Friday, September 30, 2005
Fantasy Hockey: Risky Rookies
I can understand why rookies are so enticing. They are shiny and new and have that new hockey player smell. What better way to show your knowledge than to pick some unknown or little known rookie that nobody else knows much about. I know I like following prospects and want to jump on the bandwagon somewhat when the players are entering the NHL. It's much more exciting cheering for some unknown commodity than picking some boring old guy like Martin Lapointe.
While other players in your fantasy pool are going to the established retreads that never pan out (Valeri Bure, Dainius Zubrus), you could get someone from under their nose that outperforms them. If you get a rookie that is hot early in the year, you'll likely be offered a trade or two that will allow you to trade for a player that is likely to outperform your rookie over the course of a season (Think of flipping someone like Jason King once he starts cooling down)
Aye, but are the rewards worth the risks? Let's take a look at the top scoring rookies from the past 3 NHL seasons.
Only 4 players topped the 50 point plateau in the past 3 NHL seasons: Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley, who are incredibly rare and special talents, and the surprising Michael Ryder and Trent Hunter, both of whom were older rookies with some development behind them (both were 23 years of age that season).
It looks like most modern-day rookies fall between the 25-45 point range. Given that, I would expect Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby to bust the 50-point plateau. Who else? Maybe Thomas Vanek of Buffalo. Otherwise, I'd expect the 25-45 point range for most rookies and draft accordingly.
One other point I'd like to make is that many rookies will, obviously, make many defensive mistakes. Defensive mistakes can hurt your +/- and take away precious pool points. The older the rookie, the more likely their +/- won't be affected.
I'd also take a look at some of the rookie seasons of today's stars.
Markus Naslund (Age 20) 71GP 4-7-11 -3 27PIM
Todd Bertuzzi (Age 20) 76GP 18-21-39 -14 83PIM
Vincent Lecavalier (Age 18) 82GP 13-15-28 -19 23PIM
Brad Richards (Age 20) 82GP 21-41-62 -10 14PIM
Jerome Iginla (Age 19) 82GP 21-29-50 -10 29PIM
Marian Hossa (Age 19) 60GP 15-15-30 +18 37PIM
Martin Havlat (Age 20) 73 19-23-42 +8 20PIM
Other than Richards and Iginla (who slipped to 32 points the following season), none of these other star rookies broke the 50-point barrier.
With the new NHL rules, and an extra year of development for some rookies, it certainly does throw a few extra variables into the mix. Still, the new rules will affect all rookies and all players, so you'd have to figure it's best to analyse players based on past trends rather than trying to just take a shot in the dark.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
NHL teams up with STATS
I am actually quite thrilled that the NHL has really been picking up the ball lately, with some drastic improvements to their website over the past week or so.
They didn't even have preseason boxscores available for a time, but now you can get the boxscores, Superstats, Shift Charts, and a bunch of other stuff that makes us Stat Geeks all googly moogly. They still don't have any preseason stats in their database or on a separate page like CBS Sportsline, but the NHL seems to be making genuine steps in improving its online product.
Now, The NHL and STATS LLC have teamed up and it could mean even more good news for those who like their numbers.
The National Hockey League and STATS LLC, the world's leading sports information provider, today announced an in-depth partnership involving the NHL's statistical data and video highlights.Alright! I'm not usually optimistic when it comes to the NHL, but I really hope/believe such a partnership could be just the tonic to fixing it's outdated stats displays.
In this new alliance, STATS will operate as the exclusive third-party licensor of the league's real-time data feed as well as a licensor of the NHL's video highlights. STATS will provide data and player statistics for use on the nhl.com website as both parties work to explore fan-friendly complements to the site. In addition, STATS will provide its flexible XML data feed to each NHL arena for scoreboard and press box use.
Plans also exist for STATS to create, in conjunction with the NHL, an expanded, state-of-the art, in-game graphics solution for use during television broadcasts of NHL games.
What we really need to see...
1. A true database that shows complete stats for each player, team, etc... want a perfect example? Check out MLB.com's database and see the magic. You can go to any player and any year and get complete and very detailed stats. The NHL website just has a basic text/table setup with very basic stats available. It's very hard to navigate and it’s a poor place to do any stat research.
2. Bring back the Superstats. I want HITS, GIVEAWAYS, TAKEAWAYS, and a partridge in a pear tree. With STATS running the show in each arena, those employees can be trained to take down these stats with a greater level of consistency than in the past where each arena just hired whomever off of the street. Include these Superstats in the database and give some depth to the overall statistical coverage.
During games, I'd expect to see some more in-depth stats used by the colour commentators and PBP dudes. Prove to me why Karlis Skrastins is such a valuable defensive force by showing us his ATOI for PK situations and his HITS and TAKEAWAYS. (Yes I realize that those numbers don't necessarily mean he's a great defensive defenseman, but it does help to strengthen a point to the mainstream masses)
(Assist to Kukla's Korner for the story link)
St. Louis Blues sold to Checketts
Checketts earned his moniker from his days running the Rangers franchise into the ground with his authorization of some extremely bad contracts and the tendency to overpay for washed-up talent. Theoren Fleury probably sends him card every Christmas.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!
The St. Louis Blues have signed a letter of agreement to sell the hockey franchise and the lease to Savvis Center to businessman David Checketts.Checketts is definitely a business man first, a basketball man second, and a hockey man 137th. On the other hand, he certainly knows how to run businesses not related to hockey, and the new CBA will prevent him from spending $70mil on a crappy roster...So, I'm willing to give him a chance. If he fires GM Larry Pleau on the first day, he'll win the hearts of Blues fans rather easily.
He lives in Connecticut and his roots are in the NBA. At 28, he became president and general manager of the Utah Jazz, making him the youngest chief executive in NBA history. He then spent a year as the general manager of NBA International, where he worked to increase the league's presence around the world.
Checketts, a former NBA executive, was president of the New York Knicks in
1991 and set records for attendance, television ratings and revenue under
He went on to become president and chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden, the company that owns the New York Rangers, New York Knicks, New York Liberty of the WNBA and Madison Square Garden and the MSG television network.
From Childhood Trauma, we hear the sad news that the Game Night Review, a 'cherished' St. Louis institution, will be closing down. The GNR is/was a humourous fan-published magazine that was written and produced as only a bunch of drunken and jaded St. Louis Blues fans could. If this is true, the GNR will be sadly missed.
Childhood Trauma's warped mind produced this Top 11 list of why this potential sale would be a good thing
11: The Laurie's need money to buy someone to pass the bar exam for Paige.
10: After putting up hoops in Somalia, Checketts is ready to put down roots in Fenton
9: Who better to replace a basketball loving, hockey idiot than a basketball loving, hockey idiot?
8: The deal will be financed with "Tiger" bucks. call 1-800-CAT-PAWS for more info
7: The Saavis Center already has a full sized basketball court in the owners box
6: Hey! isn't the Jazz and the Blues the same thing?
5: Checketts is still mad about the way the return to Peoria hurt his New England minor league hockey rivals, seeks REVENGE.
4: Nancy Laurie wants to insure the team moves on to someone who cares for it in the same way she did.
3: Gene McNary and Vince Schoeml stepped in during terse last second negotiations to save a St. Louis sports team, just like they always did..
2: Mark Sauer pulled the "sell the team now" string on Bill Laurie.
and most importantly...
1: Checketts is already familiar with the taste of Bettman's butt from the old days!
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Fighting the losing battle of Pronunciation
...and then I run into people who attempt to 'correct' others on the pronunciation of Slavic names. The problem? They are spreading even more false information. It's bad enough that the official NHL Pronunciation Guide (Produced by nasal voiced Doc Emrick) is full of more errors than your last math test, but now I see posters on weblogs and message boards 'correcting' people with the wrong information.
When I see this happen, then you bring out EVIL JES (pictured) and the +3 EBONY HOMEY SOCK OF DEATH!
Take this exchange between Craig McMurtry of the excellent Hockey Country blog and myself. Normally, I'd have no problem with Craig...but then this exchange happened in one of his posts, and HOMEY DON'T PLAY THAT!
Craig: A heads up to sports highlights hosts: Brian Pothier is pronounced Poth-e-er, not Poth-e-ay, and Andrej Meszaros is pronounced Mez-are-os.
Me: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NONONONONONONON
(pet peeve time). If you are going to correct someone's pronunciation, make sure you have it right!
Meszároš = MEH-saar-oesh
(the E is like pen, Jen)
Now, if you hear anyone pronouncing his name like Me-say-ros or something crap, I want you to smack them with an old homey sock.
Craig: Jes, according to him, it's not the way you say. Maybe he's Americanizing his name, I dunno.
Me: Why would he want people mispronouncing his name?
If you say Me-say-ros in Slovakia, you'd get smacked with a homey sock and dumped over the border in Poland. You should try and get people to say it the right way, so that the Slovak players wouldn't have such an inferiority complex with it comes to their surnames (Which they do)
Craig: According to him, it's Mez-are-os, not Me-say-ros. When he first came over, people were saying Mez-a-ros, but he corrected them.
Me: 'Corrected' is not the right term I'd use. That's like saying the North Pole is East of Canada and not West of Canada. It's still wrong!
I won't rest until people stop butchering and anglicizing our Slavic names so poorly.
Please, people...if you are going to 'correct' people on the pronunciation of a Slavic name, give them the RIGHT information or come to me. I'd be happy to educate the masses. Would you give advice on open heart surgery if you really didn't know what you were doing?
As you can see, I really do seem to be fighting a losing battle. Why would Andrej tell people to pronounce his name the wrong way? Maybe he needs to be smacked around with the homey sock of death? Has he given up the fight already? >:(
Maybe I should have completed that damn Amended Pronunciation Guide like the folks at McKeens challenged me to. Would it make a difference? What's it gonna take for you folks to smarten up? (teardrop)
Sean Avery: Open Mouth, Insert Hairy Foot
Los Angeles Kings forward Sean Avery - never one to shy away from opinion - had plenty of strong words regarding Phoenix Coyotes defenceman Denis Gauthier and French Canadian hockey players.
When asked about the blueliner's hit on Kings teammate Jeremy Roenick in a preseason game Sunday night, Avery did not hold back digging into Gauthier and Quebec-born NHLers.
"I think it was a clean hit," he explained on Tuesday. "I think it was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not back anything up."
"I'd think if a guy like Brett Hull was coming up the middle, somebody probably wouldn't have stepped up and hit him, but like I said, a typical move from a guy wearing a visor that certainly doesn't like to get scratched at all."
Of course, Sean didn't actually mean what he said...oh no...we're just all wrong about the guy.
"I certainly did not want to offend anyone with my comments earlier today," the statement (he released) read. "I am an emotional guy who sometimes says things that shouldn't be said. I apologize if I offended anyone."You are sorry simply because you look stupid, not because you really feel guilty. How nice of you to see this in a 'release', rather than actually face the music yourself.
Unfortunately, his kind of attitude still persists amongst the old-school neanderthal hockey types. There seems to be this stereotype of the 'French' player as a visor-wearing pretty-boy types like Alexandre Daigle or Pierre Turgeon. I guess Sean Avery has never seen a Quebec Beer League game where the number of fights is greater than the number of goals.
...and unfortunately, the bigger problem is how many NHLers see wearing a visor as a mark of cowardice. Ok, Sean, do you wear a cup to cover your (probably small) family jewels? How about shoulder pads? Hmm?? So, how is protecting your eyes cowardly? Aren't they one of the most important parts of your body? Would you rather have eyesight or a popped out shoulder?
Anyway, I shouldn't waste any more time with this dweeb. I just hope him and Roenick don't claw each others eyes out fighting for the dressing room mirrow.
Check that. I'd like to see that happen :)
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Sweet, Sweet, Fantasy Baby!
Category 1. Top 10 scorers
* Note: 1 point per point= a goal and an assist are equal.
Shootouts don’t count.
TWO players who played more than 50 games in 03-04 but scored less than 30 points that year
Category 3. One goon
1 point per penalty minute
Category 4. TWO goalies- formula is
Post your picks on this thread to enter.
We also have a pool with "The Sporting News". Use this URL to sign up. Type in Face Off Circle when prompted to join an existing league (no password).
The only rule we traditionally set is that we DO NOT buy additional trades.
Fantasy Advice from Sage Jes
Matthew wrote: What are you fantasy opinions regarding the new talent coming into the NHL this season? Who do you see putting up the best chances of good fantasy numbers? Ovechkin, Balastik, Latendresse??
When it comes to drafting rookies, I prefer someone else to take that risk. When it comes to one-year fantasy leagues, you should aim to take the 'money in the bank', and go for someone with a proven level of production, or a player that has NHL experience and is ready to make the leap. Rookies are traditionally overvalued and traditionally not very productive compared to established players.
McKeens: 75GP 29-23-52
Forecaster: 77GP 32-32-64
Alex Ovechkin is an extremely talented kid with great athleticism, but he is going to play playing on an awful awful Capitals team with very little support. In hockey, we know 1+1 often equals 3. Good players paired together can help each other produce more and more points. Ovechkin will have very little talent around him in Washington (Cassels, Friesen, Zubrus...not much) and it will be hard for him to rack up points when he's playing with the league's worst roster. We must also remember that players on poor teams will have poor +/- numbers. If you pool counts +/-, than having a player who is -30 will hurt a great deal.
I think McKeens forecast is more realistic, and I would expect about 50 points with a -25 to -30.
Andrew Cassels - I know there are a few owners who think they are clever when they are drafting Cassels since he will be centering Ovechkin.
Don't buy it!
The now 36-year old Cassels played with the mucho talented Rick Nash in Columbus in 2003-04 and put up an underwhelming 6-20-26 -24 in 58 games and didn't play at all last season.
Cassels looked done like dinner and eerily similar to Adam Oates (who fell off a cliff, if you remember) and I would be amazed if Andrew could get more than 45 points this season.
Given the fact he'll be easily -25 to -30 and doesn't take many penalties (since many pools give points for PIM), Cassels is a guy you shouldn't touch.
Jaroslav Balastik - McKeens didn't even put Jaroslav in their magazine!! I am shocked to see a publication of usually high standards totally miss the boat on this guy. He's not listed on their depth chart and they have no prediction for him. They did add, on their website, "30 points is not out of the question." Hmph!
Forecaster was very cautious and predicts only 15GP 2-3-5 for Jaroslav.
So, it looks like my campaign hasn't been enough for some people to take notice of Jaro, but perhaps his awesome preseason will finally get him some props. He's seen a lot of Power Play time and has been doing well paired with Nik Zherdev. I believe he has played his way onto a regular roster spot and Columbus really needs his offensive prowess. My prediction for Balastik is 25 goals and 20 assists with about 80 PIM. He may be a rookie, but he's also much older and much more developed than your standard snot-nosed prospect.
Guillaume Latendresse - As much as the French media and separatist Quebecers would love Guillaume to become their next Rocket Richard or Stephane Richer, the boy isn't going to be on the roster on October 5th. The Habs have talented forward prospects coming out of their ears (Tomas Plekanec, Marcel Hossa, Alex Perezhogin, to name three) and not a lot of room on their roster for all of their kids to play. They have also basically guaranteed a roster spot for the goon Jim Vandermeer. Hossa and Plekanec are much more mature and ready for the prime time than Guillaume. Plus, the Habs aren't going to waste a year of service time (Remember the 7-year rule, kids) on an 18-year old to play on the 4th line.
Guillaume had a nice preseason game, but it isn't his time yet. Don't forget that former Hab Josef Balej also had a smokin' preseason game for the Habs years ago, and now he's been cut by the Rangers for being a lazy-ass Pavel Brendl clone.
One more year for Guillaume in juniors, and then we'll see how ready he is.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Fantasy Hockey: The Hockey Ranters
Bench: Huselius, Comrie, Hemsky, N. Kronwall
9 of 16 are Czechs of Slovaks, so I met my quota ;)
As the season approaches, I'm going to offer my 2 cents here and there on certainly players and fantasy hockey. After a whole year off, I'm involved in a lot more pools than I ever used to be. I used to be involved heavily in sim leagues, but those take a lot more work than pools.
Josef Vasicek - He's not a terribly fast skater and his 45 points in 82 games in 2003-04 might not wow you, but he was only 23 that year and has been developing at a fairly steady rate. With 8 points in 5 preseason games, he's got to be catching the eye of fantasy league owners looking for a steal. The Hurricanes are obviously counting on him to be an offensive leader more than ever, and he'll probably get a lot of opportunities to rack up 60+ pointes.
Vasicek had an amazing season last year with Slavia Prague with 43 points in 52 games while playing outstanding defense up front.
The only worry with Josef is that he's a lot like his Slavia Prague teammate Josef Beranek in that he's offensively productive in Europe, but only so-so in North America. I'd expect Bobby Holik numbers from Vasicek this year.
Alexander Frolov - This 23-year old winger is really poised to break out in a serious way and he may get overlooked as he is not yet established. He scored 24 goals and added 24 assists in 03-04 at the tender age of 21 and he looked consistantly dangerous late in the season, even as the rest of the LA Kings crumbled around him. He's been smoking this preseason and has found great PP chemistry with Pavol Demitra and Jeremy Roenick.
Eric Brewer - I know many of you may be tempted to pick Brewer not that he's THE MAN in St. Louis. Don't buy it, folks.
For the past few seasons, Brewer was already getting 24 minutes of ice time per game with the Oilers. He wasn't always a primary PP point-man, but he probably won't be getting a whole lot more PP time in St. Louis, either. Christian Backman, Doug Weight, and Andy Roach will be running the PP from the points.
Eric Brewer's still got some developing to do, but he doesn't really have the offensive tools to suddenly explode and give you a pool-breaker. His production the last 4 NHL seasons in points: 21, 25, 29, and 25. I'd expect 30 points and nothing more. Don't go out of your way to pick Brewer thinking that you'll get a steal. He's also playing with a team that has very few offensive weapons, so buyer beware.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Under the Radar: Andrew Hutchinson
- Sudie Back
Up until a few days ago, I had no idea who the hell Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrew Hutchinson was. Hell, I couldn't even spell his name correctly! When I did my pre-season preview on the Hurricanes, I never even mentioned him on the depth chart and nobody else pointed him out to me.
One big preseason game and an off-handed comment later, I have the feeling I might be dishing out a few cheese-dogs after the season is over.
Yep, defenseman Andrew Hutchison of the Carolina Hurricanes leads all scorers with 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points. I bet a hot dog with cheese that he won't even get 8 points in the regular season.
Well, I got more than a few people willing to take on my bet, so I’m a little nervous now and had to find out what the hell I was supposedly missing. I see that Hutchinson had 8 points in only 18 games for the Predators in 2003-04. I better start cooking!
When my curiosity is piqued, I go do a little research. I love to learn about guys that fall way down below the mainstream radar. Let’s learn a bit more about this guy.
First, the basics...
Hutchinson had a pretty decent 4-year career at Michigan State University, where he put up 78 points in 160 games. After his freshman year, the Nashville Predators selected him in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft (54th overall) and he stayed the course in school before heading to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.
At the age of 23, Hutchinson had his breakout year with the Admirals and his first stint in the NHL. After posting 24 points in 46 games for the Admirals, he earned two brief call ups in January and March and potted 4 goals and 4 assists in 18 games, mostly on the Power Play. He then had a monster playoffs with 5 goals and 11 assists in 22 games as the Admirals advanced to the Calder Cup.
Now, I revert to McKeen’s and their scouting report (They project 4-10-14 in 61GP for Hutchinson this season):
Led all AHL defensemen in scoring with just six weeks left last season (58-10-31-41) before drying up down the stretch (18 0-4-4)..a stable, two-way rearguard with excellent straightline speed..plays an aggressive, heads-up game, actively jumping into the attack and sneaking down from his point..very adept at moving diagonally and opening up shooting lanes from the point for his hard, low shot..uses his long reach and good-sized frame effectively to defend..not always consistant as a passer, can be too hard at times or slightly off the mark..
The Hurricanes traded their 3rd round pick in the 2005 Entry Draft to Nashville for Hutchinson, which is a good idea given the Canes' draft poor record.
So, I see coach Peter Laviolette has been giving Hutch 20 minutes of ice time per game, but we know the preseason doesn’t always mean a whole lot. As I see it, the Carolina defense corps has Tverdovsky and Kaberle as the offensive defensemen, with Commodore, Hedican, Wallin, Ward, and maybe St. Jacques ahead of Hutchinson. Despite Hedican’s health problems, he is playing and is fairly reliable defensively if his speed is still good.
On the other hand, if the NHL continues to call a boatload of penalties (at least early in the season), it would be a good idea to keep Hutchinson dressed as a 7th defenseman and give him a spot on the top Power Play unit. It’s obvious the boy has a niche
From the Carolina Hurricanes website, Hutchinson Standing Out
Well, since my Bloggers Challenge fantasy team needed a spare defenseman, I let go of Niklas Hagman and picked up Hutchinson just in case he gets a spot on the roster come October 5th. It might be a good idea to pick him up in your leagues if you can get him for free.
"He's really poised with the puck and he makes the right passes," Laviolette said. "He really helps out on the power play and he sees the ice well and has a heck of a shot. He had one heck of a goal tonight. He's doing his best to try and make this club."
Laviolette had never seen Hutchinson play before he was traded here so he had no opinion of his play. He certainly does now.
"Maybe this is how he's always been," Laviolette said. "We knew he was an offensive-minded defenseman, but defensively he hasn't given up a thing. He's been pretty sound. He's been a nice surprise for us."
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Shhhh!!! They're Sleeping!
Dude! Wake up! The game isn't over yet!
Friday, September 23, 2005
Looking for NHL Preseason Stats?
It's bad enough that you can't get basic boxscores and scoresheets for preseason games, but you can't even get basic STATISTICS for preseason action?
Nope, the NHL is still stuck in 2003-04 pre-lockout mode as evident by the fact that they haven't updated their stats page since before the lockout.
This is definitely not "MY NHL".
Thankfully, another non-traditional hockey site has picked up the slack and done a better job than the NHL at covering its own game.
CBS Sportline has a great pre-season stats page complete with team-by-team stats and leaderboards. Yep, defenseman Andrew Hutchison of the Carolina Hurricanes leads all scorers with 1 goal and 7 assists for 8 points. I bet a hot dog with cheese that he won't even get 8 points in the regular season.
I'd bookmark the CBS Sportsline page for the remainder of the preseason. It's obvious that the NHL won't get its act together any time soon.
(Edit: As per the Acid Queen, the NHL finally did get its act together and now has the boxscores and scoresheets for the preseason games. I'm shocked, too)
(Edit #2: I read Andrew Hutchison's stats wrong. The 4 goals and 4 assists are his career regular season totals, not his preseason totals.)
Oh, and please be sure to check out the Carnival of the NHL #9, hosted by Boltsmag, for some of the best of the hockey blogosphere from the past year.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Getting Giddy for Guillaume Latendresse
The 6'2" 222lbs forward was dubbed the next John LeClair, the next Patrice Bergeron or the next Todd Bertuzzi, depending on which fanboy was shrieking like a pre-teen girl who just won a date with Lance Carter. (And why not the next Colin Forbes? He needs some love, too)
Well, after Montreal's 6-1 preseason win over Tampa Bay's "B" squad, the fanboys are shrieking again and even the casual Habs fans are taking notice.
One of my old fantasy hockey cohorts, Marc Hebert, filed these post-game thoughts and scouting reports after his attendance at this preseason derby.
Modin-Richards-St-Louis-Boyle didn't dress for TB while Montreal was without Ribeiro-Dagenais-Ryder-Bulis.
The line of Latendresse, Bonk and Hossa was amazing. Latendresse scored twice and added and assist while Hossa and Bonk each got 1 goal and 3 assists. Steve Begin and Tomas Plekanec scored the other goals for Mtl while Jim Campbell scored the only goal for TB.
Latendresse really stole the show. He got the first star and besides his offensive prowess, he showed good skating abilities and speed, threw a few good hits and show a lot of poise and strong positioning in the offensive zone. Some "experts" are already saying that he could be this season's Patrice Bergeron (also drafted 45th overall in 2003). Hossa finally is starting to look like an NHL player and might make a first name for himself in the future. Latendresse and Hossa made Bonk look good tonight. Radek seemed sluggish and doesn't look like a very strong skater.
The kids line of Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec and Alex Perezhogin looked very good. Higgins and Perezhogin especially. Plekanec seems a little slow and I think his skating will eventually be the difference between a star AHL player or a regular NHLer. Yann Danis looked okay between the pipes. He can definitely be a backup in the NHL. A starter? Time will tell...
It seems like the Habs management will have some hard decisions to take. Pretty much everyone, the fans, the media and even some players like Theodore seem to want Latendresse to stick around. The fans (we) were even screaming Guy-Guy-Guy! on a few occasions during the game. Only time will tell but Latendresse definitely looks like a steal in the second round. In the rookie tournament (with Toronto, Ottawa, Carolina), he was the best player along with Andrew Ladd of Carolina.
Now, I think that Guillaume, besides having a name that is hard to spell without looking it up, was a good pick for the Habs at #45 and I am surprised that he slipped below some 'projects' like the Slovak Vladimir Mihalik. Still, we know preseason games don't mean anything in the big picture, and Guillaume wouldn't be the first player to have a great preseason game and then do little else... you don't see Stars fans shouting out "Polak, Polak" after Vojtech Polak's 5-point performance (Well, apparently "Polak" is a derisive term when Americans say it, so I'm told)
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The Canucks get Cooke-d
As Cooke's new contract giving him a $1mil per year raise, here is what the Canucks' financial structure looks like going into the season.
I am assuming that the Canucks will carry 21 players, with swingman/goon/pylon Wade Brookbank taking the 21st spot since he can "play" both forward and defence.
If the Canucks carry just 21 players, they will have less than a million of cap room at the start of the season. This cap room will basically be used for call-ups and doesn't allow the Canucks to add any extra oomph near the spring trading deadline. It's going to be a tight squeeze all season long, and the Canucks basically have to live with what they have now. Given that the defence is relying on one of Sven Butenschon, Nolan Baumgartner, or even Jason Doig...it's going to be a longshot at Lord Stanley's Mug. Just another first round exit :(
Training Camp Musings: My co-worker attended a training camp session in Whistler and gave me some impressions.
i. Anson Carter looks slow and lazy, just as he did with the Rangers and Kings late in the 03/04 season. This signing looks to be blowing up in the Canucks faces as many other media members and internet fanboys aren't very impressed with what they have seen. $1mil for a big fat slug. Perhaps Jason King will be re-united with the Sedins, after all.
ii. Richard Park was uber-impressive with the quickness and the hustle. The boy can fly and he works hard...call him the anti-Carter. I am thinking that perhaps Richard Park should be given a chance to play with the Sedin twins. Why not? Why does it always have to be a big and/or gritty winger? Park's speed and hustle could fit very well with the Sedins, who are already proficient at cycling the puck. Park has shown offensive ability in the minor leagues, so it is not as if he's got stone hands.
iii. Jason Doig has a wrist/elbow problem and he couldn't take any slapshots. He was reduced to taking floating wristers from the blueline. Well, Marek Malik has had a good career and I don’t recall him taking more than 1 slapshot per season. If you have a good wristshot and can get it off quickly, it can be a more potent weapon than the often overrated slapshot.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I'm not sure why Jaro is wearing #40 instead of his usual #96, but I hope he's allowed to pick the number he really wants when he makes the pro roster for good. Not a bad North American debut, eh? Jaro played on a line with young phenom Nik Zherdev and Manny "the Ranger$ nearly ruined my life" Malhotra.
Over in Dallas, the enigmatic Vojtech Polak had an amazing debut with 2 goals, 2 assists, and a shootout goal in a 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers. He didn't get in a fight, so Gordie Howe wouldn't have been proud.
Given Polak's lazy and unproductive play last year in the Czech Extraleague and with the Czech national Junior sqrad, I'm not jumping up and down on the air mattresses just yet.
I remember when Jon Sim lit up the preseason with the Dallas Stars about a good 6-7 years ago (I wish I could find preseason stats)...I mean he really lit up the place. Just 158 NHL games and 36 points later, it's obvious that a hot preseason didn't translate into much for Sim. Now, he's just a bit player for the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Canucks had Slovak defenseman Rene Vydareny (even hard-core fans will have trouble remembering him) who came in out of junior and almost made the 2000-01 team on the strength of a great preseason. 6 years later, Vydareny never did play a single NHL game and is back to Europe for good.
Buyer beware, the preseason stats can deceive you.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Keith Tkachuk's Big Problem
(assist to Octopus at FOC for the pic)
Yahoo! Outboxes the NHL
Yeah, I also remember thinking Santa Claus was real and that the lump of coal in my stocking was the result of my own bad deeds and not a cheap father (ahem)
Anyway, since we don't get NHL preseason action on TV here, I would at least like to check the boxscores of every NHL game to see who scored, assisted, played, etc... There are always prospects and rookies that I am interested in checking out and it would be nice to see if they are doing well. I'm also a stat-geek, and those kinds of things just turn me on.
The NHL, unfortunately, seems to believe that the fans don't need to see such 'valuable' information. Looking at yesterday's scores, all I can see are the damn scores themselves! No boxscores, no rosters...nada!
You can look at the official team homepages, but all you get are written summaries that don't tell you the whole story.
How hard could it be to provide a frickin boxscore?!
In contrast, Yahoo! Sports has the boxscores and details from EVERY SINGLE preseason game. They don't have the in-depth game rosters, but they do list all of the goals, assists, and penalties in the usual format.
In fact, Yahoo! Sports kicks the NHL's ass when it comes to statistical coverage and fantasy league options. I've been visiting Yahoo! a lot for their stat pages and the fantasy blogger leagues I've been involved in. It's a quick and valuable resource for fantasy leaguers, that's for sure.
Why is Yahoo! beating the NHL at its own game?
Youppi! is back!
After almost a year on vacation, Youppi!, the furry, orange mascot of the Montreal Expos, has gone back to work.
He has been picked up by the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens after intense negotiations with 10 groups and companies, including the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes. Terms of the deal between the Expos and the Canadiens were not disclosed, but one report said negotiations involved six figures.
6 figures? Even sports mascots are getting nice contracts. For those who don’t know Youppi is a bit of a legend and a bit of a joke in Canada. He’s our Philly Phanatic, only he could kick the Phanatic’s ass and rip his heart out Mortal-Kombat-like style.
Would you mess with someone who looked like that?
Of course, leave it up to some stupid American crank to cast a negative light on the situation
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: I'm going to take Jose Theodore's extended middle fingers and turn it into a thumbs down to the Canadiens for hiring Youppi! Now I'm not saying it's a sign of the apocalypse, but on my way to the airport in Montreal this morning, I saw locusts swarming on St. Catherines Street. Maybe it is a sign of the apocalypse; Bob Gainey actually smiled! The Montreal Canadiens built their heritage on the twin pillars of being better and classier than everybody else. They don't need a mascot -- especially somebody else's mascot. They don't need this gimmick.
Well, Michael, why don’t you go back to writing your usual 3 paragraphs of uninventive material about hockey, per month, for the ever increasing irrelevant rag called ‘Sports Illustrated’.
This isn’t about a simple ‘gimmick’, this is about Montreal sports history and maintaining some of the heritage of the lost baseball team that was ripped from Montreal by Bug Selig and his shenanigans. Even ESPN, the bastion of American sports, acknowledged the power and mystique of Youppi.
Do the Habs need a mascot? No...no NHL team needs a mascot...but Youppi is more than a mascot. He fights terrorists and turns carbon monoxide into oxygen when he breathes.
Wikipedia has all you could ever want to know about Youppi.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
NHL: Keith Tkachuk is still as Schmuck
Granted, Dallas Drake has not been quite as cheap and dirty as he was in his Jets/Coyote Ugly days, and he's been a good soldier, but I wouldn't have figured him as captain material.
While perusing ,the news this morning, we can find the obvious reason why Keith "Upchuck" Tkachuk is not the captain of the Blues - He's been suspended for failing a physical!
Blues forward Keith Tkachuk will not be with the team when players report today for training camp.
Why Tkachuk failed the Blues' medical exam is unknown, but it's important to note that players have failed team physicals in the past and not been suspended.
There have been reports in recent weeks that Tkachuk, 33, was over his normal playing weight, listed as 231 pounds in the Blues' 2003-04 media guide.
So, it seems Tkachuk hasn't matured or grown up any over the years. I don't mind if athletes make big money - That's the market! It does irk me and most any fan when guys like Tkachuk show up overweight and out of shape.
You are a hockey player! Your sole responsibility and purpose in life involves being in top physical condition. There is absolute NO excuse to show up out of shape and doughier than the cookies my mother never used to bake for me. This is even more exasperated with the fact that Tkachuk is one of the highest (over)paid players in the NHL with a $7+mil contract in the bank.
Rather than take Tkachuk to task over his laziness, coach Mike Kitchen is already making excuses for one of his lone offensive weapons:
"Players have to come to camp in shape," Kitchen said. "He's been terrific following the program previously. The work stoppage has been hard on a lot of people. We had a lot of frustrated players. ... They had so many dates they had to peak, and they weren't able to hold their level of fitness."Not able to hold their level of fitness? How hard would it be for Tkachuk to maintain a regular workout schedule when he didn't have any other WORK TO DO! I know I have little trouble going to the gym 4-5 times a week and I have full-time work and part-time school. What the hell was TK doin this whole time?
I'm hoping Barret Jackman levels this doofus with a crisp bodycheck if/when Tkachuk does return to the ice for the Blues.
Advice to GM's, start putting bodyfat percentage clauses into your contracts.
It was somewhat surreal to see real (well, preseason) action highlights on the tube last night, wasn't it? After a whole year off of NHL hockey, I got unusually giddy at watching PRESEASON highlights. Geez.
Oh, and shootouts still suck.
Friday, September 16, 2005
NHL: Jes Gõlbez answers your letters!
Since the NHL is currently busy with preparing for the season, ensuring cap compliance, and has a grand total of 0 employees working in public relations (or it just seems that way), I'd thought I'd do everyone a favour and answer some of these open letters. Call it my Boy Scouts good deed of the day.
(I did snip some irrelevant parts from some of these letters...nothing important, anyway)
With the 2005-06 NHL season approaching quickly, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a hockey fan. I'm a transplanted New Yorker living in rural North Carolina. I am witnessing my 4-year-old daughter on my driveway taking slap shots on my 7-year-old son, who is decked out in goalie gear from head to toe. They don't even flinch at the 90-degree temperatures. They are doing their own color commentary as they play, shouting "Save by Richter!" and "Messier SCOOOOOOORES!" We are rabid hockey fans who want nothing more than the return of the sport we love so much. I've endured their relentless inquiries regarding the demise of the NHL, the start of the season, and endless explanations as to why our sport isn't being played.
Several weeks ago, I was afforded the opportunity to be a hero. I walked into my home and announced the return of hockey! It was like hitting the lottery. You would have thought that Wayne Gretzky himself waltzed into my living room and invited us to opening night in the NHL. Am I lucky? You bet ... my family is elated, my sport is back, and things from Harrisburg, N.C., to Siberia are right as rain. Thanks.
John Greene, Harrisburg, N.C.
What kind of cruel and inept parent are you? What kind of man allows their kids to grow up as Rangers fans and then don full goalie equipment in 90 degree heat? Are you happy that you have brainwashed your kids into adoring a bald-headed phony and subjected them to possible death by heat exhaustion?
And I see you told your kids that YOU are solely responsible for the return of NHL hockey. I bet you also tell your kids that you are Santa Claus and have the Easter Bunny on speed dial.
I'm contact the Harrisburg Sheriff's department in the hopes that they can find a good home for your kids. I hope there is still time to undo the damage you have done to them.
Greedy. Selfish. Shameful. These are a few words that come to mind regarding the NHL lockout. In fact, these same words could be used for all major league sports. How much is enough? How many millions do you guys need? Perhaps we are better off without the enormous payrolls and egos. I, for one, will not watch any more professional sports.
Dave Burkhart, Lititz, Pa.
1. We've heard the same yarn before, yet we know you'll turn on the TV, pop open a Coors, and watch your daily diet of professional sports. Try to be a little more creative, eh?
2. We need about 100...BILLION...DOLLARS!!! MUHAHAHAHAHA!
3. If it makes you feel better, I, for one, won't read any more of your letters.
You have to wake up! You have made the sport for the most part irrelevant to the vast majority of the American sports market. Even in hotbeds like Boston and Detroit, you have a niche fan base, but for the most part, you don't have any mass following. The first steps you made were good, especially doing away with the two-line offside. This will open up the game. Additional things you should do are as follows:
1. Reduce the game to two 25-minute halves; Having two intermissions breaks up the game and makes it hard to follow on TV.
2. Contract the league by about six clubs. Redistribute the players around the league. With all due respect, nobody cares about a hockey team in North Carolina, Columbus, Ohio, Atlanta, Tampa or Anaheim. Do we really need two teams in the L.A. area?
3. Outlaw the trap! If a team is caught doing it, it should be a penalty shot plus a two-minute minor penalty after the shot. That would make coaches think twice about it.
As a former fledgling hockey player, I thought I wouldn't be able to fill up my time in the winter without the NHL. Guess what? I did. I started to enjoy other things in life and found out there is a lot out there beside hockey and it doesn't cost $200 a night to do it. Nobody wants to see the Bruins play the Nashville Predators...
Dennis Monahan, Cambridge, Mass
Ah yes, another former bitter hockey player that is jealous because he didn't make the big show. Is it really Bobby Holik's fault that you didn't have the talent, and maybe the work ethic, to make the big show?
Maybe you should stop wasting your nights getting yourself drunk on misery and Budweiser and get a frickin' clue!
1. 25-minute halves is the dumbest idea we've heard in months, and that's saying something given that the league is run by the guy who plays the Count on Sesame Street.
If you have trouble following a game with two intermissions, maybe you need to get something to diagnose your problems with attention span. Why should we reduce the amount of on-ice action to 50 minutes? Do people want less hockey for their money? Dumbass.
2. Nobody cares about hockey in those 5 markets? Really? Ask the fans in those cities if they care. Columbus has been getting super attendance for quite some time and there are obviously enough fans to support the teams that they there. Maybe YOU don't care about the teams, but nobody cares what YOU think. Oh, and Anaheim isn't Los Angeles, no matter how the Angels baseball team might try to have you think that.
3. Outlaw the trap? You speak as if the 'trap' is a set and defined system that can be instantly identified at first sight. Just how do you define a trap? How can you possibly call illegal defence? Hmm? Do you punish players because they actually make the effort to play defence? That would be like punishing people for walking 'improperly'. How does one walk 'properly', eh?
In order to bring back fans we need to allow the talented stars the ability to show their skill. Allowing the clutching and grabbing that has brought the game to a standstill over the years has frustrated many a fan who just shelled out $100 (or more) for a seat to watch the game move at a crawl. The referees need to be diligent in this and not just enforce the rules for the first few months only to revert back to the old ways by December.
A better job of marketing the stars in the US is vital as well. In Canada, we know most players by name but in various major markets in the U.S. you would be hard pressed to find someone who knows who Joe Sakic or Jeremy Roenick are.
Doug Smith, Toronto
Your ideas are bland and make too much sense. Please suggest something frivolous and revolutionary as the NHL just cannot digest common sense. Like Sucralose, common sense goes right through the NHL's digestive tract without being absorbed by the stomach lining.
As a fan who grumbled at the NHL's time off, I wholly welcome the league and the game back. I feel the league wants to move forward, and put fans first. However, the "old regime" still resides. While some new changes are a nice start, the league missed hitting a home run.
MAKE THE NETS LARGER!!!
We are already reading reports of goalies saying the new, smaller pads aren't changing anything. These guys are still 6-2 and larger and can stop most pucks that come their way.
Jose Theodore made an offseason comment that he would have to change everything if the nets were changed in size. Well Jose, those of us in the "real world" have to deal with change every day at work. You should be able to do so as well in a game!
MAKE THE NETS LARGER, and watch the game become exciting.
Chris deFaria, Seattle
The NHL did consider larger nets, and even tested them in simulations with real goalies and real shooters using real pucks...
...but then they realized what a frickin' stupid idea it was...
Oh, and the players can simply deal with change, eh? How about we put lasers in the ice that fire at random times? These lasers could puncture skin and cause muscle damage! Oh, the players may whine, but I'm sure they'll adapt.
And if that logic sounds stupid to you, I'm just throwing your crap right back at ya.
BTW, nobody cares about what someone from Seattle thinks. Go back to sipping your overpriced latte, you hippie!
Please make my owner lower ticket prices: My owner had the highest payroll in the entire NHL, in the area of $70 million. My owner will now be paying only $39 million or less for salaries, yet he refuses to lower ticket prices accordingly. I didn't mind paying a premium when we had premium talent, but now it appears I am being gouged at the ticket window for mediocre talent. I shouldn't have to take out a home-equity loan to take my family of five to a hockey game.
Please enforce your rules the same way in the playoffs as in the regular season: Consistency. Please encourage — no, demand — that officials officiate the same way in the regular season as they do in the playoffs. I have never understood how the game could change so drastically from the regular season to the playoffs. It would at times seem like I was watching a different sport. A clutch or grab that happens in November is the same as one that happens in May.
Larry White, Detroit
If you have to take out a home-equity loan to buy tickets to a hockey game, then, obviously, you have absolutely no grasp at how to handle your personal finances.
Since you probably can't afford to take a course in basic economics, may I introduce you to a basic model of Supply and Demand, courtesy of Wikipedia.
The market "clears" at the point where all the supply and demand at a given price balance. That is, the amount of a commodity available at a given price equals the amount that buyers are willing to purchase at that price
Owners charge the ticket prices they do because lemmings like you continue to buy tickets at their current high prices. People in Detroit love their hockey right now, so they are willing to pay $70-100 for a ticket, even when the salaries are reduced. If the Wings weren't maximizing revenues, then they would change ticket prices.
Did you really buy the crap that the NHL teams would suddenly lower ticket prices if 'cost certainly' was achieved? Given your personal financial situation, you probably bought a lot of prime development land in the swamps of Florida, and believe you can make millions as a day trader or playing the lottery.
If you are so interested in saving money, then feel free to watch the 1000s of games available for FREE on television.
As for your point on officiating, the NHL officials maintain their same level of incompetence and inconsistency from the regular season to the playoffs. The lack of obstruction calls and the practice of not calling penalties in the last 5 minutes of a game remains the same from October to June. The NHL is proud to maintain such a high level of 'consistency' in this regard. Thank you.
I'm sorry, I just can't deal with any more of this stupidity.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch Beavis and Butthead Do America.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Gary Coleman: Hockey Groupie?
Well, courtesy of Tim at OddManRush, a good new hockey blog you should check out, I found another disturbing photo of Gary Coleman with another Oilers player.
Those Oilers teams could sure party *cough*
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
It's gonna be a long season for Leafs fans.
Jason Allison missed the first scrimmage with a minor hip problem. Eric Lindros was sent flying by a solid body check during that same scrimmage.
Day 2 at the Maple Leafs training camp reminded everyone on hand just how fragile Toronto's chances are of remaining among the NHL's top echelon teams.
The two oft-injured centres, brilliant when they're healthy, must stay out of the medical ward this season for Toronto to have any chance.
Leaf Nation, whatever that is, will be pleased to know that Eric Lindros made it through his first Maple Leaf intrasquad scrimmage yesterday. He even took a thundering hit from a 6-foot-3 rookie defenceman named Staffan Kronwall.
But Jason Allison, who hasn't played a meaningful NHL game in almost 32 months, didn't make it to the ice for his first scrimmage after the Leafs' new medical staff decided to keep him out because of a hip flexor injury he suffered while preparing for camp a week ago.
Yep, just one day into training camp and Leafs fans must be already choking on their beer nuts.
Stat Split of the Day - Jason Allison
Allison is a career +35 player and decent defensively, but he's had some unusual problems against the Buffalo Sabres, now his rival team, over his career. In 26 career games against the swords, he has a -15 and just 10 points. His new buddy Eric Lindros has no such problem against the Sabres as Eric has 17 goals and 24 assists in 33 games against Buffalo.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Blues sign an old Scott Young
D00D is like 38 years OLD and is no longer the speedster he once was thanks to the big giant fork sticking out of his back.
His production the last 3 NHL seasons
00-01: 67GP 19-22-41 +11
01-02: 79GP 23-19-42 +24
02-03: 53GP 8-8-16 -15
oh and he did play 3 games with the CHL's Memphis River Kings last year and totaled 2 goals and an assist. Woop-dee-doo.
It's a shame Larry Pleau couldn't make a move for some other organization's little-used RW or perhaps draft a guy like Columbus' Jaroslav Balastik. Scott Young is well past his prime and the Blues will be lucky if he comes close to being a break-even player.
Stat Splits of the Day
Mr. Young is also another Canucks killer with 19 goals and 18 assists in 44 career games against our boys. He does his best work against the Ottawa Senators, however, with 15 goals and 15 assists in 31 games and against the Sharks with a +22 and 41 points in 45 career games.
On the flip side, he's an atrocious -16 in 47 career games against the Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise with just 21 points in this contests. He has also been poor against stingy New Jersey with just 4 goals and 9 assists and -6 in 33 lifetime contests.
Me: "Martin Brodeur won't have his big padding to help him stop pucks"
Anonymous Poster: I like reading your blog and all.. but that was pretty dumb. He has consistently had some of smallest (if not the smallest) goalie gear in the league. His pads last year were BELOW the upper limit for this year. I would be more worried for your hero Luongo.
Well, I never claimed to be a Rocket Surgeon, but I do trust my own eyes. I do not know the exact measurements of his pads (nor do any of us), but I see a goalie with a puffed up chest and a big enough sweater to house a family of four.
Let's examine some photographic evidence
OK, I'll acknowledge that his glove/trapper looks pretty small (and it doesn't have a cheater), but his chest and sweater look way too big to me. How many pucks have been lost in that mass of clothing and upper-body padding? If I were to make a small wager, I'd bet that Brodeur has one of the three biggest sweater-to-body mass ratios in the NHL.
Let's contrast that to a goalie I've known for years, Roman Cechmanek, to have very thin padding and a more tight-fitting shirt.
Cechmanek is a big (6'3") goalie and he's not a very slim man, but his pads and the way he wears his equipment has always made it look like he has more holes than the average NHL goalie. When you go to the net against a Brodeur, you can't see anything except the extreme corners and a small five-hole. With Cechmanek, you can often see a few holes here and there.
Of course, the master of big padding is generally known to be Mr. J-S Giguere.
Now, Mr. Giguere does have goaltending guru Francois Allaire around to help him with his game. At the same time, Giguere hasn't been so great since his white-hot playoff run a few years back and the reduced equipment may hurt him the most.
As for Mr. Luongo...
He's always had exceptional reflexes and ability and I doubt he'll be hurt very much by equipment restrictions. I'd be more worried about the Panthers defence continuing to give up 40+ shots a night.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Union Rifts and Player Gifts
I had dismissed this whole thing is as just a few sour grapes that would sweeten after the season started.
Not so, according to this TSN story, which follows in the line of other rumours that Ted Saskin is going to be asked to step down. What is unusual is how now Trevor Linden's name is thrown into the mix.
The Toronto Star reports that a group of NHL veterans are calling for the resignation of NHL Players Association executive director Ted Saskin, union president Trevor Linden and other players association officials amid allegations that Saskin was hired improperly.
According to the Star, Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi and Minnesota Wild goaltender Dwayne Roloson are among the players demanding a change in leadership
While it was no secret that the PA was always looking after the big stars over the interests of the grunts, the anti-Saskin brigades are being led by some rather notable players. Even if Chelios and Domi are pond-sucking scum, I appreciate the fact that they won't tolerate cronyism within their guild, and stick up for the membership on an issue that doesn't involve their own contract negotiations. On the other hand, perhaps this is a power struggle within the guild and involved no good intentions. While Arturs Irbe and Trent Klatt are being swept aside, guys like Domi may be looking for their own position on the Board of Directors.
"This is supposed to be a democratic union and it's become communist," Roloson was quoted telling the Star.Dwayne...please don't invoke political theory into anything you say about hockey...you only end up looking dumber than Lloyd Christmas laying on the tarmac.
No Good Deed Goes Unnoticed
Over in Slovakia, a group of NHL players got together to do a good deed of their own. While it wasn't widely reported, my pal Daniel alerted me to the story and I think these guys should get a little press for what they did.
A 10-year old goalie from Kezmarok (hometown of Lubos Bartecko) lost both of his legs in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The poor kid now his to live in a wheelchair the rest of his life thanks to this moron.
So, a group of players (Michal Handzus, Lubos Bartecko, Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, Jan Lasak, Ladislav Nagy, Vladimir Orszagh, Branko Radivojevic, Radoslav Suchy, and Tomas Surovy) got together to purchase a specially enhanced Skoda Octavia car for the kid, plus about US$5,000 to help with other living expenses.
No word on whether the drunk driver will have to suffer a Zdeno Chara bodycheck or Marian Hossa errant stick to the eye as part of his punishment.
Friday's Get Fuzzy, for your amusement.
I also plan on doing an analysis of the LA Kings this week. If anyone can find the actual salaries for Mike Cammalleri and Denis Grebeshkov, I would be quite grateful. (Yes, I have tried all of the good sites and can't find them)
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Weekend Update: No Return of the Mac
Still, I'm getting a bit anxious now that NHL hockey (real NHL hockey) is a month away and I have to settle for checking boxscores over the Internet for awhile.
1. Al "Chopper" MacInnis made his retirement official today and will take a front-office marketing job.
The Puck Stops Here has a good recap of his career (A Wings fan talking about a Blues playa? Oh my! What has this world come to?), and I'll add in my own 2 cents Canadian.
To me, Al was the perfect franchise defenseman for the Blues. Al logged big minutes (25-30 every night), played well defensively, didn't take boatloads of penalties, lead by example, and provided offensive output that most mere mortals would trade 20 years of life for.
Still, let's face the facts...people loved the BIG shot. Big Al won the All Star Skills 'Hardest Shot' competition SEVEN different times.
Every time the Blues had a Power Play, fans and foes alike would wait in anticipation for Al to unleash a cannonating shot that would pierce kevlar. While the Blues had plenty of weapons, the opposition was always so focused on what Al would do that it opened up more space for the other Blues players on the ice. Not many defenders have ever had that much of an intimidating factor while they on the ice. Even Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey didn't scare the crap out of opposing goalies like MacInnis did.
A perfect example of Big Mac's power is this video clip of one of his usual Power Play blasts. Right-Click and "Save As" for best results.
(thanks to Duc's Video Game Reviews for hosting the clip)
MacInnis blasts the puck from the top of the right circle, and the puck goes right through Jocelyn Thibault's glove. While Thibault's glove disintigrates into dust, his pinky finger ends up being broken as the puck just goes right through it. There isn't anything T-Bo can do to stop the awesome power.
How did Big Mac develop his patended slapper? He used to shot 1000's of pucks against his family's barn every day. Good thing barns don't have feelings.
So long Mac, I'll miss ya. We'll see ya at the Hall of Fame in a few years.
2. Evil Swede Peter Forsberg is injured again? Wow, we didn't see that coming.
Humpty dumpty sat on a wallThey ought to cryogenically freeze Forsberg until about March, when he'll really be needed. I think the Flyers will make the playoffs without him...they have more than enough centers as it is.
Humpty dumpty had a great fall
All the King's horses
And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again
Oh, and Derian Hatcher is also injured...couldn't happen to a nicer dude.
3. Jan Marek, a skilled little dude I once wrote about for the Blueshirt Bulletin, has decided to stick with Sparta Prague and Europe for the basically the rest of his career instead of sign with the Rangers. It's too bad...I would have loved to see him get a shot in the NHL, and I think Rangers fans would have enjoyed his stickhandling forays.
This week's Zlata Helma (Golden Helmet) video clips open up the new season and Jan Marek puts on another show.
4. Savage Split of the Day
Althought I recently pointed out how Brian Savage hadn't been "Mr. October" in the past 2 seasons, his career numbers do show that he really does his best work early in the season.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Betting on Stanley
Now, we know that Las Vegas and other sportsbooks gear their odds to make money for the house, rather than give their Power Rankings and opinions of team strength. If they think they can make money by making a team more of a lucrative gamble, they can do so...if they really believe most people would bet on one team, they will give lower payouts for winning.
As of today...
Looking at this table...
The Bad Bets -
New Jersey Devils at 10/1 - Patrick Elias is gone for awhile with his recovery from Hepatitis A, Scott Niedermayer is with the Ducks, Scott Stevens is with the folks at the Shady Acres Retirement Home playing bingo and Martin Brodeur won't have his big padding to help him stop pucks. With the Devils about $5mil over the cap, their team will only get weaker as the season approaches. I wouldn't put money down on the Devils at this payout.
Toronto Maple Leafs at 12/1 - Are you kidding me? I know Vegas will get lots of Leafers betting on their sorry club, but any team that has to rely on a bunch of foggy-headed geriatrics, especially ERIC LINDROS, isn't going anywhere but golfing in May and to the flea market on Sundays.
Los Angeles Kings at 15/1 - This is a team that didn't make the playoffs last NHL season and didn't really improve so much as tread water. As much as Pavol Demitra rules your universe, this team isn't going to touch Stanley unless they buy a ticket to the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto.
St. Louis Blues at 25/1 - I'm sorry, but I don't see this club even making the playoffs. It's not even worth putting money down on the Blues.
Washington Crapitals at 100/1 - Give me 1,000,000/1 and you may get a $5 bet from me. If I were a Vegas firm, I would serious give out 1,000/1 odds and watch the money flow in. This chance has no chance at hell at the cup, so why not see if a few suckers made a 'throwaway' bet on the longshot.
The Value Bets -
Calgary Flames at 10/1 - Since they are my pick to make it out of the west, you could rake it in pretty good while the others stick to their Avalanche and Red Wings bandwagons. I'm surprised the Flames aren't right near the top, given their improvements and recent Finals appearance.
Nashville Predators at 30/1 - I like their chances at the cup at lot more than many teams above them. The Preds are a hungry young team just ready to make the leap. Vokoun is the type of goalie that could get white-hot during a playoffs run and this seems like a good value bet at 30/1.
Atlanta Thrashers at 45/1 - I realize that once/if Ilya Kovalchuk signs, these odds (as they will before the season starts) will change. Given their improvements over the long off-season, it would be a decent bet to bet that they will sign Kovalchuk and then make a strong run in a weak division. I don't think many fans and betting types realize the improvements the Thrashers have made and underestimate this club's chances.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Blogger Fantasy Challenge: Don't Mess With Jes Gölbez's Goons
See, I didn't expect the auto draft to be run when it did, so I had clumped up a bunch of goalies and defensemen at the top of my list and didn't sort my rankings very well. Needless to say, I was in for a big shock and ended up with a very...err... risky team. (excuses, excuses)
After a bit of tweaking and failed trade talks, here is the roster so far:
ERIC LINDROS? Ewwww-huuu-huuu!
I've loaded up on good defensemen, but this team is very much dependant on a bunch of players having breakout and career seasons. I think my team could do very well if every star and planetary formation aligns in my favour, but I'd like some nice sure things like Markus Naslund and Marian Hossa.
...oh...and would I have to cheer for Lindros to succeed just for the sake of my fantasy team? The one thing that really makes fantasy hockey and office pools hard is cheering for a player you really dislike. My office pool (which is a for-profit deal) had me often cheering for players that I'd rather not cheer for. On the other hand, it gives me and other fans a great excuse to check out boxscores for games that they would never normally have an interest in. Why else would I care about a Devils/Islanders tilt unless I was counting on Alexei Yashin to bring home the bacon. (You know you are in trouble if you are counting on YASHIN)
If any other members of the blogger challenge want to trade for Eric Lindros, feel free to submit your offers. I'd rather not have this piece of trash on any of my fantasy teams.
Stat Splits: Phil Pilmar asked about where I found the interesting stat splits that I like to fiddle around with. Until yesterday, I was using the player cards on ESPN.com.
Now, I see that Yahoo sports offers stat splits on players going back 4 seasons!! ESPN.com only offered 2 years of these splits.
Go to: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/stats and then to any individual player card. From there, you can access a player's complete splits and find out some interesting (And often useless) numbers about any player. It's a great find, and I could waste a whole day looking at career splits.
Stat Splits of the Day: Canuck Killers
Not only did Mark Messier kill the Canucks with his cancer-like presence, he also killed them as a member of the opposition. In 28 career games against the Canucks, he had 19 goals and 32 assists with a +16! (At least the # of games shown on the player card). Oh, don't even mention 1994 :(
Milan Hejduk has always been known as a Canuck killer, and his stat splits prove it as he has the more points against the Canucks than he does against any other team. Hejduk has 23 goals and 11 assists in 32 career contests against our club.
His teammate and Burnaby (The burb in which I live) native Joe Sakic has also been known as a Canuck killer through his career and he has the 23 goals and 51 assists in 55 games to prove it. Surprisingly (or maybe not...he is pretty damn good), Sakic has hurt the Oilers just as badly with 29 goals and 46 assists in 57 games against that ragtag bunch.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Henrik Zetterberg: By the Numbers
The Wings locked up the Big Z to a 4 year deal worth an average of $2.65mil per season.
At 24 years old, it's just a matter of time before Zetterberg uses his supreme stickhandling skills to wreak havoc on NHL defenses. He's no longer just a young winger stuck with an aging Brett Hull and the aforementioned Datsyuk. I know we're expecting big things from Zetterberg, and anything less than 65-70 points this season would be disappointing.
Oh, and the Wings got him with the 210th pick (7th round) in the 1999 draft.
Looking at the stat splits, we can see that
1. Zetterberg likes home cooking...at least he did in 2003/04
Home: 32GP 10-18-28 +19
Away: 29GP 5-10-15 -4
2. He hates Mondays just like Garfield and most of the working world.
Throughout his 2-year NHL career, Zetterberg has scored just 3 goals and 3 assists in 19 Monday games. A .32PPG compared to his career average of .62PPG
3. He needs time to warm up. By the stats, it looks like he gets better later in the game.
1st period: 9-10-19
2nd period: 11-18-29
3rd period: 15-20-35
1. It seems Mad Mike may be a bit lucky than his own madness didn't come back to haunt him.
The New York Islanders re-signed starting goalie Rick DiPietro to a one-year, $2.5-million US deal Wednesday.I was hoping DiPietro would take the 15-year offer, just for the hilarity that would ensue. You would think Milbury would have learned his lesson after giving Alexei "Ka$hin" Yashin a 10-year deal that is already the biggest albatross contract in NHL history.
The contract falls 14 years short of a shocking deal GM Mike Milbury and DiPietro's camp were contemplating but the 15-year, $60-million blockbuster fell through mainly because of insurance issues, sources confirmed Tuesday
2. Good things can happen when the NHL and NHLPA can put aside petty differences. In this instance, both sides are coming together to make a sizable donation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announced today they are joining forces to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross efforts to assist those affected by the Hurricane Katrina disaster. In addition to the financial contribution, the League and the Players’ Association will participate in a unique auction of game-worn Opening Night jerseys to further support the fund-raising endeavor.
For the first period of each team’s home opener, players will wear a jersey bearing a special patch confirming the Clubs' and players' commitment to the people and communities impacted. The jerseys will be collected and then auctioned by League auction partner Truition Inc., on NHL.com, all NHL member Club websites, and NHLPA.com. Further details will be released as they are finalized.
3. Skating Billboards? From an item posted on Sportsnet's "Hockey Hearsay"
If you thought there was too much advertising already at NHL arenas, there may be a little more.
Sources have told Sportsnet that the NHL is considering placing advertising on goalies' jerseys. They would wear a different coloured jersey than the rest of the team to further stand out on the ice.
As a fan of Czech/Slovak hockey, advertising all over the ice, socks, sweaters, gloves, blockers, and helmets is nothing new to me. I think it sucks, but I also figured it was just a matter of time. Really, every piece of equipment is already adorned with the maker's logo... like any advertising, you learn to tune it out over time. The more noise there is means the less effective your advertising will be.
The future of NHL hockey?
4. Scott Stevens has retired after 22 years as a kick-ass defenseman. I was always mixed about Stevens... I loved the way he played, the fact that he was part-Slovak (and aware and proud of it), and the fact he was so great for my fantasy team. Knocking Eric Lindros' ego into another dimension almost made me want to give birth to his children.
On the other hand, he did play for the New Jersey Devils...which cancels out almost everything good he might have done.
Newer fans will never remember the old Scott Stevens that was an offensive force and a great 2-way defender that the Blues had to give up to get Brendan Shanahan (thanks to tampering charges). The older Stevens turned himself into a defensive-minded force that delivered the most vicious and clean bodychecks since Mark Tinordi steamrolled around the NHL. Some fans will always disagree that Stevens delivered clean bodychecks, but Scott's intention was always to hurt, never to intentionally injure.
...and that sound you are hearing? That's Martin Brodeur crying himself to sleep...the two defenders most responsible for his success are now gone, and he'll be exposed for the fraud he is.
5. Stat of the Day
Lyle Odelein, a veteran of 1029 NHL games, is now with his 8th team after signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In the 1993-94 season, Odelein scored 6 Power Play goals (and 11 in total). Lyle only ever reached the lofty total of 6 goals in a single season ONE other time in his entire 15 year career, which would be 2002-03.
In 2002-03, Odelein had no Power Play goals, go figure.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Parting Shots from the Bay Area
Yesterday, I finally saw my first glimpse of anything hockey related on TV: A San Jose Sharks commercial for Season Tickets packages.
That's it!! 1 thing in 10 days! The local paper finally had some hockey coverage yesterday (the Oakland Tribune) when they talked about a Montreal Canadiens player from the old days who finally got a chance with the Stanley Cup.
My trek to Barnes & Noble and other places that sell magazines netted only one publication: The Sporting News 2005-06 Hockey Preview edition.
Sure, I could find about 100 different magazines about Hunting, Fishing, and Hunting & Fishing, but just ONE NHL annual to be found.
I bought the Sporting News guide once a few years ago, and came away thinking that it was the biggest piece of American trash I had ever read. The information and analysis was spotty, there were quite a few names with incorrect spelling, and it looked like it was written by a football writer asked to cover hockey for a few months. Compared to the Canadian produced guides, it was like copper to gold.
Fortunately, this year's guide is vastly improved and contains some good and entertaining articles. While the team-by-team analysis isn't deep, and some of the information is out of date (since it came out early), I feel like the TSN guide is a pretty solid read and American fans won't be cheated. The articles about life in the minor leagues are very interesting, and I would suggest any of my American readers to purchase this annual as the season approaches.
(No, I do not get a commission on the sales of this publication...dammit, eh)
Once I get home, I fully expect to see bookstore shelves filled with hockey magazines and newspapers' sports sections filled with all things hockey. I've had enough college football to last me 10 lifetimes.
Monday, September 05, 2005
The WHA: Version 2.09j
Shocking, I know :)
Visit the website, and all you'll see is this... coming soon!
A 'Super' junior league? What the hell?
Really, this 'league' is like a cockroach.
Just give it up, already. Sheesh. Your league, your tournament...just everything has not come to fruition. I wonder what they will think of next? How about a WHA Air Hockey tournament?
Sunday, September 04, 2005
The Name's Bondra, Peter Bondra
After making a public counter-proposal to the Capitals 1yr/$1.5mil offer, hokej.sk reports that the Capitals have turned down Bondra's counter-proposal for more money and another season. Bondra also wants a 'no-trade clause', which the Capitals are refusing to include in their offer.
"We don't consider one year at $1.5 million to be very serious," (Bondra's agent) Rich Winter added. "We should probably convene a conference call with all of the decision-makers in the next 48 to 72 hours because Peter would like to move this process forward."
I am amazed that Bondra hasn't been scooped up by some team yet. Even at 37, he could still help many teams as a 2nd line winger.
People were saying Bondra was finished after the 99-00 season in which he had just 38 points in 62 games. Bondra then went on to pile up 256 points in 312 games over the next 4 seasons. After a year of rest (in which he played just 6 games for his home town of Poprad), Bondra could still have his noted wheels all revved up to score another 20-25 goals.
At the same time, I think Bondra and Winter may not realize that Bondra just isn't worth more than $1.5mil in today's market and at his age and productivity level. If superior players aren't getting a lot more than $1.5mil (think Ray Whitney and Cory Stillman) and a similar player like Tony Amonte can't get more than that, than why would other teams give Bondra more money and a no-trade clause?
...or maybe he'll have a second career as a goon?