Thursday, June 29, 2006
Roberto Luongo gets a Long-Term Deal
That was quick work by Dave Nonis, who is definitely shedding his 'no-no' nickname.
We can now consider the trade a good one for the Canucks, barring Luongo turning into a pumpkin or Peter Skudra.
Goaltender Roberto Luongo finally has the long-term deal he's always wanted, signing a four-year, $27 million US contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
According to CKNW Radio in Vancouver, the new deal will pay Luongo $6 million US in the first year, $6.5 million US in the second year, $7 million US in the third year, and $7.5 million US in the final year. The contract also contains a no-trade clause for the final three years.
"We are pleased to have agreed to a long-term deal with Roberto today," Vancouver GM Dave Nonis said in a release.
"Roberto has proven himself to be an elite goaltender. His international experience, Vezina Trophy nomination and ability to consistently play at the highest level are tremendous assets that we believe will make the Vancouver Canucks competitive each and every night."
It's often foolish to give one player so much money, but Roberto Luongo is one of the few real difference-makers and 'franchise' players that deserves that kind of salary.
The bad news? The Canucks now have $25.77mil in salary tied up in only 7 players. The Sedinbots need to be re-signed, and perhaps Tarantula Head as well.
Dan Cloutier and his $2.55mil salary will obviously be the first to go if Dave Nonis can get anyone to take him off of his hands. Really, a set of used pucks would be sufficient. The problem is that Cloutier isn't that much better than many of the other available goaltenders out there and his salary is high. The Canucks may have to bite a buy-out bullet or pay for part of his deal and trade him elsewhere.
I also fully expect Markus Naslund and his $6mil to be dealt. He doesn't seem to be all that happy here and his best friend, Grumpy Bear, is no longer a Canuck. Getting these two contracts out of the way would free up a lot of space for Nonis to fill out the rest of the roster. Unlike Cloutier, Naslund should be able to fetch a nice price if he's being bandied about on the trade market.
Jeremy Roenick wants to invade Canada
"It was a nightmare season from hell last year," Roenick said Wednesday from Los Angeles. "The embarrassment of the season I had last year is enormous. So I've totally re-arranged my summer and re-dedicated myself to the game of hockey.
"I'm working out and getting into the best shape possible that my body can get to. I want to make amends for a season lost. It was totally embarrassing."
The re-energized and re-focused Roenick will be an unrestricted free agent as of Saturday. And he knows where he wants to sign.
"I've always said I would like to play in Canada before my career is over," said the 36-year-old Boston native. "And it's one thing that I'm really anxious in doing. Don't be surprised if I end up on a Canadian team next week.
Roenick was awful last year with just 9 goals and 22 points with a -5 in 59 games. Even playing with Pavol Demitra couldn't lift Roenick to some respectable totals.
No more hanging out with his Hollywood buddies at clubs and living the life of a playboy athlete. He even changed his cellphone number to cut down on the temptations.Of course the fact that he's now 36 years old and has knee problems had nothing to do with the fact that he sucked last year. Athletes don't get old, they just get disinterested *rolleyes*
"Too many people are trying to get a hold of me and trying to get me to do things," he said. "It's time for me to take a step back."
When Roenick was traded to Los Angeles from Philadelphia last summer, it seemed like a match made in heaven. He's a natural in front of the camera and a great pitch man for the game.
With the NHL coming off a year-long lockout, Roenick did his best to sell the game. From appearances on Fox Sports TV's Best Damn Sports Show Period, to Carson Daly on NBC, to Party at the Palms with former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy on the E! network, Roenick was everywhere.
It was too much.
"I've been worried about too much other stuff, too much entertaining, too much TV, instead of getting myself in proper condition," said Roenick. "It's not fair to me and it's not fair to the people that I work for.
"So I'm changing. I want to try and finish off this sucker the right way."
Roenick may be very willing to take a paycut, but how about a playcut? Roenick whined about being left off of the Olympic roster for the USA. Do you really think he could slip into a role as a 3rd line checker or complimentary offensive player? Methinks not. Methinks JR still wants and will demand upwards of 17 minutes a night ala Mark Messier.
So, where in Canada could JR possibly end up?
Well, it won't be Vancouver, Edmonton, or Montreal for sure. GM Dave Nonis will certainly not want another basketcase on his hands when he's working hard to get rid of them. Edmonton has, and will always, get players with a team-first attitude (Mike Peca the exception). Montreal has lots of young forwards chomping at the bit for a spot and no room for JR.
Calgary? Roenick and Sutter? Hmmm... Well, Roenick is definitely a Sutter type of player with his crash-bang style. Sutter is also one of the few coaches would could probably put JR in line somewhat. Roenick needs a strict coach, as we saw with Mike Keenan and the Blackhawks when they actually didn't suck. Calgary needs the offence, but how does JR improve on that? They took a chance on Tony "The Stallion" Amonte and it was a so-so result.
Ottawa? That vanilla roster could certainly use some spice. The culture of the Sens seems to be that of conceit and a lack of real motivation. Having a guy like JR around might spur them to actually win a playoff series or two.
I think it would be foolish for the Sens to not at least talk to J.R., but at the end of the day, unless he has a time machine in his back pocket, it doesn't seem like a wise move. We tried the "I want a Cup bad so look past my age" veteran player last season. Didn't go so well.
I know what you are thinking: It's a match made in hockey heaven. The mouth from the south in the largest hockey media market would equal some entertainment. The Leafs seem to love their one-year projects with a troubled past (See Lindros, Eric and O'Neill, Jeff) and would probably be open to a cheap one-year deal. JFJ doesn't have a real clue how to construct a good roster, and the Ontario Teachers would love the return on their pension funds, so why the hell not?
The problem? TO offers many distractions for a guy like Roenick. You can bet he'd be on TSN's Off the Record every 2 weeks, and he'd been doing the rounds on the TO nightclubs on a regular basis. I'd love to see the Don Cherry vs. Jeremy Roenick catfights that would be bound to happen.
Yes, this is the kind of stupid signing JFJ would do. I hope it happens.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Let's have some perspective on the Pronger situation
From this quiet little announcement, we've had an explosion on the message boards and blogosphere about how evil, greedy, and selfish Mr. and Ms. Pronger are. Pronger has quickly gone from hero to goat, and now the Oilers are eating their young.
Now, Chris obviously didn't handle this whole situation very well. He signed a long-term deal with the Oilers, and then ran out of town and expected his agent to announce the decision for him and take the heat on his behalf. Why couldn't Pronger have done this himself. Perhaps a public proclamation of his intentions would have gone some way in putting out the fire that is consuming the Oilers nation. People often throw a lot of shit around until they come face to face with the 'evil' they rail against. Honesty tends to be the best policy, in the end.
Still, the rumours, stories, and venom get more ridiculous every day. It's not enough that Pronger simply wants a trade. No, there has to be some other ludicrisp reasoning behind the fact that he doesn't want to play in Edmonton any longer. Some of the 'gems' coming from Oilers fans these days include
In my younger years, I would have felt the same way as most Oilers fans do now: Betrayed, angry, disappointed, etc. (like when Pavel Bure pulled his stunt to get out of Vancouver. That worked out well, anyway). Maturity has allowed me to realize that it's not worth it to worry so much about what other people do with their lives. It's too easy for fans to treat these players as pieces of meat without stopping to realize that the players *DO* in fact have personal wants, needs, desires, and problems of their own.
The move to Edmonton obviously put a strain on Pronger's marriage, and I can think of a few other reasons why a player wouldn't want to play in a place like Edmonton.
"Put yourself in their shoes!"
When I tell people to do that, they can only picture a hockey player sleeping on piles of money with puckbunnies feeding them grapes and mermaids giving them pedicures.
People seem to think that money solves any problems. How could Pronger possibly be unhappy with millions of dollars and lots of fame? Umm, well being rich doesn't automatically make the world all roses and sunshine. Just ask Theoren Fleury how money solved his miriad of problems.
Yeah, I'd be mad and frustrated too if the Sedinbots had their agent tell Dave Nonis to trade them. Would I find it necessary to create stupid rumours and villify the Sedinbots? No.
Every person has some right to want the best situation for themselves, and I won't hold them against it as long as they don't pull any incredibly stupid stunts (ie. Pavel Bure). Pronger certainly didn't say (or his agent, anyway) that he would refuse to play if he wasn't traded. Pronger made a simple request, and did so for personal reasons which matter not to any Oilers fans. He has that right, so leave him and his wife alone.
At least one other person has some level of sanity: Lyle "Spector" Richardson
"Pronger himself seems to have had no qualms with playing in Edmonton, but the love of his wife trumps loyalty to a team anytime. Pronger has done what any husband worth his salt would do, put his wife and family first. He at least was enough of a man to give the Oilers one season and didn't allow any of this to be a distraction throughout the playoffs, helping them come to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup. Oilers fans need to remember that before they start heaping abuse on him. This isn't about money or greed, it's about keeping his family happy."
"Why did Pronger's wife not complain when he signed his big contract? Probably because she'd never had to follow her husband before (she's a St. Louis native). She tried it, didn't like it, and wanted to leave. He loves his wife and wants to make her happy. That doesn't make him less of a man, folks.
As for his contract, he could've made public waves during the season or in the playoffs regardless of the contract but he didn't, which was a mature decision. He didn't act like a petulant spoiled brat.
He's not a traitor, a wimp, or a pussy. He's merely trying to do what's right for his family. Why stay in a city if you're not happy there? That's not a knock against Edmonton, it's just unfortunate, is all
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The end of the line for Peter Bondra?
I've heard nothing new in the Slovak media, but reports out of Atlanta seem to indicate that Peter Bondra, one of the greatest Slovak players ever, may retire...
General manager Don Waddell suspects Bondra, 38, will retire. He stands two goals shy of 500 for his career after scoring 21 in 60 games last season. A sports hernia injury greatly affected his performance in the second half and caused him to miss 22 games
After injuring his groin on Dec. 3 at Anaheim, Bondra chose not to have surgery, believing the recovery would have taken too long. Upon returning on Jan. 24, he was far less effective.
Nonetheless, a national hero in his native Slovakia, Bondra chose to play in February's Olympics despite the injury. While he was impressive in Turin, he scored only six goals after the Olympic break.
"I haven't heard any word from him or his agent as to whether he's going to play again," Waddell said.
As to whether he thought Bondra was going to retire, Waddell said, "I think he is."
Regardless, Waddell said he has not initiated calls to Bondra.
"We want to create some spots for younger players," Waddell said. "We need that. He had a serious injury. ... I'm not going to 100 percent write anything off, but right now it doesn't look like it."
Bondra finished the season with 21 goals and 18 assists in 60 games. Those are respectable totals for a 38-year old fighting through injury.
If I were the Washington Capitals, I'd be on the phone right now to his agent. Bondra never really wanted to leave Washington and had set some roots down there. He spent most of the lockout season in Washington, leaving only to play a brief spell in Poprad. The Capitals need both veteran presence and some offensive help. If Bondra signs for about the same amount of money that he played for last year ($550,000, according to TSN), then they'd be foolish not to at least attempt to sign him.
Bondra still has some to give and can be a decent role-player and power play specialist for any team. I know he's pretty damn old, but it would suck to see Bondra, one of the NHLs most exciting snipers the past decade, retire.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Introducing Lukas Krajicek
Apart from the usual two-sentence crud or passing glance you may get from the MSM, he hasn't been given a former introduction to the Canucks fanbase.
Krajicek, 6'2" 195", was taken by the Panthers with the 24th overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft. He was considered to be the premier 'skill' defenseman available in the draft, but there were concerns that his game wouldn't translate well at the NHL level because he was a bit soft on the defensive side and somewhat of a beanpole.
(as an aside, it wasn't a particular strong draft for defensemen, with the late-rounder Marek Zidlicky killing everyone to date and only Mike Komisarek as perhaps a true anchor defenceman-in-waiting)
Last season was his first full season in the NHL, at the age of 22 (he's now 23) and he put up 16 points in 67 games and could thank Roberto Luongo for making him look better than he was. Lukas did a solid job overall, and could be set to really put his game together in the next two seasons.
So, here is my old scouting report on Krajicek from hockeysfuture.com:
As for pronunciation, just go with 'Cry-check' and you'll be fine.
Undoubtably the most offensively skilled defenseman in his draft year, the Panthers traded up to grab a defenseman they hope they can groom to be a leader offensively. Krajicek came over two years ago, and plied his trade with the Detroit Compuware team of the NAHL. He is known for feverishly working on his skills, and perfecting his game.
A great skater both forwards and backwards, Krajicek has soft hands and is touted as the best passing defenseman in the 2001 draft. He has tremendous puck handling skills and offensive vision and creativity so rare in any prospect. The Panthers have always lacked a blue-chip offensive defenseman who can run the power play, and Krajicek has the tools to generate power play offense, as well as lead the rush.
Krajicek’s high skill level and smarts lead many scouts to believe that he can hold his own in the defensive end. However, there are questions about his physical game. Simply put, Krajicek prefers to stick-check, much like Nicklas Lidstrom or Phil Housley, and this can lead to problems against bigger opposing forwards who like to bull their way through the crease.
Krajicek is solidly built, although only 6’1” tall. When he is in the mood, he can hold his own with bigger opposing forwards, and has shown the fiestiness to drop the gloves, which many Czech prospects don’t have the tendancy to do.
He certainly has the offensive tools to succeed in the NHL, but will need a big punishing running mate to play with. He is a stick-checker who uses his speed and smarts to play defense, and will have to learn to make it a bit harder for opposing forwards to play against him. Some scouts claim Krajicek is a bit of a risk, but he could be the kind of offensive defenseman that puts up 40-50 points every year.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
It certainly started that way, but then this bombshell was dropped...
The Kings traded forward Pavol Demitra to the Minnesota Wild for Patrick O'Sullivan and the 17th pick in the draft.
If any of the TV feeds caught someone loudly yelling "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!", that was me.
The Vancouver chapter of the Pavol Demitra Fan Club (myself and my friend, Duc) just had their balls collectively kicked.
The Minnesota Mild? The most boring team in hockey? Jock Lemaire? A team I despite more than homework?
LA was a neutral team. I figured Demitra would sign there, and I could still cheer for him on a neutral team. What the hell am I supposed to do now?
For 0.37 seconds (an eternity for an android, apparently), I considered leaping off of the balcony at GM Place. If I survived, I would have risen up, carried my broken body over to Kings GM Dean Lombardi, and bodyslammed him through a damn table.
I had a great post-draft time with the duo from VCOE and JJ from the Canucks Hockey Blog as I dried to drink away the sorrow.
But then I wake up this morning. Nope, Demitra's still a Wild.
Yes, the theory is that the Wild hope having Demitra around will convince fellow Slovak Marian "Potatohead" Gaborik not to bolt when he's UFA.
Now, Gaborik and Demitra might both be Trencin products, but they are a 'generation' apart and not really close buds.
On the other hand, the Slovak players in the NHL are known to be quite collective and stick together. How else could you explain the fact that Michal Handzus, a pretty straight and quiet guy, hanging around and rooming with a partyboy brat like Branko Radivojevic?
Look, if Gaborik hates playing for offensively-challenged Jock Lemaire (as will Demitra most likely), he's gonna bolt no matter if Demitra is there or not. Gaborik is not unhappy with the money he makes. He's just sick of being put on a short leash.
Other draft musings...
1. Phil Kessel is a mid-western boy, but he's gotta drop the mid-western diet. D00d looks chunkier than whole milk cottage cheese. On the plus side, his girlfriend is hawt and kinda reminds me of my own.
2. I feel kind of sorry for Jonathan Toews, who was drafted by the Blackhawks. Of all of the teams to be drafted to, being taken by the Hawks, who will always be a sad state of affairs under Bill Wirtz, has to rank up there with being told your dog has cancer.
3. Alex Tanguay to the Flames for Justin Leopold. This is a good deal for the Flames in that they get some badly needed offense. I'm not going to jump on the 'steal' bandwagon just yet, because Tanguay needs to prove that he can actually produce without Joe Sakic feeding him the puck all the time. Tanguay is a decent player in his own right, but he seems to me to be rather inflated thanks to his centerman. Leopold will also help the Avs defense that needs a good boost and their offense could take the hit. I'm sure Iginla will be happy to have somebody around who can at least get him the puck (presuming they play on the same line)
4. The Atlanta Thrashers traded center Patrik Stefan, their first draft pick, and defenseman Jaroslav Modry to Dallas for center Niko Kapanen and a draft pick minutes before the beginning of Saturday night's draft.
This is a bit of a strange trade for Atlanta, given their weak defense and the fact Stefan was their 1st ever pick. Wow, what a dud he turned out to be. He's not a bust, because he's still a useful everyday player, but you don't spend your #1-#1 pick on a guy who turns into a mediocre 3rd line center.
5. The Canucks grabbed Michael Grabner in the first round at #14, which made the crowd hush as they had no idea who he was and then found out he was ranked in the 20s or 30s.
Look, the dude is not a reach and he's not a bad pick. once you got past Tlusty at #13, the whole draft turned into a crapshoot. A lot of the next 20-30 picks were pretty quite similar from all I've read and heard, so this wasn't an easy draft to predict.
Grabner had 36 goals and 14 assists in 67 games. By those totals, and the style of play (I've seen him, and he's got good wheels), he's basically an Austrian version of SERGEI BEREZIN without the wicked, stylish Euromullet. I like the pick, and look forward to seeing him in the WHL again next season.
6. How many Swedes did the Blues pick? It seemed like every pick other than E. Johnson (a no-brainer) was an evil Swede. Of course, the Blues sweater colours are also similar to the Swedish flag. hmm...
7. What's with all the metrosexual pink shirts? Of course, it was only the Euros (Frolik and many Swedes) wearing them. PINK NEVER LOOKS GOOD ON GUYS!! It's like those oversized sunglasses that celeb women wear. Why? You look like an old granny. GET SOME REAL SUNGLASSES THAT FIT!
You would make everything clear...
make all the clouds disappear.
You're better than all the rest.
Who do I love the best?
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Brind'Amour Sentenced for Five Seasons
The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed captain Rod Brind'Amour to a five year deal.*Sigh* Not again...
The deal will pay the veteran centre $4 million in each of the first three years, and $3 million in each of the last two years, and is in lieu of the 2006-07 option on his prior contract.
If I taught a sports management course, the first day's lessons would be all about "pay for future/expected performance, not past performance."
It seems that GM's still haven't learned their lessons from past mistakes about signing old players to expensive long-term contracts that turn into albatross deals that hurt their team down the road.
Yes, I know Brind'Amour won the Selke.
Yes, I know Brind'Amour had a fantastic season.
Yes, I know Brind'Amour helped bring Carolina the Stanley Cup.
The Hurricanes, however, don't owe Brind'Amour anything above and beyond the terms of his current contract. Rewarding players for past performance is what gets teams into trouble in the future.
Before the lockout, Brind'Amour looked like he had a big fork in his back. He had just 38 points that season and he looked worn down and beaten (Well, his face always looks beaten)
Thanks to an unexpected season off, Brind'Amour, like many other veterans, had a whole year to rest and recover and came back stronger than could have been expected. Brind'Amour won't have that benefit in the future, and will likely feel the effects of a very long marathon season during the next few years, when it all catches up to him and his body starts to wear down again.
Sure, this deal MIGHT not come back to bite the Canes, but the odds are against that happening. It is almost never a good idea to sign a 35 year-old player to a FIVE year deal. Once again, Rutherford's loyalty is affecting his ability to manage a hockey club.
The Caniac nation seems awfully quiet about the whole thing, probably due to the fact they are still celebrating their victory.
The Warchief has agreed to be Captain For Life (and you have no idea how happy that makes me).
I'm sure you'll be thrilled when he's looking like Trevor Linden in a few years (It is painful to watch)
I won't be liveblogging the draft this year, since I'll be there laughing at the crappy selections the Edmonton Oilers pick (Devyn Dubnyk, anyone?). James Mirtle and his evil mainstream media friends will be liveblogging, however, so check it out if you are online during the draft.
Friday, June 23, 2006
TSN reports Canucks deal Bertuzzi for Luongo
The latest from TSN.ca
The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have completed a multi-player trade involving some big names on the eve of the NHL Draft.
The Panthers have confirmed that they acquired Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alexander Auld from the Canucks in exchange for Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek.
Hmm, now I am mixed on this trade at first glance.
I absolute love Roberto Luongo as a goaltender. He is the most talented goaltender in the NHL (Not the best at the moment, but he can could be), but giving up a stalwart defenseman like Bryan Allen and a cheap, league-average goaltender Alex Auld and getting only a loosey-goosey Lukas Krajicek back makes me go 'hmmm'. Both Bertuzzi and Luongo are in the same contract situation, so how does Dave Nonis give two cheap, younger players along in the deal? The Canucks are still left with an expensive backup in Dan Cloutier, and their defense is in serious danger of being thin.
Of course, this is just the start of many moves. I fully expect Bertuzzi's special friend, Markus Naslund, will be dealt during the summer. I hope Nonis can find a useful defenseman or forward in exchange for Cloutier, because there is going to be a need to replace a rapidly thinning roster.
It's time to let this deal digest awhile.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
NHL Award Winners Announced
No winners were really that surprising to me. Although I picked Jaromir Jagr to win the Hart (MVP), I am not surprised the writers/voters picked Joe Thornton because of his amazing stretch-run surge that catapulted him to the scoring title. Writers have short memories, it seems.
MVP/Hart: Joe Thornton, San Jose (I picked Jagr)
Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit (that was easy)
Vezina: Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary (the good choice, for sure)
Calder: Alexander Ovechkhin, Washington (He was the obvious choice, even with Sidney's amazing campaign as an 18-year old player)
Lady Byng: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit (I picked Richards at random. Datsyuk sure played like a softy in the playoffs, which seems to be his MO)
Jack Adams: Lindy Ruff, Buffalo. (He's an ass, but he deserves the award. I picked Laviolette, but there was no undeserving choice in the bunch)
Selke: Rod Brind'Amour (another obvious one)
Lester B. Pearson: It seems the players themselves think more highly of Jagr than the writers as the players gave Jaromir Jagr their MVP award.
“With this award, you get voted on by players you play against every night and I think they understand the game better than the media,” joked Jagr.Although the Pearson doesn't have the lustre that the HART trophy does, I would probably cherish it more because it was voted on by the peer group rather than a bunch of overweight writers and rumour mongerers. Obviously, Jagr has the respect and ph33r of his fellow players moreso than Thornton. That is an obvious sign.
In recognition of being named the 2006 Lester B. Pearson Award recipient, Jaromir Jagr was presented with an elegant men’s watch from Breitling.Relax. That's not gay, it's just very European.
** It seems James Mirtle was liveblogging the event. I thought I had no life...
Hurricanes Gone Wild
Only hours after the Carolina Hurricanes won the NHL Championship Monday night in a hard-fought Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers, North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley mobilized the National Guard to contain over two dozen members of what he described as "some sort of depraved, violent, heretofore unheard-of gang calling themselves the Hurricanes."
"These strange men came out of nowhere with absolutely no warning," Easley said of the Stanley Cup-winning Hurricanes, who emptied garbage cans, overturned vehicles and set them aflame, looted local businesses, and frightened hundreds of citizens out of their sleep. "Nobody had ever heard of them before. No one knows what they want. And nobody knows why they were acting so crazy."
Check out the full article here.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
It's time to Pound this Dick
A day after a letter by Lance Armstrong called for the removal of Dick Pound as the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly echoed the seven-time Tour de France champion's sentiments.While I know the NHL isn't as pure and white as fresh snow, Dick Pound has been irresponsible in his blanket statements such as "A third of the NHL is using"
Daly was contacted by TSN on Monday about Armstrong's request that the International Olympic Committee to force Pound, a Montreal lawyer, to quit over his handling of doping allegations against Armstrong.
"We are not at all surprised by Mr. Armstrong's request given Mr. Pound's repeated instances of irresponsible behaviour and grandstanding," Daly wrote in an email to TSN.
"We fully support Mr. Armstrong's plea to have the IOC hold Mr. Pound accountable for his past actions, and laud Mr. Armstrong's willingness to stand up for the rights of all of the innocent athletes who have been wrongly and unfairly disparaged by Mr. Pound."
Basically, Dick likes to throw out mass accusations and then he hopes one of them will stick. It's easy to say 75% of pro athletes are dopers, and then jump on the soapbox when one of them, ONE OF THEM, happens to test positive for something. Reminds me of a certain 'blogger' or Al Strachan. Dick has absolutely no basis for his comments or any evidence to support his claims, yet he easily tosses out some massive numbers to build himself up.
The problem is that what Dick does is very destructive and is slanderous. How can WADA hope to achieve any 'cleanliness' in sports when their head honcho is going around and pissing off the heads of just about every athletic body in the world. WADA ought to fire him and find somebody who is more reasonable.
By the way, who cares if the NHL doesn't tend for stimulants? Do you? really?
One of the best and most potent supplements out there costs about a buck at Tim Horton's: Coffee. There are so many legal stimulants out there that testing for Sudafed is just a big waste of time. Really, do we want to see tired hockey players falling asleep or do we want them at full speed, beating the crap out of the puck and each other?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
It's also taken away from my enjoyment of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the World Cup of Soccer (of which I've watched maybe an hour of action). Although I watched the Cup Finals, I wasn't able to delve myself as emotionally as I normally would.
A few post-game thoughts.
1. The Canes anthem-singer sucks. We all know that. How do you think she got the job?
Click here to hear the damage.
2. The Canes mean weakness was a lack of offense from the blueline. How strange that their two most imporant goals in the Game 7 were both scored by defensemen? On Kaberle's goal, Jason Smith ended up being a double goat. First, his clearing attempt on the PK was weak. He should have rocketed the puck out of the zone. Then, his shot-block attempt deflected the puck so much so that Juicy Markkanen had no shot.
3. Both teams played their hearts out, and Oilers fans should have no ill thoughts about the performance of their own team. They played to the maximum of their potential and turned an improbable first-round upset into a near-miss. As a Canucks fan, that's not the type of effort we are used to around here. I guess the 1994 team we had was similar in those regards, but the Canucks had more real skill available and didn't nearly pull off the level of upsets that the Oilers did.
4. How ironic that the crappiest of American beers (Budweiser, the rip-off knock-off of the real thing) is sponsoring the most non-American of games (soccer)?
5. Me and my pals have a couple of extra tickets for the Entry Draft on Saturday. If you want them, give me an email (up on the upper left there)
Pictures speak louder than my own words....
It looks like someone took a piss on the ice...
It'll take more win than that to make Brind'Amour look sexy...
Monday, June 19, 2006
Rocked by a Hurricane
Chris Pronger wuz robbed, tho. He, and not Cam Ward, should have won the Conn Smythe.
PS: Note to Canes fans, boo Gary Bettman very very loudly. Please...
An Increase is still an Increase...
The sports world, too, has seen it's fair share of service charges. Go buy a ticket at ticketmaster.com (shouldn't they be subject to anti-monopoly laws) or some similar service, and you are bombarded with fees. On top of the usual rip off ticketmaster fee, they now charge a 'convenience' fee. Umm, wasn't using your service in the first place a convenience? Why am I paying twice for the same ticket? Shouldn't the teams be paying ticketmaster for their services in distributing tickets? Well, they managed to make the fans pay for it, in a sneaky way.
Now, the newest fad in service charges, one which I've seen here in Vancouver, is the 'Facilities Fee'. That's right, they charge you an extra fee just for the facility. Aren't teams supposed to pay their own expenses from the revenues they generate? Not when they can make the fans pay for it.
Case in point: Anaheim Mighty Ducks breaking their promise not to increase ticket prices.
According to Tim Ryan, chief executive of Anaheim Arena Management, a "facilities" fee will be attached to every ticket purchased for an event at the Pond, including Ducks games.
For every ticket to a Ducks game priced above $25, a $3 facility fee will be required, team officials confirmed. Tickets costing $25 or less will be assessed a $1.50 fee.
"It's a fee that's pretty much standard in our business," said Ryan, who is also the Ducks' chief operating officer. The team and the arena's management company are owned by Henry and Susan Samueli.
A look at other facilities supports Ryan's contention. In 2001, officials with the Pepsi Center in Denver instituted a $1 surcharge for all tickets purchased except for season-ticket holders. Tickets priced $7.50 or below had a 50-cent surcharge. Another example is Nationwide Arena, the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets, where a $1 facility fee is attached to every ticket.
The Ducks, Ryan said, have not reneged on a promise made when the lockout ended last summer to not raise season-ticket prices this coming season. They also had rolled back prices this past season by as much as $9 a seat. Other teams, such as Ottawa, made similar promises or reduced prices.
They didn't reneg on their promise, eh? Then why are ticket prices increasing? That's like saying Britney Spears' breasts aren't fake. Technically, they are REAL silicon.
Look, if you want to increase prices, then do it. Ticket prices are a supply/demand function and the teams objective is always to maximize revenues. Just don't hide behind BS and try to mask the fact that you are, in fact, raising prices. When I buy a ticket to a game, I'd like the ticket price listed to reflect the amount, or close to the amount, I expect to pay. It's silly to see a $30 ticket suddenly turn astronomical after adding a $3 convenience charge, a $5 ticketmaster fee, whatever local and federal taxes, and now a facilities fee.
The one great thing about this new facilities fee is that teams can directly put the revenue to the arena and just skip the team altogether. Teams have always hidden revenue in the arenas to make the team appear worse than they were (even though GM Place wouldn't make a cent unless the Canucks were there), but now they can plunk this ticket increase right to the arena without any funny bookkeeping. Mmm hmm.
When you see an index of average ticket prices, I bet they don't take into account the numerous service charges various teams charge.
One other thing, it seems Brian Burke hasn't changed his spots. Now he's whining that the Ducks 'lost' $15mil last year. Riiight. Why is it that sports teams love to brag about how much money they lose. You don't see that too much in other industries. Just imagine Wal-Mart coming out and gleefully whining about losing $1billion in the upcoming year. You can imagine the damage it would do to their company. Sports teams? They wear it like a badge of honour.
Brian Burke seems to have this problem of losing money everywhere he goes. Perhaps he ought to go back to business school or perhaps develop a business plan whereby his teams don't spend more money than they make *eyeroll**scoff*
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Well, of course the Oilers won...
They've had their #1 goalie go down to a season-ending injury, fought a nasty flu bug, been outshot most every game, and have found themselves down by at least two games in two different series. Despite this, the Oilers have proven that grammatically incorrect adage "It ain't over until it's over". That's why I'm not surprised that the Oilers won last night and wouldn't be shocked if they won the finals despite all that's happened to them.
I remember the Panthers run about a decade ago (Damn, it's been a long time) where Dave Lowry found himself on a line with some actual scoring talent (Ray Sheppard and Stuuuuuuuuu Barnes) and put up 10 goals and 7 assists in 22 playoff games after putting up only 24 points during the regular season. Like Pisani, Lowry was scoring big goals and providing an unexpected offensive boost.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
The Fraud is Recruiting
If you haven't already seen The Fraud pleading and begging The Acid Queen to join his cult, check out the damage here.
It seems The Fraud has a strategy of trying to recruit any legitimate bloggers who dare to criticize him into his fold. What better way to stop dissenting voices by trying to recruit them into the cult and quieting the dissenters.
In addition to his laughable IM messages to AQ, he also tried to recruit me with this email:
The Fraud as a liar is no big secret. His grammar and spelling could also use a serious boost. Some edukayshun system down there, eh?
I know you jumped on the "We know who Eklund is bandwagon." And although it has been amusing for me to watch, and see people try to figure it out, that is not why i am writing. I am writing because I am a long time reader of your bog, and I agree you are one of the best..I found it via, thehockeyreport.com where they called you the best.
I just wanted to say that although you obviously see me as a fraud, I still read you everyday and had really considered if you'd like to write for hockeybuzz at some point. This is really in all seriousness and probably doesn't sound it, but I think you'd fit in nicely. And
I'd allow you to criticize me as much as you do now....as long as it is done with professionalism, which I feel you do now... anyway, the call is yours, and you can just ignore this altogether if you'd like, but keep up the good work...I've turned some pretty cool people onto your blog.
1. He's been a long time reader of my blog? ORLY? Then why not so much as a peep before when we exposed him as a fraud long before his new site ever came to be? This ranks up there with "I want a girl who is intelligent"
2. Turned some pretty cool people onto my blog?
Hmm, according to the handy STATCOUNTER I have, I read a total of 0.0000 visitors from his site or any related site of his. Where are these floods of his cultists? Oh wait, because there was no link. I can do crawls and there ain't anything there.
I don't need it, but you aren't going to get me on your side with bold face lies and promises. Unlike the cultists, I'm not so willing to give up my money, time, thoughts to false promises and utter BS.
Frankly, I am amazed that he was so much time to email me and IM the AQ in between lunches with Gary Bettman, meetings with key NHLPA agents, dinners with supermodels, and running his crappy site. How does he do it all? Wow...
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I haven’t been following the finals all that closely apart from watching the games, so I have a massive case of writers block and I’m way out of the loop.
So, I’ll let my friend Duc do the talking for me. I’m not the only one who isn’t cheering for the Oilers.
(actually, I just yanked this from his journal, heh heh heh)
While Micah and I were enjoying our coffees on Commercial Drive, I noticed something quite unusual: a vehicle adorned with Carolina Hurricanes flags and a tin foil replica of the Stanley Cup.
Now these displays of team loyalty are not surprising, especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, I was surprised that people in Vancouver actually care about the playoffs after their beloved *ahem* Canucks were unceremoniously cut out of the playoffs. Furthermore, I was doubly surprised that there are fans in Vancouver who were wholeheartedly shameless in their love for the... Hurricanes... in Vancouver??
I figure most of our fairweather fans are on the Oilers' bandwagon, but obviously these folks are the exception to the rule.
I looked at the vehicle with morbid curiosity. The person on the passenger's side looked back. I bet he was wondering what was on my mind and what I was jabbering to Micah. My immediate thoughts were -- unlike the Canucks fans jumping onto the Oilers' bandwagon -- that these guys were breaking the recent tradition of the desperate pan-Canadian love-in for Canadian teams that manage to reach the playoffs (as with Calgary last season). Micah remarked on the condition of the flags, making me think that maybe, JUST MAYBE, they jumped onto the bandwagon before their trip to the Stanley Cup finals... say, perhaps during the Hurricanes' series against the Sabres.
At first, I thought negatively of an Edmonton/Carolina series, comparing it to choosing which of my hairy testicles need to be ripped out. I'm still not a fan of either team, I am really enjoying the series thus far. The first two games of the series have been high-scoring and action-packed, and the two teams deserve a lot of credit for going through what is arguably the most punishing and stressful post-season of all the major professional sports. Unfortunately, it looks like the denouement has been decided after Rolie the Goalie (note to fans: stop stealing nicknames from Olaf Kolzig. It's lame.) left the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Oh, here’s a very odd picture of Alexander Ovechkin. See, he’s just a Sidney Crosby wannabe.
Friday, June 09, 2006
"Kill for me, wheel! KILL FOR ME, WHEEL"
However, with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to successfully appeal their sentence down to life imprisonment. By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the extremely benevolent Sheik decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip. As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheik suddenly said, "It's my first wife's birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping."
The Canucks fan was first in line (he had drunk the least), so he thought about this for a while and then said, "Please tie a pillow to my back." This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. The Canucks fan had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain when the punishment was done.
The Flames fan was next up (he almost finished an entire fifth by himself), and after watching the scene, said "All Right! Please fix two pillows on my back." But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again, sending the Flames fan out crying like a little girl.
The Oilers fan was the last one up (he had finished off the crate), but before he could say anything, the Sheik turned to him and said, "You support the greatest team in the world, your team has some of the best and most loyal hockey fans in the world. For this, you may have two wishes!"
"Thanks, your most Royal highness," the Oilers fan replies. "In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes."
"Not only are you an honorable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave," the Sheik says with an admiring look on his face. "If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish? What is it to be?" the Sheik asks.
"Tie the Flames fan to my back."
Albert Einstein arrives at a party and introduces himself to the first person he sees and asks, "What is your IQ?"
The man answers "241."
"That is wonderful!," says Albert. "We will talk about the Grand Unification Theory and the mysteries of the Universe. We will have much to discuss!"
Next Albert introduces himself to a woman and asks, "What is your IQ?" the lady answers, "144."
"That is great!," responds Albert. "We can discuss politics and current affairs. We will have much to discuss!"
Albert goes to another person and asks, "What is your IQ?" the man answers, "51."
Albert responds, "How 'bout those Leafs?"
In honour of the World Cup of Soccer, here's Ingmar's girlfriend.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
2010 Winter Olympics: Small Ice for Hockey
As the buildup to the games has already produced cost overruns (to no surprise), there was this announcement that will have some effect on the on-ice product in 2010:
The men's and women's hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics will be played on the smaller, NHL-sized ice surface, a move that will save organizers of the Vancouver Games $10 million in construction costs.The tickets are more important than cutting $10mil? Uh huh.
The decision was announced Wednesday at the end of two days of meetings between the International Olympic Committee co-ordination commission and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (VANOC).
Using the smaller ice surface will eliminate the need for costly renovations to GM Place, home of the NHL Vancouver Canucks.
It also means more seats will be available for fans, which will produce more revenue, said John Furlong, VANOC's chief executive officer.
"For us this is a highly responsible decision," said Furlong. "It's a more sustainable decision for us. It means a lot less complexity for the organizing committee preparing the venue.
"It reduces our costs by about $10 million. More importantly, it means about 35,000 more tickets will be sold."
Of course, Furlong's not spending his own money (not much of it, since he probably has a good accountant who can find him good tax loopholes). It's typical for 'public' projects go over because there is no real penalty to the Vancouver organizers if the project goes over budget.
This is also why the NHL is never going to change the ice surface. It costs far too much money to make the initial change, plus the loss in expensive seating areas would be another big blow.
At least taxpayers in BC will be spared $10mil for something that we could do without. Having the smaller ice surface with IIHF rules will make it a very interesting mix.
NHL: Game 2 Highlights
A második mérkőzést is lejátszották az észak-amerikai profi jégkorong bajnokság döntőjében. Ezen a házigazda Carolina Hurricanes valósággal elsöpörte a nyolcvanas években öt Stanley Kupát begyűjtő Edmontotn Oilerst.
A döntőben így 2:0-ra vezet a Carolina a négy győzelemig tartó párharcban, amely ráadásul (ha eljutnak a hetedik, mindent eldöntő meccsig) – többször játszhat majd otthon. Igaz, most két mérkőzés erejéig Edmontonba költöznek a csapatok (a következő meccs szombaton lesz, magyar idő szerint vasárnap éjjel 2-kor), s az idei rájátszás második körében az Oilersnek egyszer már sikerült fordítania ugyanilyen hátrányból.
...oh, and video highlights!! Check out the 3rd goal as Cory Stillman passes the puck to himself near the end of the 2nd period and buries it. If the Oilers had only gone into the 2nd intermission with just a 2-0 deficit and not a 3-0 deficit, it might have been a different game. That 3-0 goal just seemed to kill the Oilers.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
This post has no title
1. I haven't heard any members of the Oilers blogosphere complain about Andrew Ladd supposedly running Dwayne Roloson. They seem smarter than that. It was obviously no intent to run over Roloson's knee like a cement roller.
Steve Staios, however, needs to watch a little more TV
Steve Staios was quick to defend teammate Marc-Andre Bergeron yesterday.Umm, have you heard of something called Instant Replay? It was quite obvious that Ladd was driving to the net and was pushed into your goaltender by your OWN DEFENSEMAN. How about watching a replay before opening your yap about something you obviously don't have a handle on.
And the Oilers veteran wondered out loud why NHL referees aren't doing likewise in defending goaltenders from what he sees as a steady onslaught of forwards crashing the crease.
"It's happened before. To see Roli go down the way that he did, is brutal. I'm not sure if Bergy pushed him in or not, but that guy (Andrew Ladd) was going at the net with one intention."
The way Staios sees it, Bergeron was only trying to protect Roloson from being bumped or jostled by the Carolina forward on the play that led to Roloson suffering a sprain of the right knee late in the third period Monday.
Ladd was driving to the net with a purpose, but Bergeron did not to direct Ladd away from the net. Instead, he took the easy way out by pushing Ladd into the goalie, hoping for a whistle and/or penalty. How often do we see defensemen push opposing forwards into their own goalie/net to get a whistle?
2. Acid Queen 2 - The Fraud 0.
3. Greg Wyshynski of Sports Fan Magazine chimes in with his own ode to the Stanley Cup.
Apparently, this is what it's like to be a hockey fan in the USA:
We are the hockey fans. Lepers to the legitimate, creeps to the in-crowd. In the great cafeteria of sports, we sit at the table closest to the teacher's lounge; the one covered in old chewing gum and spilled chocolate milk where all the foreign kids converge at lunchtime. We're like a fourth-tier religion; even during our holiest annual celebration, all a non-believer can muster is, "Well, I'm not sure I understand, but happy whatever!"Aww, it almost makes me want to adopt one...almost.
4. For a little entertainment value, check out http://www.beingstanley.com/
He wasn't always the Stanley Cup!
Once upon a time he was an over-weight trophy in a trailer park, with dreams
of greatness. In five awesome animations, www.BeingStanley.com charts the
Stanley Cup's rise from freakishly large misfit to the greatest trophy of
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Hockey Gods kick Oilers Fans in the Balls
They had a 3-0 lead on Carolina in the second period of game one, and they were outplaying and out-shooting an opponent for the first time in ages.
Chris Pronger (!) scored on a penalty shot...Fernando Pisani became the first player to reach double digits in goals in these playoffs (before Rod the Bod passed him), Dwayne Roloson was sucking up pucks like a vacuum, and the Canes looked tired and lethargic.
The Hockey Gods decided that they had built up the hopes and dreams of Oilers fans enough and decided to take the pipe to their collective legs. Last night's loss had to hurt on so many levels.
I can only imagine the sinking feeling Oilers fans had when Dwayne Roloson was lying in pain on the ice. Oilers fans had built up a collective cockiness that they were an unstoppable force, and Roloson is/was the cog in their machine. Seeing Roloson on the ice must have smacked them back into the reality of just how fragile their cup chances are.
Covered in Oil put it pretty well:
"No," I gasped aloud after glancing at the TV screens overhead. "No. Tell me that man with the number 29 on his back is not skating into net for the Oilers. Tell me that whatever happened to Roloson was so bad that we have to bring Ty fucking Conklin into a barn-burning, high-tempo, 4-4 STANLEY CUP FINALS game. Tell me that what I see is not fucking real."I knew the Oilers were cooked when they had to put Ty Conklin in net. I figured it was only a matter of tick-tocks before Conklin let in a bad goal or something.
Oh, but it was real. You could see it in the eyes of every Oiler on the bench for the next six minutes: Dwayne Roloson, our saviour, the man with the magic mask of gold and the special eye exercises, was gone. And in his wake, the shittiest goaltender to nervously guard the Oilers twine since Pokey Reddick, or possibly Mikhail Shtalenkov. You're not real. This can't be happening. You're already dead. Weren't you? Why are you dressed? Didn't we waive you? Is this a joke? WHO IS LAUGHING, TY CONKLIN? "
Still, who could have expected 'The Goal'? At least Steve Smith now has a partner for counseling.
What a terrible way to lose a great game. I'm sure Conklin was already nervous enough about being thrown to the wolves so suddenly. You know he wanted to prove himself worthy of his chance. Now, he's going to have a 24-hour suicide watch put on him.
I'm not going to sit here and gloat about this, despite what you might think. This type of injury is not something a good fan wishes upon the team they cheer against (unless it's against Sean Avery, then such an injury should be celebrated with much merriment). I'd rather have the Hurricanes win in a more 'legit' fashion, and Oilers fans, for all of their whining and gloating over the years, don't quite deserve to have their balls kicked so hard.
I really do feel sorry for Ty Conklin. He's already reviled by the team's fans and his coach has no confidence in his abilities. Now, his teammates probably have no confidence in him and Ty will have a hard time being in the same room as them, knowing just how badly he screwed up.
If I'm the Oilers, I'd definitely start Jussi Markkanen in goal next game, barring a miracle recovery for Mr. Roloson. Markkanen is capable of playing very well in short stretches, and Conklin is now just damaged goods.
If I'm the Hurricanes, I'd drive to the net with even more reckless abandon. Juicy Markkanen or Ty Conklin will give up many more rebounds than Roloson the vacuum, so it's important to throw the puck and the net and follow up on the play.
Oh, and Oilers fans ought to send some of their venom to Mr. Bergeron. Pushing an attacking forward into your own goaltender is a stupid, stupid, stupid move. I see this happen quite often in scrums in front of the net, but a guy will cause more damage when he's skating fast directly towards your goaltender.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Eyes on the Prize - An Ode to the Stanley Cup
I'm bringing it back because it's just as relevant now as it was then, and most of you didn't travel around these parts two years ago.
As for my prediction for this year's finals, I decided to flip a coin. My predictions have been less than 50% this entire playoffs, so a coin flip isn't going to provide any less of an 'expert' pick than the ones I've given.
Coin says: Oilers. (Yes, my currency talks to me)
This series is going 7 games no matter who wins. I can feel it.
Without a doubt, the Stanley Cup is, by far, the coolest trophy in all of professional sports. It's not even close!
Not to diminish the championships of other sports (The World Cup of Soccer is a fine event), but none of their trophies even come close to the sweetness and awesomeness factor that the Stanley Cup does.
Do you ever hear Shaquille O'Neal rap about bringing the (whatever the hell it's called) NBA Championship trophy back to the 'hood to show his homies? Do you ever hear Brett Favre declare his worship for the Vince Lombardi Trophy? Of course not!
For them, "The Ring's the thing!". Athletes dream of winning it all, but none of their trophies can hold a candle to Lord Stanley's Mug.
Ask any Canadian kid, who likes hockey, what their ultimate dream would be. Chances are, they would say "I want to win the Stanley Cup!"
The Stanley Cup is a symbol of pride, identification, superiority, and unity among Canadians. People are drawn to it like flies to a lantern. What other trophy has a full-time bodyguard, takes cross continent tours, and attracts more fawning visitors than The Beatles?
So, what makes the Stanley Cup the king of trophies?
1. Immortality - Look at the other major championship trophies, and all you see on them is the name of the team that won that year. Unless you are a fan of that team, or have a great knowledge of that sport's history, chances are, you won't know many of the players who were a part of that winning team.
In hockey, however, each and every contributing member of a winning team will forever have their name immortalized one on the rings. Their names will prominently be displayed beside legendary names like Maurice Richard, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, and Jiri Slegr.
Looking at the Stanley Cup, you can see who played a part in each winning team, which is quite the ego boost for the players, as well as a great display of the history behind the battles fought to win the cup.
For the winning players, their names will stay on the cup, or in the Hall of Fame (the older rings are removed and put on display), for all time... or at least until radiation from Nuclear Armageddon disintegrates the silver.
2. The Price Paid - I'm not talking about Mike Ilitch's Pizza $$$$s, here, but rather the physical and mental price paid to win the cup.
Hockey is, by far, the most physically gruelling of the major team sports.
Sure, the NFL is physically brutal, but they only play 16 regular season games and 3 playoff games, and never more than once a week!! The NBA has a similar schedule to the NHL, but basketball isn't even close to the NHL on the physicality scale. Major League Baseball? Well, unless you consider scratching your crotch to be physically demanding, baseball is quite easy compared to hockey.
Take a 10 game preseason and add 82 regular season games (with games on back-to-back nights, plus practices), and that's just to make the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, you�ll play no less than 20 games, generally. It really is a "Second Season", as it takes about 2 months to complete.
We often hear stories of how NHL players play through excruciating pain (with the exception of Alexander Mogilny, who wouldn't play with a cold) in the quest for the cup: Broken ribs (Joe Thornton), broken hands (Robert Lang), torn knees (Brett Hull), missing brains (Tie Domi) and severe concussions (Jeremy Roenick) haven't stopped players from chasing the dream. Those who win the cup have literally given a piece of themselves away in the process.
3. Durability - Like the players that pine for it, the Stanley Cup is just as durable and resilient as they are. The cup has been thrown and left overnight in the Rideau Canal, tossed from a rock star's balcony into a swimming pool, and even survived a torrid lap dance. The cup can withstand a beating and, like a good hockey player, look just as good as new with a bit of bodywork.
4. Practicality - The other sport's trophies are certainly nice looking, but, really, they are nothing more than overrated Christmas ornaments. What can you do with a World Series trophy besides look at it, or use it as a paperweight?
Lord Stanley's Cup is just so much more useful. It can be used to serve popcorn, pretzels, Jello-shots, beer, wine, and even eggnog. It can even be used as a bread-roller if you want to bake really big cookies.
When it's not being used as a piece of kitchenware, the Stanley Cup can be used for alternative uses: A piece of exercise equipment (great for shoulder presses), a toboggan, or as an instrument to club baby seals.
5. Your Day with the Cup - In what other sport do you get to take the championship trophy home for a whole day? The Stanley Cup is just so totally sweet, that the players can bring it wherever they want and do (almost) whatever they desire with the big mug: Take it in the shower, sleep with it, make love to it, hold a parade with it, take it on Jay Leno, etc. It's a just reward for the price paid to get it.
The Stanley Cup is truly the ultimate sports prize...Forget the rings, the banners, or the playoff bonuses, for they mean nothing in comparison to the shining beacon that is the Stanley Cup.
There's Jes and the cup.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
From his latest 'masterpiece':
Can't you just envision Gary Bettman tossing and turning at night, wringing his hands over the fact that Carolina and Edmonton will compete for the Stanley Cup? Yes, Gary, the first year under the new CBA was very successful on many fronts, but a Carolina-Edmonton final will garner almost no interest from fans who don't live in North Carolina and Alberta. The master plan — showcasing this great sport to potential new fans — won't happen now. Believe me, more fans will tune in to a Kansas City Royals-Seattle Mariners matchup than any of the Stanley Cup Final.Aaaahhh, yes. It's the old 'this matchup sucks for the NHL' cliche that we've heard about 10,000 times these playoffs.
(BTW, I prefer not to have thoughts of Gary Bettman doing things in bed. Perhaps that floats your boat Tim. We don't need that kind of image in our heads)
Why do sportswriters care at all if the finals have good ratings or not? Do they work for the NHL? Do they worry that low TV ratings might put them out of work somehow? I just don't get why writers need to care so much who makes the finals for ratings?
As a fan, all I ask for is GOOD hockey. Sure, a Rangers/Leafs final would get great ratings, but so what? I don't need hockey to get good TV ratings to enjoy the sport, nor do any other hockey fans. Maybe Bettman is happy that this final showcases a 'small market' club in Edmonton and a non-traditional market in Carolina. This can show (in Gary's mind) that his CBA works.
BTW, Tim, the NHL ratings could mirror the NFL's ratings and you'd still be undeserving of your job.
I think this year's Edmonton Oilers are much more similar to the 1989-1990 Gretzky-less team than the great dynasty of the early and mid-1980s. That team was about overwhelming the opposition with its offense; this year's version is more tenacious and has enjoyed success by dint of its hard work ethic.Thank you, Mr. Obvious. Gee, I had no idea that this 8th place/.500 team wasn't similar to a superstar laden Oilers dynasty. Somehow, I mistook Shawn Horcoff for Jari Kurri and Mike Peca for Mark Messier.
I hope the Carolina sportswriters have tracked down Blaine Stoughton and Mike Rogers to ask them what they think of the Hurricanes' great run. Both players were key cogs in the nascent Hartford Whalers teams of the early 1980s. For that matter, they should also talk to Pat Verbeek and Ron Francis. I think they can probably pass on interviewing Zarley Zalapski.Um...what the hell are you getting at??
Oh, do you also realize the Canes made the finals a few years back? Hmm? Just sayin...
Pass on Zarley Zalapski? Why? Are you anti-Slav? Is that name too hard for you to pronounce?
The 1987-88 Oilers had eight players with 30 goals or more. The 2005-06 Oilers had one player (Ryan Smyth) with more than 30 goals. More than any other statistic, this demonstrates the difference between the game 20 years ago and today's game.Well, duh, but the Oilers also had more stars and superstars than most franchises could have ever hoped for. Other players on the old Oilers teams became 30-goal men simply by breathing the same air as Wayne Gretzky.
The 1990-91 Oilers added bruising right wing Max Middendorf to their roster in the hopes that he would add a different dimension to the team in their quest to win a consecutive cup. Max maxed out at three games, scoring once and not adding much of anything to the teamAgain, what the hell? Is this 'Useless facts that don't mean anything' day?
The 1989-90 Oilers were the first team to have two black goaltenders (Grant Fuhr and Pokey Reddick) on their roster. They also had three other goaltenders play for them during the season — Mike Greenlay, Randy Exelby and Bill Ranford, who carried the load in the playoffs.Yeah, I guess it is.
No Carolina player wants to win the cup more than Glen Wesley, who first played in a game for the Hartford Whalers in 1994. Except for a very brief stint with Toronto, Wesley has been the longest serving Whaler-Hurricane.O RLY? Did you quantify this with that secret formula I never seem to be able to find? How do you know that Doug Weight doesn't want it more? Hell, even young Eric Staal may want it more. Glen Wesley might not even care that much about the cup. He may be more interested in bass fashing. Again, these kinds of comments are just stupid. Age does not corrolate with desire.
Unfortunate headline of the day from the Financial Times: "Oilers find foothold on ice hockey’s greasy pole".
Friday, June 02, 2006
Chateau du Buffalo Whine: Vintage 2006
I can understand how some Sabres fans must feel a bit cheated that their best chance to win a cup in some time was ruined by the decimation of their defence corps. It can be somewhat hard to swallow a series defeat that was so narrow, knowing that a full defence corps MIGHT have been enough to push them over the edge.
Still, It's unfortunate that certain Sabres fans, like "MATT" at SabresReport, have to take a page out of the Daniel Briere school of petty whining and show their lack of class and honour in defeat. Klingons, they are not.
Well, Buffalo’s magic run is over. Not because they got outplayed, not because they ran into a better team, but because of bad breaks. Period. Everyone came into this series saying how “well matched” they were and how “close the teams” were. In the end? It wasn’t even close. Buffalo is the far better team. As a matter of fact, the best team left in the NHL is being sent home.O RLY?
Which team finished higher in the standings? Which team won the series? It certainly wasn't Buffalo. The 'best' team was Carolina and they advanced.
Live with it.
If these teams were so close, this series wouldn’t have gone 7. If this was truly a pick’em matchup, it would have been over in 5 or 6. Once Numinen bit it in game 1 the series should have been over.In any one game or any short series, ANYTHING can happen. The fact that the depleted Sabres kept the series close is a perfect example of teams overcoming their shortcomings and other obstacles in a short sample size. If this was an 82-game series and the Buffalo defence was just as depleted throughout, the season series would end up more like 55-27.
Give it up for Lindy Ruff and his ability to micromanage the defence so well that the Sabres had a fighting chance at all. Also give it up for Doug Janik and Rory Fitzpatrick, who played the best hockey of their careers.
Another thing that bothers me is the assumption that the Sabres would have automatically won the series if they could simply add Teppo Numminen and Henrik "Evil Swede" Tallinder to the mix.
Umm, welcome to the randomness of the universe, people.
If you change any ONE random variable in this whole equation, the entire result would be entirely different. If Numminen had been in the Sabres lineup for all games, the puck would have traveled different, the bounces would have been different, and only chaos would ensure in how the randomness of events would unfold. By changing one singular variable, the series could have ended up with a Carolina sweep over the Sabres. It's not a matter of simply adding X to increase Y. Get it?
Carolina does have some great players. They might have even been more skilled than Buffalo. But they aren’t half the team Buffalo is. They don’t have the heart, the determination, or the plain hustle that Buffalo has.How did you come up with this conclusion? Do you have some super secret formula that can quantify 'heart', 'determination', and 'desire'? Refusing to give credit to Carolina for their work ethic and attributing their success merely to luck is the ultimate in self-delusion and disrespect. Keep telling yourself the Canes didn't work hard if that really makes you feel better. The rest of us could tell that both teams played their asses off and both teams fought just as hard to win this series.
How about Carolina's fourth line of Adams/Adams/LaRose working like mad to cycle the puck deep in Buffalo's zone in the 3rd period? Their hard work drew a penalty and
If Carolina does end up winning the cup, it’ll be more of a travesty than No Goal, Wide Right, and the foward Lateral combinedYou have got to be kidding me *sigh*. Do you seriously believe that your team getting outplayed and outworked is akin to a screw job like the "No Goal"? How could you possibly say the Carolina Hurricanes don't deserve to win the Stanley Cup?
"Matt", our nominee for "Sore Loser of the Year". Hell, even my bitterness over the Oilers edging the Canucks to make the playoffs pales in comparison to his post, as does any one of Pat Quinn's press conferences.
Perhaps now that he's cooled off from last night, he can issue an apology for his ass-clownery. We shall see.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Stradding the Dead Zone
A few notable things have taken place, however...
1. Bryan McCabe re-signs with the Maple Leaves for 5 years for a total of $30mil and it comes with a no-trade clause.
Now, McCabe is an excellent Power Play specialist and has racked up some astounding offensive numbers the past two seasons:
2005-06: 73GP 19-49-68PTS -1
2003-04: 75GP 16-37-53PTS +22
The -1 does stick out and only further points to McCabe's defensive deficiencies. What he does in the offensive end is negated somewhat by his defensive miscues, getting caught up ice, and going out of position to make the big hit. In the NEW NHL, McCabe's "Can Opener" move was negated and he lost his best weapon to make up for his other defensive positioning errors.
Now, I can fully understand the dollar amount. $5.5-6.0mil a season is what McCabe would have at least received on the open market, and you know Lidstrom will get around 7-8mil. I wouldn't have given McCabe that money, but some other team would have and the Leafs do have room to make this deal.
The big issue is the length of contract WITH a no-trade clause. Haven't teams learned from their past mistakes? McCabe will be getting a rather handsome sum as he ages and declines. Is a 35-year old McCabe worth $6mil a season? This contract, like many of these types that were signed in the OLD NHL, is a big risk to become an albatross. Only an exceptional player should ever be given more than a 3-year deal when they approach the 30 mark, and McCabe isn't one of them.
Chalk this up to another foolish use of resources by the Leafs. It may not hurt them a lot, or it could hurt them dearly. The chances are that the Leafs will regret this deal 2-3 years down the road.
2. Zigmund Palffy has been in the Slovak news as some have speculated that he wants to un-retire and return to playing.
My pal Daniel from Slovakia wrote:
There were plenty of interviews with Ziggy on TV or radio. He always said his shoulder is strongly damaged and that's why he stopped to play hockey. Last week he got again the same question if his retirement is definite. He replied he loves hockey but final decision wasn't done. In case his shoulder is better he could return on ice.The big block in Ziggy's way is that he retired in mid-season while under a valid contract. Apparently, if any players backs out of such a contract, they have to wait THREE years before playing in the NHL.
So, if Palffy does return, it's very likely he'll play in Skalica or elsewhere in Europe, barring some kind of loophole or ruling he can use to return to the NHL.
3. In need of some good pre-game entertainment? How about a little music video to get you in the mood?