Sunday, August 31, 2008
Holy Moly! The Butcher Bolts to Tampa
I know my blogmate, Czechmate, an Ottawa resident, was already seething over the lack of CzechoSlovak content on the Ottawa Senators. I'm sure, then, that he'll be crying in his All Bran over the fact that Andrej Meszároš was dealt to the Lightning for some prospect assets. Now, Meszaros can have his surname butchered in whole new ways.
In typical Tampa Bay circus fashion, the Bolts made an offer sheet to the young Slovak, only to find out that *DUH* they don't have the necessary draft picks as compensation. Cue the circus music and annoying clowns.
Ottawa clearly didn't mind the fact that the Bolts wanted Meszaros, so the clubs came up with a rather quick trade to get the deal done.
Tampa Bay gave up defensemen Filip Kuba, Alex Picard, and a 2009 first-round draft pick for the Butcher, and then signed him to a six-year, $24-million dealio.
Kuba is no longer all that great, so it's basically a warm body, a lottery ticket, and Picard for a prime young D-man. Good deal of bad deal for Ottawa? I guess it depends on what Ottawa does with this new salary cap room they have.
Over at FanHouse, JP notes that Tampa, famous for comparing Lecavalier to Michael Jordan, turned on the hyperbole machine to proclaim Meszaros an 'elite' defenseman. JP isn't impressed.
Senators GM Bryan Murray referred to Meszaros' play over the past two seasons as "[leaving] a lot to be desired" (not something you typically hear of the game's top defensemen), and the numbers certainly represent something a lot closer to "pretty good player" than "time to adjust the game plan, we're facing Andrej Meszaros tonight" -- Meszaros finished last season 25th among the League's defensemen in scoring and 68th in that group in plus/minus. He was 80th in ice time, 35th in power-play scoring and 100th in shooting percentage.
I'll play the Devil's advocate and come to the defense of Tampa. Yes, Andy is not an elite defenseman, but he's one of the better young d-men in the game and ought to get better.
Remember Meszaros' rookie season? D00d was only 20 years old and put up 39 points and went +39 in 82 games. How many 20-year old d-men ever do that much?
Then, something went sour for Meszaros in Ottawa and he's been on the Martin Skoula path to stagnation. Perhaps Ray Emery's influence made Meszaros into a party animal, perhaps the Sens' new anti-Slovak policy hurt Andy's feelings ... we'll likely never know. What we do know, however, is that Meszaros' relationship with the club was quit sour, and he needed to get the hell out of that rathole.
I believe Butcher will become one of the league's better defensemen, and the Bolts will end up getting good value for this deal. Yes, they paid a high price, but good young defensemen are worth a premium. This is a far better deal than some of the other odd signings the Bolts have made.
Of course, it's easy to be nervous if you are a Bolts fan, especially when Meszaros is commenting on how much was given up for him.
"I was surprised they gave up that much for me," he said of the Lightning. "They gave up some good players. I really appreciate that. I'm excited and happy to be in Tampa. Now it's a great challenge for me to step up and play as hard as I can."
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Sakic Signs for Another Season
Could you imagine the Colorado Crapalanche without Joe Sakic? He's been the face of the Quebec/Colorado franchise since I was a wee little lad, and not having him on the team would be like not having rain in Vancouver during an August morning.
The 39-year old veteran hummed and hawed for awhile, and then decided to come back for one more season of Canuck killing, his 20th in the NHL.
Patience paid off for the Colorado Avalanche, who signed Joe Sakic to a one-year, US$6-million contract Wednesday after he decided to play a 20th NHL season rather than call it a career.
"Ultimately it came down to the fact that I still enjoy playing and competing," the 39-year-old captain said in a statement released by the team. "I'm comfortable with my conditioning and my overall health.
"I'm ready for the start of camp and am looking forward to the upcoming season."
Last season was really quite strange as it was the first time that I can remember that Sakic looked less than immortal. As a Canucks/Blues fan, seeing Joe Sakic with the puck was pretty much guaranteed to induce that crap-my-pants feeling. You just knew that it would take nary a split-second before he unleashed a laser-like wrist shot that scored the Avs yet another goal.
It wasn't too long ago when Burnaby Joe was still an elite forward. Actually, it was just two seasons ago when Sakic reached 100 points and looked even better than he did before the lockout. It speaks to Sakic's skill and conditioning that he could dominate at his age.
At long last, the specters of age and injuries caught up with Sakic, and he fell to just 40 points in 44 games last season. Those who got to see a lot of Sakic on TV could see that he didn't have the same zip in his game and didn't instill the same fear as he once did. I find it amazing that Sakic even put up that much offence, given how "out of it" he looked.
Still, Sakic is one of the league's smartest offensive players, and still adds a lot to the Avs in terms of productivity and leadership. In today's NHL, a point-a-game pace is damn valuable. Even as a mere mortal brought low, Sakic is better than most players in the game.
So, enjoy Sakic while you can, because the face of the Avs, and of the game's best ever, will be skating off into the sunset before long.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Wednesday Wonderings: Burnout Edition
Blogger Burnout sucks, especially when combined with an on-off again throbbing headache and a lack of actual hockey news.
First, let's start off in the world of women's golf (zzzzz....), where the LPGA is going to mandate English proficiency.
At a mandatory South Korean player meeting Aug. 20 at the Safeway Classic, the tour informed its largest international contingent that beginning in 2009, all players who have been on tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills. Failure would result in a suspended membership.
Wow, talk about really stupid rule changes ... If there is a sport that doesn't require English to be spoken, it's golf. Hell, they throw you out of the Country Club just for thinking too loudly. When do golfers need to speak, other than to the caddy?
I can understand that the LPGA wants its players to be able to do interviews, but who the hell interviews women golfers, anyway? How about getting some eye candy out on the course? I don't think the media is really concerned about Korean women golfers who can't say boring clichés in broken Engrish.
Imagine if the NHL tried to pull off something like this? Oh, you could just see the exodus of European NHLers returning back home because they didn't pass some stupid multiple-choice test Gary Bettman dreamed up.
While French/Quebec players might have the rep for being soft in the NHL (think Daigle, Turgeon, Brisebois), the fact is that Quebec is the #1 province for hockey fighting. The brawls in Quebec beer leagues are infamous, and the brawlers that province produce are second to none (Worrell, Laraques, Brashear)
So, it seems quite strange, then, that Quebec has taken drastic measures to reduce fighting in junior hockey. It's not an outright ban, nor is it European (automatic ejection), but it's a serious change to how fights are penalized.
Young hockey players in Quebec are going to think twice about using their hockey gloves as boxing gloves in the wake of strict new penalties announced Wednesday to curb on-ice violence.That's right, folks, a TWO GAME SUSPENSION for being in a fight! Gary Bettman must be jealous!
Hockey Quebec is targeting unsportsmanlike behaviour such as fighting, checking the back of the head and verbal abuse in the minor leagues.
Players who fight, instigate, or jump into an on-ice brawl as a third combattant will be suspended for two games on a first offence. A second offence puts the player out for four games and means a trip before a disciplinary committee.
A third offence means an indefinite suspension.
It seems that The Powers That Be felt too much backlash from Jonathan Roy's actions. (Click here for YouTube goodness)
I understand that fighting in hockey is not very necessary, but it does provide us fans with extra entertainment, and allows for on-ice disputes to be handled without the need for serious stick swinging.
Still, this feels like a gross overreaction. Couldn't the Quebec Fed simply give much harsher penalties for serious incidents? Why should a player be suspended two games for an average consensual fight? Most fights never end up close to being monster brawls or outright assaults. Why can't these bureaucrats distinguish between the two?
I'm not sure if the QMJHL will follow these guidelines, or if it is just for the lower kiddie ranks. This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Video Of The Evening - A Great Summary/Comparison
Well, we are all suffering from hockey withdrawal, and there really isn't much more than made up shit from Eklund's site. So, we're left to remember things, or extrapolate and predict things... Today, I want to pay homage to arguably the best Czech player ever (with Dominik Hasek deserving equal, if not higher consideration, depends on your rating scale...)
Without further ado - Jaromir Jagr:
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Video of the Day: Usain Bolt, Poor Sportsman
When I heard about Olympic mafia leader Jacques Rogge whining about Usain Bolt being a poor sportsman, I pretty much rolled my eyes like almost everyone else did.
Then, I was pointed to this video of Bolt's 100m race and now we see evidence that Rogge was right ...
Friday, August 22, 2008
Study: Bigger Heads = More Aggression
The term "fathead" is often used in describing someone who is rather dull, stupid, and has a temper. Thus, when our buddy Wayne forwarded me a story with the headline "Hockey fatheads end up in the penalty box more often", I was pretty much like "D'uh, Big Moose!"
It terms out that the "fatheads", in this case, refer to the actual size of the player's head, and is not just a cute expression.
From the Regina Leader Post:
Results of the study published Wednesday in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society, concluded of the six Canadian-based NHL teams, the faces of the Ottawa Senators are dead giveaways when it comes to predicting how much time players spend in the penalty box.It is easy to dismiss this as bunk science, but there have been studies that show that finger length can often predict how aggressive guys can be. Perhaps having a larger part of the body means more testosterone?
"We're not saying that Ottawa is more aggressive than any other team. But each individual player's face predicts how much time he had in the box," said Brock University neuroscience researcher Justin Carre.
The researcher devised a lab experiment comparing facial ratios of a group of student volunteers with their aggressiveness while playing a video game.
The measurements, performed with the help of a digital ruler, compare the width of the face at the cheekbones with the height between the bottom of the eyebrows and the upper lip. An unusually wide male face has a ratio of about 2.3, while a relatively narrow face has a ratio of about 1.6.
Among the male students, those with wide faces were more likely to play the video game aggressively, even downright vengefully.
So, in the next advancement in scouting, will we see teams measure head sizes? Maybe measure finger sizes as well. Why just measure fitness levels? Do DNA testing as well!
Looking for a bruiser? Don't get the chap who looks like John Cleese, go for the Brock Lesnar!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Prospect Steven Legein Retires .. at 19
A 19-year old man retiring from professional/amateur hockey is not that unusual. Many prospects that have no real shot of doing much in the pro hockey world do it all the time, opting for University or a career in the 'real' world. Why ride buses for days on end to make $30,000 a year when you can make double that with far less travel?
When it is a promising 2nd round prospect with no history of major injury? That IS unusual.
Via FanHouse: Stefan Legein, a 2007 second round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets who is just 19, has retired from professional hockey. I'm sure BJs fans are quite stunned rightaboutnow.
The reason: He just didn't want to play anymore. It's that simple.
Legein seemed to be on the path to a potential NHL career, and, if you go through the FanHouse post, you see that Legein certainly didn't appear unhappy. The BJ's certainly had big plans for the kid, and you know that the team desperately needs some of its prospects to pan out.
My first instinct, naturally, was to think "What a waste!". I can understand being in a funk, but why waste so many years of training and development when the potential for big $$ exists. Of course, that is merely me projecting my own interests and attitudes on someone I have never had any contact with.
I know that some BJ's fans are probably pissed at the kid for quitting so soon, especially given the team's need for actual talent. It's been a hard few years for fans of the club, and the last thing they need is one of their top prospects bailing on them.
As Adam Proteau of The Hockey News notes, we ought not to vilify the kid for his decision.
I hope the young man isn’t vilified for his decision. Who among us hasn’t had doubts in our late teens (or for that matter, well beyond that age) about our direction in life? Legein’s biggest problem is he has been in a line of work that receives so much publicity and adulation most casual observers assume he should be down on his hands and knees in gratitude for the opportunities he’s been afforded.
Exactly! I know I changed career paths and desires at 20, opting out of a potentially lucrative career as a software designer. I hated (and still do) computer programming and computer science, and I never imagined how utterly dull it would be when I signed up for a program.
I left after a year, and found myself choosing Accounting and Finance. Yes, the money isn't as good, but I'm much happier with myself.
Now, I can imagine that this young man had the same kind of "voila!" moment that caused him to say, "I really don't enjoy all of this hard physical training and I don't enjoy playing highly competitive hockey enough to continue on". Yes, playing hockey is fun, but when it is your job? Maybe not so much.
Oh, and score one for bloggers (Bethany's Hockey Rants, a title she kinda *cough*stole*cough* from us) for breaking the story!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Just Look Away Mats...
Although there is nothing but idle speculation surrounding the Mats Sundin situation, the summer is rapidly grinding to an end, which means training camps are just around the corner. The only concrete thing we've heard from the Sundin camp is that Mats wants to be at training camp, should he decide to honour us with another year of his presence rather than retiring.
Now, when a player of Mats' calibre (I may not like him, but I respect his ability) garners so much attention from the media, it stands to reason that people will throw out the "best fit" scenarios for him to win a Stanley Cup to end his career, a la Ray Bourque.
So, the list of "possible destinations" has been decided, at least by hockey writers and bloggers.
The one that seems to be the "flavour of the week" at the moment is Mats heading to Broadway to sign with the Rangers. Not only as a fan, but as someone who likes to think he knows something about hockey, I believe this would be a terrible idea, likely for both sides.
First of all, the Rangers are within $2M of the salary cap, meaning they would either have to a) Convince Mats to play for league minimum, to leave a bit of a buffer for injuries and whatnot b) Sign him for $2M and face a dangerous cap situation all season long, or c) Move out some salary and sign him for the $7-8.5M that the market will likely demand.
Now, some theorists have suggested the Rags would be looking to move Michal Rozsival and his $5M contract (signed this summer, in fact), but does this make any sense at all?
The Rangers aren't exactly deep on the blueline, and getting rid of Rozsival doesn't make them any deeper, especially since it would be a salary dump in which the Rangers would be seeking only prospects or picks, to maximize the dump. Is Bobby Sanguinetti ready to pick up the slack? I don't think so, nor do I think it would be a reasonable expectation from the team to put a rookie in a big-minutes situation.
Another reason Sundin should stay out of a Rangers uniform is that the team is already deep in centers and leaders. Chris Drury, who I believe will end up the team's captain this season, Scotty Gomez, and Mats Sundin? If I'm not mistaken, all 3 have been captains in the past, and all play the same position. While I suppose Drury could be moved to the left wing, I don't believe you should mess with a player's natural position if you want the most out of his game. This would leave one of those three centering the third line. A little pricey, I'd say...
Finally, the impact Sundin's sudden appearance would have on team chemisty is impossible to gauge. He seems like an affable enough guy off the ice, even if he's a bit of a prick on it. I doubt anyone would instantly dislike him, aside from possibly Wade Redden - lots of love lost during battle of Ontario games. But, it's a new team, new teammates, new coach, new system, and above all, new city. This would likely mean an adjustment period, aka - slow start. Can the Rangers' re-vamped lineup afford to allow Mats time to get settled in? And before anyone says anything about Nik Zherdev, the reason I draw a distinction is that Zherdev is much younger, and hasn't ever really planted roots in the NHL. Sundin, conversely, has 13 years of Leafs engrained in him, and it would take a lot of inner work for him to exorcise those "demons".
Anyway, I'd say Mats should really look at Toronto, Colorado, Vancouver (although the travel would be nuts) or even Montreal. I'm just praying Glen Sather has enough integrity to stick to his plan. And that plan, at least until now, didn't appear to include Sundin.
Until next time,
Monday, August 18, 2008
More Olympic Frothings
Yes, I am still boycotting/not watching the Summer Olympics, but with no hockey news worth commenting about, and a blogging itch to scratch, I'm gonna bitch about them (again). How long until preseason starts? I really need some actual hockey news or I'm going to cry.
1. It was certainly nice to see Canada break out and win some actual medals! With all of the resources and people we have in this country, the fact that we had less medals than Azerbaijan was pretty sad. Canada has 9 now (at least that is what I heard last), which finally vaults us into respectable territory. Canada is never good at Summer Olympics, but we ought to be at least in the Top 20.
2. There is no position worse than finishing FOURTH at an Olympic event.
You finish last? You can laugh it about it down the road ... or you know you weren't even THAT good to begin with.
You finish fourth? You are the best athlete not to get a single piece of bling. There is a certain cachet to having an a Bronze Medal. Saying "I finished fourth at Olympics" just doesn't sound 1/50th as impressive, does it?
3. I don't get the love over women's beach volleyball. These women look way too skinny and manly to actually want to lust over. I know it’s a major step up from women's gymnastics (no jailbait worth looking at there), but still not enough to make me turn away from women's tennis.
Do these women look hot to you?
4. I will be "that guy" and piss on the Michael Phelps love a bit. Yes, he's a dominating swimmer, and I have nothing personal against him, but his gold medal record is a bit of a fraud.
A pole vaulter, javelin thrower, or a softball player can win only one medal for their sport, right? Why should a swimmer be able to rack up multiple medals for the same sport? All they do is change the distance by a small amount or change the type of stroke, allowing one guy to basically rack up a bunch of medals simply because he's a far better athlete than his swimming peers. 100m butterfly vs. 200m butterfly vs. 100m freestyle, etc ... what's the difference?
Want to level the playing field? Give shot putters a chance to win five different medals ... just increase the size and/or weight of the ball they throw for each event.
Let's give the other athletes in other sports to win multiple medals for the same sport. Otherwise, shut up about Phelps and his record and realize that swimming is the one sport that allows such a 'record' to occur.
5. How does one decide to be a professional speed walker? Rejects from the running team? I've never seen or head about speed walking competitions other than at an Olympics. This is the kinda job that falls down there with "guy who cleans up the set of a porn movie".
6. What a shock ... The Chinese government has not authorized any of the 77 applied for protests to take place. The IOC was lavishing praise over this corrupt regime for allowing protest zones, but, of course, the Chinese government pulled the wool over the eyes of the Olympic Mafia ... yet again... of maybe the mafia just doesn't give a damn.
Of course, this is the same corrupt regime that needed to have a 'cuter' girl lip-synch the opening ceremonies. *sigh*
7. Steve Simmons is still a douchebag. I hope he gets cancer from breathing in too many Beijing fumes, or AIDS from his escapades with Al Strachan. Seriously.
They ran the women's marathon here yesterday morning at the Olympic Games and no one died.As if people are going to keel over and die right on the spot! Just wait until people suffer long term effects. Some athletes have already reported that they felt a certain odd 'fire' in their lungs while training or running, and not the usual kind. Smokers don't die after one cigarette, do they? How has Steve Simmons managed to live this long with an IQ of 52?
No one succumbed to thick air and pollution. Many collapsed and fell: But none of it had anything to do with the conditions, the temperature or the apparent quality of air.
The most pressing issues of any Olympics -- facilities, housing, transportation, venues, the athletes, security and this one, censorship -- have for the most part been taken care of.Censorship taken care of? BWA HAHAHAHAHA!
Oh, MSM sports reporters should never comment on political issues (Perry Mason, are you listening?). It just exposes them for the morons they are.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Friday's Frank Frothings
From my correspondence with Blues fans over the years, there is one player that is almost universally venerated by most of them.
Close, but it's Brendan Shanahan.
It's hard not to like Shanahan, the blue-collar scoring star with the charming good looks, lyrically pleasing surname, and gritty work ethic that most fans love in a player. Blues fans never saw quite that level of dedication in Hull, or that type of charm in Al MacInnis.
When Shanahan was dealt to the Whalercanes for Chris Pronger, it was almost like a hole was ripped in the fabric of Blues fandom. Even the fact that Shanny went on to success with the hated Wings didn't seem to dampen Blues' fans respect for the dude.
So, you can imagine how excited Blues fans are feeling at the prospect of Brendan Shanahan signing with the club for next season.
Jeff Gordon of St. Louis Today outlines many reasons why Shanny would be a good fit with the Bluenotes. He also makes the point that the Blues are getting some sweet PR points just by saying they'll attempt to sign Shanahan.
Of course, the Blues have had a bad habit of signing or trading aging forwards all too often in the past: Tkachuk, Weight, Guerin, Richer, Derek King (ugh), etc ... but I think Shanahan is worth going after.
Yes, he's 39, but he's still capable of producing some offense. Sure he's declined, but the guy is still a very good 2nd line winger with good skating ability. The Blues certainly have the cap space, so make it happen!
Over at his legendary blog, Joe Pelletier is counting down his Top 20 photos in hockey history. So far, he's posted #20 and #19.
Just a hunch, but I'm willing to bet a few Slovak Crowns that Bobby Orr's "Superman" will be #1.
There has been a lot of chomping in the media about how Canada's pathetic showing at the Summer Olympics. Yes, a pasty, somewhat out-of-shape (I haven't been to the gym much these days) hockey blogger has as many medals at the rest of Team Canada combined! ZERO!
Over at the National Post, blogger Scott Stinson opines that Canada just doesn't care enough about winning.
Consider, also, the number of times you have read about a sporting event in some other nation and wondered if the people weren't just a little bit crazy. A soccer match in South America sets off a bloody riot. A referee in Europe has to run from a hail of firecrackers after making a questionable call. Have their been similar such incidents in Canada? Some Calgarians lifted their shirts and/or peed in public during the Flames' playoff run a few years back, but that's about it. And we were shocked. A Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup -- our own trophy -- in 15 years, and how upset are we?
A few beefs and reefs.
1. Riots in Montreal and Vancouver suggest that fans don't always accept losing very well.
2. Many fans are upset that a Canadian team hasn't won a Stanley Cup in 15 years. That said, most players in cup winning teams are Canadian, so what's the big dealio?
3. Sport is just that. SPORT! The fact that anyone would riot over the result of a soccer game or hockey game shows how insecure, immature, and petty those people are. Sport is supposed to be entertaining, and if you are not a player or working for that particular organization, what the hell does a loss really mean for you?
Sure, I get upset and happy and all that, but I've never felt the need to light a car on fire ... although I do want to light Greg Millen on fire :)
4. Canada does treat sports like a hobby more than a profession, unless you play hockey, or maybe baseball. In Hungary, a professional fencer is seen as a professional fencer. How many Canadians would take that seriously as a career? In Canada, a fencer would work at Wal-Mart part time to support themselves.
5. Canada has, in the past, accepted "personal bests" far too often. Instead of wanting a GOLD MEDAL, we hear "Oh, I beat my personal best!" Bah, your personal best isn't good enough
6. Then again, who the hell really cares if we get Olympic medals or not? I've lost most interest in this Olympic mafia, and I don't really care to watch weightlifting or shot put.
7. Of course, I went nutso, as did the entire country, when Canada won Gold at Salt Lake City. Perhaps we just don't care enough about other sports.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
It's a Cruel, Cruel Summer
(Yes, I used to listen to Ace of Base when I was a kid)
One major factor in why it is hard to have true dynasties in this day and age is the "Stanley Cup Hangover".
I'm not talking about the morning after drinking champagne from the holy mug, but rather the fact that the Stanley Cup Finalists often experience a drop-off in their record during the next season, especially early in the season. The fatigue builds such much that it is harder for the Cup finalists to repeat their great exploits from year to year.
With the seasons getting longer and finishing later, the summer time break for NHL teams has been getting shorter and shorter. Is it any wonder why the Ducks, who also had to put up with a long trip to-from London, faltered so badly last season?
Over at Empty Netters, the excellent MSM blog over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Seth Rorabaugh crunches some numbers and we see that the Pittsburgh Penguins have the shortest summer break out of all the teams.
After winning the Cup on June 6, 2007, the Ducks enjoyed a brief 115 days off before starting up again on Sept. 29 in London. That was the shortest offseason for any NHL team. The Penguins will own that distinction this offseason by having only 122 days off since losing the Cup to the Red Wings on June 4.Now, his calculations do not factor in training camps and pre-season games, so the summers for the Pens and Wings will be even shorter than indicated.
Life in the NHL is physically brutal, and players have to work harder, faster, and take more physical punishment then players from 15+ years ago. Every player has to maintain a strong off-season training regimen, leaving few players with a true chance to take a long break from physical activity and fully recover.
It should be no surprise if the Wings and Penguins start the season slowly and have problems later in the year with fatigue. The Wings, especially, might run into problems as their roster has more older players than the Penguins.
Who should really benefit? Take a team on the upswing who had a long off-season, and I figure they will start off gangbusters. How about the Blackhawks? They added some big names, and have had lots of rest. The Capitals, too, could be primed to make another jump ... although their defence corps still sucks.
So, how can a team beat this hangover and succeed year after year?
For one thing, they could stop making these fricking long trips to Europe ... really, these jaunts really seem to do a number on the two teams who participate.
Like Seth points out on his post, the Penguins experienced a rather high turnover for a Cup finalist, which means the newer players will be somewhat fresher and help compensate. The Wings? They experienced very little turnover. Perhaps cycling some fresh players in the depth positions can keep the team's skill level intact while helping offset the fatigue.
It would be foolish to think the Wings and Penguins won't be very good next season, but one must strongly consider the factor of the "Stanley Cup Hangover" when making predictions.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Rachel Stoll and Jarret Stoll: Engaged
Well, it seems like MILF Hunter Jarret Stoll has taken the next step in his relationship with ex-model/prowling cougar Rachel Hunter: Engagement.
Yes, the sexy "veteran" has managed to convince a man 13 years younger than she is to go down the aisle. The warnings signs were certainly there, and Stoll made his move quickly.
Rod Stewart's ex-wife Rachel Hunter is set to tie the knot with her ice hockey player boyfriend who is 13 years her junior.
Hunter, 38, confirmed her engagement to 26-year-old Jarret Stoll to People.com.
The model has reportedly told friends: 'He's my first true love since Rod, and the age difference isn't an issue.'
Talk about a good trade! Rod Stewart has been decrepit beyond belief for some time, and looks like he's been around the block a few thousand times.
Stoll? He's young, fit, and can handle his stick quite well ... although he seems to lack finish. Maybe she likes it like that?
Although Hunter is rather old for him, I still have to say Stoll did pretty well for himself. The former model has aged quite well, and certainly is capable of handling the spotlight.
Now that Stoll is with the LA Kings, expect this couple to get even more publicity than they already do. A marriage made in hockey heaven.
Dominik Hasek's overpriced "Dominator" clothing line is hemorrhaging cash ... Is anyone surprised? Does anyone feel one iota sorry for the douchebag?
I didn't think so.
Nike may very well be able to charge exhobitant prices for their cheap goods, simply because they have a stupid SWOOSH on them, but Hasek has no such marketing clout.
It seems rather funny, too, that Hasek's line will close down in Czechia, but still be open in the USA.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Monday Morning Musings
Still so little to talk about ...
My pal Joeri Loonen wrote up a recap of the Slovak Hockey Federation's awards ceremony. Marian Hossa was the big wiener as he won his third straight Golden Puck for being the best Slovak not named Pavol Demitra.
Best goalie? Peter Budaj
Best defenseman? Lubomir Visnovsky. How he got the vote over Zdeno Chara makes me wonder how much hot wine the voters were quaffing.
Gretzky to Detroit? It could have happened ... and I would have still hated Detroit just as much. Joe Pelletier has a look at what could have been.
You know what, it was much better for Detroit that the trade never happened. Detroit would have never done quite as well with Gretzky, especially how atrocious defensively he was ... I can't see Gretzky fitting in with that left-wing lock Wings system very well.
Over at The Hockey News, Brian Costello asks us "When will [Guy] Carbonneau be recognized by Hall of Fame committee?"
To which I ask, "When was Guy Carbonneau ever considered one of the Top 20 players in any one season he played in?"
The answer: Never.
While we all know that Guy was a great defensive center, it is MUCH MUCH MUCH harder to create and sustain offensive production in the NHL than it is to play defence.
The argument that Dick Duff is in the Hall of Fame is a awfully weak one. If we used Duff (or Clark Gillies) as the reason why any player should be in the Hall of Fame, we'd have the Markus Naslund's and Ray Sheppard's as shoe-ins.
Costello finishes with another weak argument: "So if the league gives out an award for defensive greatness among forwards, shouldn’t the Hall of Fame recognize that greatness as well? It’s hypocritical that it doesn’t, especially in an era when attempting to shut down the opposition is the common denominator in the game plan of all 30 NHL teams."
If the Dead Puck Era (not my term) has shown us anything, it is that just about ANY forward can play defense. Look at how Marian Gaborik, a puck-hungry greyhound, plays responsible defense. Playing defensive hockey within a tight system is much easier than trying to score against a team doing just that. There are far more Guy Carbonneau's in the league than there are Sidney Crosby's.
At the end of the day, one team cannot simply win by playing pure defense. Even in a 1-0 game, someone has to score.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Why I'm Boycotting the 2008 Summer Olympics
I'm not one to tell people what to think or what to do, but that won't stop me from expressing some prickly opinions that will rub some the wrong way, nor will it stop me from trying to change the way people look or think about a particular issue.
Something that has irked me for some time is the Olympic(tm) Games. Ever since Vancouver was awarded (cursed) the 2010 Winter Olympics, we've seen just how disgusting this whole process is.
Make no mistake about it, the Olympics are not about the athletes. The athletes simply provide the cheap entertainment and public front for the money generating merchandise machine that few people truly profit from.
The athletes? Most of them have to scrape by with part-time jobs at Home Depot or the like, with very few getting those lucrative endorsement deals.
Who truly profits? The large corporations, TV stations, developers, wealthy sponsors, and cronies will run the Olympic mafia. Few athletes ever make all that much money, and many of them have to put off more lucrative careers to train in their chosen sport.
As we've seen in Vancouver, the government has spared no expense in dolling out millions of dollars on pork projects that profit very little real value to the people of BC. Millions for an Olympic skating oval? What good will it be after the Games are done? Oh, we can train more Olympic athletes. Lovely. Meanwhile, the downtown Eastside of Vancouver remains one of the most depressing places on Earth.
Now, let's talk about China, that fabulous producer of cheap lead-tainted toys and about 95% of the products we buy.
When the mafia awarded China the 2008 games, it was due to the fact that China promised to clean up its act in the arena of human rights. The IOC figured that putting China in the spotlight would force the Chinese Communist Party to improve living conditions and such in China.
Have things improved? Not really.
I know, I know ... Canada is far from perfect on the Human Rights issue, but we've long passed the point where we execute people and harvest their organs because they choose to follow a religion not approved by the majority.
I also know that I sound like a radical of some sort, but I don't take this as a partisan issue. The Olympic Games simply costs us peons millions of dollars and gives us nothing but a 2-week party and lots of expensive bills to pay on shiny new buildings nobody needs. Just ask the people of Athens what a poor investment the Olympic Games really is. People of any political stripe should be able to see that they are getting the short end of the stick.
There isn't really much us peons can do if we're not into protesting, so do the next best thing and simply don't watch. It's not as if the Summer Olympics is all that thrilling, and you ought to be outside enjoying the sun. If the Olympics got low ratings, it might send a message, albeit a small one, that people are rather tired of the over-hyped Olympic machine.
Of course, I know that won't happen, so go back to being reamed by the mafia if you so desire.
If you want to learn more, visit these sites.
** On the hockey side of things, the Canes are giving Jeff O'Neill a tryout. I opine on that bit of news over at FanHouse.
Yeah, I'll get back to hockey when there is something worth blogging about!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Summer Movie Musings
Since there is a lack of interesting hockey news, I might as well do a little summer movie review. Why? Just because my brain is suddenly churning around thoughts about movies and I have no other outlet.
I invite you all to share your comments and recommendations.
Batman: The Dark Knight (9.5/10)
If you are one of the few people that hasn't seen it, then I can easily tell you that this movie definitely lives up to the hype. This is an incredible feat given how much attention this movie got after Heath Ledger kicked the bucket.
Yes, Ledger's performance is awesome, and even tops the great Joker that Jack Nicholson gave us. Lost in the hype machine is the fact that Aaron Eckhard gives a masterful performance as Harvey Dent/Two-Face.
My only beef with the movie is that we have no history/background of the Joker ... he just appears and creates chaos! It would have been nice to get some of the motivation behind his insanity.
Maggie Gylenhaal - To be shallow and blunt, this girl just looks weird. Definitely a big drop off from Katie Holmes in the looks department. Gylenhaal has this perpetual deer-in-the-headlights expression on her face, which makes me wonder how she got a career in Hollywood.
Hellboy 2 (8/10)
This summer's hidden gem is the least hyped and talked about superhero movies of the summer. The first Hellboy never got the recognition it deserves, and the sequel was just as entertaining.
Ron Perlman is one of the best, if not the best, actor-in-makeup/costume that I've grown up with. He plays the character beautifully.
The CGI creatures in this movie and the Troll Market are some of the most creative ... err ... creations that I've seen in a movie in quite some time. The 'tooth faeries' are brilliant, as is the giant nature elemental. I normally don't like too much CGI, but this movie does it so well that I didn't even think about it during the movie.
The downside? The relationship between Hellboy and his flaming girlfriend is really not explored enough, and the way the 'normal' people react to Hellboy is also just a little unreal.
Iron Man (7.5/10)
This was another enjoyable superhero movie that did a good job kick-starting another franchise. Downie Jr. is the perfect casting as Tony Stark, and Jeff Bridges made a fine villain.
This movie gives you a lot of laughs, which is not what most superhero movies do, and gives us a flawed character that is easy to like (unlike Batman, who is rather hard to like at times).
I just don't get why people are quite so gaga over this movie. It does lack a lot of action (we see way too much of Stark working on his suits), and the terrorists that Iron Man escapes from are way too dumb. You have to suspend belief just a little too much for my liking, especially since Iron Man tries to be quite realistic in its delivery.
Be Kind, Rewind (3/10)
This was a movie my g/f and I rented, and I was rather disappointed. The idea is a cute one (quite original) and there are quite a few chuckles, but there aren't nearly enough laughs and the characters in the movie are way too dumb to be believable.
Call it a concept that was good in theory, but poor in execution.
Superhero Movie (4/10)
Typical spoof movie. Lots of chuckles, too many fart jokes, but not enough jabs at the franchises outside of Spiderman. A decent rental if you want something brainless.
Young Triffie (0/10)
Ok, so I rented this some time back, but it was one of the worst pieces of vomit that I've ever let my eyeballs experience. I know it's Canadian and some people went gaga over it, but I'd suggest you never even consider watching this movie unless compensated in triple figures.
a. No captions, so my g/f couldn't watch it (a blessing in disguise)
b. The same "oops, the cop screws up" gags over and over and over again. Purely clumsy characters just aren't funny after the first couple of gags.
c. Mary Walsh, who is the female equivalent of Robin Williams (NOT FUNNY). She basically ruins any scene or show she is on. Everyone knows she was the weak link on 22 Minutes.
d. Slow ... like Molasses in July.
Futurama - The Beast With A Billion Backs (6/10)
Much weaker than Bender's Big Score, and one of Futurama's poorer efforts. I don't understand why so much production went into this movie when most Futurama episodes are better than this. A decent rental for Futurama fans, but not worth buying.
Bladerunner, The Final Cut (10/10)
OK, so this was about 99.9% similar to the Director's Cut I own, so it seems like a rather pointless remake. I did rent it to show it to my g/f, who *GASP* hadn't seen it.
Anyway, the non-narrated version (Which was the Theatre Cut) gets an easy 10/10. Amazingly, it hardly looks all that dated, even after 24 years.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Fans Under Scrutiny...
I realize by the very title of this wonderful blog site, that it is a HOCKEY site. However, in the goal of furthering of the general interest in sports that we should all share as fans, I believe this post is important to some extent. It involves Roger Goodell's (NFL Commish) latest conformist reform to the NFL's code of conduct, and the ramifications could be somewhat interesting, at least culturally speaking... Without further ado, here's the "Good Luck With That Goodell" post:
So, here's the brief summary of some new rules we NFL FANS have to live by, or else we risk being not only ejected from the present game, but also banned from attending future games. The length of the ban wasn't specified on TSN.ca, but I imagine it would be too difficult for teams to monitor things a game at a time. Assume a season or more if you get caught to the point of prosecution on the following offences:
- Behaviour that is unruly, disruptive, or illegal.
Fair enough. Although I've never even been to a CFL game where someone wasn't being "unruly" or "disruptive". I believe people should be able to discern a reasonable limit to what this entails. The "illegal" part of it is a bit shocking because apparently they didn't have this in the standard lease agreement with stadiums beforehand?
- Drunkenness and signs of alcohol impairment that result in irresponsible behaviour.
Uhm, this is still
Oktoberfest a football game, RIGHT? I fail to see the enforceability of this particular standard, but I'm sure we'll see some examples on live broadcasts, just to hammer the point home. But realistically, I can't imagine a football game without copious amounts of beer and perhaps a doobie snack on the way to the game, so this strikes me as a potential marketing nightmare for a league already called "No-Fun-League" by many observers, and who still features the "Bud Bowl" as a central attraction during their biggest TV spectacle of the year... Nipplegate was funny, but I don't think if I was there that I could be drunk enough to fully appreciate 50+ year old Janet Jackson's exposed milk-faucet.
- Foul or abusive language or obscene gestures.
Has this guy ever actually been to a football game? The TV broadcasts alone have their fair share of excessive swearing that can be lip-read or heard by viewers (and also aforementioned nipple mishaps)... As for obscene gestures, I wonder if there is an inclusion for foreign ones that might potentially be used by tourists while soaking up an NFL game during their holidays... I know I can say "F-U" in at least 5 languages, and that doesn't include my attempts to figure out whether I am talking Mandarin or Cantonese in one particular instance, or whether the words are the same in both dialects). That's just with my hands!!
- Interference with the progress of the game, including throwing objects onto the field.
Okay, in fairness, this seems to make sense. There is no reason to throw objects into the field of play, especially at officials, unless you're watching soccer, in which case I recommend
Duracell brand Energizer batteries since they keep going, and going, and going, and going, and going... God, that Czech/Turkey game pissed me off...
- Failing to follow instructions of stadium personnel.
Unless this revolves around a fire evacuation or terrorist emergency, I can't see why we should listen to people who may or may not be any smarter than us. For the sake of having an organized event with no crowd-chaos, I would agree with this in principle that people shouldn't go out of their way to give stadium personnel a hard time. However, that comes with the caveat that I will never obey what I consider to be stupid rules... Namely most of these ones...
- Verbal or physical harassment of fans from the opposing team.
Again, I have to wonder if this Goodell
gentleman bitch has ever actually been to a football game. Half the fun is jawing with people who cheer for the other team. Maybe if the NFL had a larger contingent of Canadian fans, it would be better for his finicky tastes. Quite frankly, even our most heated rivalries (like Leafs v. Sens) aren't contested with much more than a few snide comments and crude insults... Physical harassment is never okay, at least outside the privacy of your own bedroom... Then, in the interest of maintaining a good male-female relationship, try to keep it to yourself as much as possible. Stop when you feel like you might be molesting yourself...
Meanwhile Over In Russia...
The fledgling Kontinental Hockey League in Russia had a meeting of its Board Of Governors, on August 2nd, to evaluate some key development ideas for the league moving forward. Among the topics of discussion, of course, was the clarification of the handshake agreement between the KHL and NHL that was made in early July. This issue has been in the forefront recently, with the IIHF's suspension of Alexander Radulov (along with Jason Krog, Tomas Mojzis, Victor
Tikhonov, Nikita Filatov, and Fedor Fedorov) for signing a contract with Salavat Ufa ofthe KHL while still under contract to the NHL's Nashville Predators.
"The KHL is cooperating with the IIHF and the NHL. It is in our interest to settle all these issues quickly and in a civilized manner," stated the Chairman of the KHL Board of Directors Sergei Naryshkin. "We are pleased to note that all the parties to the debate declare their willingness to respect the others' viewpoint. The only thing left is to formally confirm these intentions and sign an agreement, which will precisely regulate all the minute details, in particular, dealing with players' transfers and mutual respect of contracts."Accordingly, the Russians have submitted all applicable documents to the IIHF for review in hopes of resolving the Radulov situation.
My feeling is that Radulov will not play for the Predators this season, even if the result is his suspension from IIHF-sanctioned events. Quite frankly, if he is forced back to Nashville, we can likely expect him to pout and play half-heartedly, which ultimately doesn't help the Preds in the least. It might be best for them to simply allow him to walk away at this stage.
Another item which was discussed was the creation of a youth league for the KHL, which would act as a development/farm system for the KHL's clubs.
"The best hockey players between the ages of 17 to 20 will be embraced by this league," said Alexander Medvedev. "The establishment of the youth league will be made possible on the basis of the already existing KHL farm clubs acting as the de facto youth teams."Now, while this sounds like a good idea on the surface, one has to wonder if using existing farm teams for this youth league is prudent, seeing as how players who fall outside the age parameters who currently play in the farm league will be without a place to play. The possible solution to this is allowing a set number of "over-agers" on each of these teams, in a similar fashion to the Canadian Junior leagues.
On the plus side, such a league will likely help the Russians keep some of their brighter young stars at home, rather than seeing them leave to play in the CHL, which is viewed as a good adjustment step for Russian players to take en route to the NHL, although it is a path seldom travelled. Certainly this youth league will pay the players a salary at some level, and it will make it more enticing for their home-developed players to put in some service domestically.
What will be interesting is whether or not this youth league pays its players enough to attract young stars from other nations. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what kind of reaction there would be to a John Tavares leaving Canada to play in the KHL youth league?
Finally, the KHL Board of Governors announced a TV deal with "Sport-TV", a free channel in Russia that will broadcast KHL games. It has a viewership of roughly 2.5-million people, which should increase with this agreement.
You can find Sport-TV online at sportbox.ru (although you'd best learn the Cyrillic alphabet first!)
That's it for now...
Friday, August 01, 2008
A lot of NHL players are getting hooked up with celebs these days, and it's great PR for the league.
Elisha Cuthbert and Dion Phaneuf (assist to Sean Avery)
Eric Lindros and Kate Hudson
Alexander Ovechkin and Igor Larionov's daughter
Alexei Yashin and model Carol Alt
Mike Comrie and Hillary Duff
So, why isn't Crosby getting in on the act? Where is his arm candy?
Imagine the publicity the NHL would get if Sidney was shackin up with a Hollywood celeb? Oh, it would be way bigger than Gretzky/Jones.
Who would we pair Sidney up with? Lindsay Lohan? Ewww ... Jessica Biel? Taken. Alanis Morrissette? Too old.
Miley Cyrus? DING DING DING DING DING!!!
Just look at them and their big, toothy grins! Wouldn’t this be a match made in heaven? Just think of the headlines this would generate, and how a new legion of teenage girls would latch onto hockey like never before.
Cyrus, the mostly squeaky clean teen with a big future ahead of her is just waiting to be broken into the dating game with a young, big name celeb.
Sidney needs someone who can deal with his star power. A regular girl just won't do. Sidney also needs a partner who is rather 'fresh' and possesses the same upbeat personality.
Oh, you say, but Cyrus is only 15 years of age?
Damnit!!!! I guess there are laws to be followed. *sulk*
Still, if Sidney is willing to wait a year or two, and Billy Ray gives it his OK, then I think we ought to hook these two up and let the sparks fly.
Who's with me?
Check out these totally gnarly posts over at FanHouse:
James Mirtle gives us some Portraits in Heroism (aka Photochop madness)
I cover the Kate Hudson/Eric Lindros rumours. Ooooh, gossip!
JP thinks Pascal Leclaire is the next Martin Brodeur, sans Golden Horseshoe up the arse.