Sunday, March 27, 2005


Weekend Update: I will Rocket 2 U

The Kelowna Rockets were 30-4-2 at home this season at the aptly named Prospera Place. It was amazing, then, that the Vancouver Giants managed to pull off a 4-3 Game One victory in Kelowna on Friday night.

Last night, the Giants were *almost* able to steal a second game from the Rockets as Marc Fistric's 3rd period blast sent the game into at OT tied at 3.

Now, sometimes I'll watch some hockey game on TV and watch two teams slug through the trap and wonder, "What ever happened to exciting hockey?"

Answer: It was in Kelowna in Saturday night.

The game was on local (free) TV here in Vancouver, and it was one of the best games I've seen in ages. The entire game was played at a high pace, there was lots of hitting, and the overtime was one of the more exciting I've witnessed in sometime.

After trading numerous chances back and forth (and these were no cheapies), it was Kelowna's Brent Howarth that gave the Rockets the ultimate 4-3 overtime win.

It was a game like this that made me think: "Now, that why I love hockey."

I have tickets for Tuesday night's Game Three at the Pacific Coliseum, and the place will be rockin' (so don't come a-knockin')

Marek Schwarz made 35 saves in Game 2 and looked like the more calm and steady version of himself. Kelowna was without Shea Weber (pictured) for both home games, which was great news for the Giants. No word yet on when Weber will be back for the Rockets.

- - -

NHL Labour Stuffing

According to Los Angeles Kings president Tim Leiweke, the NHL will return this fall no matter what, TSN REPORTS:

"We're back playing hockey in September. We will have a King season," Leiweke said at a news conference on Friday. "And there's an enormous amount of conviction and planning toward the fan. The fan has become a high priority for us and we can't abuse that trust."

"Fans want to see guys who are hard-working and grounded and decent. Fans want to see a competitive team that works hard. We've got a moment in time here to maybe get sports back on track, and I'd certainly like to do that. I'm excited about it. It's time to get on with it."
Since Gary Bettman hasn't been laying down fines to executives lately (although their quotes don't mention replacements directly most of the time), it is obvious that the NHL is now using these types of press announcements as a 'negotiating' tactic.

Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner thinks that the NHL is greatly miscalculating the thoughts and resolve of the 'grunts':

The big losers in this dispute are the more influential, higher paid players. As Matt Cooke said in an interview (I'm paraphrasing) several months ago: "I'm not stupid. Markus Naslund and Ed Jovanovski are going to get their money no matter what. Under a salary cap, how much is left for me?"

Anybody who looks at either the NBA or NFL salary structures can see that it is not the stars who pay under a capped system. It is the grunts and the middle class. Why on earth would the NHL believe the lower paid players would vote for a system that hurts them?

Yet, the NHL's break-the-union campaign has been directed mainly at the grunts and lower-paid players.

Another point I would consider is that the fact the grunts and middle-class don't have the large Swiss savings accounts that the Markus Naslund's have. Players like Juraj Kolnik and Jarkko Ruutu- Lower paid players with mortgages and such - can't quite afford to sit out as long as some of their richer counterparts. While the grunts *may* lose out more percentage wise under a cap system, they sure as hell do need the money more right now.

It will be interesting to see which group, if any, breaks rank in the NHLPA. We're in uncharted waters, after all.

- - -

Czech/Slovak Playoff Update

Dukla Trencin 5 - Slovan Bratislava 4 (Slovan leads series 2-1)

Marian Hossa *finally* returned from his ankle injury and not a moment too soon. Hossa had 1 goal and 2 assists and Pavol Demitra had 2 assists as Dukla put themselves back into the series.

I don't who designed these new Slovan uniforms, but they are pretty f'ugly! Martin Kul'ha (pictured), looks rather ashamed to be wearing such a thing.

Liberec 4 - Pardubice 1 (Pardubice leads series 2-1)

Ex-Canuck Lubomir Vaic was the superstar with a goal and two assists, while Radim Vrbata was (un)noticably quiet.

Vaclav Nedorost will miss the rest of the playoffs with an injury (Damn, is this guy brittle) while Pardubice's top scorer, Michal Mikeska, missed the game with back pains.

Ceske Budejovice 4 - Jihlava 2 (Ceske Budejovice wins promotion series 4-1)

There are two very sad people in the world today: The Hockey Rodent, and my bud 'Sebesta' from Ceske Budejovice (a Jihlava fan caught in enemy territory)

Jihlava's 'cinderella' season in the Extraleague is over and the NHL-powered Budejovice squad overcame a Game One loss and swept Jihlava back into obscurity.

Vaclav Prospal gets a lot of flack for his rather 'passive' play on this side of the pond (if not his big mouth), but he was clearly the star for the Budweiser frogs this season.

Regular Season: 39GP 28-60-88 +57 82PIM
1st Div. Playoffs: 11GP 11-8-19 +8 24PIM
Baraz Series: 5GP 4-7-11 +3 8PIM

To the Rodent and Sebesta, this Buds for you ;)

The grunts may need the money now but are they really going to get it if a CBA is signed, say, tomorrow? Will the owners have the pay their players their contracts (adjusted for the new system, I trust) if they aren't playing any games? It seems to me that no one will be paid until the fall regardless of what happens. The grunts have at least until then before they'll really feel the heat.
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