Sunday, September 30, 2007
I'd planned to go to the Thrashers' exhibition Friday night, but as it turns out, I'm in mid-season form as far as telling myself that it's cheaper and less hassle to just head down the street and have a beer. So instead of a thoughtful, reasoned perspective on how the Thrashers might do this year, I got a hangover instead.
I'm considerably less panicked by Atlanta's chances than I was when I wrote this, but that's more because of two months spent paying only passing interest to hockey than because of anything done to actually cause optimism. The Thrashers' season still rests on several big ifs -- getting scoring beyond Hossa/Kovalchuk/Kozlov, the defense playing much better than last year despite (on paper) being about equal, and Kari Lehtonen resembling Andre Racicot a little less.
That said, the team does have a nice little rookie crop in the form of Bryan Little, Brett Sterling, and Tobias Enstrom, which is at the very least kind of fun. I don't think any of them except perhaps Enstrom were expected to make the team, and they all beat out more established players to do it. At the very least, it's more exciting to see Little or Sterling than the career AHLers the Thrashers have usually brought in for recent seasons.
* * *
It's quite possible that not everyone follows the career trajectory of Tomas Kloucek as closely as I do, so if you missed it: TK, idol of millions, is in the Syracuse Crunch camp on a tryout basis. He's probably kind of a long shot to make it, due to numbers and because no one's really seeing Kloucek as a possible NHL defenseman any more, but at least it's a relief (to me, at least) to see him pop up somewhere.
* * *
For hockey history nuts, Joe Pelletier's done quite a bit on the 35th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series in recent weeks. Find a selection here. Lots of really cool stuff -- a look at the political uses of the series, a history of Soviet jerseys, tons of information that's not usually found in histories of the series.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
NHL08 Looks Damn Impressive
Last night, I had the fortune of trying out EA Sports's NHL08 for the PS3 on a massive flat-screen HDTV.
Talk about impressive. Damn!! Nothing has ever come so close to mimicking the look, sound, and feel of an NHL game, as this game does.
Now, I've played a lot of NHL07, and it was far from the best in the series. Despite the addition of European leagues (a HUGE plus), the game had way too many setbacks.
NHL 2008 seems to have improved on the first two elements with a giant leap forward. The goaltending physics, even on slo-mo replays, were just spectacular and very real. Even Luongo's 'style' seems to have been imported into the game, and it really felt like it was him saving my bacon (I beat Calgary 2-1...neener neener).
The control of goaltenders was the best it's ever been, and the players seemed to be more 'real' in their skating, forechecking, and puckhandling. Getting rid of the stupid speed burst, too, is something that is much welcomed.
I have to say, in the 45 minutes that I got to spend with the game, that I was awestruck, impressed, and jealous all at the same time. NHL07, and many previous incarnations, didn't leave me all that impressed. Many of them felt like the same game with more cartoony bullshit and different rosters.
NHL08, kids, is a giant leap forward in hockey gaming technology. Damn, if only I had $600 for a PS3 and the game. Maybe I should start taking donations.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Bill Wirtz is Dead
I'm not one to celebrate somebody's death, but can't help but feeling something positive for Hawks fans and hockey at the death (cancer) of "Dollar Bill" Wirtz.
The family, led by Arthur Wirtz, purchased the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. In 1966, William Wirtz became team president. Wirtz was chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Hockey League for 18 years and helped negotiate the merger of the NHL and the World Hockey Association in the late 1970's.
Together with Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Wirtz helped back the construction of the United Center, which replaced the Chicago Stadium, the long-time home for Blackhawks. But since moving there 12 years ago, the Blackhawks have made just four playoff appearances - only two since 1997. The Blackhawks haven't played in the Stanley Cup finals in 15 years. As a result, the Blackhawks - one of the six original NHL teams - average about 12,700 fans per game in an arena that seats 20,500.
Wirtz was the epitome of greed, and now the Hawks can, perhaps, beging a period of real healing. Since he refused to sell the team, the only way to get the Hawks out of Wirtz's clutches, unfortunately, was his death.
(Edit: for a good editorial on Wirtz's passing, check out RosenBlog, from a local Chicago writer. Thanks to Wayne for the tip)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Today's Headshot Victim: Dean McAmmond
*SIGH*, how long is the NHL going to let this crap continue?
Head shots, in case you don't know, are the NHL's biggest problem that needs to be fixed NOW!
Workhorse Dean McAmmond is the latest victim of a cheap shot ...
Senators centre Dean McAmmond left Tuesday night's game against Philadelphia with a concussion after he was sent to the ice by a flying body check by Flyers prospect Steve Downie.Watch the NHL totally soft-pedal the issue and give Downie a small suspension.
McAmmond had lost possession of the puck early and skated behind the Philadelphia net when he was checked hard by Downie at 2:39 of the second period. Downie's feet left the ice before the violent collision.
Senators team doctor Don Chow immediately went to McAmmond's aid even as players from both teams squared off in the aftermath.
Ottawa enforcer Brian McGrattan went after Downie, who was assessed a match penalty for the hit on McAmmond. McGrattan got a misconduct and a game misconduct in addition to his major for fighting with Philadelphia's Jesse Boulerice.
Why, why, why doesn't the NHL come down hard on idiots like this? Head shots are some of the most dangerous activities an NHL player can do to another, and it just seems to be getting worse these days.
Blah Blah, Buttman, Blah!
The Canadian Press recently had an interview with Der Kommissar, Count Gary Bettman.
Let's read in between the lines, shall we?
On crappy ratings in the USA:
"Our TV at the local level is strong - both in Canada and in the United States," said Bettman. "And the U.S. (national TV) is something that will continue to require our attention and work but we like our partnerships and our relationships with NBC and Versus. ... But that's only one metric. If you look at attendance, if you look at the digital space and people who are connecting to us on NHL.com and the club websites, if you look at what we're doing through technology and streaming - all the vital signs are good.
"The metric where we happen to get the most criticism happens to be the metric that is declining over time in importance."
Declining in time?
While it may not matter to the owner of the Nashville Predators that some schmuck in Eugene, Oregon, isn't watching the games, but it certainly is important.
The sport, overall, makes more money if its popular outside of the actual markets. The NFL? The MLB? They have fans all across the country, and they rake in big bucks because of it. While attendance may or may not be strong, the low national ratings are a great indicator that the game means very little outside of the markets, and the NHL isn't cashing in on a large portion of the American audience.
Bettman's flippant dismissal of national TV ratings is disturbing.
On the NHL playing games in Europe:
"This is a good opportunity to dip our toe in the water," Bettman said. "A third of our players come from outside of North America and the hockey fans in those countries like to follow their players."
Translation: Expect more of these games.
On NHL expansion to Europe:
" It's nothing we're planning on, but by the same token I'll never say never," Bettman said. "There are many, many, many things that we have to do and have to happen before we can consider it. And there are logistical issues.
"There are arena issues, there are travel issues, and also there is the existing infrastructure of hockey particularly in Europe and we need to be respectful of all of those considerations."
Translation: There is no way in hell it'll happen in my lifetime. The NHL owners won't allow it, and it's too much of a hassle.
"The average payroll with a $50.3-million cap is $42.3 million," said Bettman. "So that at the end of the year, on average, our teams will have spent $42.3 million - not $50 million."
Bettman continues by pointing back to the 2001-02 season, when the average team payroll was also $42.3 million.
"At the time our revenues were $1.875 billion," he said. "This year the average team payroll - with the $50.3-million cap - will be $42.3 million on revenues of about $2.4 billion. ...
OK, so we're back to square one, except the owners make more money?
Couldn't the owners have increased revenues without missing a whole year of hockey? If GM's and owners were prudent, they could have kept their costs at the same level and worked on improving revenues WITHOUT MISSING A SEASON.
Sorry, Buttman, but we see salaries escalating back to where they were before, and will only continue to get worse.
JT Bringing Sexy Back to the LA Kings
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Mike Comrie = Whipped Cream
Guys, what do you get your girl as a gift for her birthday?
A nice piece of jewelry? Flowers? Chocolates? A romantic dinner?
Well, in the world of celebrity dating, that just won't cut it.
If you are Mike Comrie, and you have a famous girlfriend, you buy them something a little more 'substantial'
Hilary Duff's expectations were low when her hockey player boyfriend, Mike Comrie, called recently to say he'd picked out an early 20th birthday present for her and that "I hope you like them."New shoes? Oh my god, how dare he think of something so low and plebian?
"Okay, it's shoes or something," Duff recalled thinking as she went to her sister's house, where Comrie had said he left the present in the garage. "I opened the garage, and I was just like shocked, just standing there."
Before her, with a big red bow on top, was a Mercedes-Benz G-class SUV (retail price: more than $100,000).
The one problem with having a celebrity girlfriend? You need to do a lot more 'maintenance', just like having an expensive foreign car.
Poor Comrie made one of the ultimate guy mistakes, however, in setting the bar WAY TOO HIGH this early in their relationship.
Every birthday, anniversity, holiday, etc., Comrie will now be expected to buy lavish gifts for his celebutante.
Yes, every gift he buys will ultimately be compared to "The Benz"
Really, how badly does Comrie need a lay? A Benz?
I'll be shocked if they are still together by this time next year.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Canucks: The Mutterings
Now, you wouldn't expect a defence that looks like ...
... would need a whole lot of help.
Well, the Canucks signed Dan McGillis (remember him?) to a try-out contract to further bolster their corps.
While this might seem like overkill, it's actually a good move considering Sami Salo injured his wrist (no shock) and Mitchell's groin is still wonky. The Canucks will need a good re-inforcement or two and McGillis is that kinda guy.
It's kinda strange how far McGillis has fallen, and now needs a try-out to get back to the NHL.
Thanks to Fat Lou's cap dodging theatrics, McGillis was demoted to the AHL Albany Rats for the past few seasons. McGillis put up 66 points in 108 games, and earned a lot of money to live the minor-league life.
Even at 35, you'd still have to think McGillis could be a useful cog, especially as a fill-in defenseman. He's nasty, he's got a good shot, and he's experienced.
It wasn't so long ago that Bourdon was dominating the WJCs here in Vancouver, and was one the world's top prospects. Now? Notsomuch.
Given his struggles in his brief NHL tenure last season, and in this preseason, and you've got a prospect who needs at least a seasoning in the minors. Hopefully, he'll regain his confidence ... he's making ME nervous.
Look, the Canucks have a fairly deep (albeit not impressive) forward corps, and don't have a lot of room for any prospects. Raymond has a lot of developing to do, and a few hot preseason games mean little. I mean, Jon Sim would be a star if preseason meant anything (For those who don't know, this guy has about 72 points in 30 preseason games...or something similar).
Given how some of the media, and even his teammates, gush about the guy, you'd think he's gonna put up 30 goals this season, and win the freakin' Calder Trophy.
I realize that he'll never live up to that contract that the Flyers somewhat-forced the Canucks to give him, so let's not expect the guy to put up 40 assists this season. Hell, I'd be pleased with 40 points!
The Canucks media are so anxious for him to succeed and justify the expense that they'll drool over every preseason point.
Wake me when the season starts! Preseason sucks.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
An Off-Season Look at ... The Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets finally got it right and canned Doug MacLean like Campbell's soup this summer. Thanks to MacLean's lack of direction, and buy-high, sell-low philosophy, the Blue Jackets were hamstrung with a bunch of expensive veterans and short on actual talent.
Unfortunately, it will take a year or two for Dougie's mistakes to be off of the books for the BJs, and the dearth of prospects in the organization makes this team's future less than bright.
Here is the BJs roster as of today ... lots of expensive, old crap.
Amazingly, the BJs have lots of room under the cap, and will shed the contracts of Fedorov, and Foote after this season.
The BJs could be better, but they are beset by organization-wide underachieving.
Nik Zherdev - Signs a lucrative deal, and then sleepwalks through the season with 32 points. The BJ's are thinking of trying him at center, and it seems he'll pout if that happens. What a baby!
Rick Nash - 27 goals at that salary? Yeesh...
Sergei Fedorov - Perhaps he should play back at defence, because 42 points in 73 games is just awful.
Really, there isn't anyone on the roster, save for the surprising Norrena and hard-working Chimera, that really give you good bang for their buck, and play to their full potential. Even with the coaching change, Columbus still sucked eggs last season.
This season? It'll be more of the same. The BJs have one of the worst defence corps in the league, and shaky goaltending.
The forward corps LOOKS to be fairly decent and balanced, and will need to play up to its potential for the BJs to have a sniff of success.
In the end, this club will be fighting with the Hawks and Oilers for dead last in the conference.
Monday, September 17, 2007
History's Great Hockey Names
Eurohockey.net has many hidden pleasures: among them, the revelation in the "transfers" section, that there is a Swedish hockey player named Texas-Kid Egertz.
A quick scouring of the web turns up little information on Texas-Kid, but he'll apparently be playing for Hammarby this season (the website doesn't seem to have any information on him, but it also seems to be written in Swedish, so I'm a bit in the dark). Hopefully, we'll see some additions to the legend of Texas-Kid this year.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Coming Up For Air
Distracted by other things, I've paid less than no attention to the hockey world over the past few weeks, only checking in even now because of the start of training camp. Hard to think much about hockey when it's too warm to wear anything but shorts (and only that much because society demands it). I'm far from regular season form -- I've only just begun to absorb the new uniforms (some ok, but two of the NHL's classiest uniforms -- the Blues and Senators -- have taken an enormous step back), I can't work up any good hate for the Red Wings. There's work to be done.
I've recently been reading a book about European soccer, and that revived something I've asked about before, elsewhere -- why do some sports become big in some places but not others? Why, for example, do Sweden and Finland produce bushels of world-class players, but not Norway and Denmark? Why is the sport enormous in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but minor in Poland and Hungary? Why doesn't gigantic Germany produce more players? Why is it a fringe sport in the Netherlands and the UK?
In some cases, climate's an obvious contributor -- pre-indoor arenas, France and Italy would have been hard-pressed to find many places capable of sustaining ice for much of the year. But in Central and Northern Europe, there's no obvious reason for the national divide.
I've got no answers -- any thoughts?
P.S. Tomas Kloucek -- still no team.
Friday, September 14, 2007
An Off-Season Look at ... The Anaheim Ducks
Being the Stanley Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks were obviously in the spotlight a lot more than they are used to.
What should have been a quiet summer of celebration turned interesting with the whole Scott Niedermayer mess, the Dustin Penner fiasco, and the big ticket signings such as Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider.
The Ducks are certainly big spenders, but Niedermayer's absence, combined with Selanne not showing up for camp, means that the Ducks are well under the salary cap, surprisingly.
Without a doubt, the Ducks aren't as good as they were a few months ago. Scheneider is an excellent Power Play defenseman, and a fine 2-way defender, but he's not quite Scott Niedermayer. That said, Schneider is generally underrated, and the downgrade is small. If Niedermayer comes back at all during the season (very likely), this D core will be the awesomest.
Few seem to know just how much of a positive contribution the renewed Teemu Selanne gave to the Ducks, and how much he pumped up line-mates Kunitz and McDonald. Those two players will not be nearly as effective as they were last season, and Bertuzzi won't give the Ducks anything but headaches and some 'decent' offensive production.
The Ducks will also face some trouble next summer, when Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will have their contracts come up. Will we see some more free agent poachers?
Also, Kunitz will get a nice raise against the cap next season, and the Ducks won't have any big contracts coming off of the books until 2009.
That said, the Ducks are still a very powerful squad, and are certainly a favourite to take the West. I wonder just how much the Stanley Cup hangover will affect the squad, and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't take the Conference crown. San Jose will provide stiff competition within their division, and Detroit will get a lot of easy wins over their divisional rivals. It's going to be an interesting 3-way race.
Ph33r the quack!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
An Off-Season Look at ... The Minnesota Wild
Over at Das FanHaus, I have a capsule preview of the Minnesota Wild, a team which will give the Canucks a great deal of competition in the Northwest division.
Just like the Canucks, the Wild pretty much stood pat, and did very little other than trade Manny Fernandez for Petr Kalus.
I know it's hard to believe, but Marian Gaborik has never had more than 40 goals or 70 points in a season.
He's got Pavol, he's got speed, he's got health (I hope), so now is the time to break the 40-50 goal plateaus and show us that he's a true star. There has been so much potential for this guy to skate circles around the league, but various factors, self-induced and not, have held this guy back. Really, he's got a huge salary, and needs to start earning it.
Here's the salary structure for the Wild.
It wasn't so long ago that the Wild had a pretty decent roster chalk full of cheap guys. Now? They are a fairly expensive roster, with few bargains to be found. Johnsson is pricey, Parrish is overpaid, and the rest of their stars are well compensated.
The Wild still have some room to add another piece or two, especially at RW, where Parrish isn't so productive any longer, and Koivu is playing out of position.
I fear the Avalanche' offence, but their goaltending is suspect. The Wild have a well-balanced team, a great coach, and good goaltending. It will certainly be a tight race between the Canucks/Wild/Avalanche, and I expect many great divisional matchups throughout the season.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Alt + Yashin + Lundqvist = NHL Love Triangle
When Alexei Ka$hin decided to sign in Russia for the upcoming season (good riddance to bad tra$hin), we all wondered if his girlfriend, Carol Alt, would follow him.
She said that she wouldn't, but did say she's be faithful and that her widdle Washin was such a good guy.
Well, Eric over at the NHL FanHouse has been laying awake at night, wondering if Alt and Yashin can find everlasting love and happiness.
Well, I guess not, now that Alt has been seen canoodling with a different hockey player, Henrik Lundqvist.
From the New York Post:
If you want to make time with Carol Alt, bring a hockey stick. The former model, once married to ex-Ranger Ron Greschner, was spotted backstage in the W downtown lounge with current Blueshirt Henrik Lundqvist - not boyfriend Islander Alexi Yashin.
Well, I guess text messages and emails just weren't lighting her fire, so she had to find the first gullible (and rich) hockey player she could get her granny hands on.
Now, don't feel sorry for Yashin that Alt has found new blood. Yashin will be swarmed by swaths of hot, leggy Russian chicks that'll bend over backwards (literally) for a chance to be in his penthouse. Instead of being a pariah, Yashin will be a hero to all his fellow Russkis, who highly value greed and self-importance. (Not that Americans don't, mind you...)
Lundquist? What the hell, d00d? Why would you want that used bag of bones?
All I can think of is that Carol Alt must be REEEEEEEEEEEEALLLY good in bed, and half the NHL knows it.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Canada Dominates "Stupor" Series
As hockey-starved as I was this month, I just couldn't get up enough craving to watch too much of this "Super Series" between Canada and Russia.
In case you are American, or living in a cave, Canada whooped the Russkis 7-0-1 in the 8-game series, completely dominating the vodka drinkers in a lopsided pile of contests, and outscoring the Russians 39-13.
Just a few things ...
1. Canada vs. Russia doesn't have any mystique to it, anymore. Sure, beating up the Russians always feels nice, but it's no longer special. The Iron Curtain is gone, we've played the Russians many times, and there wasn't anything all that different from this game from previous Canada/Russia affairs.
2. "We wanted it more!" - This cliché was actually pertinent as the Russians didn't appear all that interested in breaking a sweat. The Canadians? Sutter had them playing with gusto from the first puck drop, and they just seemed to be a lot more interested in paying the price to win. The Russians? Their hockey media probably didn't give this tournament much coverage. In Canada? There is a lot more to lose, so to speak, with the media having little else to cover.
3. The only time the Russians seemed to care was in the last game, when they started throwing a few 'sore loser' cheap shots. Canada made them pay with Power Play goals. Nice try, Boris.
4. Kyle Turris - He wanted to prove that he's the real deal, and led Canada with 7 goals. Coming from the Junior "B" BCHL, Turris is one of the riskier top picks in the past few years, but he certainly was incredibly impressive.
5. Sam Gagner was the series MVP with 15 points. Omygaw, an Oilers pick that doesn't completely blow ... at least, not yet. Gagner had 6 more points than second-place Tavares, who should be allowed to enter the NHL 'early'. Arbitrary cut-offs suck.
6. Canada and Russia have generally been looked at as the top 2 hockey powers in the world. Well, we know that is a-changing, with the Americans producing many more fine prospects, and the Russians churning out ... not much.
Like Germany, Russia spends a lot of money on stars and foreigners, but little on player development of their own. Combine that with the lack of prospects who come to North America, opting to stay in Mother Russia, and you have a country full of players who won't be able to compete against North American hockey as well as they used to.
Certainly, stars like Ovechkin, Semin, and Frolov will continue to come out of that country and wow us with their puck-handling ability, but the depth just isn't there, any longer, especially on D.
Friday, September 07, 2007
OMGZ!! REAL HOCKEY
Yep, as always, they are right on the ice before we even get training camps over here.
Ziggy Palffy has one lone assist as Skalica got spanked 4-3 by Zvolen. He's playing on a line with hot prospect Juraj Mikus.
Remember that 20 and younger team they are putting out there? They didn't fare too badly, as they lost 3-1 to a very powerful Kosice squad. It was 2-1 until an empty netter sealed the deal.
w00t!!! I want hockey, dammit!
Canes Hire Asshole for Goalie Coach
How many of you ever considered Tom Barrasso to be coaching material?
If you do, I'd like you to put tin foil on your head, so we know who you are.
Apparently, the Canes think that Barrasso would be a great addition to their hockey operations staff.
The Carolina Hurricanes named the former all-star netminder director of goaltender development Friday, a role that will see the 42-year-old Barrasso work with all of the goalies in the team's minor-league system.HWHA?!?!? Instant credibility?
"Tom brings instant credibility to his new position, and is somebody that the goaltenders in our system will be able to respect and learn from," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said in a statement. "He has re-located his family to Raleigh and we are happy that he has chosen to continue his life in hockey with our organization."
By all accounts, Tom Barrasso was a prick to any and all backup goaltenders he ever worked with, and was not popular with his teammates. In terms of overall assholeness, Tommy boy was near the top of the list among all NHLers.
So, this appointment is just simply puzzling. Why would you want to hire a guy that has such poor people skills? Sheesh.
Pahlsson's Got a Hernia.
It seems like that Scott Niedermayer inability to make a career decision wasn't the only bad news for the Quackers yesterday.
It turns out Samuel "Defensive God" Pahlsson will be out for awhile with a hernia.
Anaheim Ducks forward Samuel Pahlsson has undergone surgery to repair a sports hernia, team general manager Brian Burke announced Thursday.
He had the operation on Wednesday in Philadelphia, Burke said, and is expected to be sidelined for three to five weeks. Anaheim opens camp on Tuesday.
''We anticipate if he misses any regular-season time, it will not be a lot,'' Burke said.
Let's face it, any player (especially holdouts) who misses preseason and training camp tends to be way behind when they do get back. Combine that with an injury that is always in danger of hindering one's playing ability, and you've got a loss that could be bigger than it appears.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Fernando Pisani's Crappy Condition
By now, you will know that Edmonton Oilers forward Fernando Pisani will be out indefitinitely after a sudden announcement that will he was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC).
Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe had the following comment. “We are very concerned about Fernando’s medical condition and we wish him nothing but a full and healthy recovery. Hockey will be secondary until he gets the care and treatment required. As a result, the Oilers will move into our training camp and pre-season and not have Fernando available for our lineup. I know the Edmonton Investors Group and all Oilers fans hope to see him recover quickly and be an active player with our team as soon as possible.”
Pisani commented on the situation, and said “I would like to thank everyone who has supported me through this difficult time, especially my wife and family. I appreciate all the wonderful words of encouragement I have received, including messages from my teammates. I look forward to returning to the Oilers.”
Mirtle does some digging and finds out that Pisani had a history of problems in the nether regions, and it has built up to this. Fernando's condition is definitely serious, and not something to make light of.
Despite the fact that I'm a joke-making jerk, I will resist the urge to point out his shitty Pisani's situation is.
Because, I *may* have the same condition.
Yeah, I'll be going into the hospital next week to find out what exactly I have, and I hope it's just a simple infection, rather than something much more serious.
Yes, it's certainly a 'crappy' condition to have, being otherwise healthy, but unable to do what you always want to because of 'down there'. It's just not something one can control very easily, either, nor can you simply 'play through the pain'
Life just gets shitter and shitter for Oilers fans, doesn't it? *yuk yuk*
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
An Off-Season Look at ... The St. Louis Blues
Given how well the St. Louis Blues did after hiring Andy Murray last season, and the splash the club made in free agency this summer, there is reason for Blues fans to be optimistic about the upcoming season.
After two very craptacular seasons, with craptacular attendance, the club needed an injection of exciting offence (Paul Kariya), a top-notch prospect to show that future is bright (Erik Johnson) and, of course, free food!
Here is how the Blues roster looks like as of right now ...
1. No offence from the defence. Brewer led the Blues D in points last year with a putrid 29 points. Yipee!
Doug Weight will probably have to keep playing on the point, as none of Brewer/Backman/Woywitka have proven they can do well on the Power Play. I'm hoping Erik Johnson can improve this aspect of the blues defense, or maybe Backman can bust through with 35 points.
2. Few bargains. Look at the Blues roster, and ask yourself if the team is really worth $45mil? A $45mil team should be a top contender, not a team fighting just to make the playoffs. Guys like Brewer, Hinote, Rucinsky, McKee, and Mayers are all overpaid for what they produce, and Weight/Tkachuk are still an expensive, and aging, duo. Erik Johnson is pretty much the only bargain, depending on how he performs.
3. Lee Stempniak is one of the better hockey players you've never heard of. After scoring 52 points in 82 games last season, Stempniak has proven that he's a legitimate NHL producer, and he's only 24 years of age. He plays a straight-forward game, works hard, and has more potential to untap.
4. Manny Legace - He has had spurts where he's been an all-world goaltender, but then he's run into mental and physical problems that have prevented him from being a true dependable #1 goaltender. Who can forget his playoff mental meltdowns?
Legace had a league-average 90.7SV% last season, but played only 45 games. I like him in the nets for the Blues, but he's very risky.
Even with Murray's coaching, and the signing of Kariya, this club is going to need everything to go right to just squeak into the playoffs. The defence lacks an offensive edge, Cajanek/Boyes/Rucinsky are complete wild-cards, and there is very little offence after the Top Six.
I predict an improvement in the standings, but the Blues will still miss the playoffs.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Jan Bulis Bolts to Russia
I heard the rumours out of Russia, and didn't want to believe them.
Alas, Jan Bulis, the penalty killer Willis was talkin' bout, has signed with a Russia team, after being spurned by the Canucks.
Unrestricted free agent Jan Bulis has opted to go overseas for the 2007-08 season, where he will play for the Russian club Khimik Mytischy, according to eurohockey.net.
The Czech forward played 79 games for the Canucks last year, scoring 12 goals and adding 11 assists in his first season with Vancouver. He played the previous 4 1/2 with the Montreal Canadiens.
Well, I'll never forget Bulis or this hit he delivered to asswipe Jack Johnson.