the greatest talents in the NHL when it comes to entertainment. His comments of how Edmonton was an AHL team when he got the third-star selection was pretty hilarious.

And because BizNasty plugged his fashion line for a good cause and because this entry is all about fashion, here is the Sauce Hockey website where you can help BizNasty fight homelessness while looking sharp.

For a guy who played 252 NHL minutes, he's getting himself a lot of camera time in Canada for being entertaining, and I can't think of a guy who deserves it more.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 18 July 2011

Overtime Heroes

The 1993 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs were won by the Montreal Canadiens as they were the last Canadian-based NHL franchise to capture the Stanley Cup. Lots of amazing things happened that year as the Canadiens downed the Los Angeles Kings in five games to deny Wayne Gretzky in what would be his last chance to capture a Stanley Cup over his illustrious career. Perhaps the most amazing thing that happened in those playoffs was the Canadiens' ability to win in overtime. There were 28 overtime games in the 1993 NHL Playoffs, and the Canadiens played in ten of those games. Their record? 10-1 in overtime that year! Ten of their sixteen wins needed to capture the Stanley Cup came in extra time!

Montreal had finished in third-place in the Adams Division behind the Quebec Nordiques, bolstered by the Eric Lindros trade, and the Boston Bruins. They were the sixth overall team in the NHL standings, though, proving that the Adams Division might be the hardest division to escape in the playoffs in 1993. Because of their finish, they played their division and provincial rivals in the Quebec Nordiques in the opening round of the playoffs. The Canadiens actually lost Game One of this series in overtime on a Scott Young goal, but they were automatic from that point on.

The Canadiens were coming together down the stretch, and were led by veterans Kirk Muller, Vincent Damphousse, Brian Bellows, Eric Desjardins, and Patrick Roy. Roy, who had a magnificent playoff himself, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the NHL Playoffs for the third time in his career. He was absolutely lights-out when overtimes began, and he helped the Canadiens win ten straight overtime games in one playoff year which is still an NHL record.

Here are the results of those ten overtime games. Check out the goaltenders that the Canadiens defeated in those ten games - some pretty big names in the goaltending community!

Let's review those goals:
  • Vincent Damphousse beat Ron Hextall (QUE) in Game Three for a 2-1 victory. Quebec led the series 2-1 at that point.
  • Kirk Muller beat Ron Hextall (QUE) in Game Five for a 5-4 victory. Montreal led the series 3-2 at that point, and would capture the series in six games.
  • Guy Carbonneau beat Grant Fuhr (BUF) in Game Two for a 4-3 victory. Montreal led the series 2-0 at that point.
  • Patrice Brisebois beat Grant Fuhr (BUF) in Game Three for a 4-3 victory. Montreal increased their lead to 3-0 at that point.
  • Kirk Muller beat Grant Fuhr (BUF) in Game Four for a 4-3 victory. Montreal captured the series in four straight games that featured a 4-3 final in each of the games.
  • Patrick Lebeau beat Glenn Healy (NYI) in Game Two in double-overtime for a 4-3 victory. Montreal led the series 2-0 at that point.
  • Guy Carbonneau beat Glenn Healy (NYI) in Game Three for a 2-1 victory. Montreal led the series 3-0 at that point, and tied a playoff record with their eleventh-straight victory. The seventh overtime victory broke the record held by the 1980 New York Islanders of most overtime wins in one playoff year with six. Montreal would win the series in five games.
  • Eric Desjardins beat Kelly Hrudey (LAK) in Game Two for a 3-2 victory. Montreal even the series at 1-1 at that point.
  • John LeClair beat Kelly Hrudey (LAK) in Game Three for a 4-3 victory. Montreal jumped out to a 2-1 lead with the win. The win broke the New York Islanders' record of most consecutive playoff overtime victories of eight.
  • John Leclair beat Kelly Hrudey (LAK) in Game Four for a 3-2 victory. This would be the tenth consecutive overtime victory for the Canadiens, and they jumped out to a 3-1 series lead. They would win the Stanley Cup with a 4-1 victory in Game Five.
I'm still amazed by the amount of overtime games won in the first minute of overtime by the Canadiens, but it goes to show you, kids: come out as hard as you can in overtime! You never know what can happen, and you might just catch the other guys off guard!

It takes ice in your veins to win an overtime game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for sure, but ten in a row? That's the stuff that legends are made of in this game.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 17 July 2011

What Did You Do On Summer Vacation?

This won't be a long entry, but it's one that I'm very excited about. With a summer heatwave approaching the HBIC headquarters, this view of the beach seems like a good idea. With the vast amount of things to do over the summer, the last thing you'd expect to see is a major hockey star spending some time in Winnipeg working. It was a strange sight, and I didn't have a camera with me, but the great Don Cherry is in Winnipeg on his summer vacation for what appears to be filming for a second movie based on his amazing life. This one - following-up Keep Your Head Up, Kid - appears to be about the next part of his life: from Colorado to the CBC and Coach's Corner.

While I've been trying to acquire a photo or two, sources say that one film set features an old CBC Sports studio. This, of course, would be where Coach's Corner got its start shortly after Don Cherry had been fired as coach of the Colorado Rockies.

There was a call for extras last month in the city as the production and film crews begin work on this newest segment of the Don Cherry mini-series, and with the impending arrival of the Jets back to Winnipeg, word on the street is that a lot of excited hockey fans came out as extras for this movie.

Mr. Cherry was seen locally at a Subway today where he was getting a meal, and it is thought that he was on-set to check out how things were going. His son, Tim Cherry, is reportedly producing this next segment in the same manner as the first Don Cherry movie, so it may have been a bit of a family reunion. During the first movie, Don Cherry met up with Tim during filming as well, so it may very well be a case of Don getting a chance to hang out with his son for a while.

If I can get my source to sneak a photo or two out, I'll post them up here (with the production company's permission, of course). For now, know that we're about a year or two away from the next Don Cherry story appearing on television. And make sure you tune in later this week as we'll feature more Don Cherry on HBIC!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 16 July 2011

Behold (And Bold) In Gold

I'm very hot, very tanned and/or sunburned, and not really wanting to be sitting in front of a computer when I could enjoying a pool or a fan and a cold beverage right now. But I've decided to post an article so that I can remain somewhat caught up. The Nashville Predators has their "Skate of the Union" event earlier this week, and they showed off their newest duds to their fans. We looked at the new Nashville threads near the end of June, and I gave them a solid pass for simplifying their logo and bringing in some of the civic elements of their city into the secondary logo. What we didn't get to see were some of the smaller downfalls of this jersey design.

I do want to say that I'm a fan of the Predators deciding to go very bold with their new home colours. The bright yellow is much better, in this writer's opinion, than the mustard yellow colour they used in their previous alternate uniforms.

The Predators wore the new font during their rookie camps, and it became apparent that the guitar string design across the numbers might just be an aesthetic thing when the players are standing still. The rookies in blue have the lines just barely visible from this distance, but once the players in gray start moving, the lines become invisible. While I get that this design element is something that Nashville wanted, it tends to be rather useless when the players are moving. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the intention, but the end result proves that this element may not be as good as once thought.

I'm not sure why NHL teams continue to put things inside the collar where designs are rarely ever seen on the ice, but the Predators decided to fancy up their collars with a piano key design on the inside. While this aesthetic addition might be nice for fans who buy an authentic jersey, this is something that will rarely, if ever, be seen on the ice. I'm not sure it's needed at all as part of the design.

Blake Geoffrion was one of the models used for the new uniforms on the Nashville Predators Facebook page, but the guys over on On The Forecheck have been keeping up with Geoffrion's Twitter feed. Geoffrion showed off his new uniform by holding it up for views of both the front and back. While the front is clean and looks great, what is the deal with the dark blue Reebok nameplate on the back? The Predators' old design didn't feature a billboard for the Reebok logo or wordmark, so why does this jersey have it? They traded in the apron strings for a Reebok billboard? For all the good the Predators did in getting rid of the strings, they undid it with their Reebok billboard.

Overall, though, I still like the yellow. Make no mistake about it: this is a step in the right direction away from the black and navy blue we've seen invade the NHL over the last few years. I just think that Reebok is encouraging teams to do too much with their design elements in some cases, and I really cannot stand the Reebok billboard seen on these uniforms or some others.

However, with all of the good the Predators have done in improving their look on the ice, I am still a fan of what Nashville is doing, and I am looking forward to this season where we "Behold The Gold"!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 15 July 2011

Where Ya Been, Teebz?

It looks like a busy for days for me, so, like The Beatles, I'm going to be here, there, and everywhere over the next few days. That, of course, means a lack of posts on HBIC as the places I am scheduled to be have little or no internet service. You may have already noticed this issue as Wednesday's and Thursday's posts were sitting in editing, but had yet to run. Wednesday's book review is actually still missing a picture, but I'll get around to getting that added in when I have more than five minutes in front of my monitor. Remember when I was talking about needing something in my life to change for the good? Well, I may have found that path towards happiness over the last week, and this is what is keeping me from posting here with regular attention.

I went for a job interview today with a highly reputable company in my mind. The interview went well, from as far as I can tell, as the young lady who was interviewing me seemed to be writing a lot of stuff down as I was talking. There was lots of good conversation, some laughs, and it seems that everything went very well. I'll know more by the end of next week at the latest, but this role could be the one job that I could love with all my being if it turns out as good as advertised.

I'll be under the sun all weekend long as I have signed on to coach a women's softball team in their Provincial Championship tournament. This is the same team I coached to a silver medal last season after starting the season with a woeful record, so we're hoping to recreate some of that magic. From the forecast for the weather, it appears I'll be needing sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen. Both days have highs nearing 40°C (104°F) for both days - brutal for playing in, and even worse for standing in a coach's box in the searing heat.

My current job that I am planning an escape from also has me working all weekend long into next week. I get evening shifts from Friday through to Monday, so those will cut into my weekend time as well. Combine being in the sun all day on Saturday and Sunday with a couple of shifts dealing with angry customers, and my weekend suddenly doesn't look so positive. Oi vay!

Looking forward to next week, I have another interview with a second company that also looks very appealing. Tuesday afternoon will have me in a technical interview as the second interview with this company, and this is a company that deals with various big businesses across North America. There are many opportunities, it seems, with this second company as well, so here's hoping I have a bidding war by the end of next week for my services!

As for hockey news today, things are moving along nicely on the Jets front. According to reports, MTS Centre is being painted near the dressing room area, and the chosen colour is very dark blue that being used for the majority of the wall colour with white and an undesignated colour as accents. The "undesignated colour", as I'm calling it, is taped off and looks ready to be painted, but has not received a coat of paint yet. From the description, it appears that the Jets will be going back to blue as their primary home colour. If the "undesignated colour" turns out to be red, it appears the only thing different for the Jets will be the logo. More on this as it breaks, but it seems as though True North will indeed bring back the Jets colours if these newly-painted walls are any indication.

I'm off to bed to prepare myself for the blazing heat and the vast amount of unltraviolet rays I'll be bombarded with over the next few days. Stay cool, everyone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 14 July 2011

Are These Guys Really Fighters?

Of all the talent that TSN has working on the website, I like to read what Scott Cullen, pictured to the left, has to say. Scott is the resident "number cruncher" for TSN as he delves into fantasy projections and productivity. The latter caught my attention when he looked at "Which NHL fighters are the most productive players". With the reduced role of the enforcer in the NHL, I wanted to see which of the heavyweights came out on top in Cullen's examination. What I found, however, left me questioning who Scott Cullen considers as a "fighter".

While all of the players listed in Mr. Cullen's examination CAN fight, I'm pretty sure that a vast number of them are discouraged from fighting because they do more good when on the ice rather than when they are sitting in the penalty box. The first two players that Mr. Cullen has at the top of his productivity index - Milan Lucic and Ryan Clowe - are prime examples of this. Sure, they CAN fight, but do the Bruins and Sharks want them fighting?

Instead, I looked at only players who had 200+ PIMs or 15+ fights last season. These are the top-ten guys who do their best work while their gloves and stick are lying on the ice, and they shouldn't be compared with legitimate power forwards who can throw down with the enforcers. After all, Lucic and Clowe probably get a lot more ice time than a player such as Zenon Konopka or Jared Boll, and are certainly more productive based on their roles. Here's how the list of true "fighters" stacks up. The last number in yellow is Cullen's rating based on his variables.

  1. Brandon Prust (NYR) - 13G, 16A, +2, 160 PIMs, 18 fights. 64.65
  2. Cody McCormick (BUF) - 8G, 12A, +2, 142 PIMs, 16 fights. 62.62
  3. Derek Dorsett (CBJ) - 4G, 13A, -15, 184 PIMs, 17 fights. 61.74
  4. Chris Neil (OTT) - 6G, 10A, -14, 210 PIMs, 12 fights. 61.45
  5. Jared Boll (CBJ) - 7G, 5A, -2, 182 PIMs, 23 fights. 60.50
  6. Kyle Clifford (LAK) - 7G, 7A, -10, 141 PIMs, 18 fights. 59.46
  7. BJ Crombeen (STL) - 7G, 7A, -18, 154 PIMs, 17 fights. 59.45
  8. Brad Staubitz (MIN) - 4G, 5A, -5, 173 PIMs, 15 fights. 58.48
  9. Zenon Konopka (NYI) - 2G, 7A, -14, 307 PIMs, 25 fights. 58.36
  10. George Parros (ANA) - 3G, 1A, -4, 178 PIMs, 27 fights. 56.91
Now those are the guys who represent the true fighters and agitators in the game. Players like Steve Downie, Shawn Thornton, and Sean Avery rank higher than the majority of these players, but these players are also relied on to take a regular shift where they must contribute. Steve Downie played the least amount of games of these three players with 57 appearances, but he was ranked fifth by Mr. Cullen. Does Downie do his job well? Absolutely, but he's also expected to score. He is, by trade, not a fighter first as he plays more of a power forward role.

While it's easy to pick out George Parros, Jared Boll, or Zenon Konopka as the most active fighters in the NHL, I found it very interesting that Brandon Prust and Cody McCormick were the two players who got their teams the most bang for the buck. Both had 20 points or more while playing on either the third- or fourth-line for their teams, and both had a healthy number of fights.

When teams are looking for a guy to protect their stars, they need to dig a little deeper than a name or reputation. If a team like Washington makes the playoffs and Alexander Ovechkin finds himself being shadowed a little too closely for Bruce Boudreau's liking, throwing a guy like Brandon Prust or Cody McCormick out there who can score as well as throw a few jabs when needed might make teams think twice about assigning a shadow to Ovechkin.

While there's no guarantee that Prust or McCormick will turn out to be the next John Druce for Washington, these two guys have shown that they are the best of the best when it comes to maximizing scoring potential while being an enforcing threat.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

TBC: The Boys Of Saturday Night

For far longer than you or I have been around, there has been NHL hockey played. It has changed over the decades that it has been played, but along with hockey, there has also been another constant: the sounds of hockey on Saturday nights in Canada. While the NHL is examined on a daily basis, there has never been a thorough examination on HBIC of the people who bring the game to us so frequently and so well. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present The Boys of Saturday Night, written by Scott Young and published by McClelland & Stewart. In The Boys of Saturday Night, Mr. Young does a thorough examination of Hockey Night In Canada from its earliest radio days right through to the early-1990s when this book was published.

Scott Young was a Canadian sportswriter and journalist who wound up writing more than 45 books for readers throughout his career. Young was born in Cypress River, Manitoba on April 14, 1918, and was hired as a copyboy for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1936 before becoming a sports reporter. In 1940, he married Edna "Rassy" Ragland, the two had two sons: Bob Young, born in 1942, and Neil Young, in November of 1945. Young moved to Toronto shortly before World War II had started, and worked for a number of publications as a short-story writer and reporter, including the Globe & Mail on a number of occasions.

In 1988, Young received hockey's highest honour for a writer as he received the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame as selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, and was also inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. Young passed away on June 12, 2005 at the age of 87.

The Boys of Saturday Night is an absolutely fascinating examination about one of Canada's most historic weekly broadcasts. In the book, Mr. Young examines everything about HNIC, from when it was simply known as "General Motors Hockey Broadcast" over the radio in 1932, and all of the personalities that have appeared over the years that have brought the game to our ears and eyes as HNIC became what it is today.

There are extensive looks at some of the bigger personalities that became larger than life for their work with the hockey broadcasts, but Mr. Young brings to life the negotiations and the battles between the people and the businesses that went on behind the scenes of the world's premier hockey broadcast. For instance, were you aware that the Toronto Maple Leafs once had the power to demand that certain personalities not be used on their broadcasts if they had made a disparaging remark about the Leafs? Did you know that Stafford Smythe fought tooth-and-nail over the camera placement inside Maple Leaf Gardens before finally relenting to have the cameras placed where HNIC wanted them? More on this below.

Mr. Young also examines how the different advertisers were able to get their names on the HNIC broadcasts. If you were watching HNIC in the 1960s and 1970s, you know that Imperial Oil was THE sponsor for hockey broadcasts. However, because Imperial Oil was calling the shots for how their name and products were being advertised, they also received some liberties with product placement. Ever wonder why there are three stars chosen after every hockey game?

Thank Imperial Oil, aka Esso, for that honour. Imperial Oil wanted to promote their new "three star" gasoline - based on the three stars in their logo - in the 1930s, and began sponsoring this feature at the end of Foster Hewitt's radio broadcasts. With the three stars selected by Hewitt for their high-level of play, Imperial Oil was able to promote their newest product through the Imperial Oil Hockey Broadcasts.

Mr. Young has brought together a wide range of stories and information about Hockey Night In Canada's evolution into what it is today, and he doesn't miss out on some of the most controversial stories either. From the CBC losing television rights to CTV for the Summit Series to the controversial Dave Hodge firing, Mr. Young has all of these stories covered in The Boys of Saturday Night. Did you know that the first game broadcasted on TV through the CBC was a Montreal Canadiens game and not a Toronto Maple Leafs game?

"There were two oddities before the first puck was dropped for television in Maple Leaf Gardens. One was that Montreal managed to do its first televised game on October 11, three weeks before Toronto's debut on November 1. The reason, according to several Toronto accounts, is that Montreal's operation didn't have as many great brains arguing about camera placements, style of commentary and so on as Toronto. In Montreal they just did it. In Toronto, in addition to getting any ideas past the brain trusts at MacLaren and at Imperial, the producers had Smythe to deal with, which took a bit of time. In this case about three weeks longer than Montreal.

"The explanation for the second oddity went back to when Imperial first came in as sponsor in 1936. Over the ensuing years, Smythe had began to feel he'd made a bad business deal; he had been too undemanding for his own good."
Despite The Boys of Saturday Night being published twenty years ago, it still is very relevant today as a historical look at how the CBC, Ford, GM, and Imperial Oil got started in the HNIC telecasts and radio broadcasts. From a handshake on the golf course in 1929, MacLaren's advertising and the Toronto Maple Leafs brought Canada some of the most exciting sports broadcasts in the history of sports, and Mr. Young has captured the intracacies of the relationships of each of the parties involved in his 227-page examination. The stories are fascinating, and The Boys of Saturday Night certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval. If you have a chance to pick this book up, I highly recommend adding it to your library due to the vast amount of information on the world's premiere hockey broadcast found within its covers!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!