Saturday, December 30, 2006
Like I said before, I received Adrian Dater's "Blood Feud" for Christmas. It's the first hockey book I've been motivated to read in ages, and thankfully, it's a fun little read. There was a little dread leading up to it -- on one hand, love the subject matter, on the other, it'd be easy for it to turn out crap. It's a good thing the relatively restrained Dater wrote it. If Woody Paige or Mark Kiszla or Mitch Albom chronicled the Avs-Wings rivalry, I probably would have given up on the written word.
The descriptions of the on-the-ice incidents aren't the primary appeal, for me -- those I enjoyed, I generally remember, and those I've forgotten... well, I forgot 'em for a reason. (I really, really didn't need the multiple photos of Roy-vs-Detroit goalie of the moment) It's the reactions of those involved, and the behind-the-scenes info, that make it pretty enjoyable. The transcript of Marc Crawford's famous bench shrieking frenzy is freakin' hilarious (and makes Crow seem a bit ... crazy). Dater's details on much of the Avalanche dressing room drama is also a revelation -- I followed the Avalanche more than a healthy human being should during this time period, and much of this was new to me.
Detroit fans may see some tilt toward the Colorado side -- there's no similar Red Wings drama, and the 1997-98 season is dismissed in a couple pages -- but for the most part Dater plays it very straight, laughing at both sides' homerism (also hampering the Wings' side -- it looks like only one Detroit media figure spoke to the author). There's a few good interviews in here, with both sides -- Claude Lemieux, Scotty Bowman, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan are all pretty articulate.
It's a bit of a surprise that some of the major players are sort of swept under the rug. Adam Foote, Slava Kozlov, Kirk Douchebag Maltby, Rene Corbet -- all are only bit players here. Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman are dealt with a bit separately from the rest, with a chapter profiling both that doesn't really tie in to the book too much.
That's probably my biggest complaint -- "Blood Feud" really woulda benefitted from a heavy-handed editor. It bounces around like no one's business, there's a little sloppy stuff creeping in (one paragraph starts by discussing the furor surrounding Eric Lacroix in the Avalanche locker room and ends with the Theo Fleury trade, in the process sort of implying that poor Corbet was complaining about Lacroix -- which I don't think was the intent), and a lot of extraneous detail (Patrick Roy really likes Supertramp).
Overall, though, Dater handles it pretty well. And if you want a glimpse of what could have been, the more flamboyant journalists are amply quoted (to everyone's detriment). The time since the real heated matches probably helps, too. Most involved seem to have a sense of perspective by now.
Except me. I still hate the damn Wings!
(update: from the other side, Christy at Behind the Jersey has a review up here.)
Friday, December 29, 2006
What's up with Daniel Cleary?
For many years, Daniel Clearly always represented the height of 'laziness' to me. He never seem to 'bring it' very often, and loafed around so much that even Todd Bertuzzi would be shaking his head in disbelief. For all of his promise, Cleary was clearly a 'useless' player for much of his career.
All of a sudden, Cleary started scoring more, playing harder, and turned into a useful player. This wouldn't be the first time that the Detroit Red Wings have turned trash into treasure. It just goes to show what good coaching and development can do for a club. *grumble*
Just check out the career stats...
Year Team GP G A Pts +/- PIM
97-98 CHI 6 0 0 0 -2 0
98-99 CHI 35 4 5 9 -1 24
99-00 EDM 17 3 2 5 -1 8
00-01 EDM 81 14 21 35 5 37
01-02 EDM 65 10 19 29 -1 51
02-03 EDM 57 4 13 17 5 31
03-04 PHO 68 6 11 17 -8 42
05-06 DET 77 3 12 15 5 40
06-07 DET 37 17 11 28 12 8
Career 443 61 94 155 14 241
Yeah, one of these things is not like the other...
Then, I happened upon this article by Pierre LeBrun. It seems Cleary has finally whipped his ass into gear and taken his work ethic to a different level.
Look no further than Hockeytown for one of the coolest stories in the NHL this season.Now, if only JAN BULIS could start emulating Cleary and turn himself into a useful scorer, the Canucks might make the playoffs.
Daniel Cleary has a career-high 17 goals and it's not even January yet. "If feels good," the Detroit Red Wings forward said over the phone Friday. That might sound like a cliche from almost any other player but it speaks volumes coming from Cleary. After a decade full of trials and tribulations, it appears he's finally showing the form that was expected of him long ago.
"I've matured as a person and as a player, that's the first thing," said the 28-year-old native of Carbonear, Nfld. "I've dedicated myself to hockey. I've become a lot more determined.
"The last few years, I've really started concentrating on making this a 12-month job and training hard in the off-season and preparing myself."
It just goes to show that leopards can sometimes change their spots. It'll be interesting to see if Cleary can maintain this new-found production.
Poll: Pavol biggest hero and villain for 2006
1. If you were asked to name a famous person to be the biggest villain of the year, whom would you choose?
--Pavol Demitra, 15 percent
--George W. Bush, 10 percent
--Osama bin Laden, 8 percent
--Saddam Hussein, 6 percent
--President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, 5 percent
--Kim Jong Il, North Korean leader, 2 percent
--Donald Rumsfeld, 2 percent
2. If you were asked to name a famous person to be the biggest hero of the year, whom would you choose?
--Pavol Demitra, 13 percent
--Soldiers/troops in Iraq, 6 percent
--Oprah Winfrey, 3 percent
--Barack Obama, 3 percent
--Jesus Christ, 3 percent
--Bono, 2 percent
3. If you had to choose, which of the following celebrities would you say was the best role model this year?
--Sidney Crosby, 29 percent
--Michael J. Fox, 23 percent
--George Clooney, 12 percent
--Angelina Jolie, 8 percent
--Maxim Afinogenov, 2 percent
--Tom Cruise, 2 percent
4. And, if you had to choose, which of the following celebrities would you say was the worst role model this year?
--Alexander Ovechkin, 29 percent
--Paris Hilton, 18 percent
--Mel Gibson, 12 percent
--Tom Cruise, 9 percent
--Michael Richards, 6 percent
--Nicole Richie, 5 percent
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I'm back in Colorado for the holidays (and possibly longer, with another monster storm having kicked off in recent hours). Plans to attend last night's Avalanche-Stars tilt turned, in a comedy of errors, into plans to watch it on television. Probably for the best -- if I'd been in the stands, I would have been bashing my head into the glass, but with the emotional distance television provides, I could just concentrate on resigned shrugs, grumpy exclamations, and beer.
I'm always reluctant to place losses on one player's shoulders, so allow me to do just that. Joel Quenneville has been pretty consistent this year in playing the hot hand as far as goaltenders go -- it's time to stop that and give Peter "Ned Flanders" Budaj the reins until he proves he can't. Jose Theodore is paid as a starting goalie, and there's nothing that can be done about that, but that doesn't mean the Avs need to pay lip service and play him like a starting goalie. Any time you're able to score four goals against the King of the Regular Season, it really oughta hold up. Theodore was awful last night.
Over the last month or so, Budaj has been demonstrably better. He's had a couple bad games, each leading to his benching for a few -- it's time to give him a chance to bounce back from those.
Just like Denver Broncos fans forever compare quarterbacks to John Elway, Avalanche fans are going to forever compare goalies to Patrick Roy. So sure, the spotlight is somewhat unfairly on Theodore, and he isn't the only reason the Avalanche are so mercurial this year. Milan Hejduk and Marek Svatos aren't producing as expected, new defensive cornerstone Jordan Leopold makes Eric Lindros look durable, etc. But it's pretty clear at this point that Budaj gives the Avalanche the best chance to win right now, and by God, it's time for Quenneville to commit. Post-loss, he said "We need better goaltending" -- to get that, play the better goaltender.
* * *
Also Avalanche-related: Santa left Adrian Dater's "Blood Feud" under the tree the other day, and I'm pretty excited to read it. I'm not expecting great literature or anything, but it oughta be a pretty fun look back at the rivalry. It's even got Scotty Bowman's stamp of approval ("A must-read for all hockey fans"), Scotty being the only person involved with the late '90s Red Wings who can read.
Rory Fitzpatrick Falling on Hard Times
Doesn't it seem a little fishy that Rory Fitzpatrick (Like a glove) is suddenly in 3rd place? Are Wings fans smartly stuffing the on-line ballot boxes or is the NHL manipulating numbers?
C'mon, we know this process isn't transparent. How do we know that some NHL.com employee hasn't just fiddled around with the numbers or programmed his own voting bot? Hmm?
From CBC Sports:
The chances of Vancouver Canucks defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick playing in the NHL all-star game have hit a bit of a snag.In case you were voting for Chris Pronger (who cheats on his wife *cough*cough*), maybe this video'll change your mind.
The 31-year-old blue-liner dropped to third among Western Conference defencemen in voting results released by the league on Wednesday.
Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks leads the defencemen with 540,380 votes, followed by Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings at 522,345. Fitzpatrick has earned 486,842 votes.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Mats Sundin: The King of Consistency?
Consistent - (kən-sĭs'tənt) adjective:
What does it mean to be consistent? If you listen to hockey people, it's a lack of effort or a bad game. ("We didn't put forth a consistent effort!")
However, if you can consistently awful, then you aren't 'inconsistent', are ya?
A great team can also be wildly inconsistent. Let's say the Vancouver Canucks win 5, lose 2, win 1, lose 2, win 7, lose 3, win 1, lose 1, win 5, lose 3, win 1, lose 4, win 10. Yes, they are quite inconsistent, but they are still doing great and would finish 30-15. Meanwhile, a team that loses every single game is totally consistent.
Anyway, I was perusing Mats Sundin's career stats (Why? I don't remember) and was just amazed at how consistent his production has been over almost his entire career.
After his initial 3-year introduction phase, Mats settled down and has put out pretty much a consistent point-a-game pace since 1993-94! He only deviates more than .10 points-per-game in two different seasons, even if his goals and assists totals fluctuate quite a bit. Even in his late 30's, he's still putting up the same pace.
It's also interesting that Mats has missed very little time due to injury. Apart from this season, Mats doesn't really miss any long periods of time due to injury (That 48 game season was the shortened season).
Mats gets a lot of flak from Leafs lemmings for not being able to lead the Leafs to the Stanley Cup, as if it is his responsbility to coach and manage the team as well.
Sundin may be the real live version of a Swedish troll, but let's give credit where it is due. Mats Sundin has to be one of the most bankable and consistent players in NHL history. A player who misses little time due to injury and puts up a point a game while playing good defensively? There's a lot of value in having that kind of certainty, and it would be nice if the media made more of a point about that.
Forget the 'promise' that so many other players offer (Alexei Kovalev, anyone?) and give me the player that keeps performing at a consistent level.
Here's to Mats Sundin, the true NHL's truly "Consistent" player.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Canadians Fighting Overseas
The worst NHL team ever? Pat Quinn's nightmare?
No, it's Canada's Spengler Cup representatives fighting for Canadian 'freedom' against the evil European champions such as Mora IK, Davos, Khimik, and Berlin.
Lost in the shadows of the WJC is the 'other' International tournament which gets held every year and gives the little Swiss village of Davos a reason to exist.
Thankfully, Team Canada beat the evil Swedish club MORA IK by a 4-3 shootout count. No matter what the tournament, Canada must reign supreme.
1. Canada - The complete package, once again.
2. Czech Republic - Great goaltending and surprisingly good offense
3. USA - Despite today's setback, they have great D
4. Sweden - Some good top prospects, but depth is a concern
5. Russia - ZZZzzzz....
6. Finland - Rask isn't THAT bad, is he? (*cough*)
7. Slovakia - A tall defense and no offense
8. Switzerland - Speedy but not effective, as usual
9. Belarus - The best fascist state in the tourney/
10. Germany - Great win over the USA but they still suck.
Compare these to the picks of James Mirtle, who doesn't get totally blasted before making predictions:
Mirtle also points out Slovakia's massive defense
Slovakia has three defencemen taller than 6 foot 6 for this tournament. Tomas Magusin (6 foot 7, 207 pounds), Vladimir Mihalik (6 foot 8, 242 pounds) or Juraj Valach (6 foot 7, 216 pounds) will all bring plenty of muscle in front of the Slovak net. Valach is the youngest at just 17, and will draw heavy interest in the 2007 NHL entry draft given he has 18 points in 27 games for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League so far this season.At 6'5" 210, I suddenly feel short in comparison to some of the trees coming out of the 'homeland'.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
A Hockey Rants Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the mansion
Not a Bettman was stirring, plotting expansion;
The stockings were hung by the penalty box with care
In the hopes that they would be filled with George Parros’ hair.
Joe Thornton was nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of Sudafed danced in his head.
And Rolston in his ‘kerchief, and Walz in his cap
Had just settled down and started playing the trap,
When out on the ice arose such a clatter...
Could it be that Jeff O’Neill possibly got fatter?
Away to ice, JFJ went like a flash,
and said “I can’t believe I paid 2 milion for this trash”
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a $5 hot dog and an $8 beer.
And a zamboni; the driver must be a tweak!
I knew in a moment, it must be Malik!
More rapid than eagles his defenders they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Prucha! now, Jagr! now, Straka and Shanny!
On, ! on Cullen! on, Hossa and Blair Betts!"
"To the top of the circle, and out to the blueline!
Shoot the puck in the stands, and hit that ass Federline"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
They couldn’t stop Ray Whitney, not matter how hard they might try.
So up to the press box, the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of pucks, and his Malikness too.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and muttered to himself “Why is Bill Saskin such a jerk?”
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
He danced to N’Sync and struck a strange pose
He sprang to his zamboni, to his team gave a whistle,
and play was stopped, before Demitra launched his missle..
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good fight!."
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Slovak Legend Peter Bondra Nets Goal #500
(I was going to rant about the Canucks loss last night, but I'm not just inspired to write about an uninspiring team.)
A nice bit of Christmas cheer for the few Blackhawks faithful and the Bondra household as Slovak legend Bondra, Peter Bondra, scored his 500th career NHL goal last night in a win against the Maple Leafs.
It's still weird to see him in a Hawks sweater, but I'm happy that he's happy and found a team that was willing to sign him. As bad as the Hawks are, they still do have a pretty decent future ahead of them and they've found new life under new coach Denis "Spin-o-Rama" Savard.
Recap from Yahoo Sports:
Peter Bondra picked a perfect time to score his 500th NHL goal.While it wasn't the typical Bondra blast or speedster type goal, it was the usual 'right-place-at-the-right-time' goal Bondra has racked up a lot of over the years.
Bondra became the 37th player in league history to reach the 500-goal mark, connecting early in the third period to snap a 1-all tie and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Friday night.
Signed by Chicago as a free agent on Dec. 10, Bondra drove to the net and rammed a rebound of Jassen Cullimore's shot from the left point past Jean-Sebastien Aubin 5:37 into the third.
"It wasn't like I was sure what I was supposed to do when I scored," said Bondra, who scored his second goal in six games since joining the Blackhawks. "I felt like it was my first goal. Should I be jumping up and down or too excited?"
More importantly for the Blackhawks, Bondra's score turned out to be the game-winner in a physical, up-tempo match against a fellow NHL "Original Six" opponent.
Bondra, who had to jump right into the fast NHL tempo while quite 'cold', has done well for the Hawks so far. In 6 games, he has 2 goals, 2 assists, and a +6.
Overall, he has 500 goals and 382 assists in 1050 Regular season games. For some reason, I've always had a thing for players who get more goals than assists, which probably explains why I was such a Brett Hull fan as a little kid.
I was shocked to find that there wasn't a single Bondra highlight on YouTube. So, I downloaded the steaming video, converted it, and uploaded it for all of you to see.
Merry JesMas ;)
PS: As an aside, the Blackhawks goal horn has to be my absolute favourite of all time. If I ever score an NHL goal, I want that horn blasting away.
PPS: I'm also a little stunned that the NHL.com store doesn't already have a Peter Bondra #500 goal shirt printed up already. Lack of projected demand?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Greg and Gőlbez's Gift Giveaway!
Another year over. Who's the next Penthouse Pet?"
Greg and Gőlbez, two of Santa's busiest middle managers (We're the ones who get to tazer the unproductive elves and goblins in Santa's sweatshop), were put in charge of distrubuting gifts to those in and around the NHL sphere.
We're made our lists and checked them twice.
We definitely prefer naughty over nice.
Now, let's dole out some goodies to some (un)deserving folks. I'm sure Garth Snow is enjoying the GM job we gave him last Christmas. Damn bastard didn't even send a Thank You card!
Markus Naslund - Courage
Todd Bertuzzi - A Heart
Sean Avery - A Brain
Jeff O'Neill - Lyposuction
Rod Brind'Amour - Rhinoplasty
Alain Vigneault - a Pavel Bure highlight video
Jaroslav Balastik - the Lonely Planet Guide to Sweden
Pavol Demitra - A calendar year without a major injury
Marian Gaborik - An indestructable groin.
Sidney Crosby - The respect and adulation you richly deserve
Alexander Ovechkin - An hour of passing lessons from Wayne Gretzky
Ladislav Nagy - A coach that doesn't bench your talented ass and give more ice time to stiffs like Dave Scatchard
Gilbert Brule - More ice time for you as well
George Parros - A starring role in Briana Banks' next feature.
NHL Referees - Free eye exams
Gary Bettman - Counselling for your arithmomania
Rory Fitzpatrick - An All-Star Game starting job
Wings, Oilers, and Sabres fans - A year's supply of tissues.
Winnipeg - The Pittsburgh Penguins
St. Louis Blues -- a Grant Fuhr comeback
Tomas Kloucek - a promotion
Yannick Tremblay - a demotion
Alexandre Burrows - A goal that counts
Trevor Linden - A nice retirement home on Vancouver Island
Dan Cloutier - some ability to stop a puck
Anson Carter - A haircut
Jan Bulis - A toupee
David Pratt - a heart attack
Bob MacKenzie - some balls. Make a damn decisive proclamation once in a while.
Dominik Hasek - Crest WhiteStrips
Miikka Kiprusoff - Emotions
Jonathan Cheechoo - Somebody who will pass you the damn puck!
Brendan Shanahan - A map to your own end of the ice. You seem to forget where it is these days
Chris Pronger - An apology from Oilers fans and mediots.
NHL voice media - A copy of the Slavic Surname Pronunciation Guide.
We're also including bloggers on our list this year. These fine folks work hard all year and deserve some rewards.
Eric McErlain (OffWing), Michael (Hockey Fanatic), JP (Japers Rink) - A copy of The Rookie: A Season with Sidney Crosby and the New NHL
Acid Queen - Frostmourne
Side Arm Delivery - Peter Cetera's Greatest Hits
Odd Man Rush - An original NES complete with 2 controllers and Blades of Steel
DLee (RedAndBlack) - A chili dog with extra processed cheese.
Alanah (CanucksandBeyond) - A new set of golf clubs
American Hockey Fan - A real Czech beer
Earl Sleek - A free session of AA
Tom Benjamin - A smile. Try it sometime ;)
Ingmar W. Bergman - A nice tall glass of Lakka
James Mirtle - Tony Gallagher's job (please!)
Tapeleg - A pet duck. You can teach it the 'trap'
Vaic Fan and Pletka Fan - A second chance for their beloved heroes.
Zanstorm (Waiting for Stanley) - I don't seem to see Jiri Slegr under your Canucks legends section. No gift for you!
Roy (Wild Puck Banter) - A lunch date with Jock Lemaire
Stormbringer - a KISS Karaoke set
Paul Kukla - A reunion with his 'son'
David (The Ice Block) -
a copy of ' His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – JOURNEY FOR PEACE'
The Dinner Jackets bloggers - A real NHL defenseman.
mc79hockey - A robe and wizard's hat.
Mike Chen - A special version of the famed Dave Chappelle/Wayne Brady skit, only with Wayne Gretzky instead.
"Ninja" - A Montreal Canadiens #35 Tomas Plekanec sweater.
Scarlett Ice - Wade Redden *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE*
Chris DeGroat (Checking Line) - a Denis Savard tape-on moustache.
CasonBlog - A copy of Bill Clinton's 'My Life'
Matt (On the Wings) - any Madonna CD you like
Christy (Behind the Jersey) - A new tear-free ACL.
Chris McMurtry (Hockey Country) - A copy of the Slavic Surname Pronunciation Guide.
Greg Cartman (Puck Stops Here) - A JOE SAKIC BLVD street sign, courtesy the City of Burnaby.
Lyle "Spector" Richardson - A Racing Dandelion
If you weren't included on the list, then you better start sucking up more and maybe you'll get luckier the next time around.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A Dream Realized
It's the holiday season, when one's thoughts turn to gifts and family and drinking beer until I pass out on my parents' couch (I mean, until one passes out on one's parents' couch), and bloggers get lazy and go to the YouTube well one too many times.
But someone posted a hockey highlight I've been lacking for nearly a decade, and I have to share it.
The backstory: in a late-'90s Avalanche-Rangers tilt, the normally mild-mannered Valeri Kamensky -- then my favorite player, still an all-time favorite -- was driven to irritation by Ulf Samuelsson, and punched old Ulfie out. Unfortunately, I wasn't watching that game -- probably one of about five Avalanche games I missed that year -- and never caught the highlight. And that absence has haunted me all these years. (Evidence)
Well, some kindly soul has got it up on YouTube -- so finally:
On one hand, it's not quite as magical as I expected (Val, you shoulda dropped the gloves). But still, I feel a little more complete today.
Pavol Demitra Memory of the Day: Two for the Price of One!
Since it's almost Christmas, I figure I might as well be twice as generous and dish out two great Demitra goals for your video stockings.
First, we have Demitra scoring a beautiful shorthanded goal, last season, against Greg's beloved Colorado Crapalanche.
The Pavol has got enough time to read the Sunday New York Times AND whip me up a latte before scoring that goal.
The bonus gift? How about Demitra's goal from this past Saturday's Wild/Canucks tilt.
In the words of Alanah (Check out her new site, Canucksandbeyond.com), "Demitra makes Luongo look like Cloutier!"
I have the text message saved on my cell phone to prove it ;)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
RIP, Andrei Lomakin
It's with that familiar sad "geez, I hadn't thought of that guy in ages" feeling that I read of Andrei Lomakin's death earlier this month. His NHL career was fairly middling, but he had an interesting minor role in the Russian Invasion, and deserves to be remembered for that.
I remember Lomakin primarily as a defensive forward for the Panthers (at a time when that team was entirely composed of defensive forwards), but he came into the league as a speedy winger with the Philadelphia Flyers. Not just your average mid-20s European winger -- he was the first Russian on a team that had made a policy of not having Russians, and a team that had a heated history with the Soviets. It can't have been a fun situation. Not quite Pumpsie Green signing with the Red Sox, but still rough.
The Flyers were, of course, the hosts in the rough-and-tumble 1976 series that created all sorts of bad feelings (depending on your perspective, the Soviets were wimps who left the ice when things got rough, or the Flyers were a bunch of half-crazed goons), and in the late '80s, when the Fetisovs and Priakins and Kasatonovs and Starikovs started coming over, owner Ed Snider said no Russians would play for his team (unless they defected) -- his protest against Soviet human rights violations.
So, what changed? I can't find any first-hand accounts of Snider's mindset in 1991, but perhaps the Russians contributing to other teams served as an object lesson, perhaps the rapid dissolution of the Soviet Union (the '91 draft was held less than two weeks after Boris Yeltsin was elected president), but the Flyers broke their rule and drafted Lomakin and Dmitri Yushkevich that year.
Lomakin -- who had been a star with Voskresensk and Dynamo Moscow in the USSR -- signed and came over for the 1991-92 season (Yushkevich would come over in 1992). It wasn't a totally happy move, though -- some old Flyers (notably Ed Van Impe) saw themselves as Cold Warriors, I guess, and expressed displeasure with the move. Andrei, by all accounts, handled things quite well -- winning praise for his work ethic, class, and efforts to learn English (side note: a personal favorite of mine, Jiri Latal, served as his interpreter). He picked up 30 points for a last-place Flyers team, and acquitted himself well.
The next year, his production went down rather than the expected up, though, and he ended up with the Panthers in the expansion draft. After two seasons (one ok, one miserable lockout-shortened year) he got his walking papers, and that's where I lost track of him. He ended up playing in Switzerland and Germany for a few years before retiring, apparently, at the fairly young age of 33. He settled in the Detroit area, and that's where he passed away this month. A sad, too-early end for a decent fellow.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Nicklas Lidstrom: The Truth is Exposed!
Besides the fact that Lidstrom is one of the few defensemen slotted as a default candidate in the voting process, he is also perceived as being just a plain ‘great guy’, and has milked his wholesome image to the fullest. Me? I never bought into that and has always suspected that he had a dark side. He is Swedish, after all! I’ve been working, behind the scenes, to discover the truth!
Well, thanks to information obtained by a colleague in the Vaic Intelligence Agency (VIA), we can now expose Lidstrom’s true nature to the world.
Yes, Nicklas Lidstrom, beloved leader of the Detroit Red Wings, has been bilking poor Swedes out of their money in the name of XENU.
Lidstrom is no average run-of-the-mill $cientologist, either. That’s right, kids, Lidstrom is the leader of the Swedish sect of this ‘religion’, after being anointed “The Chosen One” as such by deceased film director Ingmar Bergman. Lidstrom has been instrumental in suckering the likes of Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin, and Christer Olsson into the cause, and could be targeting Detroit area folks for all we know.
The NHL? They’ve know about this all long. They simply chose to keep it a secret in order to avoid negative publicity. Lidstrom, from all accounts, has kept his dealings very private and does not discuss his Scientology with any Red Wings teammates, aside from Johan Franzen, also a fellow Scientologist.
“But Jes, aren’t you risking your life by releasing this information?”
Yes, but those are the risks I knew I’d be taking by joining the VIA.
“What do you hope to gain by releasing this information?”
Well, besides my continued mission to expose evildoers to the world, I also want to ensure that NHL fans are armed with all of the facts before they go and cast their All-Star ballots (for Rory Fitzpatrick).
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Video of the Day - Teddy Bear Toss Chaos
It was Teddy Bear Toss night, and there were just under 11,000 people there.
My friend, Duc, posted this video of the ensuing chaos.
The Vancouver Giants hosted the Everett Silvertips in a matchup between the two top teams in Canadian junior hockey. Over 10,000 people watched the game at the Pacific Coliseum; the fact that a few of the top players from each time were at training camps for the upcoming World Junior Championship did not deter from the playoff-like atmosphere.
Tim Kraus scores on a regulation-time penalty shot to give the Vancouver Giants the lead 1-0 over the Everett Silvertrips.
The Giants played a very good game and set up a penalty killing clinic that night. However, the Giants could only kill penalties for so long until the Silvertips tied it up 1-1 in the third period.
The Giants lost the game on a shootout, the real winners that night are the children receiving the teddy bears
Friday, December 15, 2006
Canucks Rule 3 - Calgary Flames Suck 1
My lucky bastard of a co-worker got free tickets (FREE TICKETS!!!) to the game last night and ended up being treated to one of the most entertaining tilts of the year. Yep, this game had a bit of everything and drew out the best in both clubs (except for Tanguay who was nowhere to be seen)
Now, I've had a hard time drumming up a real hate for the Flames. Sure, they are from Calgary, a cultural wasteland, but I respect most of their players and they are a tough team to play against that doesn't pull a lot of crap.
So, we need a target. I've deciced on Dion Phaneuf.
1. He's named after Celine Dion (It's true, because you read it on a blog)
2. He always has that pissed-off sourpuss "I'm an asshole" look on his face. Could you smile once in awhile?
3. Phaneuf is just a dumb, silly name. Even other French people must say, between puffs of their cigarettes, "Mon dieu, what a dumb, silly name!"
Sure, I'd love the guy on my team any day of the week, but he's also somewhat easy to hate. Consider him Denis Gauthier with actual talent.
Jes's 3 Stars (No Flamers Allowed)
1. Brendan Morrison - His shot on the 3rd goal of the game was twice as hard as I've ever seen him shoot the puck before. He's working hard and producing, finally.
2. Matt Cooke - Great pass on the Morrison goal and all-around pesty effort is the kind of game Cooke should have every night.
3. Willie Mitchell - Held Iginla in check and had a noticeably good game.
Honourable Mention: The Canucks PK unit, which held the Flames to an 0-for-8 mark.
Other crap on my mind
1. Alanah @ VCOE made the point that Matthew Lombardi is really, really, really, really fast. D00ds got 10 goals and 20 points in 29 games and scored the only Flamers goal last night.
2. Kevin Bieksa had 8 of the Canucks 27 shots on goal last night. D00d!
3. Fitzpatrick finished with a +2. Just another reason to vote him into the All-Star game.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The High Priest of Balastik is still sitting shiva for Jaro, so the uninspired, cranky Avs fan is checking in here in his stead.
There's actually been one Avs' loss in the one-up/one-down play of late that I don't feel so bad about. I'm a sucker for Cinderella stories, and Fredrik Norrena's hot run (five straight at this point, though I fully realize I'm dooming the guy to going down in flames against Phoenix tonight) qualifies.
Like, I presume, most hockey fans (don't lie), I greeted Norrena's sign-and-trade with the BJs with a resounding "eh." Because first of all, it's the Jackets, a team that's incurred the wrath of both Jes and myself (bring Tomas Kloucek up! NOW!) and has seemed content to hover on the edge of irrelevance, and second of all, guys who wait until late in their career to come over to the NHL rarely excite anyone.
In the midst of all the far-more-hyped stories around the league, it's fun to see this little burst from someone totally unexpected. He may end up becoming the next Blaine Lacher or Jim Carey, sure, but in the meantime he's helped create some interest around a team that wasn't overflowing with fascinating-ness before.
Best part of it? Dude's 33 years old. I STILL HAVE HOPE!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Jaroslav Balaštík Memory of the Day: The Last Hurrah!
Jaroslav Balaštík scores his only goal of the season, and last of his NHL career, versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
Farewell, Jaroslav Balaštík :(
Those goddamn Blow Jackets. Not only do they drive Jaroslav Balastik out of the NHL, but they drive him into the arms of the evil Swedes.
Český hokejista Jaroslav Balaštík (na snímku) se ze zámořské NHL vrací do Evropy a do konce sezony by měl hájit barvy vedoucího týmu švédské ligy HV 71. Sedmadvacetiletý útočník tak vyřešil svou nejistou pozici v Columbusu Blue Jackets, kde v této sezoně nedostával mnoho příležitostí.Basically, Czech hockey player Jaroslav Jaroslav Balaštík will finish the season with Swedish team HV 71. You can imagine how thrilled I am at this news.
You know Jaroslav probably ain't coming back to the NHL, and never given a second (real) chance. Jaroslav is a goal scorer, yet the Dinner Jackets saw it fit to give him 10 minutes a night playing with the likes of Jody Shelley and other scrubs who couldn't make an accurate pass the puck if their lives depended on it.
His final NHL totals:
Year GP G A Pts +/- PIM PPG PPA SHG SHA GW SOG Pct
05-06 66 12 10 22 -1 26 7 1 0 0 2 158 .076
06-07 8 1 1 2 -3 4 1 0 0 0 0 6 .167
Career74 13 11 24 -4 30 8 1 0 0 2 164 .079
Now, excuse me while I get Wayne Brady on Doug MacLean's ass.
Canucks 5 - Coyotes 2: Woof Woof!
All in the same night!!
Yes, the Canucks put the choke chain to the Phoenix Coyotes by a 5-2 count.
It's a rare occasion when the Canucks can put everything together and just kill a team.
"But Jes, this was the Phoenix Coyotes. Even Wade Belak could score on them"
Given how crappy the Canucks are this year, there are no easy wins. The Canucks can not look at the schedule and possibly say "This is a gimme"
Some idiots were actually booing Ed Jovanovski, as if they wouldn’t have bolted for a desert oasis if offered a large fortune. Thankfully, the idiots were drained out by a lot of cheers.
Canucks fans don't seem to realize how much of the Canucks' current struggles are a direct result of the loss of Jovanovski's offensive ability. With his puck moving ability, Jovo was a huge reason why the Canucks offensive game and transition game were so good.
Every time Jim Hughson said Jovo's name, it was hard to believe that he was playing for another team. You get so used to hearing Jovanovski and see him either cough up the puck at the blue line or set up Naslund with a great break-out pass.
And why the hell is Gretzky putzing around with Ladislav Nagy? You don't give your best offensive player a measly 14 minute of ice time a game. It's no wonder the Coyotes are losing. They give a slug like Dave Scatchard more ice time than their best offensive player.
Golbez's 3 Stars
1. Kevin Bieksa - 1 goal, 1 assist, +4, and 7 SOG. It's amazing how confident and cool this guy looks for a sophomore.
2. Daniel Sedin - 2 assists and 3 SOG. His only blemish was passing up a good shot to pass to Trevor Linden. Why? JUST TAKE THE DAMN SHOT!
3. Ed Jovanovski - +1 and 3 SOG in a losing effort. Jovo had a lot of spunk while many of his teammates didn't.
Oh, Peter Bondra sure didn't take long to score #499.
Let's do a little comparison
Bondra: 1 game, 1 goal
Balastik: 8 games, 1 goal
Burrows: 31 games, 0 goals
Not to rag on Burrows, because he does work so hard, but the d00d has absolutely no offensive talent whatsoever. Why aren't the Canucks spending money on guys who can actually score?
Yep, Nonis is doing a great job.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"Vote for Rory" Campaign Goes Negative
Taking a page out of Amerikan attack ads, the Vote for Rory campaign has come out swinging against some of Rory's competition.
First, here's the attack ad against Scott Niedermayer.
Nicklas Lidstrom isn't safe, either, as the campaign points out his major flaw.
Remember, Vote for Rory and vote often!
After a very busy weekend away from the real world, I find out that secret agent Peter Bondra has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and ended his 'retirement'.
I'm happy to see Bondra back, because he still does have something left in the tank and can be an exciting player to watch. As a secondary player with the Atlanta Thrashers, Bondra used his bomb from the point on the Power Play and put up a respectable 21 goals and 18 assists in 60 games.
He's also sitting on 498 career goals and you know the Hawks are just waiting to print the Goal #500 t-shirts to sell to their remaining 3000 fans.
Will this signing propel the Hawks into the playoffs? No, but it will improve their offence and energize their fanbase somewhat.
You would have figured that Bondra would have been a perfect fit in DC, since that is where his family lives. Apparently, he burnt some bridges and that was never an option.
I would have loved to have seen Bondra sign with the Canucks. With the ship sinking, the Canucks need to be looking out there for guys like Bondra and Kvasha and DO SOMETHING!
Of course, the Canucks anti-Slovak policy hinders them once again.
On another note, HOLY HAVLAT, BATMAN! He's got 10 goals and 8 assists in 9 games and he doesn't look the worse for wear.
I always felt Martin Havlat was held back somewhat with the dull Senators. Havlat is a brat and a wild child and now the Hawks have unleashed his fury. The d00d is playing like a boy possessed and that's how it should be. Yes, he'll take his fair share of dumb penalties, but the offensive payoff is well worth it. It's just too bad that most of us will miss it because of where he plays.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
No Jes, No Justice
Mr. Gőlbez is away for the weekend, so he probably doesn't know:
* the Blue Jackets have once again waived Jaroslav Balastik. I have a feeling this may be it for the kid; if he doesn't return to Europe after this, I'll be very surprised.
* the Blackhawks have signed Peter Bondra.
* the Flyers have once again waived Jes's favorite player, Petr Nedved. Since he isn't here, I can say things like that. (Jes's favorite teams? The Avalanche and Sparta Praha. You heard it here first.)
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Embracing the Fisticuffs
Washington and Anaheim threw down a few times last night, which confused me a bit -- I've been under the impression that the Caps are the league's cleanest team, only resorting to violence when pushed too far by nasty ol' Bob Hartley and the Thrashers. But despite their undoubted reluctance, I'm glad to see it -- always enjoy games like that.
It comes in the wake of this Allan Muir article on SI.com, that lodged in my craw -- because I simultaneously agree with it, and don't see the point.
The discord first: I think Muir's manufacturing the debate to a degree. I haven't heard any controversy over the Laraque-Ivanans fight, and I don't see any renewed push to get fighting out of the game. Yeah, the new rules have pushed it down (because of the emphasis on speed), but it's not out, and it's not going away.
It's sort of like the "War on Christmas" everyone down here makes such a fuss over -- I don't think there's really any sustained anti-fighting forces. Over the years, aside from the occasional huffy newspaper columnist, I can think of one hockey fan I've known that hated fighting: a guy I knew back in college, who used to stand up during a fight and turn his back on the action. The guy was one of the world's biggest jackasses, and his anti-fighting stance should be taken as an endorsement.
But I digress, I stray far afield. What I like about Muir's article is its uninhibited support of the nastier side of the game. I freakin' love fighting, with no apologies, no "it keeps players honest" justification. It's an adrenaline rush, exciting as hell. I remember watching (on television) Chris Simon pummel Bob Probert during the '96 playoffs, and only realizing afterwards that I'd been pacing the room and shadowboxing during the fight and its replay.
Many of my favorite (non-Czech, natch) players over the years have been fighters -- Simon, Willi Plett, Basil McRae, Jeff Odgers. The best I've ever seen, though?
Tony Twist. His time as an effective NHLer was brief -- but in the mid-'90s, he was a delight to watch (if, granted, you extend the definition of "delight" to include large bearded men punching each other). Better than Probert, better than Odjick, better than anyone I can think of in my time. I had (ok, have) a Twist fight tape, and friends and I used to think there was no better way to spend the night than to bring in a case of beer, fire that up, and watch Twister pummel Rob Ray. In retrospect, not the best way to spend a chunk of my 20s, but pretty fun nonetheless.
Hockey 101: The Rink
NHL RINK DIAGRAM.
In fact, this whole SAS site is a hoot.
Re: Gord Miller
Gord Miller is TSN's top play-by-play announcer. His main features are a round yet manly chin and a voice that cracks every time a goal is scored.Not to mention that the guy looks like Butthead.
Some hockey fans have suggested that Gord should replace Bob Cole as the voice of hockey. However, these ignorant fans have not considered the embarassment that would occur when a Stanley Cup game-winning goal is announced by a grown man just hitting puberty.
Gord Miller's greatest flaw is not knowing when to interrupt colour commentator Pierre McGuire and tell him to shut his goddamn mouth up about Monsters and Active Sticks.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Shawn P. Roarke: Missing the Point
You would expect Roarke, a employee/shill of the NHL to dodge the real point and paint his league in the best picture, but it's amazing that he wrote a very length article about the league's stars and preface it with such negativity.
One of the most espoused theories? Hands up if "Lack of Superstars" is anywhere near the top of your list?
For years, I have heard hockey critics, and even some casual fans, offer their takes on why our game does not enjoy the popularity of other major professional sports.
Among the most often espoused theories is that the NHL only has a few superstars that transcend the sport itself and bleed over into the mainstream sports consciousness. The resulting anonymity of its remaining player personnel base dooms the NHL to second-tier status among the American sporting public fixated on stars.
Look at baseball, these critics say. There, stars like Roger Clemens, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, the New York Yankees' entire lineup and Barry Bonds rule the day and carry the sport to its continued place as America’s pastime.
Yet, the NHL has only a handful of stars to capture the fancy of the porting public, say the critics. Sure, guys like Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr are bold-faced names that can interest even the casual fan, the critics allow. But, after that, there is nothing to sustain the casual interest, they contend.
Well, those critics are dead wrong I say. The non-superstar argument is shortsighted, lazy and factually incorrect. The NHL, in their opinion, may not have the headline-grabbing personalities of other sports – athletes that earn as many headlines for their brash words and off-field missteps as they do for their athletic brilliance – but the NHL player can hold its own with any other sport when it comes providing performances worthy of a customers hard-earned money and valuable time and emotional involvement.
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Instead of bringing up the REAL issues facing the league, Roarke tries to take a softball argument against the NHL's lack of popularity and beat it to death. It's like saying the War in Iraq has been a success because Saddam Hussein is out of power. Yes, it's true, but it doesn't mask the fact that there are 1,000 other, bigger, problems.
How about pointing out those REAL issues that have held back the NHL from generating popularity masking the NFL/MLB/NBA/NASCAR the next time you decide to talk down to us unwashed masses?
(On a separate note, who cares if the NHL is as popular as the boring sports?)
1. Marketing - The league has many great stars, but has always done a poor job marking those stars. Last year's generic gladiator ads highlighted this point. Britney Spears-type muzak succeeds with great marketing, despite the lack of any real talent.
2. Cultural - Let's face it, most fans can't take to ice hockey because they've never played it and it hasn't been part of their culture. Not many southern US cities have a whole lot of hockey rinks and young kids don't grow up playing ice hockey or road hockey like they do here in Canada.
3. Lowering the level of violence - Less fighting has had a definite effect on NHL's popularity as shown elsewhere. Americans love violence, and the NHL is retreating from that. Why?
4. Ticket prices - The NHL is much more expensive than the average MLB, NBA, and NASCAR ticket. You can go to the other sports and get cheap tickets. It's very hard to get a cheap ticket to many NHL rinks. You see how the Blues made a stupid move to increase prices despite a crappy team and it bombed on them.
Etc etc etc... suffice it to say, Roarke wasted a lot of time by highlighting an issue that really isn't a factor in league popularity. Thanks, NHL.com, but we don't need your propaganda shoved up our ass like this. We're not quite that stupid.
PS: Duvie Westcott? Yeah, he's a real marketable superstar.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Joe Nieuwendyk Retires. Is the HoF Next?
Joe has always been of an odd-ball, given that he's one of the few players who scored more goals in their rookie season than any other year of their careers. Joe had 51 back as rookie in 87-88 and again as a sophomore in 88-89. Strangely enough, he never hit that total again and his goal total decreased as time went on. Players don't usually take a purely downhill trend in their goal totals, especially ones who play over 1000 games.
Joe was also an atypical centerman, as he was not the pass-first, shoot-second type of centerman that we're accustomed to. Joe finished with exactly 564 goals and 562 assists, and had more goals than assists for pretty much his entire career. Joe played the offensive game a lot more like a winger than a centerman, yet managed to play great defence as a centerman is often expected to.
Florida Panthers centre Joe Nieuwendyk has been forced to retire because of recurring back problems. Nieuwendyk announced his retirement Wednesday.
Nieuwendyk, 40, in his twentieth NHL season, scored eight points while playing just 15 of the team's first 29 games, because of injuries. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that he visited a back specialist in Cleveland last Friday.
Nieuwendyk had 564 goals and 1126 points in 1257 career games and won Stanley Cups with three different franchises: Calgary (1989), Dallas (1999) and New Jersey (2003). He won the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP in 1999.
"I have the reached the stage where structurally my back isn't going to get any better. It's not the way I intended it, but I have to be realistic as well," Nieuwendyk said.
"He was an all-around elite player," said Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey, Nieuwendyk's coach and GM with the Dallas Stars. "He is the kind of player whose accomplishments merit consideration for the Hall of Fame."
Hall of Fame?
Well, it certainly merits CONSIDERATION, but does it merit a plaque on the same wall as Peter Stastny?
Given the HoF's strange selections in the past, it's hard to predict who exactly makes the 'criteria', but we'll do our best...
My choice would be that he's a Hall of Famer, given his counting stats, longevity, popularity and reputation in the media, and overall great 2-way play. He isn't the strongest Hall of Fame choice, but he certainly isn't nearly the weakest. He has a MUCH better case than Cam Neely
Greg Cartman @ The Puck Stops Hereagrees with the assessment:
He came back from the lockout as a valuable player even as a 39 year old. Despite missing 16 games to back problems, he is currently the third highest scorer on the Florida Panthers with 28 points in 36 games. He is still a valuable player to his team. Even after missing a season to lockout, Nieuwendyk has been a good scorer. Nieuwendyk is continuing to move up the all time goals list. He is currently the 23rd highest goal scorer of all time with 546 career goals. This season, he has passed Stan Mikita and Maurice Richard. Those are some elite players to have outscored. Had there been no lockout, Nieuwendyk would likely have moved another couple positions beyond that up the all time goal scoring list.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Less Talk, More Rock
Jes may prefer the Slavic goals, but they can occasionally throw the punches as well.
Because I'm bored at work, and not going home any time soon, but lacking anything to write -- I give you Roman Vopat vs Libor Ustrnul:
Memories of #16
I was glad to see Brett Hull back in St. Louis this week -- while he had to go to Dallas (boo!) and Detroit (BOO!!) to achieve the ultimate success, it's still (nearly a decade after he left) hard for me to imagine Hull wearing anything other than blue.
In the dark period when I didn't have a hometown team to support, I cheered for the Blues more or less by default (St. Louis always struck me as a friendly city, and that (honestly) helped determine my hockey and baseball allegiances). And while Hull was never my favorite player, he gave the Blues a certain cachet. In the early '90s, there were three players even the most steadfast un-fan knew -- Gretzky, Lemieux, and Hull.
Even in today's rebirth-of-offense NHL, Hull's 70-plus goal seasons seem difficult to imagine. With the obvious exception of Adam Oates, he wasn't surrounded by high-profile talent (in his last 70-goal season, '91-'92, Brendan Shanahan was the only other Blue with more than 25 goals).
Later on, of course, he drew as much attention for controversy as anything else -- my primary Hull memories from the Keenan era on are his criticisms of St. Louis trades, losing the captaincy, feuds with Keenan, accusations (by Murray Baron and Shayne Corson) that he orchestrated trades, rumors that his teammates disliked him, and finally the defection to Dallas.
But (viewed with the rose-colored glasses of hindsight) Hull's outspokenness was rather charming. In a league that's always had trouble promoting itself, Hull was one of the only players that ever understood how to work the media.
My only personal experience with Hull? On a trip to St. Louis, I made a pilgrimage to dine in the long-defunct Brett Hull Bar and Grill in Union Station. Unfortunately, since I was a vegetarian at the time, the only menu option available to me was a salad. A pretty awful salad, at that. The closing of Hull's restaurant was no loss to the world of fine dining. But, uh, I'll try not to let that color my memories of the player.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Jes Gőlbez's Slavic Debutantes
The first segment in this series deals with the debuts of Slavic NHLers, because we know Anglo-Canadians are just so frickin' boring and Swedes are evil.
First up, Marian Gaborik. His first NHL goal was the Minnesota Wild's first NHL goal as well. Assist to Scott Pellerin.
Pavol Demitra sets up Lubos Bartecko for his first goal. This would be the start of the Slovak Pak, one of the best lines to ever grace the NHL. Yes, I do have the Slovak Pak t-shirt.
Here is Jaroslav Balastik scoring his first NHL goal. Not surprisingly, this was a Power Play tally from his office in front of the net. Good times, good times.
Fourth up is Alexander Perezhogin of the Montreal Canadiens who beats Kevin Weekes like a dirty rug.
To finish, let's bring back the Anze Kopitar debut goal featured before on this site. It's worth a second look. It's hard to believe Chris Pronger was beaten that badly.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Gordie Howe's Growing (Old) Pains
Gordie Howe talks about the day like it was yesterday.
"I still play a little bit," Howe said. "This team, the Vipers, wanted me to go on the ice for a shift. I wound up playing more than a shift. But I couldn't turn left. It was funny because the guy deked me and went to the left and I turned right, right into the sucker. I wasn't going to get hurt so I laid my lumber on him. I figure, why change now?"
The game Howe was talking about was played eight years ago when the Detroit Vipers of the IHL signed Howe, 70 at the time, to a one-game contract.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that one of the greatest hockey players to ever put on skates can't and won't change the way he plays.
But things have changed for the Detroit Red Wings great. They've changed a great deal from his personal life to his health to his business life. The good news is that after a difficult time, they appear to be changing for the better.
"There were some awful times," Howe said this week from his home outside Detroit. "I always thought I was a tough son of a bitch, but I'm on these pills for my heart. You never think you're getting old . . ."
I remember watching the highlights from that Vipers game and Howe still looked like a freight train when he skated for that shift. It always amazed me that somebody who was a half-century old could still excel at a game that is so violent and vicious as Howe did when he was with the Whalers. Poor Trevor Linden won't even make it to 40 and Mark Messier declined quickly when he reached his mid-30s as well.
Yes, I know the game back then was much slower than it is now, but the age gap has always been there. How did Howe manage to maintain such strength and ability 10-15 years after most players are well-done like a $2 steak?
Sadly, age gets to even the best of us humans. From the last few public and TV appearances I've seen Gordie Howe at, he's really taken a downward turn in his health and physical capabilities. It's strange to see a guy who was so strong for so long just sharply decline physically as he did.
Howe was always underpaid, something Colleen tried to rectify. He never did make as much money as he deserved.Maybe Vladimir Krutov should have tried this strategy.
"When I got to Detroit I weighed 203 pounds," Howe said. "I remember Jack Adams checking everyone out and asking them their weight. I lied. When he asked me, I said 208. He said, 'I want you to lose three or four pounds or it's going to cost you $200.' I was making $5,000 at the time. I came in eating ice cream a couple of days later. I thought they were going to shove it down my throat. They weighed me and I weighed 203. Adams said, 'Stay at that weight. You never looked better.' "
Sunday, December 03, 2006
NHL Continues Destruction of Tradition
Yea or Nay? I'm going with a big NAY! Why must they mess with Original Six teams? I know the Bruins have modified their designs, but the basic uniform always remained classy and crisp (The Cheerios Bear was a marketing tactic we'd like to forget).
Friday, December 01, 2006
I always feel like, nobody's watching me!
Perhaps 'Strong Bad' might be a better description?
Here's a sampling of the Strong Bad attendance from last night's action.
Tampa Bay at Boston - 11,150
Dallas at Washington - 10,912
Montreal at Carolina - 13,103
Toronto at Atlanta - 15,092
Florida at Ottawa - 17,814
Philadelphia at NYI - 10,280
Nashville at St. Louis - 5,410 !!!
Colorado at Edmonton - 16,839
Los Angeles at Phoenix - 11,526
Anaheim at Vancouver - 18,630
5,410 for the Blues game? Yikes!! It goes without saying that the Canadian teams can draw well quite easily, but only the Leafs/Thrashees game draw a decent crowd among the US-based games. The Cup Champ Canes can barely draw over 13k against the high-flying Habs? If these kind of numbers don't wake up Gary Bettman to the fact that his product just isn't flying right, then nothing will.