Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Have a Hockey Hallowe'en!
Ahh, Hallowe'en, the time for children to get stuffed with fattening treats, shoot fireworks at each other, and dress up in costume.
For the adults, it's not that much different, other than revolvers replacing fireworks, most of the time.
Now, if you love hockey, then why not show it with a puck-related costume this All Hallow's Eve?
1. The JASON Classic - The goalie mask is timeless, effective, and instantly recognizable. Donning the mask definitely says "psycho killer", or Patrick Roy, and saves us the agony of seeing your ugly face all night. You can't go wrong with something like this ...
2. The PUCK BUNNY - Ladies, show your true love of the game by dressing up as every hockey fan's fantasy creature. Fawn over your man as if he makes millions, and pretend that you think icing is just stuff you get on a cake.
Mmmm... be sure to wear pink, lots of pink.
3. A TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS GOALTENDER - OK, it's a bit hard to pull off.
4. A TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS FAN - Not so hard to pull off.
5. A TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN - Very easy to pull off.
6. JOHN FERGUSON JR., for you yoga fanatics.
Here are a few bonus pics...
Sidney and his Hallowe'en candy...
The Canucks' play is enough to send many fans into HULK SMASH! rage of mages.
Monday, October 29, 2007
What's Wrong with the Ducks?
The Anaheim Ducks, defending cup champs, have opened up the new season in a horrible slump. Slumps are typical for clubs over the course of the year, but it is odd to see the likes of the Blue Jackets doing well while the Anaheim Ducks are looking up from the basement.
How is it that the Ducks are off to a 4-7-2 start? Here are some thoughts from a Canucks fan who doesn't mind that the Ducks are doing poorly. :)
1. Hits to the roster? Many people point the finger at the losses of Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer (a guy who takes 25 minutes to decide if he wants large fries with his Big Mac) as the prime reason the Ducks are losing more than the Washington Generals. Look, it's not as if Burke did nothing to stem the tide. Signing Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider certainly proved that the Ducks weren't sitting idle, and both players certainly are talented. Going into the season, did anyone reasonably think the Ducks were a vastly weaker team?
2. Health concerns - We certainly can't discount the fatigue factor when talking about the Ducks slow start. A long Stanley Cup run, combined with a 2-game stint in England, has certainly had to have a real effect on the stamina of the Ducks, who like to play a physical brand of hockey. If we look at the performance of recent cup winners during the follow-up season, we can see a heavy drop in those teams' records. Just look at how the Canes missed the playoffs completely.
Let's not forget the injury bug has hit the Ducks, especially Mathieu Schneider, the prized signing who has yet to play a single game this season thanks to a broken ankle.
3. Discipline - While the Ducks ground-and-pound thug-life style was prized for helping them to win the cup, it's also causing them a whole lot of grief. Only the Toronto Maple Leafs have been shorthanded more times than the Ducks (68, overall), and the Ducks PK unit is struggling at 80.9%, 16th in the NHL. Last season, the roles were reversed, with the Ducks middle-of-the-road in shorthanded situations and near the top in PK efficiency. Obviously, the Ducks are shooting themselves in the webbed foot.
That said, there are quite a few players that have been playing well below expectations.
Todd Bertuzzi - 7 games, 2 points and a -2 before suffering another injury to his inflated ego. Bertuzzi was given the golden parachute by Brian Burke, and has nothing to motivate him into playing like the man-beast he was with the Canucks.
Andy McDonald - Many suggested that his huge spike in production had to do with playing on the same line with a rejuvenated Teemu Selanne. While I think both players meshed with each other very well, it's obvious that Andy Mac misses his old mentor. With just 7 points in 13 games, Andy's production has dropped a great deal from the point-a-game pace he established the past two seasons.
Rob Niedermayer, Todd Marchant, Samuel Pahlsson (is god) - I realize that their job is to be the defensive shutdown unit of the Ducks, but a combined one goal and five points in 13 games? That is truly terrible.
If I am Brian Burke ...
1. Have Rob Niedermayer call Scott Niedermeyer EVERY DAY and beg the All-Star defenseman to put the skates back on.
2. Tell the team to smarten the hell up. Bad penalties are killing the Ducks, and not allowing the team offensive stars to get going.
3. Hunt around for a goal-scoring winger. The Ducks need someone who can combine with Dandy Andy and put the puck in the net. There should be quite a few b-grade scorers out in the wilderness that Burke can get his hands on. Bertuzzi can't be counted on for many reasons, Jason King is a flop, and the Ducks have the assets to make a deal.
Bondra Makes His Retirement Official
It's not that I don't enjoy having Bondra in the league, but it is rather painful watching a legend struggle to keep up with the new generation. Clearly, Bondra's time was up and he ought to go out without a huge fork sticking in his backside.
Well, Bondra announced his NHL retirement today, after a lot of pondering, and will become the general manager of Slovakia's national club.
"I kept it a secret for a long time. They will know overseas only after this press conference," Bondra said, according to a report from the Slovak national hockey association. "I hope I can help Slovakia win another medal at the world championship."
Bondra's final numbers: 503 goals and 389 assists in 1,081 games. I don't think it'll be quite enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but he was certainly one of the league's most dangerous offensive forwards during most of his career. With a smokin' slapshot, incredible skating speed, and nose for the net, Bondra was a threat that the opposition absolutely had to watch out for.
When I look at Marian Gaborik, who is injured AGAIN, I wonder how, if ever, he will live up to Bondra's status as the Slovak's most dangerous goal-scorer. Gaborik has the same raw tools, but can't stay healthy, and seems to lack the natural sniper instinct that Bondra possessed.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Canucks Give Media the Shaft
While my girlfriend was sifting through this morning's edition of The Vancouver Sun, she came across a small item posted by Brad Ziemer in his Canucks roundup. While it got very little space in the paper, the ramifications seem to me that it would justify more attention.
SUITE SURRENDER: In a continuing effort to squeeze every possible drop of revenue out of General Motors Place, the Canuck owners are apparently seriously considering a plan to turn the press box area into -- you guessed it -- corporate suites.
And where would reporters watch the games? Well, we'd be up, way up, in the rafters. No word if they're going to start charging us admission.
Other changes may also be coming. Canucks president Chris Zimmerman, chief operating officer Victor De Bonis and Harvey Jones, vice president and general manager of arena operations, spent part of the past week touring select NHL arenas searching for new ideas for GM Place. Their stops included the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
Now, I have been to the press box at GM Place, and it is a very good place to watch a game. The boxes are almost directly over the ice, and it gives anyone a great perspective of the scope of the action all over the ice.
Now, you move the media into the rafters with the rest of the commoners, and you expect the writers to have a good perspective of the game? I have been in the worst seats GM Place has to offer, and it would be very hard to give a good report of the game from there. Yes, they aren't 'terrible' places to watch a game, but not the kind of spot you'd want to be if you are trying to report on the game's action.
I suppose the role of the media has more to do with storytelling than game recaps and play-by-play recounts, but this seems to me like another move by the Canucks to screw over the media. From their disdain of bloggers (the official bloggers for the Canucks are nothing more than dronic shills), to their strong-arming of radio stations, to this ... it all reeks of arrogance AND greed.
For once, I'm on the media's side. The media does a real service to the Canucks, and it's in the team's best interest not to bite the hand that feeds them free coverage. Keep this up, and soon the reporters will be not inclined to give the Canucks positive press, or be inclined to tone down their coverage entirely.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Wayne's World: Thrashin'
Somehow, I get the feeling the Atlanta Spirit (sounds like a cheerleading squad, no?) will force Don Waddell to stick it out behind the Thrasher bench for the entire season or go with the minor-league coach in Chicago. That way, ownership can make a clean sweep after the season and bring in a new G.M./coach combo. On the other hand, the Thrashers have not been building up too much goodwill in the community, and may tell the fans, "We're writing this season off" may kill both advance and walk-up ticket sales...Just after the Birds finally got themselves on the radar last year. (But then again, maybe not so if you remember Tim Tucker's column about the abysmal TV ratings for the playoffs.)
Frankly, with so many players not knowing what the hell they're doing, they look more and more like a first or second-year expansion team...
Well, the Thrashers have rarely NOT looked like an expansion team through much of their inception. Waddell has not been able to get over the hump and turn his squad into a competitive squad on a nightly basis. Despite having loads of offensive talent, defensive and goaltending issues have always plagued the team.
Meanwhile, over in New Jersey, the new arena opening is supposed to bring scads of Devils fans to the games and prosperity to the neighbourhood.
Throughout the ceremony, he heard speaker after speaker refer to the “renaissance” and “rebirth” of Newark, words he had repeatedly used in recent years to extol the virtues of building the 17,000-seat arena.
Jeff Vanderbeek, the chairman of Devils Arena Entertainment, was the first person connected with the project to speak. Mr. Vanderbeek, the arena’s main developer, said that Mr. Booker, Mr. James’s successor, was “the reason this city will prosper.”
Hands up if you know of any areas that have suddenly turned from crap to gold with the building of a new arena?
What happens when there isn't a game in an arena? It's a big, vast, empty space is what it is.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Zdeno Chara Gives David Koci a Blood Bath
David Koci is an absolute monster, and not somebody that I'd ever want to meet in a dark alley (not that I hang around in dark alleyways). The d00d has spent far more minute IN the penalty box than on the ice during his brief NHL career.
When I had heard Koci and Chara got in a fight, I had feared the worst for Chara, knowing that Koci has carved a path of destruction in the bigs.
Well, check out what happened.
Booya! Chara used his reach and strength and turned Koci's face into a good Hallowe'en costume.
Slovaks 1, Czechs 0.
Urge to Kill (Canucks) Rising ...
So, the Canucks go into Detroit, and decide to roll over and play dead.
Trust me, the 3-2 score flatters the Canucks, who were out-shot 39-15 and were basically toyed with like a cat and a laser pointer. At no point did the Wings look like they are in any danger of losing their lead, and only Luongo's goaltending gave the Canucks half a chance.
Folks, this team is hella frustrating for anyone living in this city who doesn't cheer for one of Canada's other clubs. It's not bad enough that they are 2 games under .500, but they don't work hard, don't win faceoffs, and play a very boring style of hockey.
There aren't a lot of bright spots that stand out and make you think, "Hmm, maybe they'll turn it around like they did last year," other than the continual fine play of Roberto Luongo.
Time to vent a little ...
1. Taylor Pyatt - OK, you got a nice big contract. Does that mean you have to stop working? 2 goals, 0 assists, and -3 in 10 games of invisibility. Apart from his mascara, there isn’t much to this guy. I'm sure Sabres fans will say "I told you so", but the guy was actually useful last season. *sigh*
2. Markus Naslund - A poor example of a Captain, and someone who looks like they don't want to be here. 7 points in 10 games and a -6 is not what you'd expect from someone making uber millions, nor is the lack of effort. If Markus is wearing the C, and slacking off, then he's obviously setting a bad example. Instead of rising up to Vigneault's challenge, Markus basically said "Screw this", and decided to sleepwalk. Obviously, he doesn't like Vigneault and he's going to just pout about it.
3. Aaron Miller - Nice giveaway on the 3rd Detroit goal. I don't think Tomas Holmstrom has ever had an easier goal, even in practice. Miller, all too often, looks old, decrepit, and just plain overmatched. I understand that he's getting more ice time than he should be, but wouldn't the Canucks be better off with Edler?
4. Rick Rypien - Nothing against the guy, but he blocks a shot and breaks his finger?! Guy can't get a break. Even since his promotion, he's been one of the few Canucks that looks like they care.
5. SedinBots - Wake up! You are capable of so much more.
As for Detroit, I finally saw the empty seats for myself. It looks half-empty in the place, which is VERY weird. I know the subject has been beaten before, but it wasn't that long ago where you'd be swearing at the TV because some idiot at Joe Louis Arena was standing up and blocking the (low) camera angle.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
New York Ranger$ Can't Buy Success
Thanks in large part to Mark Messier's ego and need to play 18-minute a night when he was clearly outmatched, the Rangers never did collectively perform to the level of each individual player's ability added up. Lesser squads did far more with less talent, while the Rangers simply tried to fix problems by throwing more money in the fire.
After the lockout, the Rangers seemed to 'get it'. They let some of their young kids, such as Tyutin, Prucha, and Ortmeyer, get some key ice time. The Rangers used their money to sign 'smart' free agents, such as Marek Malik, and Brendan Shanahan, to fairly cheap deals. We saw the Rangers actually *gasp* make the playoffs and look like a pretty competitive team.
Then, the salary cap was raised, and suddenly the Rangers reverted back to form. We saw the Rangers sign some expensive contracts, some of the awful variety. Clearly, Glen Sather, free of some financial restraints, did not learn from his past mistakes.
Aaron Ward - $5.5mil over 2 seasons
Matt Cullen - $11.2mil for 4 seasons, and then they send him back to the Canes.
Scott Gomez - $51.5mil over 7 seasons.
Chris Drury - $35.25mil over 5 seasons.
The Rangers figured they could steal some karma from the Canes after the magical Raleigh run. While signing Ward wasn't a horrible deal, signing a 3-year line forward, as Cullen was, to that sort of deal with just nutso.
Figuring they ought to get some prime talent, instead, the Rangers spent a lot of money on a hard-to-coach playmaking centerman and a dearly overrated 2nd-line pivot, instead of re-signing Michael Nylander, a player who clearly meshed with the hard-to-please Jaromir Jagr.
The entire result of this has been a drought of African proportions. After last night's 1-0 loss to the Penguins, a team that has troubles stopping goals, the Rangers now find themselves having gone 2 games without a goal, and struggling with just 13 goals for in 8 games, by far the worst such totals in the league.
Yes, the Rangers can't even get 2 goals a game, despite having more talent, up front, than many other teams.
Let's assess the damage
Jaromir Jagr: 8GP 1-7-8
Chris Drury: 8GP 1-5-6
Scott Gomez: 8GP 2-1-3 (just 1 assist?)
Martin Straka: 7GP 2-1-3
Brendan Shanahan: 8GP 1-1-2 (WTF?)
Petr Prucha: 8GP 1-0-1
So, despite the fact that evil Swede Henrik Lundqvist is doing a great job in the nets (92.7SV%), the Rangers are 2-5-1 and generate just 21 shots on goal per game.
If I had to theorize as to what is wrong with the Rangers, it appears that they have a lot of finesse and little grit on their scoring lines. Clearly, there are a lot of egos to be stroked and few are willing to pay the physical price to get 'er done.
One weird stat that pops out is that Shanahan has 50 shots on goal in his 8 games, so he's clearly getting his chances. Of all of the players that should bounce back, he ought to be the one.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sidney Crosby, Revealed!
It's been mentioned in the comments section that Sidney has a new show debuting on the Versus network on Tuesday, October 23. The people at Versus were nice enough to contact us to give us an exclusive sneak preview of the "Sidney Crosby Revealed." Check it out:
Wow. What a show that is going to be! It will air on Versus on 10-23-07 at 6:30pm Eastern. Immediately following the program, the Pens face the Rangers. WHAT A NIGHT!!! That's DEFINITELY must see TV. (Just as a reminder, I'm going to put a banner at the bottom of the page. Click it to go to the Versus website.) It's going to be AWESOME!!! BE SURE TO TUNE IN!!!
Klouček Finds A Home
by Greg - cross-posted to the Post-Pessimist Association
According to a tip from Vak Fan -- Tomáš Klouček has signed on with
This is great news on multiple levels: Klouček has a home, he gets to hang out with Jaroslav Balaštík, and I can rotate the jerseys on the wall.
Update: the Zlín website has an article up, with a picture of Peter "Not Klouček" Barinka, who also apparently signed. I can't read a word, but that doesn't change the fact that this is great news.
Friday, October 19, 2007
OK, so you are asked to do a list of the top Toronto Maple Leafs players of all time.
Once you automatically eliminate Ken Klee and Peter Ing, you have a pretty daunting task ahead of you.
One player that should easily make the top 3, if not the Top 1, is Mats Sundin, only the most consistant and reliable player to ever play in the NHL.
Yet, some schmuck put together a survey, and Sundin ended OUT of the Top 10. HUH?
Dave Keon #1? You gotta be kiddin me.
One can quibble with where players are ranked in "Maple Leafs Top 100" but there's no knocking the technique used by Mike Leonetti.Now, most of the panel appears to be all over the age of 92, which tells you why so many of the old players were favoured over the new bunch.
He assembled a jury of 14 and gave each a ballot consisting of 140 players in alphabetical order covering the years 1927 through 2007. Write-ins were allowed. Each panelist came up with his own rankings during the summer and autumn of 2006 and results were finalized earlier this year. Points were allotted to each player corresponding to his ranking on each list.
When it was all computed, Dave Keon landed in the No. 1 position. Rounding out the top-12 were Ted Kennedy, Syl Apps, Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Charlie Conacher, Johnny Bower, Tim Horton, Turk Broda, Borje Salming, Red Kelly and Mats Sundin.
"I'm happy with the product," says Leonetti. "A lot of work went into it.
I recognize the greatness of some of these players in this list, but they do not hold a candle of what Mats Sundin has done in the NHL.
Wayne, our Southern correspondant, wonders aloud who might be the next coach of the Atlanta Thrashees:
Why hasn't anyone mentioned Jacques Demers? I was hoping he would have been the Thrashers' coach back when Curt Fraser was let go years ago? On the other hand, he might not be able to read the contract...(Imagine being illiterate in TWO languages...)
For all of us in Thrasher Nation, we should all be grateful that Psycho Mike Keenan already has a job, or else he'd be pushing his name in the hat...
I know, for a fact, that Jacques Demers is out and about the country (Canada) promoting literacy. Remember, he was functionally illiterate during his coaching days, and held that secret until just recently. I don't know if he's really thinking about going back to the NHL right about now.
Pat Quinn - He might be old, but he's an offensive-loving guy and could rip out your throat. He seems well-liked by his player, and will be a lot less whiny without that TO spotlight shining so brightly on him.
Mike Kitchen - No.
Mike Milbury - That would be funny.
Honestly, until Don Waddell is out as GM, this club is just going to continue to tread water and barely survive.
Waddell is in his sixth season as GM of the Thrashers, and they made the playoffs only once, thanks to some desperate trading and giving away of big assets. The club cannot stop opponents from scoring, and its top stars have all sorts of warts.
He's no Doug MacLean, but Waddell isn't exactly Brian Burke, either.
Today is the 50th anniversity of Maurice "Rocket" Richard's 500th career NHL goal.
You just know that Joe Pelletier has a hella lot of coverage and stuff to show you about it over at The Legends of Hockey.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
WTF? Heated Skate Blades?
As we know, many arenas around the NHL have trouble keeping their ice in great condition. Warm climates, multi-use stadiums, people breathing ... it all leads to slushy ice. Not all arenas are like Edmonton, Detroit, or Vancouver, where the ice is in great shape and leads to better puck control and game speed. Ask any NHL player about Madison Square Garden, or any rink in Florida, and they will tell you that it's like skating on a 7-UP Slurpee.
So, does it make any sense to you that the NHL is considering allowing the use of heated skate blades??
Heated skate blades? Yeah, the "Thermablade", a device which promises to help make skaters faster.
Tory Weber was a student in Calgary and working at a lumberyard when he ran out for his newspaper one February evening. He grabbed a warm pair of running shoes that had been sitting on the heat register next to the front door, stepped out onto his frost-covered front steps, promptly slipped and landed on his backside.Given how many of Gretzky's ventures have turned into busts, is he really the guy you want on board? *cough*
And just like that, Mr. Weber slid upon the idea that Wayne Gretzky believes will revolutionize hockey.
Yesterday at the Hockey Hall of Fame, about two decades after his inspirational slide, Mr. Weber officially unveiled Thermablades - heated skate blades that reduce friction and allow a hockey player to skate faster and with greater ease.
"Put an ice cube in your hand and the ice cube slides around in the palm of your hand," said Mr. Weber, explaining the science behind his invention. "It's the same principle with the skate blade. The heated blade creates a thin film of water between the ice and the blade and acts as a lubricant."
Now, Big Mac over at The NHL FanHouse touched on the safety aspect of this whole she-bang. Do we really want NHLers to be faster? I mean, give a 240-lbs slab of beef like Todd Bertuzzi that much more speed and you've basically made a big hitter even that much more dangerous. With all of the injuries we've been seeing lately from hitting, do we really want to make it easier to players to injure one another?
Now, I am not a total traditionalist crank, but I believe the NHL would be wise to say NO to this invention, given the safety and ice concerns. Making ice even more watery will likely lead to problematic ice conditions which lead to groin injuries, etc etc etc...
I also believe that this introduces a mechanical element to the game that should NEVER be allowed. At the very base of hockey, you have players with inanimate padding and sticks. None of these devices is mechanical, and all depend on the skill of the player using them. You might have graphite/metal sticks, but they do nothing by themselves. Heated skate blades add an element of 'assistance' that is just not natural.
If you let these in, where do we stop? Do we allow goaltenders to have springs in their pads that will make a rebound go about 100 feet away? How about allowing sticks to have mini-springs inside, allowing for faster shots?
If this was NASCAR, this would be par for the course. NASCAR, and other racing series, are all about man/machine vs. man/machine.
Of course, knowing the NHL, they will give this product their full endorsement. We wouldn't expect them to make the right call, would we?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The Wrong Guy?
Or at least, the less-right guy. The most upsetting thing about seeing the announcement of Bob Hartley's firing was not seeing "and GM Waddell" in the headline. I like ol' Bob for obvious reasons, but watching the Thrashers this season, nothing has suggested they are anything close to a well-coached team. Not that I expect that to change under interim coach Waddell -- Lou Lamoriello he ain't.
Don't have any real speculation as to who will be the next coach, and really, unless it's Scotty Bowman, nothing looks set to change. Waddell is the primary architect of the hole the Thrashers are in -- until he's finally gone, they'll find it tough going to get out.
Wednesday's Wacky Whisperings
Just a bunch of ran-dumb thoughts to empty out of my head before it gets too full.
After starting the season off with a bang (2 assists in his debut), Jaroslav Hlinka has hit the wall and hasn't had a single point in his last 5 games and also is -2. Hmm ... Greg or another Avs fan will have to let me know why he's done nothing since the opener.
Paul Stastny is on pace for 177 points. W00t!
Miroslav Satan: 1 assist and -3 in 6 games. WTF, eh?
Dustin Penner: 1 goal and 1 assist in 6 games. Money well spent.
The LA KINGS are in some kind of trouble, having given up 28 goals in 7 games!! Sheesh, it makes you wonder if Dan Cloutier is available for a call up. Only 2 players on the roster have a positive +/-
Rob Blake: Thou art done, son. D00d might have had 34 points last year, but he was noticeably slow and finished with an awful -26. This season, he's a league worst -9 in 7 games and isn't doing much offensively. The Kings were dumb to give him such a large contract, and now he's a big 'anchor', and not the good kind.
Oh, and how much longer will Marc Crawford be coaching? D00d was awful in his last season with the Canucks, and hasn't looked good with the Kings. Perhaps it is time to go back to the broadcast booth, where he'd be welcome with open arms.
How in the hell are the Blackhawks 3-2? Well, check out their goaltending stats... 1.79GAA and 93.4SV%. The Hawks have scored only 9 goals in 5 games, so the good times won't last.
How does the high-powered, expensive Rangers lineup have just 10 goals in 5 games? Well, I wonder if we are seeing a return of the all-talent, no-chemistry Rangers of old. Sign a bunch of expensive stars and watch them fizzle? We shall see...
Typical bad coaching: The Canadiens get a 1-0 lead against the Panthers last night THREE MINUTE into the frickin game. What do they do? They sit back and defend, defend, defend. It serves them right that the Panthers tied it with 10 seconds to go, and then smoked them in the shootout.
I'll never get why teams sit back so much, especially on a one-goal lead, when they are ahead. Keep doing what got you the lead, and apply pressure!! The best defence is a good offence, IMO.
The Atlanta Thrashees are now 0-6 and the Bob Hartley Death Watch continues. Honestly, I don't see why Don Waddell, their GM, isn't also on the firing line. He's been with the team since its inception, and they haven't done much of anything under his tenure. Sure, they made the playoffs last year, but they were swept away like a dust ball. Dealing a huge chunk of assets for a couple of rentals (like Tkachuk) indicates short-term thinking gone bad.
The Flyers are back ... ugh. It's easy, once again, to despise this team for their thuggish behaviour, awful uniforms, and just overall assholeness. It was hard to hate them last year when they were so pitiful. Now? It's like old times.
Oh, and "Danny" Briere? WTF? Since when did he change his first name? Really, Daniel (pronounced Danielle) really fit him so well. Danny is just so lame. Did the flyers marketing department just deem Daniel to be too wimpy? Kind of like how Bobby Clarke became Bob Clarke (Although everyone still calls him Bobby)?
Carolina always had the offence, but lacked the goaltending. It's nice to see Cam Ward finally put together a nice streak. He's started the season with this line, which makes you think he's finally arrived for a regular season: 1.79GAA and a 94.2SV%. Nice!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Jim Balsillie Tries Again
Earlier this month, I had vented about how shallow the NHL was in trying to make us think that the Nashville Predators weren't in any danger of moving.
Yeah, it is pretty damn obvious that Bettman is playing games and the team won't be in Nashville for the long term.
So, Uncle Rico, one of like 7 people that actually reads this site, informs me that Jim Balsillie is making another attempt to buy the Predators.
But, but, but, BUT ... Balsillie is claiming that he wants to keep the Preds IN Nashville (for a whopping 2 years), and is willing not to ask the city of Nashville to bend over ass-backwards to make even more concessions.
The Blackberry Juggernaut is once again making a play to get the Predators, but this time he is maintaining that the will not be playing north of the border. He now says that the Nashville market has proven there commitment to the team and that he only cares about owning a NHL franchise and he is adamant that he will not move the moderately productive team.
Uh-huh. Well, the Globe and Mail has some more details about this 'friendlier' bid.
Without trying to repeat myself, this is what we do know.
1. The NHL owners are an old boys club and don't react kindly to mavericks. The owners have, obviously, determined that Balsillie doesn't fit their mould, and don't like the fact that he tried to quickly buy and ship the team away without their demonic consultation.
It's like asking to marry the rich girl without asking her stodgy father's permission. Don’t expect to be in the will, Archie.
2. Balsillie is lying out of his balsillies. Does anyone believe that he is committed to Nashville? For Pavol's sake, the guy tried to sell tickets in a market without a team for a team he didn't own! This DQ soft serve bullshit isn't going to fool anyone. He's as committed to Nashville as Kid Rock is to the blonde groupie he boned last night.
3. Bettman has already committed to "Boots", and will ensure that his booty call gets a team before anyone else does. If Balsillie wants a team, he'll have to wait in line, at the very least.
4. Bettman, the Maple Leafs, and many other team owners do NOT want another team in Canada. If Balsillie wanted to move the team to a friendly Amerikan market, I'm sure it would have happened.
Suffice it to say, Hamilton will have an NHL team when George W. Bush admits the 'War on Terror' is simply a quest to protect his rich friends' equity investments.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
So, It's 0-5, Then?
Allow me to change course once again and proclaim myself "alarmed" with your 2007-2008 Atlanta Thrashers. I was planning to go to Saturday night's game with New Jersey, but in the end, blew it off (hockey has failed in the South!) and watched from the comfort of my couch. All things considered, the right decision.
I got engrossed with cooking dinner and drinking a bottle of wine, and so got into it a bit late -- turned it on during a phone conversation with my Mom, which went something like this:
Mom: "Dad's fine, sister's fine, etc etc"
I turn on tv, Patrik Elias scores to make it 2-1.
Me: "(word that you don't normally say in conversation with your dear sainted mother)"
Mom: "Excuse me?"
I should have just turned it off there. Instead, I got my hopes raised by the first decent period they've played all year, made mouth farts as the announcers talked about the need to "play a full 60 minutes" (perhaps the most inane thing a hockey commentator can say?), then watched in sorrow as the Thrashers, indeed, didn't play a full 60 minutes. God, that sucked.
This isn't a case of a team getting a few bad breaks. Kari Lehtonen was considerably less than spectacular last night, but he wasn't helped by his defense's complete inability to clear out the front of the net. The third period is just an ugly haze of red wine, Devils surrounding Lehtonen, and shattered dreams.
There's also not much to be scared of offensively, especially with Hossa out. Kovalchuk, ok. Slava Kozlov and Todd White aren't doing much. The kids are yet to accomplish much.
The double-barreled rumors are getting going -- will Hossa be traded? (if so, the Thrashers are in contention for whoever goes #1 next year) and will Hartley be fired? (wasn't his fault that the team's glaring needs weren't addressed, but they should be doing better than this regardless.) I know, I know, it's early yet, but this is shaping up to be a long year.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The 2 Man Advantage Invades Islanders' Training Camp
1. Drew Fata has nice calves...as he should
2. Purple pants? D00d... wtf?
3. 80's muzak, ftw
4. Trottier = bar bouncer? Has he fallen that low?
Friday, October 12, 2007
Boulerice Gets a Light 25-Game Suspension.
If you had guessed 25 games as the length of the suspension Colin Campbell would hand out to Jesse Boulerice, you'd be right.
The NHL Hand of Justice tapped three Icatian townsfolk and destroyed a good chunk of Boulerice's season.
National Hockey League disciplinarian Colin Campbell has handed Flyers forward Jesse Boulerice a 25-game suspension for cross-checking Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler in the head Wednesday night.
It's the longest suspension handed out in NHL history for an on-ice incident. New York Islanders forward Chris Simon also got 25 games for his two-handed slash to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers last season.
Is it nearly enough? To me, it certainly is not. I don't care if the previous maximum was 25, why should the NHL continue to put a glass ceiling on suspensions?
Boulerice is a pure thug, and he's almost killed people with his actions. Stick-swinging should never be tolerated, and 25-games, while severe in NHL terms, is not nearly sufficient to send a real message. Boulerice will be back, and will enjoy a nice vacation.
As a side topic, why do players named JESSE always suck? Jesse Boulerice, Jesse Belanger, Jesse Schultz...crap, crap, and more crap.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The Maple Leafs Goaltending Conundrum
What did I do to deserve this?
When Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr., aka "Puppet Boy", put all of his eggs in one basket with the trade/signing of Andrew Raycroft, more than a few eyebrows were raised wondering just what the hell he was doing.
While Raycroft had an amazing rookie season once upon a time, he had just come off of an injury plagued season in which he sucked more than a blindfolded Brian Boucher. In 2005-06, Raycroft played in just 30 games, and sucked with an 87.9 SV%. Somehow, JFJ thought Raycroft was 'The Answer' after Ed Belfour's departure.
It was no surprise, then, that Raycroft completely bombed as the Leafs #1 'tender, finishing with a well-below-average 89.4 SV% (90.5% was the league average), and JFJ was forced to go to a Plan B.
That Plan B? Spend a whole whack more resources to acquire career backup Vesa Toskala, somebody with a pretty decent track record in his brief NHL career.
The overall cost?
Raycroft - Hot prospect Tuukka Rask and then a $6mil/3 year deal.
Toskala - A 1st and 2nd rounder in 2007, and a 4th rounder in 2007 for Toskala and drunk driver Mark Bell.
Well, 4 games into the season, and the Leafs' netminders have combined for a 4.17GAA and 86.5SV%, with both goalies playing equally brutal.
So, what the hell do the Leafs do? Play a goalie and hope he goes on a hot streak?
If I am Paul Maurice, I'd do something about those raccoon eyes, and then play Toskala as my #1 goalie for the first half of the season. Toskala, despite his poor start, has a much better track record than Raycroft. With Raycroft, you know you will not get average goaltending. With Toskala? There is a good chance that you'll get at least average, if not more.
Forget this back-and-forth crap to appease the media and fanbase, go with the talented hand, which is Toskala. Just because the Leafs paid so much for Raycroft, doesn't mean they should continue to play him.
Do what the Avs do, and realize that Jose Theodore is a sunk cost. They are smart enough to know that Budaj is a superior goaltender, so they just sit Theodore on the bench, and know that they can do little but pay Theodore to open the bench door for his teammates. At this point, Maurice should ensure that Raycroft has the same type of job.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Coming to the Big Screen: Hockey's Robin Hood
Julian Rubenstein's book, titled "The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber", was one of my favourite hockey-related reads of all time. Although hockey is not nearly the central theme of the book, the story of Attila Ambrus and his robbery escapades, combined with the region's history, interesting characters, and Hungary's introduction to Capitalism, was very enticing and engrossing.
Well, the story obviously caught the eye of Hollywood's Elite, and it appears that Ambrus' story will be made into a movie, starring Johnny Depp, as the Whiskey Robber.
Ambrus and Depp? Yeah, I can see the resemblance. I just wonder if Depp will try at all to have some kind of Hungarian accent. There is certainly no way in hell he'll ever learn the language.
Johnny Depp has signed up to play a Hungarian bankrobber in a new movie.
The film is based on the bizarre true story of a former ice-hockey goalie who turned to crime and became a folk hero in his native country thanks to his charm and gentlemanly conduct.
The 41-year-old Finding Neverland star will play Attila Ambrus in an adaptation of Julian Rubinstein's bestselling book The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber set in the 90s in post-communist Hungary.
Ambrus, a Transylvanian refugee, turned to robbing banks after failing at several jobs including gravedigger, pelt-smuggler, church painter and a pro-ice hockey player.
Despite robbing nearly 30 banks in six years, Ambrus, also known as the Whiskey Robber, became a folk hero inspiring songs and newspaper tributes.
He was always unfailingly polite to bank tellers, even bringing them roses, and thoughtfully left champagne for harassed police investigators.
Obviously, I'll be looking forward to this movie. Depp is a pretty damn good actor, and a fine choice to play the Attila Ambrus. It's quite a testament to the book that an A-list actor is quite happy to play the part.
Ambrus recently turned 40 behind bars (October 6th), and Rubenstein went to prison to visit and interview The Whiskey Robber. You can view the video over at YouTube.
For the short-form details of Ambrus' life, check out VakFan's post.
If you are interested in getting the book, check out this Amazon.com site.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Nike Gets the Hell Out of Hockey
Ding dong, the bitch is dead!
As reported on by Eric over at The FanHouse a couple weeks back, and as touched on by Sportsnet today, Nike is getting out of the hockey business.
Swoosh. In onomatopoeic terms, that is the sound of sports biggest brand leaving hockey after 13 years of trying to be the choice for amateur and professional players.
In 1994, Nike bought Montreal's Canstar Sports, maker of the popular Bauer skates and other equipment, hockey was surging.
"I remember (Nike CEO) Phil Knight saying at the time that hockey was North America's fourth-most culturally-significant sport," said John Collins, a former senior executive in Nike's hockey division. "He wanted in."
Nike would wind up paying a frothy $395 million (U.S.) for Canstar, a 50 per cent premium above the level its shares were trading in prior months.
But as the popularity of rollerblades slipped, and several Nike skates were being returned due to awkward fitting, the company started to see the writing on the wall.
"The reality is hockey's a declining market in the U.S.," said Jim Rennie, a sporting goods expert.
The simple fact is, kiddies, that Nike is a MARKETING company, and not a sporting goods company. All of the products that bare the Nike logo are produced by non-Nike factories over in China and other parts of Asia. Why do you think Nike can get away with paying workers 10 cents an hour?
Anyway, ever since their unwelcome intrusion into hockey, Nike has faced a lot of criticism for lowering the quality of the product AND jacking up prices. Like they do for basketball, Nike simply signs up some big names, attached a swoosh to the product, makes it look 'stylish', and raise up the price 200%.
Remember how poorly Tiger Woods played while adjusting to Nike products? Nike entered into a product that they knew little about, and simply sold their stuff based on their name recognition. Nevermind that the products suck, it's all about the stupid logo. Anyone who actually buys a Nike product for something other than actual need should be smacked upside the noggin with a pair of $195 Air Jordan sneakers that have an actual material value of about 47 cents.
Declining market? Yeah, how many people are fed up with spending $400 on some poor-fitting skates? Hockey equipment companies focus so much on technical improvements, that the game is now out of reach for many people.
Growing up with a single mom, there was no way she could afford to shell out $1,000's per year on hockey. So, I had to play other, cheaper sports (rugby, basketball, soccer, etc). Nike was another cog in the machine that made hockey a niche sport for rich kids, and an investment in hockey equipment akin to buying a new car.
Unfortunately, Reebok is making many of the same mistakes Nike has. The new Reebok edge jerseys are a joke (and overpriced), and their equipment is certainly not cheap in price.
What Reebok does has going for them are a true committment to the game, the handsome Sidney Crosby, and good market saturation. While Nike treated hockey like just another stupid investment, Reebok has gone full-bore into the sport, right down from the junior ranks right up to the NHL.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Jason Blake's Newest Battle: Cancer
Not too long after The FanHouse's Greg Wyshynski reported on the pressure Leafs winger Jason Blake faces after *gasp* not scoring a goal in his first three games, comes news that Blake has a much more serious issue to deal with: Cancer.
The diagnosis: Chronic myelogenous leukemia, an uncommon type of cancer. According to wikipedia, the longest survival time was 117 months. On a more positive note, The Mayo Clinic states that patients can live many years as long as they take (ever improving) chemo-like pill treatment. The complications, however, could end Blake's career early.
"This morning I shared with my teammates news that I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia," Blake said on the team's website.
"It is highly-treatable, and I have begun taking a pill on a daily basis that has proven to be very effective in controlling this cancer. The prognosis, and certainly the expectations of my physician, myself and my family, is that I will live a long, full and normal life. This situation will not impact my ability to live my life as I otherwise would, and will not affect my ability to perform at my highest level for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm looking forward to my first season with the Leafs and helping our club compete for the Stanley Cup."
Well, this is certainly terrible news for Jason Blake and his family. Here is hoping that they idenfied it early enough, and that treament has improved enough, that Blake can manage the condition and live for many more years.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Milan Lucic's First NHL Fight
Milan Lucic was, surprisingly, kept by the Bruins to start the NHL season, rather than be returned to the Vancouver Giants to captain their success.
The reason? He can chuck the knuckles with the best of them. Check out his debut fight from last night's Dallas/Boston game.
I'd call this a draw, with Lucic throwing a few good punches, but getting a lot of Dark Helmet in the process.
(c) Getty Images
Friday, October 05, 2007
07-08 Predictions With Conviction
Well, I finally put together the little predictions spreadsheet that I do every year, comparing my picks with Greg's, Mirtle's, and other mainstream writers and publications. Just to brag a little, I tend to kick the MSM's ass quite frequently, although I do have the benefit of time. Magazines have to come out with their predictions a bit earlier ... although they still tend to make really dumb picks.
I gathered my picks and those of Greg, my girlfriend, Mirtle, and Globe and Mail writers Tim Wharnsby, Eric Duhatschek, and Alan Maki. The magazines include The Score's Forecaster, The Hockey News, and McKeens.
Some notes and totes
1. Lone wolves - Only one person picked the Canucks to miss the playoffs (Mirtle = Hater), only one person (my lovely g/f) picked the Coyotes NOT to finish last in the West, and only McKeen's picked a non-Ottawa team to finish 1st in the East. Alan Maki went nuts and pick the Islanders to finish in the playoffs. Many others had them in the basement, or near to it.
2. Tampa Bay - I was one of three who picked them to finish out of the playoff race. With such a cruddy defence (Boyle is injured, too) and goaltending, I don't see how a one-and-a-half line team can be all that successful.
3. Calgary - I think Keenan will be a disaster for that club, and am waiting for Huselius and Tanguay to run screaming. Most other people don’t seem to agree, and have picked them for a playoff spot. I realize that their goaltending and D is great, but Keenan is just bad news.
4. Mirtle seems really high on Florida, for some reason. I agree with him that the team has some real potential, but I see more holes in their defence than Robert Pickton's case.
5. Pittsburgh should outscore the league by a WIDE margin. If one of their goalies could not suck, they'd be a real contender out of the East.
6. No change in the fact that the West still has the balance of power in terms of strong teams.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Sick of the Avalanche Yet?
Tough. I'm watching game one right now (Budaj looks like a god! This statement automatically revoked if he gives up a goal, EVER), and watching it with the rather surreal soundtrack of my own voice. In an attempt to spread my half-formed, poorly-researched insights across multiple platforms, I'm a guest on Alanah's "Crazy Canucks" podcast discussing the Avalanche (along with Tapeleg from Jerseys and Hockey Love). Despite a few too many glasses of wine during taping (on my part), the occasional obvious lack of research (Tony Amonte no longer on the Flames? Who knew?), it came out pretty well. Check it out (if you want to listen to a whole lotta stuff about the Avs). Thanks for the opportunity, Alanah!
So, How Long Until the Predators Move?
I got an email in my inbox today from our favourite southerner, Wayne, about the 'sale' of the Nashville Predators. It's a topic I've kinda ignored recently as I'm eagerly awaiting the start of the season.
So, it comes as no surprise that the deal to sell the club is on thin ice.
From the Toronto Star:
The deal to keep the Predators in Nashville appears to be nearly dead, with the local ownership and the city's council at loggerheads over monetary issues and potential changes to the team's arena lease.
The leader of a local group trying to buy the Predators told Nashville's The Tennessean he doubts the deal to work out after the city rejected the group's requests for new tax money and several improvements to the Sommet Center.
"No, I'm not hopeful," David Freeman, CEO of 36 Venture Capital, told the newspaper. "We put a ton of work into it, and we did our best."
Where that leaves the Predators is uncertain. BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie of Waterloo, Ont., had a $238 million (all figures U.S.) offer on the table to buy the team from Craig Leipold, but he wanted to move it to Hamilton.
Of course, James "Canucks Hater" Mirtle has been all over this like a wet blanket, and notes that the Preds already have the sweetest arena deal in the league.
As I see it, this is all part of Gary Bettman's master plan.
Bettman didn't want an owner that he can't control, nor did he want a team to move to Canada, especially Hamilton.
Thus, Bettman did everything he could, including nudging Leopold, not to sell to Jim Balsillie, a 'renegade' in Bettman's eyes.
Out of the blue, the Predators suddenly had a white knight (Knocking Boots Del Biaggio and his crew) that wanted to keep the Preds in Nashville. Why would anyone want to keep a club in a town with weak corporate support and attendance? It was speculated that Bettman promised Boots the next open team, and Boots wanted to move the club.
Of course, Boots and crew put up the illusion that they wanted to keep the team in Nashville. Bettman couldn't surely have the team suddenly move after pulling out the rug from Balsillie's legs, could he?
So, the 'new' owners demand everything but the moon from the local government, continue gutting the roster, and jacking up ticket prices. Basically, the team is doing everything it can to make itself look like it is failing in Nashville. Who in the hell would want to attend a Preds game with a watered-down roster and high ticket prices?
Then, the initial deal will fall through, and Bettman/Boots will find a way to move the team out of Nashville, claiming that the NHL tried, but could not make hockey work in Country Music City.
Tom Benjamin sums it up pretty well in an older post of his:
I think we will see announced attendance in Nashville will be comfortably above the number necessary to sustain the lease while the fans are kept in the dark about the paid attendance. We will also see one snag after another in the sale of the Predators to the local group. Eventually the problems will all be resolved except Boots Del Biaggio will be the majority rather than a minority shareholder. Finally, late in the season, we'll learn the targetted paid attendance was not met.
In the meantime, Predator fans - and there are real fans in the area - have to pay a lot more to see a team that will be a lot less competitive. Many of them will pony up because they believe that if they do, they can save their team. They want to believe that, so they will. Some will say that its their own fault for choosing to buy into a fairy tale, but I don't think that's fair given the way Leipold and the league has scripted the relocation.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
PAVOL IS YOUR NEW DICTATOR !!!
It appears that our master, lord, and saviour, Pavol Demitra, has been named CAPTAIN of the Minnesota Wild.
Thanks to Mirtle and Roy from Wild Puck Banter for sending me this information.
SAINT PAUL/MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Minnesota Wild President and General Manager Doug Risebrough and Head Coach Jacques Lemaire announced today that forward Pavol Demitra will serve as team captain for the month of October. Brian Rolston and Wes Walz will serve as permanent alternate captains.
Demitra, 32 (11/29/74), collected 64 points (25-39=64) in 71 games for the Wild in 2006-07, his first season in Minnesota. Entering his 11 th NHL season, Demitra has posted 645 points (266-379=645) in 682 career games with St. Louis, Los Angeles and Minnesota. Demitra hails from Dubnica, Czechoslovakia.
Minnesota will continue to rotate its team captaincy on a monthly basis this season based on the player who has shown the greatest leadership qualities.
Rolston (October, November and January), Keith Carney (December) and Mark Parrish (February, March and April) wore the 'C' for Minnesota in 2006-07.
You may now bow down and kiss the skates he ... err ... skates in!
I am quite surprised that Pavol was given this honour, given the fact that he is a very quiet guy and has been generally shy about talking much due to his (self-perceived) lack of Engrish skills.
Pavol joined Zdeno Chara among the rare air of Slovak NHL captains. If Florida was smart, they would give their C to Josef Stumpel and we'd have a trifecta.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Avalanche Blogger Roundtable
After the off-season arrivals of Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan, and departures of Pierre Turgeon and Patrice Brisebois, there's a renewed sense of optimism in Avalanche-land. It's morning in America, to coin a phrase.
They missed the playoffs last year; it's widely predicted they won't again (for a non-Avs fan perspective, Jes has a preview up at AOL Fanhouse, ).
A group of Avalanche bloggers have assembled, meanwhile, to discuss the season -- for the first ever...
The full table of contents is up at Mile High Hockey. Over here, we're hosting question #5:
5. What happens if the Avalanche are under .500 mid-way through the season?
Mike @ BBnR (Bleu, Blanc et Rouge) -- If the Avs are below .500 at the midpoint, Coach Q. will be handed his walking papers. Hundreds of 14-year-olds on the Avs message boards suddenly declare that they never liked his 'style' anyway. Now the obvious choice for his replacement is Granato, but in a startling announcement, Super Joe pulls a Reg Dunlop and becomes a player/coach. Not wanting to miss out on a good idea, the Rangers make Shanny a player/coach also. However, Shanny decides to take it to the next level and play without a helmet. He's killed by an errant Scottie Upshall elbow in the first game against Philly. The hockey world mourns, Jagr wets himself, and Chris Drury assumes the captaincy of the Rangers. The Avs squeak into the playoffs as the 8th seed and get swept by the Defending Stanley Cup Ducks as Scotty Nieds, ala Bottle-Rocket Clemens, comes out of retirement just for the playoffs.
Draft Dodger (In the Cheap Seats and Mile High Hockey) -- There's little doubt in my mind that coach Quenneville will be fired if the team is struggling. If (and only if) the struggles are related to poor goaltending, I could see Giguere opening up the proverbial "cubbard" to move a prospect or two for a goalie the team can count on. Beyond that, I wouldn't expect a full-scale panic from the organization; they've got a solid foundation and won't sacrifice our future for short-term improvements.
Jibblescribbits (Jibblescribbits) -- If the Avs are under .500, unless Budaj has played spectacular and it hasn't been his fault at all, I think Giguere will try and make a deal to bring Bryzgolov in from Anaheim. Even if it's not Budaj's fault, he'll do it for the shot in the arm that they need. The only other
option they may have, and it's truly scary to even think about it at all, is to put Theo in net and hope he catches lightning in a bottle. I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but under .500 at mid-season (when it's nearly impossible to be under .500 in this scoring system) means the best thing to hope for would be that Theo catches lightning in a bottle, and you can trade him out for some prospect, any
prospect, in the off-season.
Tapeleg (Jerseys and Hockey Love) -- Not.
But if it did, I don't see much changing. I think Coach Q will stay in place, no matter what the season is like. If they miss the playoffs, he's gone, but not before. Granato will not be given his shot as a Head Coach in Colorado, and if he wants that as a career, he is going to have to go elsewhere.
I would love to see a Bryzgolov move, but so would half the league. I don't think he will be available by the halfway point, either traded to a team, or the Ducks realize they need him.
Also, if the Avs are below .500, I may cry. May. A man cry, but still.
Justin (Avalanche Guild) -- Due to the fact that I am extremely superstitious (I'm a goalie - enough said), I will not be answering this question.
Joe (Mile High Hockey) --
If the Avalanche are under .500 mid-way through the season, it will be because Joe Sakic had a heart attack, Scott Hannan was forced to shave his head, Ryan Smyth got traded to the Islanders (again), Andrew Brunette skated so slow he actually reversed the time-space continuum and Paul Stastny defected to the Czech Republic.
Only then would it be possible for the Avs to be below .500 mid-way through the season.
Greg (Hockey Rants and the Post-Pessimist Association) -- Another thing I don't really see happening; it would take a pretty big meltdown for them to be below .500. If they are? New coach, new goalie (unless it's a case of Budaj playing spectacularly behind a porous defense/no scoring).
Jori (Avs Prospects) -- Should the Avs have a sluggish first half, Francois Giguere will have a tough decision to make. The last two seasons for the Colorado Avalanche can be described as transition years as the team struggled to adjust to the salary cap. Expectations are high for this team, but I'm not convinced Quenneville will be fired if they get off to a slow start. I view Giguere as a patient man and he may be willing to let the team work through their problems. However, Giguere could make a transaction. I hear there is some guy named Forsberg who might be willing to join a team sometime during the season. Perhaps he could give the Avs a needed boost.
Shane (Avs Talk) -- Not gonna happen. But if it does, it will depend on what the root cause is. If the team isn't gelling, Q could get heaved. If Budaj and Theodore are both sucking wind, Weiman will get brought in to give them a wakeup call. And if it's due to a string of injuries, then the trainer will get fired.
Ok, the last one is in jest but so is the question, don't you think? ;)
* * *
There's seven more of these questions out there -- check out the above blog links, or head on back to Mile High Hockey to see the rest.