Friday, September 29, 2006


Canes deal Johnson; Konowalchuk retires

Two surprises when I belatedly got on today -- though perhaps neither should have been:

1) Carolina deals Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky to L.A. for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger

Johnson's been seen as inevitable trade bait since half of the Hurricanes' defensive corps broke in two after the Cup finals -- I'm more impressed that they managed to find someone to take Tverdovsky and his contract off their hands. It's been greeted with the standard level of sanity on the message boards (one poster calling it "one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history" -- uh huh), but for all the talk of Jack Johnson being the next Scott Stevens, he's not yet and perhaps never will be. The Hurricanes are looking to win now; I can't really fault them for making this trade. Johnson wasn't gonna help in 2006-07, Gleason (who is, honestly, a pretty good young defenseman in his own right) will. More hurdles for the Thrashers this year -- fabulous.

2) Steve Konowalchuk retires

Really sad to see him go, both because I liked him as a player and the Avalanche depth was already not something to get too hyped about. But I'm glad he's playing it smart. I've got a heart irregularity and know how scary it can be, and I'm not doing anything more strenuous than lying on the couch with the computer or walking to the pubs. I get nervous every time I hear Jiri Fischer talking about wanting to play again -- for his sake, I'm glad Konowalchuk played it cautious, painful as it must be.


Terrible Ted is Back on the Attack!

Another new season means the return of Terrible Ted Montgomery to spew his 'wisdom' on USAToday as their hockey 'expert'.

Because I love to torture, myself, I decided to read his online chat with idiots dumb enough to ask him questions. Now, I'll make you suffer as well.

fairfield, ca: hey ted- will mark bell be the answer in san jose? could he be the big winger that can take them to the cup? cliff

Ted Montgomery: He won't be enough to take them to the Cup, but he adds a dimension to the San Jose offense that will be a part of the overall puzzle
What dimension would that be, Ted?
Speed? They got that.
Size? They got that.
Goal scoring? They got that
Playmaking? They got that
Experience? Bell don't got that.

Pittsburgh, PA: Ted, It's great to see the coolest game on Earth back in session soon...can't wait. I'd like to get your thoughts on the trapezoid rule behind the net. After watching last season, I really don't think it's needed. Goalies should be free to use their puck handling abilities and I think there would be more than enough scoring chances without it. Thanks, Jim

Ted Montgomery: Jim, I agree with you

Wow, don't get too verbose on us!

Noam N. Kogen, New York, NY: How will the New Jersey Devils do in the regular season and how far can or will they go in the playoffs this season?
Ted Montgomery: I learned long ago never to count out the Devils. Watch for Parise to have a fine year, and with Gomez, Elias, Gionta and Brodeur, what's not to like?

What's not to like? How about the fact that the Devils are in serious salary cap trouble. How about the fact that they are no longer a deep team, especially offensively. How about the fact that Brodeur is overpaid and overrated? Yeah, what's not to like...

Wichita Falls, Texas: Will the Dallas Stars make it to the Finals this year? They definitely have the talent....
Ted Montgomery: I doubt it. They have a rapidly aging team

Hmm, so while the rest of the NHL ages at a normal 1:1 ratio, the Dallas Stars are afflicted with a virus that causes them to age at 1.3x the speed of normal humans. I guess that's what you get when you sell your soul for a Stanley Cup, eh?

Chicago, IL: Do the Black Hawks have any shot or do they need a change of ownership to jump start this team?
Ted Montgomery: The Blackhawks have absolutely no chance to do any real damage this year, except to their long-suffering fans. I've written often about the ownership issues in Chicago, and they still exist.
Well, even Ted gets the easy ones right.

Salem, CT: Welcome back Ted! I was wondering what you thought of the Bruins this year. I'm not expecting miracles this year but I think the team has a chance for making the playoffs, or am I way off?

Ted Montgomery: I don't know. The Bruins are like a wobble wagon with one bad wheel. If that comes off, the whole thing falls apart. I like Chara, obviously, but I worry about their goaltending ... a lot

Well, up until the last comment, Ted was making sense. Why so nervous about their goaltending? Toivonen and Thomas have great pedigrees and are obvious 100x better than Andrew Raycroft was. You ought to be worried about their lack of offence up front.

Pittsburgh PA: How high can Nashville go this year? Are they going to follow in the footsteps of Tampa and Carolina and win a Cup in a "nontraditional" market? How many of these cities have to win it all before fans top suggesting that the NHL contract teams in the south?

Ted Montgomery: They'll probably win the Central Division, and maybe a round or two in the playoffs, but they just don't have enough depth and experience yet to go all the way.

Yeah, and somehow the Canes managed to win with a roster of 'experienced' guys like Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Justin Williams, Martin Gerber. What experience do Jason Arnott, Paul Kariya, and Steve Sullivan have? Apparently, not much...

Columbus, OH: Will the addition of Carter, Modin and Brule give the Blue Jackets a shot at the playoffs?

Ted Montgomery: I think the Jackets do have a shot at the playoffs, but only if they can avoid that old bugaboo, injuries. It'll take some luck, but any team with Rick Nash is going to get its share of wins

Yes, and any team that has Luke Richardson as it's #1 defenseman will get their share of wins....just a very small share, that's all!

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Mad Money, Bad Money, Rad Money, Sad Money

Let me get this straight.

The LA Kings trade for a goaltender, Dan Cloutier, who is coming off of a major injury, has posted below-average numbers for most of his career, can't stay healthy consistently, and hasn't yet played a game for them...and then they go and give him a 2-year contract extension?

Cloutier will earn $2.55 million this season, the last year of his old deal signed in Vancouver, before his new contract kicks in and pays him $3.1 million per season in 2007-08 and 2008-09
This is just foolish. What does Cloutier have to play for, other than the usual 'pride'? With a glut of solid goalies out there, why would any team commit $3mil a season for Dan Cloutier? So, the Kings are now tied to Cloutier for 3 seasons and, well, good for them. It'll just make it easier for the other Western Conference teams to get ahead of them.

Would Cloutier have earned more than $3mil on the open market? Unlikely. If he did, it would be because he had an unusually good season.

"Oooooh, but look at the shiny wins!!"

Well, he won't be racking up too many of those behind that LA team. Why does Marc Crawford love the guy so much? Does Crow have a fetish we don't know about?


In better news, the Dinner Jackets finally got down to signing Nik Zherdev to a contract and now they can begin the process of missing the playoffs for another season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed right winger Nikolai Zherdev to a $7.5 million, three-year deal on Thursday.

He will earn $1.75 million this season, $2.5 million in 2007-08 and $3.25 million in 2008-09.

''Nikolai is a supremely talented player with the ability to bring fans out of their seats every time he steps on the ice,'' said club President and General Manager Doug MacLean. ''I think this agreement shows the commitment the Blue Jackets have to him and also the commitment he has to our organization and fans. We think this season is going to be our best yet and Nikolai will be a big part of any success we have moving forward.''
I can't say Zherdev has ever brought me out of my seat, couch, or bark lounger, but the figures are reasonable given Zherdev's age and likely progress curve. I can't believe it took them this long to get it done. It's amazing what a major injury to your #1 center can go do your negotiation tactics.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Philly's Goaltending Issues...

As it wasn't bad enough for the Philadelphia Flyers, who got a pretty putrid performance from the duo of Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki last season, now Antero, the better of the two, is out for a looooooooong time with a torn labrum in his left hip.

So, now Rebound Machine, Robert Esche, is going to have to shoulder the load and the backup is a no-namer named Martin Houle.

I know pre-season doesn't mean much, but you can't be thrilled to be a Flyers fan and see

Martin Houle: 4GP 0-2-0 2.79GAA 84.6SV%
Robert Esche: 3GP 0-2-0 5.63GAA 82.6SV%

Ouch! I almost feel sorry for them.


An Off-Season Look at...The Minnesota Wild

It's not uncommon for some teams to have an off-season makeover, but the Minnesota Wild spring for a whole new set of breasts, a tummy tuck, Botox, a face tightening, a fake suntan, butt lift, and permanent makeup.

Gone are the No-Name+Gaborik Minnesota Wild we all grew to loathe and hate, thanks to the Wild FINALLY opening up the damn vaults (They have packed them in for so long and have been playing on the cheap) to get themselves a more star-studded roster. Pavol Demitra, Kim Johnsson, keeping Gaborik happy with a nice extension, Mark Parrish, and so forth. These aren't your older brother's Minnesota Wild.

So, how do they look after the makeover? Can they return to the playoffs? Will they stop boring the hell out of the rest of the league?

It'll be very interesting to see if Jacques Lemaire decided to open it up a little. Now that Gaborik has more leverage, and now that Lemaire has more offensively-minded players on his club, the same old bore-and-snore hockey just won't fit very well with this roster like it did with his Marc Chouinard's and Richard Park's.

The most surprising thing is the payroll figure. The Wild were always on the cheap for their early existence, and now they are over $40mil for the long haul. From the Outhouse to the Penthouse, as 'they' say.

Goaltending: It's now the Manny Fernandez Show, rather than the Fernandez/Roloson Hour of Power. Of course, Manny had the house to himself for a good chunk of last season and did just well behind a stifling defence, finishing 5th overall with a 91.90 SV%. Can Fernandez play well behind a team that'll leave him more exposed this year? I'd like to think he'll be at LEAST above-average, if not quite good. Josh Harding is his backup and has posted great numbers in the AHL. His fine development allowed the Wild to jettison Roloson to the Oilpatch. The Wild are well set in this position.

Defence: Gone are the stalwartish Willie Mitchell and Filip Kuba. Incoming is Kim Johnsson and his 15 kids, and old man Keith Carney.

Johnsson is coming off of a hellish season of injuries, but he should be well recovered and give the Wild a good 2-way presence. Carney? He really showed his age during his short tenure with the Canucks last season and methinks the Wild overpaid for his services. Given the development of Schultz, Burns, and Foster, the defensive corps should be at least even with the group from last season. Petteri Nummelin is back to give the NHL another shot, and could provide the Wild with good numbers on the Power Play. Martin Skoula? He hasn't developed his game since his rookie season, but still provides a decent level of play. He's only 26, and may reach his upside under the guidance of Lemaire.

Forwards: This is where the big changes took place, and where the Wild will live or die in terms of making it back to the playoffs.

I see a BIG weakness down the middle, where Todd White (Todd White?!?!) is their de-facto 2nd line center until little bro Mikko Koivu can make the leap and show some offensive production. Demitra was back on the wing last year in LA, and that's where he really should be. Demitra does fine for a center, but he's not great on face-offs and it's more of a necessity that he plays in the middle. The loss of centers like Marc Chouinard and Randy Robitaille, both of whom are excellent on face-offs, will definitely impact the Wild somewhat up front.

Overall: The Wild underperformed their Pythagorean record last season, as they had a 231-215 goal differential and still finished in 11th place, 6 games below .500 (38-36-5-3) in the Western Conference. You would figure the Wild are a good bet to bounce back and they will definitely be a contender for those 7th and 8th playoff spots. If Marian Gaborik can really make the leap and put up some numbers that aren't just 'meh', and the Wild continue to keep the Goals Against down, they'll be in the thick of things.

If anything, I'll be following this team just for the Pavol/Gabo factor.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


A Rude Welcome for Evgeni Malkin

So, somebody posted the clip of John Chocolate LeClair running into Evgeni Malkin and causing Evgeni to suffer a painful shoulder injury.

Seeing the play, it was obviously not due to any 'dumbness' by LeClair, but rather a slippery ice surface that hadn't completely set. LeClair almost does the splits himself before the collision.

It's an unfortunate incident, and will hurt Malkin's change to win the Calder unless Gilbert Brule suffers his 3rd injury of his short-to-date NHL career.

Why couldn't this kind of thing happen to Sean Avery?


An Off-Season look at...The Calgary Flames

Last season, I jumped right on the Calgary Flames bandwagon and picked them to finish first overall in the conference. While the Flames did quite well, they didn't fully adapt to the New NHL and struggled to score some goals during the season.

Thanks to great defence and goaltending, the Flames finished with a 46-25-11 record and 1st overall in Goals Against. On the down side, the Flames finished 28th out of 30 teams in Goals For, and the much hyped Jarome Iginla slipped to just 67 points in 82 games.

It seems the Flames learned their lessons and went out this off-season to get some offence into the fold, mainly Alex Tanguay. Other than that, the roster remains fairly stable and the Flames will, once again, be a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
Calgary Flames

Goaltending: Miikka Kiprusoff, who shows less emotion than a borg drone, proved the few remaining skeptics wrong as he basically carried the Flames on his back with a Vezina-winning performance. He's gold. Behind him? Jamie McLennan. His nickname is 'Noodles'...and...yeah...

Defence: I expected some big hits and a few goals from Dion Phaneuf, but 20 goals and the ghost of Scott Stevens? Unfortunately for him, he got buried under the Crosby/Ovechkin avalanche of hype and his awesome season went fairly unnoticed. I'm not sure he can duplicate his 16 Power Play goals, but he leads an exceptional defensive group that makes Kiprusoff's job that much easier. It will be interesting to see how Andrei Zyuzin will fit in. Coming from a defensive-minded Wild team, he should be OK in a 3rd line role.

Offence: Alex Tanguay is one of those players that is great with other great players, but just a good player on his own. We'll see how much he'll dip without Joe Sakic. Jarome Iginla, for all the hype about him, is much the same way. Iginla struggles to create offence for himself and really did need the help. Together with Daymond Langkow, the top line could really gel with a blend of size, skill, and grit.

Behind them, Kristian Huselius is a name to watch. He was treated like crap by Mike Keenan in Florida, but finally got the chance in Calgary and did alright with 39 points in 54 games (compared to 8 points in 24 games with the Panthers). If Jamie Lundmark can continue the form he showed after a late season trade (10 points in 12 games) and Chuck Kobasew or Matthew Lombardi can make the leap, the Flames should be able to get enough secondary scoring from them and Tony Amonte, who's now reduced to third line-ish duty and is still a decent producer for his limited role.

Overall: The Flames will still have some concerns offensively, and they'll have to hope that Kiprusoff stays exceptionally healthy and plays 70+ games again. I'm not sure what kind of style new coach Jim Playfair will have the Flames play, but this is not the type of club that can afford to open it up TOO much. I expect the Flames to win the Northwest Division and finish Top 3 in the West.

Monday, September 25, 2006


WHL: Giants Open Season with some Hawk hunting.

I've had a hard time getting into the NHL preseason at all, but was able to get into 'Hockey Mode' thanks to the Western Hockey League season starting up again. On Saturday, some friends and I went down to see the Vancouver Giants take on the Portland Winter Hawks. Seeing hockey live and in person is the best way to get back into the swing of things.

Now, the Vancouver Giants are hosting this season's Memorial Cup, so the G-men are guaranteed a spot. That being said, they are still a Top 3 contender in the WHL and have a strong team. Remember the names Michal Repik and Spencer Machacek. These two high-scoring wingers will have their names called quite high next draft day. Offensive defenseman Jonathan Blum is another name we'll keep an eye on.

It was also Banner Night, as the Giants raised the banners to celebrate their first WHL, Western Conference, and BC Division titles.

Two referees + obstruction crackdown = penalty parade. Apart from the first few minutes of the game, the Giants completely dominated the Winter Hawks, who had 1 guy I recognized from last season. Are the Winter Hawks going to be bottom feeders? It was like the Giants were playing a Midget squad. The Giants went 4-18 (yes, 18! The Hawks had 9 PP of their own) on the Power Play, out-shot the Winter Hawks 44-19 overall, and cruised to a 9-0 victory in front of over 11,000 fans.

It was also cool to have some random German guys behind us, talking about the game in heavily-accented German. Apparently, the Giants did a lot of 'blitzen'.

My friend videotaped the entire Power Play for the 9-0 goal. Boston Bruins draftee Milan Lucic sets up Canucks draftee Mario Bliznak for an easy tap-in. This was pretty much the scene for most of the game as the Giants had Power Play practice for most of the night.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Renewing an Addiction

It's with considerable trepidation that I greet the news of a new Eastside Hockey Manager release; on the one hand, it's a fantastic game, and the new design looks pretty sharp, but on the other, I have a job, writing projects, and drinking habit, all of which EHM will distract from.

For those not familiar with the game, it's based on SI Games' popular (soccer) Championship Manager series, in which you, uh, try to manage your team to the championship. Graphics are basic -- photos of the players, team logos, and a bunch of circles running (skating) around during game play. It's addictive as hell.

Much as I love the classic video games, EHM is so much more satisfying for me -- the challenge of building a team, the joy of discovering a diamond in the rough (sometimes an unrealistic one; in an older version of the game, Pardubice's Jan Kolar could be turned into a regular 35-goal NHL scorer, and you could trade, say, Mike Danton for Jaroslav Balastik and watch Jaro score 45 goals a year for the next four years), the level of detail (I've had players leave the team in anger, and develop personal problems -- Anton Volchenkov did the first, Theo Fleury and Jes's buddy Balastik again for the second).

I've been playing EHM since it was shareware, and it's become considerably more difficult, which is good. In the shareware days I quit playing as the Avalanche because the five straight Stanley Cups got dull. In the three (I think?) years since SI Games started selling it, I've only managed two championships -- a Thrashers Stanley Cup win and a Ceske Budejovice Czech Extraliga win. With the most recent version, I pretty consistently missed the playoffs in the NHL, and was happy with a third-place finish in the Extraliga.

I think some of my favorite features are gone from the new version -- it looks like they no longer have rights to the Extraliga, which sucks, and means the teams will, presumably, be generically called "Prague," "Zlin," whatever. Also, I'm guessing poor Tomas Kloucek will no longer have the talent levels of a top-two NHL defenseman. Still, I'm pretty stoked to get it. Let's hope for lots of rain in Atlanta over the next few weeks, so I have an excuse to stay in.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Goodbye, Mr. October

So, Brian Savage Garden called a career after sucking up a storm for the Philly Flyers last season with a whopping 14 points in 66 games.

About damn time.

Savage is always the type of player I could never have on my team. He's soft, defensively inept, and not the type of guy you could count on during crunch time.

He didn't get the nickname "Mr. October" for nothing.

Is it a myth?

Nope! Savage has his best Points-per-Game and goals-per-game ratios during October in his career, plus check out the PPG and GWG. No doubt about it, Savage did his best work during the early part of the season, when the rest of the league was a bit rusty. His playoff record? A paltry 11 points in 39 games. Ugh

Well, he did make a good career for himself after being drafted way down in the 8th round by the Canadiens in 1991.

Besides the October heroics, I'll always remember that vicious hit he took when he was playing with the Coyotes. I forgot WHO hit him, but Savage had just taken a shot and was in a very awkward position. After the hit, he was writhing on the ice (that whole scene shook me up, as well) and missed considerable time with a very nasty neck/back injury.

(Edit: Ok, he was still with the Canadiens. That tells you how good my memory is.
Here is the info from Legends of Hockey:
It was during a November game in 1999 when Savage was checked awkwardly in a game against the L.A. Kings. He fell to the ice twitching and was carried off on a stretcher. His vertebrae had been cracked in several places, and he needed a head brace for some time. At first, fans thought he would never play hockey again, but Savage came back four months later to play much to the delight of the Canadien fans and players.)

Who did he like to play the most? Carolina!! Savage had 15 goals and 15 assists with a +12 in 31 career games against the Canes/Whalers.

On the other end of the scale, his play against the San Jose Sharks was brutal: 16GP 1-3-4PTS and a -12 !

So, we'll have to find a new guy to put the label on. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Pre-Season Ponderings

It's funny to see the contrast between Vancouver and Toronto...or anywhere but Toronto and Toronto, when it comes to coverage of fairly meaningless preseason games.

In Toronto, they overanalyze every little detail, and the mainstream mediots were all panicky after the Loafs dropped a 4-0 decision. The "Holy Mackinaw" PbP guy that sucks monkeys was calling the game (from the highlights I heard) like it was Game 7 of the Cup Finals.

Meanwhile, on the left coast, it's pretty much like this:

"*yawn*, and now we see the Canucks lost 4-1 to the Flames last night in a pre-season tilt. Here are a couple of token highlights, for a city known for tokin' *yuk*yuk*. Somebody shot the puck. Oh, here's a save. Uh-huh. OK.


Now, let's check out the pennant races"

Not only do most fans around here not care all that much, but many of the players don't seem to, either. Judging by the pace of the games that they show highlights for, it's as if somebody has cranked a big SLOW MOTION on the league and the players are sleepwalking. Sure, there are lots of scraps between goons and enforcers trying to make a name for themselves, but the games themselves don't appear to be all that exciting.

The best news seems to be the bad news that we see. Sergei Fedorov? Gone 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury. Evgeni Malkin? Sent to the hospital after colliding with John Chocolate LeClair in one of the best/worst bloopers of the year. Kinda like buying a $50 dinner, only to realize it doesn't taste all that much better than what you'd get at Denny's.

Who leads the Preseason in scoring? Yep, Sidney Crosby. Where's Alexander O'Bitchkin, eh?

Speaking of Preseason stats, I know you peeps are always scurrying around, trying to find the damn things. No thanks to Canadian sites like TSN which never seem to bother keeping stats.

So, we look to the Yanks and CBS Sportsline, where you can find all the preseason stats you need.

It's about damn time something good came out the American media.

Canucks 1st rounder Nathan Smith was cut again, and rather early. Wow, talk about a waste of a pick, and a bad reminder of the 'golden age' of Canuck scouting that brought us such gems as Brad Ference, Shawn Antoski, and Libor Polasek.

And favoured White Sox are choking their way out of the playoffs and won't be repeating this year. I shouldn't complain, given how (moronic) Cubs fans have been waiting nearly a century, but it's hard to see a team blow such a great start and not get a chance to defend their title in the playoffs while we have to see the frickin Yankees back there again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Hockey's Growing in Phoenix

After my trip to Phoenix a couple of years back, I had remarked that it seemed like an impossible battle to ever get hockey truly on the map in such a place. The lack of ice rinks, combined with the hot hot hot weather, long distance of travel to Glendale Arena (most fans are likely from Scottsdale, which is east of Phoenix, and Glendale is West of's an hour each way), and large Hispanic population (with absolutely no history/connection to the sport), is going to make hockey a tough sell in the desert.

Amazingly, it appears the Coyotes are making a dent among the youth ranks, and we know that getting kids hooked early is the key to developing hockey in any market.

From Matt Paulson of the East Valley Tribune:
At 10 a.m. on a Friday in late July, it is already 103 degrees in the Valley. Inside Tempe’s Oceanside Ice Arena, where it is a much more tolerable 60, nearly 40 kids in full hockey gear have packed the rink.

The youngsters, who range in age from 5 to 16, are not here to escape the sweltering heat or hang out with their friends. For them, Oceanside is a place where they can chase their dreams.

And when these kids dream, most dream of playing in the NHL.

The desert may seem like the last place you would expect to find the next generation of collegiate and professional hockey players developing. But the sport has established a solid foundation at the youth level since the Phoenix Coyotes moved to town 10 years ago. In that time, the number of participants and quality of players has increased dramatically, leading to some rather unexpected results.


There are thousands of others whose love for the sport was fueled by attending an NHL game.

When the Winnipeg Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes following the 1995-96 season, there were only two youth leagues, two permanent sheets of ice, zero high school teams and, according to USA Hockey, fewer than 1,800 kids playing organized hockey in the Valley.

Since then those numbers have ballooned.

“Each and every year there is an increase of players at the youth level,” said Adam Keller, former general manager of the minor league Phoenix Roadrunners who has been the hockey director at Desert Schools Coyotes Center in Peoria for the past four years.

“Having an NHL team in this market or any market obviously will breed a tremendous amount of interest. . . . The exposure of National Hockey League players has a big impact on the kids playing hockey and certainly those who haven’t been playing.”

That’s how Berry, who began playing when he was 2, got started.

“When I was young, I would turn on the TV and it was usually a hockey game,” he said. “I got hooked after that I guess.”

The one thing I didn't see mentioned, and I think would make a world of difference, is the promotion of roller hockey and/or street hockey. There are still few rinks in the Phoenix area, and it's not really going to make sense to build more as many wouldn't turn a profit. The weather lends itself perfectly to roller hockey during the winter months, and is cheaper for kids to enter into.


Southeast Division: 2006-07 Preview

(Plan was to do this team-by-team, giving each a well-thought-out profile and prediction. But real life has got in the way lately and kept me from writing much, so screw well-thought-out -- I'll just lump 'em all together)

The Southeast still seems to be the joke of the league, a novelty act or source of outrage depending on one's attitude -- "Hockey teams in Raleigh and Atlanta and Tampa? That's (pick one: hilarious/sacrilege)!"

But the Southeast has the last two Stanley Cups and bunches of exciting players. Ovechkin, Staal, Kovalchuk, Hossa, Lecavalier, St. Louis, all in one place. You can keep your Original Six -- we've got good hockey down here, and we can still go outside in January.

1. Carolina Hurricanes - It's sort of de rigeur to pick the defending champs to repeat, but there's really no reason not to pick the 'Canes. Their defense has taken some hits through free agency and injury (poor Frankie Kaberle!), and if Cam Ward has a sophomore slump they've got John Grahame backing him up. But the Canes are a smart team, well-run, and now have the experience a Cup run brings. They're head-and-shoulders above the rest of the division.

2. Atlanta Thrashers - I've written about them at length before. The defense is improved with the acquisition of Vishnevski, but not as much as I'd like; the offense isn't as good as last year. But the whole second-place pick rests on Kari Lehtonen. If he's healthy, the sky (or second place, take your pick) is the limit. If he's hurt? Fourth place isn't out of the question.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning - The poster boys for the salary cap. They've got the Big Three and then ... Vinny Prospal and Ruslan Fedotenko up front. Same thing on defense, which is likely even worse than the Thrashers. Beyond Kuba and Boyle it's not terribly impressive (Luke Freakin' Richardson found someone to give him money?). In goal, Marc Denis is being touted as a savior, but his only playoff experience is warming the Avalanche bench the better part of a decade ago, and Blue Jackets fans spent much of the past two seasons baying for his head. A team on the decline.

4. Florida Panthers - A team on the way up, but not enough quite yet. Shaky in goal with the 400-year-old Ed Belfour and the still-unproven Alex Auld. Really young on defense. But I like the way they're building the team and in a couple years they're going to be a player.

5. Washington Capitals - They've got Alex Ovechkin and ... who else? Zednik? Zubrus? Alexander Semin's return is nice but he's hardly a proven consistent contributor. With Jeff Halpern's departure they may be worse than last year. When Donald Brashear is one of your biggest offseason pickups, you're in trouble. How's the 2007 draft class looking?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Tie Domi: Into the Studio

It's no surprise that goon-turned-enforcer Tie Domi, the Albanian Assassin and owner of the leather face, retired from playing NHL hockey. His time had clearly come.

What WAS surprising is that TSN, the Toronto Sports Network (it's true, you know it) has hired Domi as a studio analyst.


Domi has always rubbed me the wrong way. He has struck me as a whiny, hypocritical asshole. I can remember him whining about the fact that the Leafs had to play on Boxing Day. Oh, boo hoo! Domi, like most Leafers, seemed to pick up the whine bug upon his trade to Hogtown.

Now, I'm willing to give him a chance as a studio analyst. He just may shake things up.

"I am excited and nervous in my new role and I promise to bring the same passion and dedication to the broadcast arena that I delivered on the ice night in and night out," Domi said during a 30-minute news conference at Air Canada Centre organized by the Toronto Maple Leafs. "I'm not going to hold much back.

"What you saw on the ice is what you're going to see on TV every Wednesday night from coast to coast. I might need a six-second delay when I start. I'm not a guy who vanillas many things."

If anything, you gotta like the fact that the d00d keeps a website with his own fight card

What I will remember most about Domi, besides his Hallowe'en mask of a face, was his ability to take a whole lot of punches.

Like Rocky Balboa, Domi would just take a lot of punishment and come back to win many fights. His stone-head and leather face came in handy as he let guys tire themselves out by beating his face before pulling their sweaters over their heads and pounding away for the victory.

12/27/00 vs. Jiri Slegr? Oh, poor Jiri....

Monday, September 18, 2006


Sex + Hockey = SexiHokej!!!

Only in Slovakia...would some editor d00d at Bleskovsky, the biggest tabloid in the country, walk into the office and put forth the idea:

"Hej, let's take a cute female fan from each Extraliga team and have her pose nude wearing her favourite team's colours"

The product? SexiHokej, where each team is represented by a woman and the fans and readers vote on their favourite. Democracy at work!

If you are piqued, then head on over to the website and gawk all ya like.

*** NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!! Don't blame if you get fired! I warned you/

SexiHokej Website.

Olivia, the 23-year old lady representing MHC Martin, gets my vote.

Now, why doesn't someone on our side of the pond do something like this with the NHL?

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Tarantula Head Dons a New Dinner Jacket

Odds and sods...

Anson Carter, after months of being snubbed for the likes of Mike Sillinger, finally found a loving home in Columbus after signing a $2.5mil/1 year dealio.

Now, if I were a fan of the BJs (well, I am...kinda...ummm) I'd be scratching my head (not THAT head) wondering "Why is MacLean playing hardball with Zherdev and then forking over big bucks for Tarantula Head?"

If I were Doug MacLean, I'd probably respond with "duuuuh...dur...umm... d'oh!"

This move also miffs me because now my boy Jaroslav Balastik is guaranteed not to get a real shot at the top 2 lines and any offensive ice time of note, barring a crucial injury to Fredrick Modin or Carter himself. Anyone got a lead pipe??

Well, good on Carter for finally finding a contract that gives him a raise. It looked like he'd come out of this whole free agent bonanza almost empty-handed. I guess there is always a sucker, somewhere.

The St. Louis Blues recovered nicely from the news that Vladimir Orszagh contracted Pavel Bure Knee Disease and signed Radek Dvorak, the Czech Todd Marchant, for $1mil/1 year. Dvorak, overall, should give the Blues an equal impact player but with far less Slovakian style.


Poor Vlady. His knee never recovered and he'll miss most or all of the season thanks to his knee injury. The Blues don't have a lot to look forward to, and Vladimir Orszagh was one of the few bright spots I was looking forward to. As my Blues fan contact over AIM told me, Vlado had great chemistry with Cajanek and Tkachuk late in the season before his knee gave out on him.

The NHL will allow bigger curves on sticks. It's about time! We all know men like big curves, so why deny nature and goal scoring?

Keith Primeau is retiring. Good riddiance you greedy assmunch.

Canucks will be matching Booby Clarke's $1.9mil/1year offer for Ryan Kesler. No big shock. The Canucks HAVE to match that offer. They can't afford to let go of a fine young talent (and a 1st rounder at that) and get a stupid 2nd round draft pick in return. Thanks to Bob Clarke for the big salary raise, Ryan... I can't wait for the other NHL GM's to get their retribution by offering similar deals to the Flyers young talent like Fred Meyer IV and so forth in the future. The old boys club will have revenge!!!11111..

Yes, I fully understand why Clarke did the offer and I would have done the same thing in his position. It's not his concern that the Canucks have to scramble to pay the salary for a 10-goal scorer. That doesn't mean Bob Clarke doesn't deserve to be skewered with a fish knife.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Rick DiPietro: the 2019 Vezina Trophy Winner

Yesterday was a rough day in both the northwestern and southeastern Hockey Rants bureaus; Jes faced both Ryan Kesler's infidelity and Vladimir Orszagh's 54th injury in the last two years; I had to deal with the news that personal favorite František "Chicken Paprika" Kaberle is out for much of the season. Trying times.

But we can both find solace in knowing that at least we don't root for the New York Islanders. It must be tough to be an Islander fan (if any Islander fans remain), knowing that proclaiming your allegiance will provoke muffled laughter, knowing that your team's name is synonymous with hilarity throughout the league. Blackhawks fans can laugh at the Islanders, relieved in the knowledge that at least the mismanagement in Chicago is good old-fashioned incompetence rather than the shrieking insanity out on Long Island.

As you've likely already read/heard, the Islanders committed themselves yesterday to keeping goalie Rick DiPietro -- he of the zero career playoff appearances -- solvent until he's 40, a move that met with universal acclaim.

Many pundits have weighed in to debate whether it's a good idea or not -- of COURSE it's not a good idea. It's a bad idea on a par with sticking your arm in the garbage disposal or drinking motor oil. Alexei Yashin can skate around in dreamy circles, knowing that his contract is no longer universally regarded as the stupidest in the lague, or even on his own team.

Joking about the Islanders is kind of useless, because the reality trumps any jests immediately. Just this off-season, for instance:

* they hired Neil Smith and Ted Nolan to great fanfare, then fired Smith to great fanfare, then elevated a career backup goalie straight to the GM's seat

* the Islander legend widely rumored to have played a part in Smith's dismissal immediately resigned

* they've given nice-sized contracts to Tom Poti, Chris Simon, Brendan Witt, and Mike Sillinger, players no one else particularly wanted

* and now this. I probably forgot a few things, I know.

Before I took a wrong turn into rant-land, this was intended to be a preview of the Isles, but that kind of says it all. On the ice, the club is still centered around Yashin, a player that teams have been trying and failing to build around for more than a decade. Beyond Alex, they have a few guys (Miro Satan, Alexei Zhitnik, Mike York, Sillinger) who are nice complementary players but not the type you want spearhehading the attack, a talented young fellow (Trent Hunter) who took a step back last year, a few character guys, and not much else. The backup goaltender in case $67.5 million Ricky goes down is "Wade Dubielewicz," which I'm pretty sure is Garth Snow's alias. Denis Grebeshkov and Sean Bergenheim decided to play in Russia rather than take part in the Long Island Meltdown.

Preview? What more is needed beyond "Wow, they're going to suck"? At least they'll make things interesting for the New York Post beat writers this year.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Flyers try and screw with the Canucks yet again!

As if I needed another reason to hate the Philadelphia Flyers, word comes out that they've signed up Canucks centerman Ryan Kesler to a 1-year $1.9mil offer sheet.

Yep, it wasn't enough that they signed RJ Umberger after raping the Canucks to get him for next-to-nothing, but now they have to screw around with one of our RFA's and put the Canucks in a bind. As if the Flyers aren't already screwed with enough contracts, they have to go out of their way to do something punk-ass like this.

From TSN:

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Vancouver Canucks restricted free agent forward Ryan Kesler to an offer sheet. Sources tell TSN the deal is worth $1.9 million for one season.

The Vancouver Canucks have seven days to match this offer, but if they choose to walk away for financial

The Canucks are already close to the cap, so this puts them in a real bind. There's no way they can just walk away and come out with just a 2nd round pick for a guy like Kesler. They'll need to match the offer, but then do some more roster work.

Stupid Flyers. I can't wait until you choke in the first round after watching Derian Hatcher screw up for the 1,000,000th time. Stupid-asses. Enjoy overpaying Petr Nedved to sulk around like a stiff.


An Offseason look at...The Chicago Blackhawks

One of my pet projects over the off-season has been to analyse the
teams, one-by-one, to check out the Canucks' and Blues' competition this
upcoming season. For now, I'll stick to the Western (is bestern)

It seems most teams fit quite nicely into one of 3 groupings.

1. Top-tier contenders that are sure-fire playoff squads. So far,
Anaheim is definitely in this group.
2. Middleweights - There is a large mass of teams that will fight to
around the .500 mark and will fight for the lower 3 playoff spots.
Vancouver and Colorado fit into this group.
3. The "No Chance" group - Barring a large set of miracles, these teams
will sit at the bottom of the conference and don't have a real shot to
make the playoffs. Columbus and St. Louis fit here.

Today, I'll focus on the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that has fit nicely
in Group 3 for some time and looks to be stuck there for at least
another season.

I really do feel sorry for the 5000 or so Blackhawk fans that still
stick by their team. Really, this team is cursed!

You look at the long history of the Blackhawks, and they have won very
few Stanley Cups, and certainly none in my lifetime. They are also
cursed with one of the worst owners in professional sports, who rarely
televises home games and has alienated a new generation of would-be fans
with a tightfisted management style and hiring of incompetent staff.

When the Hawks finally do decide to open up the corporate chequebook? It
blows up in their face. All the millions forked over for free agents
would have been better spent on a large bonfire to heat some of the
homeless people in Chi-Town.

Nikolai Khabibulin: Spending $6.75mil on one player is not the smartest
thing to do in the salary cap era unless that player is a bonafide star
that can carry your team. The Bulin Wall was never that player, but did
anyone expect him to collapse and provide one of the worst goaltending
performances in the NHL?
50GP 17-26-0 3.35GAA and 88.6 SV%

Adrian Aucoin: After a few seasons of racking up massive amounts of
ice-time in Long Island, the Hawks figure they'd throw $4mil at him and
get themselves a good 2-way defenseman? What did they get? A guy who was
injured half the season and didn't play that well when he was healthy.
33GP 1G-5A-6PTS and -13. For $4mil? Ouch!

Martin Lapointe: The grinder with the great agent! Lapointe found a
SECOND GM to overpay for his talents, and signed a deal for over $2mil a
season. His tally? 31 points and a -30(!) in 82 games.

So, the Hawks have had a busy offseason as they've tried to right the
ship and finally make a leap from the cellar.

What did they do?
1. Trade for Martin Havlat and give him the keys to the car with a
$6mil/season deal, even though Havlat has yet to prove he's a real team
leader and not a complete brat.
2. Bring in Patrick Lalime to backup Khabibulin. Yes, the same lemon
that was demoted to the AHL because he was Awful (not the capital A)
3. Trade Kyle Calder, their solid scoring winger, for Michal Handzus, a
great defensive/playmaking center coming off of an awful shoulder
injury. The Hawks surely needed a centerman, but they are taking quite a
4. Bye-bye, Mark Bell
5. Drafted Jonathan Toews, who probably wishes he was drafted by any
other team.

How does it look?

It looks, smells, and probably tastes like crap.

Goaltending: The good news? It's more likely than not that both
Khabibulin and Patrick Lalime, another goalie who completely collapsed,
will inch up somewhat towards their career norms. It seems unlikely that
they could both be just as awful for two straight seasons, don't it?

The bad news? Until further notice, the Hawks are fighting with the
Flyers and Leafs to have the worst goaltending duo in the NHL. Both
Khabibulin and Lalime were at the bottom of the NHL goalie statistics
and they need to prove that they can carry a poor team.

Brent Seabrook was a sensation with 32 points in 69 games in his rookie season. Keith and Barker are also good, young defensemen with loads of talent. Still, a group this young and with Cullimore (-24 last season) logging big minutes is going to make a lot of mistakes. Adrian Aucoin is a solid 2-way defenseman, but not the type of guy who should be anchoring your defence. There's a lot of upside here, but young defence make mistakes and it will hurt the Hawks.

Forwards: Gone from this club are their top performers of last season in Mark Bell and Kyle Calder. Tyler Arnason was also given up on late last season, and Pavel Vorobiev is sulking in Russia, so this group is revamped somewhat.
Martin Havlat is one of the more talented guys in the NHL, so I can see the justification for the Hawks to trade for him and give him the big $6mil contract.
Michal Handzus is a great 2-way forward, but how will be play after his shoulder problems last season? He's a great 2nd-3rd line center type, but not the guy you want as your #1.
Denis Arkhipov? His salary seems to be a state secret :( He had some potential, but failed miserably in Nashville and didn't light up the Russian league last season, either (16 points in 50 games). I just don't see Denis making an impact. Vrbata is intriguing, as is Rene Bourque, but this group isn't very strong, overall.

Overall: The Hawks have 'potential'. Their goaltending is potentially better and there is a decent amount of young talent like Bourque, Vrbata, Keith, Barker, and Seabrook, so the Hawks do have a decent looking future on the horizon. This season? They'll be watching the playoffs on TV. Suspect goaltending, a young defence, and a lack of quality depth mean another playoff-less year for the poor fans in Chi-Town.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Reliving Bad Memories

Since today is the day for bad memories, I might as well re-live some of my own bad hockey memories.

Thanks to the greatness of YouTube, I can suffer over and over and over again and bring back the feelings of sadness, rage, and disappointment.

First up, we have Steve Yzerman’s famous Game 7 blast over the shoulder of Jon Casey to propel them past the Blues. The Blues had traded the stupendous Vopat brothers for Wayne Gretzky and seemed primed to take their best shot at the Stanley Cup. This long slapper was quite the dagger in the heart of the Blues Nation that year...

To make matters worse, I had a classmate a few years back who was (a typical cocky) Red Wings fan. Once he found out I was a Blues fan, he felt the need to give me a play-by-play of this goal. He couldn’t do jack on his assignments, but he somehow managed to recite the Yzerman goal call from memory.

Then, we have the so-called ‘Greatest Leader in Professional Sports’, and a video that brings back a whole range of rages.

It wasn’t bad enough that the stupid Ranger$ took the cup from us. No, Mark Messier had to come to Vancouver, suck $6mil a year in payment for his ‘services’, and proceed to ruin the Canucks with his poisonous attitude and dressing room backstabbing.

Hey Mark, you bald-headed moron, you look like a freshly circumcised penis. Grow some frickin’ hair, loser.

Saturday, September 09, 2006



...if you live in Europe, that is :(

Good looking fellows like Tomas Demel over there are playing games that matter while we have to settle with rookie camps and wondering why Tarantula Head hasn't been signed to a contract yet and NFL news that nobody needs, unless you need a sleeping aid or something.

Well, let's whet thy appetites with a little hawt video action from overseas, and I'm not talkin Anita Blond over here.

Here are some Golden Helmet videos with an NHL connection.

Roman Turek with a slick poke check to deny Trinec' Zdenek Skorepa on the break. Stupid Turek... :(

Vlad Machulda gets the puck to Milan Kraft Dinner for a quick snapper on the Power Play. Wouldn't Kraft look good on Crosby's wing?

Petr "The Other" Sykora with his patented one-timer on the Power Play. It's a shame he never really translated his game on this side of the pond. He's got wheels and a great shot, but just never adapted to 'our' style.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Audience Participation: Hockey Bars

In a recent post, Tapeleg over at Jerseys and Hockey Love alluded to Sobo 151-- one of Denver's finest (if not finest) hockey bars. Besides making me homesick, it made me contemplative and nostalgic -- cue sepia tone and jazz -- of good hockey bars I've been to in the past.

A good hockey bar is tough to come across, and a fragile thing; the place that was probably leading the race for Atlanta's best went out of business years ago and is now a karate school. When I travel, if I don't have tickets to a game, I'm rather partial to hunkering down at the bar with other hockey fans, and watching on television, but if you're just hitting the city, it's not always obvious where to go (as evidenced by a trip to St. Louis a few years back, when I wandered into a rather flamboyantly gay bar on a quest to watch a Blues game). What if... what if there were some sort of guide?

So I put it to you, Hockey Rants readers-- in your town, what's the best place to go and watch hockey? Not just NHL cities -- Bakersfield to Hartford, Cardiff to Omsk, Liberec to Oulu -- where's the place to go?

Edit: Here are two pics of Jagr's bar that my pal Joeri took a few years back - Jes

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Fun with Numbers

Surfing is fun, and I love catching oddball stat lines, players, etc... things to do when you are bored.


Can you guess which player had that career stat line for goals? A great deal of consistency, one big season, and then a major flameout. He must have traded his soul for a 40-goal season.

How about this stat-line for points?

Age 22: 2
Age 23: 0
Age 24: 59
Age 25: 17
Age 26: 9

He played a small part of one season, spend the next season in the minors before he had one great rookie season. After that? He flamed out quite fast...


Here's an easier one... a stat line for goals for a defenseman with a big shot. One BIG season, and then an up-and-down line later on.

Age 21: 1
Age 22: 4
Age 23: 5
Age 24: 3
Age 25: 23
Age 26: 10
Age 27: 4
Age 28: 12
Age 29: 8
Age 30: 13


Edit: so, "Jeffgwa" managed to find out the names of all 3 players. He gets a free drink sometime. With the food prizes I give away, I'll need to host a BBQ.

Bob Kudelski is player #1 - Everyone knew his 40-goal season (split between the Senators and Panthers, so it doesn't pop out at a 40-goal year at first) was a mirage, but nobody expected he'd flame out so quickly afterwards. Did he sell his soul to get 40 goals?

According to the Legends of Hockey site:
The slick forward was off to a blazing start in 1993-94 with 26 goals in 42 games then was traded to Florida. He scored 14 goals for the expansion Panthers to reach the 40-goal mark. That year he also played in the NHL All-Star Game. During the lockout-shortened season, his production dropped off with the defence-oriented Panthers. He retired after playing 13 games with Florida in 1996.
Hmm, a quick retirement two seasons after his 40-goal campaign. It sounds like a soul sale to me!

Player #2 is Ken Hodge Jr., son of legendary Boston Bruin Ken Hodge, who was brilliant for the Bruins for his rookie year and then just fell down a manhole. During the hockey card craze of the early 90s, I remember that his card was a bit of a hot commodity due to his rookie season. I must have had a lot of Ken Hodge cards, and I wish I had the foresight to sell high. His cards are pretty much common fodder now.

Player #3 is Adrian Aucoin, a defenseman known for his booming shot. I can remember that big year, when Aucoin seemed to score on almost every blast he took. The problem with Aucoin? He has little accuracy. The big knock, IMO, on Aucoin is that he'll take a lot of blasts and miss the net completely. I also recall that he had a big shot and little else, offensively. His assist totals were never too high. Still, he turned into a pretty solid 2-way defenseman before he reached Chi-Town.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Carnival of the Hockey Blogs #22: Elektronik - Supersonik

It’s been over 4 months since the last blog carnival, as it was on hiatus due to a lack of corporate sponsorship. It’s always about the money, ain’t it!
While James Mirtle thinks that there is nothing but nothingness out in the hockey world, we here at Hockey Rants have a positive attitude about things…and a great supply of BC Bud.

Thanks to the fine folks at Molvanian Ministry of Tourism, the carnival is back on the attack!


Yeah, it's a small, land-locked republic in eastern Europe, famous as the birthplace of whooping cough. Molvania also produces 83% of the world's beetroot. I also have relatives who live there.

So, onto my love rocket climb!

The Media…can’t live without ‘em…can’t shoot ‘em in the frickin’ head, either!

Paul Kukla sold out to the man and got a sweet gig with the NHL, which is all part of the plan of bloggers to infiltrate the NHL, take over the media, and then install me as the new commissioner.

“I is your new dictator!”

Eric @ OffWingOpinion has been busy trying to organize an official set of rules and conduct for bloggers to follow in the event that any of us are lucky enough to get press credentials to an NHL arena. Of course, John Fontana takes all the credit for getting the ball rolling :)

David @ The Ice Block pretty much sums up many of the DOs and DONTs, but I’ll add in a little bit.

1. Don’t ask for autographs! Most bloggers are simply professional fans, and I know the temptation is there to ask Pavol Demitra for an autograph. Be a professional, not a fanboy.
2. Don’t take chances with cellphone cameras. If a beefy security guard sees you whipping out your thang, the changes are good that you’ll have your ass scraped with the concrete outside of the arena when you get tossed like a salad.

On another media slant, old crank Tom Benjamin is at it again, and doesn’t think bloggers will have any real impact.

The NHL will never embrace the blogosphere in my opinion, but even if they did, it does not address the significant part of the problem. The issue is attracting new fans (or bringing lost ones back) and blogs can't accomplish that. Bloggers do have a role but we preach to the choir, the already converted. People who are not hockey fans might acquire an interest if the NY Times provides good coverage, but they will never seek out a hockey blog or a hockey message board.

I don’t entirely agree with Tom (shocking, we know) in that blogs can’t attract new fans or a level of interest. The internet is famous for Viral Marketing, and we know how fast things can travel through word-of-mouth. Blogs and forums are part of a large network that can generate interest and perhaps even cause non-hockey fans to stop and take a look.

If I started posting semi-nekked pictures of Peter Forsberg and Jaromir Jagr, you can be sure that more than a few women (and men) would take notice, including a few that aren’t even hockey fans. Any publicity is good publicity, and bloggers can deliver the type of message that the mainstream media can’t or won’t.

”Fresh and Hot! We’ll show you what we got!”

Jeremy Roenick was also whining about the lack of exposure hockey gets in the US press and how his poor Coyotes don’t get any airtime. Japers’ Rink slices Roenick a new one and gives the Coyotes some more exposure. How’d ya like them apples!?

Oh, you want some more? Well, the folks at Orland Kurtenblog rip apart what’s left of JR’s carcass and ground the bones into dust. How did I not discover this blog until just recently?

And when the samba played
The sun would set so high
Ring through my ears and sting my eyes
Your Spanish lullaby

The new season also means a new batch of hockey video games. Isabella @ Stick in Rick, which has a new home, is excited about the NHL07 for the (booooo!) Xbox.

Hey, Bill, stick with what you do best: Making buggy software that continually crashes and needs updates every two days.

Me? I’m more of an old school kind of guy. I loved the EA series until it jumped the shark and just got too cartoony. Me and my friends love to pick up Blades of Steel once in awhile and growl with frustration as our goalie’s are forced to stop 20 shots in a row while the defense mopes around like headless chickens. “A little help, here?!”

Earl Sleek James O'Brien over at the Battle of California has been reminiscing about the best hockey video games of yonder, since he’s also an old school. In fact, he’s so old, he remembers when hockey players were paid regular working wages.


Which game is #1? Here’s a hint…

The gameplay is classic and is in every way the spiritual answer to why we all love hockey. It's fast, fun, quirky and violent. Sure, it might have been a little too easy to score wraparound goals and the occasional "trick" goal. But when you're playing against your friend, it's not really cheap, is it?

Not only is this game the gold standard for sports video games, but it's also part of the greatest video game scene in movie history as well. If you love hockey and Vince Vaughn, you owe it to yourself to see "Swingers." Let's just say, even my Kings bias cannot get in the way of laughing hysterically at what happens to "Super Fan #99."

Need to get ready for the season? VCOE and their loyal readers list the must-do’s as you prepare to watch the Blues miss the playoffs for a second straight year.

One must-do is to sign up for a fantasy league or six. Michael the Hockey Fantatic has set up a Yahoo! League for us bloggers. I look forward to not kicking your asses again this year. David Lee is also looking to start up his own league. The winner gets a hot dog with cheese.

Shot in the dark… STAR STAR!
…little girl…
That’s what you are!

No, I’ve not been drinking like Alanah at VCOE does for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, dinner, and blog posting. Ask Stormbringer to mix you something if you wanna forget the years of pain that your hockey team(s) have caused you. As a Canucks/Blues fan, I’ve had more than my fair share of pain. *sniff* :(

David Frost was recently arrested for ‘sexual misconduct’. If you recall, he was the d00d Mike Danton was arranging to assassinate and the d00d who had a cult-like following among his few clients. Is it any wonder WHY Danton would have wanted Frost out of his life? It’s icky… The Acid Queen has a much more detailed take on the situation.

Speaking of dark news, Jed Ortmeyer, one of the hardest working guys in the NHL, will be sidelined for a very long time with a blood clot in his lung.
The Blueshirt Bulletin was inspired enough to create an award after him:

When the story broke of Jed’s illness, I posted a thought that we could to chip in for some sort of recognition that we could present to him to express how we feel about him and to in any way possible inspire him in a way that he has inspired us
Given how fickle New York sports fan can be, it says a lot that Ortmeyer has earned a spot in the hearts of Rangers fan so quickly. The only other player that I can think of who did the same thing for the Rangers was Adam Graves.

Speaking of Ranger$, Hockey Rodent, the guy who shines Petr Prucha’s shoes by licking them lovingly, has a translated interview of Jaromir Jagr. Jagr, love him or hate him, is always a great interview. He’s like the Czech version of Jeremy Roenick, only with more Stanley Cup rings.

“Count the rings, biatch!”

I know Anson “Tarantula Head” Carter’s season was partially inflated by playing with the SedinBots, but how has he not signed a contract yet? It’s a bit boggling that a slug like JP Dumont can find a suitor and Carter can’t. JJ at Canucks Hockey Blog has a closer look.

Odd Man Rush is back from a long hiatus (Welcome back!) and analyses the free agents that are left on the market.

”The sonic sky is bright like fire!”

Speaking of players who can’t get signed, the folks at Waiting for Stanley have found the whereabouts of Tie Domi.

What they didn’t tell you is that Domi is actually pocketing the cash himself.
And it’s an ABSOLUTE FRICKIN’ TRAVESTY that Lubomir Vaic has been blackballed from the NHL. I mean, d00ds a stud! Look at him nailing Madonna like a coffin.

Yeah, and somehow WADE BELAK can swindle a GM into signing his talentless ass.
The Minnesota Wild…I still hate em, but it’s harder to do so when they got The Pavol!
Fortunately, Roy @ Wild Puck Banter knows a good thing when he sees it and gives some love to Pavs. The question is “Does Lemaire know a good thing when he sees it?”. Now that he has some actual offensive talent, is he going to utilize it? Well, he had talent in New Jersey…zzzzz….

”There are…FOUR lights!!!!!11111oneone!!”

Looking for some hockey sabermetrics? Cartman over at The Puck Stops Here has been on fire this summer with a whole whack of analysis. I’m not sure what bug bit him in the ass, but it inspired him to take the ball and run out of the stadium with it ala Forrest Gump.

He’s not the only one… mc79hockey crunches the numbers on Eric Brewer and wonders why the hell d00d got so little Power Play on a team that sucked more eggs than a bodybuilder. I’ve always been torn on Eric Brewer. I’ve expected big things from him, and they’ve never materialized, but I also realize that he has almost NO offensive potential. He’s never put up big points in the NHL and doesn’t look like he has the ability to do so. Brewer is a guy with skill who is primarily good at defense. He can handle guys big and small, short and tall, on the ice or in a mall… Meanwhile, Hockey Analysis looks to see if experience win Stanley Cups.

“Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of the U.S.S. Enterprise”
“Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of the U.S.S. Enterprise”
”Make it so!”

For a team with a boatload of success over the past decade+, Red Wings fans sure are whiny. Geez… hang out with a Blues fan and learn some humility.
The Wings are also retiring Steve Yzerman’s #19, as superfan Christy points out. How long has Yzerman been retired? A month or two? What took the Red Wings so long? Obviously, they are a 2-bit organization, run by a guy who made his millions selling pizza that tastes like ass. Why hasn’t Ray Sheppard’s # been retired? *growl*

Speaking of teams I hate that have players I love, how about the Columbus Dinner Jackets? Balastik-Brule…oh…it’s too bad Zherdev and MacLean can’t just get along and get a contract done. Without Zherdev, the BJs miss the playoffs. Well, they’d miss the playoffs with him anyway. (ahem). The Army of Ohio, one of the few who can recognize the greatness of Balastik, has a nice post about a meeting with Pascal Leclaire.

Covered in Oil asks “Let me ask you this: what would you rather fight, a gorilla or a bear? Justify your selection!”

I’ll take the gorilla, kthx. The Gorilla don’t got them sharp teeth, eh? You can take a big stick and just beat the stupid thing in the head like those big Japanse drums. Bears? They have secret martial arts skills. If you try beating a bear with a stick, they’ll grab it from you and use it as a toothpick after they eat you like a wonton.

Remember when the NHL went through that first experiment with “3rd’ uniforms that looked like something that might come out of your ass after a trip to McDonalds? *shudder*. Well, I’m willing to wager that is was evil Swede Ingmar “W” Bergman that designed those damn things. Looking at his new NorthWest team designs, it’s obvious that he pops back crack rocks like candy. Oh, and his taste in music sucks! I’m not talking to him until I get my Repo Men sweater in the mail. Hmph!

Speaking of muzak, Mike Chen has a look at post-goal music and how the NHL can distance itself from child molester Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2.” Oh, his taste in music sucks, too.

If there is anyone who actually like the “Woohoo” song, I have a new Canadian Tire snow shovel that I’d like to break in by beating you over the head with. Y’hear?

“Touch me! Touch me!
I want to feel your body...
Your heartbeat next to mine (this is the night)”

The Sabres are closing in on the cap and still have to sign Ryan Miller, as the Sabre Rattlers note. A single tear rolls down my check. No, RLY.

Ever wanted to go to all 30 NHL arenas? Well, these folks did, and ranked all 30 so you can compare and contrast. I just wish they were more detailed.

Now, we stop for a brief advertisement from the folks at Reebok. Check out Sidney Crosby’s new ad spot. You don’t see Alexander Ovechkin making these ads. Why? Because, he sucks!

(Ok, not really…Alex has some charisma and it’s a shame that he hasn’t been picked up in ad campaigns either.)

On the topic of the Penguins, The Pittsburgh Penguins Report has a look at how Evgeni Malkin is doing in his first on-ice practices after his escape from the clutches of Mother Russia.

And now, to finish off, our sponsors from Molvania present to you the fine music of Zlad!

Zladko Vladcik, the pride of Molvania, was to perform his very popular techno-ballad, “Elektronik – Supersonik” - described as “a melodic fusion combining hot disco rhythms with cold war rhetoric”, at the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest.

However, the 23-year-old singer was arrested at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport and immediately deported. While Eurovision does not normally test for recreational drugs, unfortunately for Vladcik, Turkish Customs do.

On his return, “Zlad” apologised to everyone in Molvania for letting them down, especially his family, his friends and his dealer.

Monday, September 04, 2006


An Offseason look at...the Anaheim Ducks

The hockey club formerly known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim is one scary looking team, and I'm not just talking about Randy Carlyle's pasty white thighs.
Just a few months after a late surge gave them a surprising playoff spot, the Ducks’ GM Brian Burke was aggressive in the off-season fine-tuning his club and having Chris Pronger kind of fall into his lap.

If there is a team that has ‘potential’, the Ducks are certainly it. They have potential to have world-beating goaltending, the best Defense in the league, and an explosive offense. Even if one of those 3 areas doesn’t quite perform to the max level, the Ducks are a club that is going to win many many games.

Let’s have a look at the club as of today…

Goaltending: Both J-S Gigure and Ilya Bryzgalov are highly skilled goaltenders that gave the Ducks 91.0SV% performances last year . There is a bit of a problem as the crazy-as-a-loon Bryzgalov obviously wants more money and the house to himself. Giguere has the bigger contract, is 3 years older, and is more proven. Burke’s lone problem to solve is the goaltending situation. Getting Bryzgalov under contract is Step 1. Deciding what to do afterward is Step 2. Either way, the Ducks will be left with at least 1 good goaltender and, if one shall get traded, I don’t doubt Burke will find a good backup.

Defense: When you have two of the very best defensemen in the world, you are already off to a great start. This is just like the St. Louis Blues when they won their President’s Trophy with Big Mac, Chris Pronger, and a bunch of extras off the cast of Survivor. Well, the Ducks have Francois Beauchemin, who’s definitely well above average. This trio will eat up most of the ice time, leaving O’Donnell and DiPenta, who can perform at least average-ish most nights, to pick up the bits and pieces off of the floor. There really is no weakness here either than the #6 guy?
Who is #6? It’s a fight between Moran, St. Jacques, and young Kondratiev.

Offense: The biggest ‘potential’ factor is up front, where Teemu Selanne will have to continue to drink bottled water from the Fountain of Youth and Andy McDonald, Sean Avery’s best friend, will have to show that he isn’t just Teemu’s sidekick. Chris Kunitz, who went on the Jarrod Skalde waiver-wire tour last season, needs to prove his 2nd half burst wasn’t a fluke, either.

Dustin Penner, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and the returning Stanislav Chistov all have offensive potential oozing out of their pores like sweat. The Ducks will need these 4 to produce to give them the second-helping of offensive pop that they didn’t have last year. Imagine if these young kids get going? With the Ducks’ defense and goaltending, it’s pretty much ‘Good Night’.

The Ducks also have some great defensive forwards and role players to compliment the offensive superstars. Evil Swede Samuel Pahlsson is one of the better defensive forwards in the league, Rod Niedermayer owns the boards like a surly landlord, and Todd Marchant still has pretty good wheels and stone hands. Todd "The Fridge" Fedoruk rounded out his game last year and turned himself into a serviceable player when he’s not getting into fights. Travis Green (substitute him on the chart there at $500,000) was signed and gives the Ducks another forward who knows his role and shuts his hole.

Overall: The Ducks are a guaranteed playoff team that has a good shot of winning their division, or at least finishing Top 4 in the Western Conference. The Ducks are still a bit of a work-in-progress with their young group of secondary forwards, but the potential to kick everybody’s asses is there. They are also financially solid with some room to spare to get the goaltending worked out and perhaps add a veteran later in the season if need be. I'm jealous.

Why did the Canucks fire Brian Burke again? :(
That stupid corporate lawyer shill… grrrr

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Mike Keenan Out; Stephane Matteau's Employment Prospects Dwindle

Well, gosh. This isn't anything that I was expecting. I only sporadically hear any note of the Panthers from our friends to the south, but nothing seemed to indicate the discontent that was simmering (and at this point, the Miami Herald only has an AP story up on Keenan's firing resignation departure).

Compared to some other stops, Keenan conducted himself in a relatively sane manner -- yeah, he dealt away his franchise goaltender, but actually got something of use in return, and aside from Belfour/Roberts/Nieuwendyk, he resisted his ever-present urge to pick up graybeards.

In fact, he leaves a pretty good young core. The defense is very young; I'd be the oldest member, the contemplation of which makes me need to sit down and have a stiff drink. The offense is centered around a player in his prime, Jokinen (and Bertuzzi, if his head's on straight), and has a few top-notch prospects in Olesz and Horton. I can't see them contending this year, and probably taking a step back, but being an energetic team and finding themselves in the mix a year or two down the line.

As for Keenan, what next? It'll probably be a few days before we know what the deal here is (longer, if the Herald beat reporters are taking a long weekend), but this marks a second straight stop where Iron Mike has, at least publicly, behaved like someone with their screws more or less tight. If he bounced here, what's left?

Friday, September 01, 2006


Dominik Hasek: Back on Ice

Thanks to the fine folks at, the website of my favourite Czech team HCO Trinec, I can bring to you some pics of Dominik Hasek back on ice, training to choke (pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease) for the Detroit Red Wings (boo! hiss!) this upcoming season.

Hasek made waves in Trinec when he was looking to sign there during the lockout. Trinec's nosedive in the standings combined with uncertainty about his groin and the NHL lockout prevented that signing, and Trinec was stuck with their usual brand of 'quality' netminding.

Hasek...such a tease... so he decides to grace Trinec with his presence in practice instead. Woo hoo!

(Yeah, it's slow for news. What else you got, eh?)

Wow. D00ds got a lot of wrinkles...

Hasek never misses an opportunity to pimp his overpriced line of sports clothing.

Yeah. It's so hard to make a save when there is NO PUCK!

"Oh, $@#%! What was that pop?!"

This is the best selling Hallowe'en mask in the Czech Republic.

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