Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Canada 2 - USA 1 -> A Solid Start...

It certainly was a different experience watching Canada play the US on American TV (ESPN).

(What the hell are these sweaters about? When did mustard yellow become part of Canada's motiv? Ugh...even my mom didn't like them, and she usually likes weird clothes.)

Back in Canada, I can always count on high quality, level-headed, and informative coverage. In the USA, I'm subjected to hype over substance.

In Canada (CBC), you get high quality colour commentating from guys like Sean Burke, Brian Burke, and so forth. In the US, you get Jeremy Roenick screaming like an 8th grade Team USA cheerleader. Normally, I love JR's interviews...but he does not belong in a TV booth during games. Unless you like guys who scream like fanboys when Team USA completes a pass, you'll likely grow sick of JR after about 10 seconds.

In Canada, you get informative analysis of the game and issues during the intermissions. In the US, you get ESPN trying to sensationalize the fact that Roenick likes to spend a bit of his disposable income betting on the NFL.

With ESPN, you get their play-by-play crew cheering and screaming over any routine save. I'm used to my play-by-play guys being less emotive, and it's hard to swallow the brash American style. Someone slip some Ritalin into JR's coffee, eh!

ESPN couldn't BE any more pro-American. This is the 'World' Cup, so how about a little bit less USA bias? At least JR didn't hide it...

Entertainment over substance.
Cheap humour over analysis.

Well, maybe I shouldn't be so bitter. After all, Canada came away with the victory on the ice...and the sun is really shining here in San Francisco


Some of my thoughts on the game...

Team Canada controlled the play for the 1st period and most of the 3rd period by forcing the play on the weakened American defense. If the US had the guys they started out with, I doubt Canada could have run over the Americans like they did to start the game.

The ESPN guys mentioned the weather was warm and the ice was slushy. During the 3rd period, I noticed that the skaters weren't getting a lot of distance for their strides, and the play really slowed down as the ice turned into a slurpee. This is the big disadvantage to an August tournament...

Even Oilers fans were complaining that Eric Brewer was picked for Canada's defense, but he was an absolute Pierre McGuire monster today. I liked the big hits Brewer was throwing and the way he handled the bigger American forwards.

Again, what the hell was with Team Canada's uniforms? Even the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy dudes wouldn't be caught dead in those.
(For those who don't know, these jerseys resemble the ones worn by the Winnipeg Falcons, who were Canada's Olympic champions back in 1920.)

Mario - It was nice to see him drop the gloves and try to beat the stuffing out of Steve Konowalchuk. You know a game means something when Mario gets that cheesed off.
Mario played very very little in the 2nd and 3rd periods, which I am guessing is by design. It's better to keep him fresh and uninjured for the medal games.

When Team Canada was having trouble completing a basic pass during the 2nd period, I don't know why coach Quinn didn't have them just dump the damn puck into the offensive zone and try to get a basic forecheck going. There was a long period when any up-ice rush was broken up before the Canadians could get in deep on the forecheck. Sometimes, it's good to play the ugly style of dump-and-chase when the finesse isn't working.

And as much as I love seeing Martin Brodeur get smacked around, where are the goaltender interference calls? I think Konowalchuk had time to watch Season 2 of the Sopranos with the amount of time he spent sitting on Brodeur's head.


Slovakia gets going tomorrow night, and the news just gets worse and worse.

Ladislav Nagy has been diagnosed with an abdominal injury and may not play in tomorrow's game against Canada.

I don't know which team I'll be cheering for more...

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Slovakia-Russia: 0-0

"Bezg�lov� rem�za Slov�kov s Ruskom"

Any way you say it, there was less scoring than Gilbert Godfried at a lesbian wedding.

Instead of the high-scoring and weak-defensive team that most expected, the Slovaks have been the beneficiaries of superb goaltending and a lack of scoring, resulting in a team that more resembles the Minnesota Wild.

Lasak most likely stole his #1 job back with a 35-save effort in front of a sparse Corel Centre Crowd. Slam! has the details here.

With yet another unfortunate injury to Peter Bondra (Thumb), and the return of Richard Zednik, Slovakia had some new line combos against the ex-Communists.


Lintner - Ch�ra
L. Visnovsk�-�trb�k

Mari�n Hossa, Demitra, G�bor�k
Zedn�k, St�mpel, Satan
Som�k, Cib�k, Bartecko
Orsz�gh, M. Hlinka, Radivojevic

Quite suddenly, the 3rd and 4th units are purely defensive oriented and can't be counted on so much for an offensive push.

Wednesday night, Canada and Slovakia will meet for a game that actually counts.

Edit: According to a breaking news item on hokej.sk, Ronald Petrovicky will replace Peter Bondra. OUCH!!

It's always been strange to me how different Ronald and brother Robert (1st round pick of the Whalers who never could stick in the NHL) are. Ronald has little offensive skills in comparison to Robert, but has about 10 times more grit, heart, and determination. If you combined the two, you'd have a star!

Geoff and Russ Courtnall were also dissimilar, but both were so highly skilled and successful in their own way.


Despite his greediness, Alexei Yashin is proud to don the Russki hockey sweater. Reminds me a lot of Robert Reichel who never breaks a sweat in his NHL games, but would play with a broken spleen for his country. Why is it these money-lovers play harder when they don't get paid much??


Hockey in San Francisco?

I was worried that I would have a hard time following the World Cup action and hockey in general while down here in San Fran. The San Jose Mercury news actually has almost a whole page of hockey coverage (It's about 1/2 page more than I expected).

Well, apparently ESPN and ESPN2 will actually be showing a LOT of World Cup games.

Monday, Aug 30th 10am Czech Republic vs. Finland ESPN
Tuesday, Aug 31st 10am Germany vs. Sweden ESPN
Tuesday, Aug 31st 4pm U.S. vs. Canada ESPN2
Wednesday, Sept 1st 12:30am U.S. vs. Canada (repeat) ESPN2
Wednesday, Sept 1st 10am Czech Republic vs. Sweden ESPN
Wednesday, Sept 1st 4pm Canada vs. Slovakia ESPN2
Thursday, Sept 2nd 10:30am Finland vs. Germany ESPN2
Thursday, Sept 2nd 4pm U.S. vs. Russia ESPN2
Friday, Sept 3rd 12mid U.S. vs. Russia (repeat) ESPN2
Friday, Sept 3rd 10am Germany vs. Czech Republic ESPN
Friday, Sept 3rd 4pm U.S. vs. Slovakia ESPN2
Friday, Sept 3rd 11:30pm U.S. vs. Slovakia (repeat) ESPN2

Wow, ESPN is actually showing non-US games? Consider me, well, shocked!


An interesting substitution for the Czechs in Petr Briza replacing Martin Prusek. Dusan Salficky was supposed to replace Prusek, but his Russian club team from Cherepovets wouldn't let him go!

Briza has been a star in the Czech and German Leagues for many years, and he was the Czech's World Championships starter back in the early 90's. He's 39 years old, and a very interesting choice to take as one of the 3 goalies.


It's too bad I missed the Canada/Slovakia exhbition on Canadian TV yesterday; a 2-2 tie.
Rasto Stana stood out, and some speculate that he may have stolen the #1 job from Lasak.
I surely hope not, since Lasak is the type of goalie that can continually steal games, while Stana is not. The biggest hope for Stana is that he seems to be a bit more adept at the North American angles and flow than Lasak is.

Slovakia has had a bit of bad luck as the tournament begins... Palffy is out, Handzus is out, and Majesky is now out.
Rastislav Pavlikovsky will replace Handzus, which is a serious downgrade, while Ladislav Cierny will replace Majesky.

On one hand, Cierny is a better defender than Majesky. On the other hand, Cierny has no experience with the North American game, and I wonder how he will handle it. If there was one aspect that Majesky excelled at, it was clearing the crease. Slovakia can ill afford any more injuries.

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Team Canada B: What could be.

In just a few days, 7 powerful hockey countries will compete for glory at the World Cup of Hockey.

Unfortunately, there are 8 countries in the tournament, which means that there is a black sheep among the flock.

Canada, the USA, Russia, Finland, Slovakia, Czechia, and Sweden are all very powerful hockey nations with many past glorious victories.

So what the hell are the Germans doing in this tournament?

The Germans are such a weak team that they need to import 2 Czech players; Tomas Martinec, and the crappy brother of Robert Reichel (Martin Reichel), in addition to a goalie from South Africa (Olaf Kolzig).

The Germans have no chance of winning this tournament, so why not bring a more powerful team as the 8th squad?

But where will we find such a team? Latvia? France? Cambodia? No.

Then where?

Canada, of course!

Canada has enough great players to make 3 or 4 great teams that would beat the stuffing out of the German turkeys. If I were in charge of the World Cup, we would have 2 Team Canada�s, allowing for even stronger competition.

Team Canada B

Head Coach: Joel Quenneville, Colorado
Assistants: Mike Babcock, Anaheim & Andy Murray, Los Angeles

Joel �Coach Q� Quenneville was to be the head coach for Canada at the World Championships in Prague, but was forced to fly home due to �exhaustion�. He shouldn�t have been spending so much time with those renowned beautiful Czech women we Canadians hear so much about J. There will be no such distractions back here in Canada, so Coach Q could lead Team Canada B to victory!
Assistants Babcock (Who took over for Quenneville in Prague) and Andy Murray have both been very successful running Team Canada at International events in the past.


J-S Giguere, Anaheim Mighty Ducks (55 Games 17W-31L-6T 91.4 SV%)
Marty Turco, Dallas Stars (73 Games 37W-21L-13T 91.3 SV%)
Andrew Raycroft, Boston Bruins (57 Games 29W-18L-9T 92.6 SV%)

After carrying the Mighty Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, J-S Giguere got greedy, and signed a very large contract. He proceeded to spend his newfound money at every all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant in Anaheim, causing him to gain 50 pounds and turn into the Canadian version of Martin Vojtek. Giguere redeemed himself with a good backup performance at the 2004 World Championships, and he would be good enough to carry Canada�s B Team.

Veteran Marty Turco and rookie sensation Andrew Raycroft can have a boxing match to determine who gets to backup Giguere and have the best seat on the bench and which one has to sit with the commoners in the stands.


Adrian Aucoin, New York Islanders � Brad Stuart, San Jose Sharks
Bryan McCabe, Toronto Maple Leafs � Steve Staios, Edmonton Oilers
Brendan Witt, Washington Capitals � Darryl Sydor, Tampa Bay Lightning
Spare: Derek Morris, Phoenix Coyotes

(Stats shown as Games Play Goals-Assists-Points, +/-)

Aucoin (81 13-31-44, +29) was one of the more dependable defensemen in the NHL this season, finished 3rd in total ice time per game, in addition to his awesome +29 rating and 44 points.

Stuart (77 9-30-39, +9) hasn�t grown to be the �Next Chris Pronger� and superstar that he was expected to be when he was drafted 3rd overall by the toothless Sharks in 1998. Still, Stuart finally took a leap in his progress last year and finished with a career high 39 points.

McCabe (75 16-37-53 +22) is the wild child of the group, coming off of a career best 53 points this past season. Thankfully, he got rid of his putrid Mohawk haircut, so we�ll be nice enough to let him onto our team for now.

Staios (82 6-22-28, +17) has turned from a frog into a prince. Once the worst defensive checking forward in the NHL (With Atlanta), Staios has turned into one of the more dependable defensive defensemen in the NHL during his tenure with Edmonton. Staios was great for Canada at the 2004 World Championships, and he could handle most physical forwards well.

Brendan Witt (72 2-10-12, -22), the massive hard-rocking defender from Washington would pair well with the offensive-minded and Adam Sandler look-a-like Darryl Sydor (80 3-19-22 -16). Derek Morris (83 6-26-32, -1) could fill in as a Power Play specialist if needed.

As a unit, this group has everything: Hard shooters, Big hitters, dependable defenders, and offensive rushers. None of these guys are true #1 NHL defensemen, but they are stronger than some of the defenders on weaker teams (Hello, Mr. Ivan Majesky!)


Rick Nash, Columbus � Brendan Morrison, Vancouver � Glen Murray, Boston
Paul Kariya, Anaheim � Daniel Briere, Buffalo � Mark Recchi, Philadelphia
Matt Cooke, Vancouver � Keith Primeau, Philadelphia, - Rob Niedermayer, Anaheim
Alex Tanguay, Colorado � John Madden, New Jersey � Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton
Spares: Steve Sullivan, Chicago � Wes Walz, Minnesota
�and just maybe, Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver.

The primary unit would see Nash (80 41-16-57, -35), the budding young Power Forward from Columbus would combine well with another Power Forward in Glen Murray, (81 32-28-60 +17) and playmaking sensation Brendan Morrison (82 22-38-60 +16).

The second offensive unit would see a couple of old legends in Paul Kariya (51 11-25-36, -5) and Mark Recchi (82 26-49-75, +18) team up with midget center Daniel Briere (82 28-37-65, -7). If Briere doesn�t get squashed like an insect, he could duplicate his productive performance from the 2004 World Championships (9 2-6-8, +2).

The checking unit would consist of the pesky Matt Cooke (53 11-12-23, +5), and be centered by Keith Primeau (54 7-15-22, +11), who was one of the most valuable players in this year�s NHL playoffs. They would be joined by Anaheim�s Rob Niedermayer (55 12-16-28, -6), who is more known for dating supermodel Nikki Taylor than for his hockey talents (or lack thereof).

Rounding out the team would be defensive specialists John Madden (80 12-23-35 +7) and Wes Walz (57 12-13-25 +5), worker bee Shawn Horcoff (80 15-25-40 +0), and offensive ballerinas Alex Tanguay (69 25-54-79 +30) and Steve Sullivan (80 24-49-73 +1).

Todd Bertuzzi??? (69 17-43-60, +21) � Every good team needs an enforcer, and if Todd Bertuzzi isn�t in prison, he would be perfect for the role.

Imagine the fear in Jaromir Jagr�s eyes when he sees Bertuzzi step out onto the ice. Poor Petr Sykora would pee in his panties and have nightmares of Bertuzzi ripping out his spinal cord and using it at a Christmas decoration. It also helps that Bertuzzi can score a few goals when needed and park his big ass in front of the opposing goaltenders on the Power Play.
So, there you have it. Team Canada B would be a very strong team and would have a very good chance of pushing aside teams like the weak Russians, the boring Swedes, and the anonymous Finns.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Thursday's Crazy Roundup

When I went to my monthly Wiccan chant-and-drum circle, we put a hex on Team USA and it seems to be working!! Even the injury replacements are getting injured!

(Don�t mess with my witchy powers!)

(Edit: Thanks to astute read Daniel for pointing out that Martin was replacing Leopold)
First, Jordan Leopold, the Flames super youngster, will miss the rest of the tournament with a concussion and will be replaced by Paul �I�m not the Prime Minster of Canada� Martin. Second, the ogre Hal Gill will miss the tournament with a broken foot. He�s no real loss, but the Americans don�t exactly have the depth to keep replacing the replacements.

Will Slavic heartbreaker Andy Roach finally get his big chance?


I know the NHL isn�t exactly the bastion of great marketing practices, but why is it that they are trying (or not trying) so little to promote the World Cup of Hockey?

First, you can�t even see the exhibition games live on TV! (Unless you live in Toronto and pay $300/month for Laffs TV). Second, the official website doesn�t even have complete boxscores for the exhibition games. Would it be so hard to list the complete rosters and the other factual information? At least the European web sites give us complete boxscores and other information that you can�t find from the OFFICIAL website.

My friend from Prague asked me for a complete boxscore from the Canada-USA exhibition game, and I couldn�t find one anywhere!
It took me 3 seconds to find one for the Slovak-Sweden game, but even our large Canadian net and press presence couldn�t produce the same thing for our game. I�m somewhat ashamed.

I know many of the players are treating this tournament like a second-rate event, but why does the NHL, with the potential of a lockout, not do more to ensure that this tournament is promoted and hyped up?

(Edit: Daniel also points out that you can find some boxscores at Usahockey.com. They don't list the complete rosters, but those may be somewhere on the website. I'm glad they make it soooo easy to find it)

No Linking!!!: From PJ at Sharkspage.com:

I just noticed the official World Cup of Hockey website prohibits any link not to the front page of their website. Linking to the schedule page so fans can find dates and times of ESPN broadcasts is not allowed. Read the terms of service. Bill Daly says the NHL set up www.nhlcbanews.com "to allow our fans to have as much current and relevant information as possible to inform them on the collective bargaining process." But allowing fans to have current and relevant access to what time and channel the World Cup games are on is prohibited?

You know, I don�t believe there really is anything the NHL or anyone can do to stop you from linking to any page on their website. If there page is a free domain webpage, then it�s available to anyone at any time. The NHL wants you to wade through their 300 pages of advertising and crap to get to what you want, but why this sudden attitude towards deep-linking? Really, the NHL just keeps taking steps backward to �promote� its product.

To any webmaster: Link to whatever public domain page you damn well want. Let�s see the NHL try to do anything about it. What a great use of money it would be for them to spend money and time on frivilous lawsuits when they could be spending those resouces on something more important like getting the CBA hammered out.


The �Litvinov Trio� of Jiri Slegr, Robert "Mercenary" Reichel, and Martin "Rip Van Winkle" Rucinsky missed the Czechia/Germany exhibition game (Which Czechia won 7:4, thanks in part to Radek Dvorak�s 4 point effort) to attend the funeral of Ivan Hlinka.

After 1000�s of mourners paid their tributes/respects to Hlinka, Litvinov�s Hockey Club (HC Chemopetrol) decided to change the name of their stadium (Zimny Stadion) in Litvinov; It will be renamed under the name �Winter Stadium Ivan Hlinka� (Zimn� �tadi�n Ivana Hlinku) in honour of the much beloved Czech coach.

It wasn�t just the Czechs that liked the guy, either. My friend Daniel, from Slovakia, wrote this to me the other day:
It's so sad that Ivan Hlinka isn't here. He was...very popular in Slovakia. He had plenty of good friends among former team-mates from the Czecho-Slovak national team, and good friends among Slovak coaches and officials. Furthermore, he always encouraged the Slovak team, even in the end of the 90s when the Czech team always defeated ours. He was a very respected personality by our fans.


More bad news for Team Slovakia!

The Slovaks are woefully thin at center, and now Slovak crooner Michal Handzus has injured his shoulder after he missed a bodycheck on a Swedish forward towards the end of their exhibition match. Apparently, some idiot opened the penalty box door and Handzus smashed his shoulder against the edge of the plexiglass. DO PICE!

Handzus went back to Philly for an exam, and Flyers� officials will have to decide if Handzus needs surgery, or can play through with some rehab instead. There really isn�t anyone who can replace the physical and defensive presence that Handzus brings to the squad, so I�m hoping the damage isn�t too bad.

Still, perhaps this would be R�bert D�me's big chance? :) :)
(Edit #3: Sounds like Rastislav Pavlikovsky will be the replacement if Handzus bows out... yoikes!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Canada: This time, it�s about Revenge!

With the upcoming World Cup slowly rolling into fruition, it's time to focus on the great North American rivalry.

(The Czech version of this article can be found here, at www.svetovypohar.cz)

1996 was a sad year for Canadian hockey.

1996 is when Canada had its game, its tournament, and its innocence stolen by the evil Americans.

Oh, Canada has won Olympic and World Champion gold medals since 1996, but the painful memories still haunt Canadian hockey fans. The desire for revenge still burns.

It�s 2004, and we will get our revenge!


From 1976 to 1991, the summer tournament which saw the world�s best hockey players compete for their countries was called the Canada Cup; It was Canada�s tournament to share with the world.

All of the games were played in North America, as Canada was the natural host of its own tournament. The championship trophy was in the shape of a half-maple leaf, symbolizing that the champion was winning a �piece of Canada�.

As hockey was Canada�s game, it was only natural that Canada would dominate a tournament of its own name. Apart from the debacle against the USSR in 1981, Canada won every other Canada Cup tournament (4 of 5 overall). Canada beat the evil Communist Russians (1984 & 1986), the mysterious Czechoslovakians (1976), and the imperialist Americans (1991).

There was no doubt about it: Hockey was CANADA�s game.

Then came 1996, and everything changed. Our game would be taken away from us.

First, the tournament changed its name to the more generic and politically correct �World Cup�. Then, it was decided that games would be played in Europe as well.

They also changed the championship trophy. Instead of a beautiful silver Maple Leaf, the champions were presented a trophy that looked more like a miniature model of a high-rise building. Who the hell would be proud to carry that thing around?

Canada was no longer the host of its own game. Although the final game was played in Canada, there was hardly anything �Canadian� about the tournament any longer.


All of these changes were hard for Canadians to swallow. We have seen NHL teams move from Canada to the US (Winnipeg and Quebec), and have not had a Stanley Cup winner from Canada since Montreal won it in 1993.

More and more, �our� game was being taken away from us.

Thus, when Canada made it into the best-of-three finals in the 1996 Canada Cup to face the capitalistic Americans, Canadians viewed it as a chance to reclaim a little bit of our game.

Game 1 (Canada wins 4-3 in OT, Philadelphia)> � Playing in hostile enemy territory, where the American fans booed the Canadian national anthem, the Canadians managed to sneak out with an overtime win, thanks to Steve Yzerman.

Game 2 (USA wins 5-2, Montreal) � After Game 1, the Canadians returned to a very friendly crowd of over 21,000 people at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The Canadian fans were confident that the home team would be able to beat the Americans and reclaim their glory.

Unfortunately, the USA played its best game of the entire tournament, whipping the Canadians like a professional dominatrix.

"Unbelievable!" Team USA forward Keith Tkachuk said of the huge victory. "To beat Canada in Montreal is something I never expected."


Canada was worried. The Americans were looking strong, especially goaltender Mike Richter. The Americans had beaten the Canadians on their home turf, and they were now playing with great confidence.

The Canadians, on the other hand, were facing health issues: Mark Messier missed game 2 with influenza; Rob Blake missed Game 2 with an infected right elbow; and superstar Wayne Gretzky was playing with a hurt leg after a collision with Gary Suter in Game 1.

Canada wasn�t ready to give up its� reign as the king of hockey, and the USA, who had not won an international gold medal since 1980, was tired of always losing.

�Five years ago we were down one game (in the finals) and we lost," said Pat LaFontaine, recalling the 1991 Canada Cup, won by Canada. "We remember that.�

"Like coach Wilson said: 'We've been sitting in the back of the bus for a long time. It sure would be nice to sit up front."

All of this nervous energy, anticipation, and intrigue set up a memorable Game 3 in Montreal.

"Each team has one hand on the World Cup," Team USA coach Ron Wilson said. "It will be a slugfest to get the other hand on it."

Game 3 (USA wins 5-2, Montreal)

12:50 into the 3rd period, bruising defenseman Adam Foote gave Canada a 2-1 lead.

With the Canadians clearly outshooting and outplaying the Americans, it looked inevitable that Canada would win and maintain it�s fascist rule over the hockey landscape.

Then IT happened.

It is a moment in time that most Canadians will refuse to acknowledge, nor admit to remembering.

With 3 minutes and 18 seconds remaining in the 3rd period, the great traitor Brett Hull deflected a puck with a high stuck for the apparent tying goal.

Yes, the same Brett Hull that was born and raised in Canada, and defected to the USA.

The �goal� never should have counted, and it was only thanks to the interference of an American-born NHL Vice-President that the goal was allowed. Hull�s stick was clearly higher than the crossbar, and even a blind, drunk homeless man could tell that it shouldn�t have been a goal.

No matter, the game was tied 2-2 and Team Canada deflated like a punctured tire.

The floodgates opened, and the Americans scored 3 more goals in the final 3 minutes in front of a stunned crowd in Montreal. First Amonte, then Hatcher, than just to rub salt in the wound, Adam Deadmarsh, another traitor that defected from Canada to the US, scored the final goal to seal the victory.

The loss was like a kick to the balls, a punch to the gut, or having your favourite pair of shoes eaten by your neighbour�s stupid dog.

From utter rapture to stinging defeat, the bastards from the US took the �World� Cup right from our hands with an illegal goal, and fled back to the US like thieves in the night.


With apologies to Slovakia, Czechia, Sweden, Russia, Germany, and Finland...Canada doesn�t care about you guys. We know you are great countries, make great beer and vodka, and are nice places to go on a vacation, but there wouldn�t be much fun in meeting you in the finals.

We want the USA, and we want revenge.

We want our game back!

Monday, August 23, 2004


Finally�some action!

While the sauerkraut Germans and the fractured Russians fought to a 3-3 draw in Cologne (Marcel Goc with 2 goals, which should make the guys at Sharkspage very happy), the Slovaks were defeated by the Swedes and their nasty herring breath.

Team Sweden beat Team Slovakia 2-0 in a tight defensive battle between 7600 very bored fans in Bratislava.

The shots were 24-18 for the Slovaks, and the refs did their best to kill any flow to the game by calling 20 rather weak minor penalties in the game (10 for each squad). Who needs NHL hockey when the World Cup will provide you with the same crappy officiating and low-scoring action?

My friend Michael is worried about the Slovaks� slow start, but I can�t find myself getting too worked up over one exhibition game. It�s better to get the kinks out of the armour now, rather than when the games actually count (aka the Team Canada method).

The line combinations remained fairly intact from training camp, although it looks like Radovan Somik was the odd man out. Unlike the Canadians, the Slovaks are more worried about tuning up their �A� roster and sorting out the line combinations, rather than trying to get everyone some exhibition training time. I don�t think there is enough time in the world to teach Richard Lintner to play defense, unfortunately.





McKeen�s Locked Out

The pending lockout doesn�t just affect the fans, but also the beer vendors, local stores around the stadiums, and also hockey magazine publications.

The Forecaster already decided not to release a print issue, and now McKeen�s has decided not to release a print issue with the labour uncertainty.

Due to the dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over the upcoming NHL season, we had a tough decision to make regarding the annual McKeen's Hockey Pool Yearbook. Regrettably, we have decided not to publish the print edition this season.

A beacon of light exists for faithful readers though. If the Collective Bargaining Agreement issue is resolved in time to salvage any of the 2004-2005 season, we will release an online version of the Yearbook to our subscribers.

McKeen�s generally has good write-ups of the individual players and prospects, and was always one of the �must-buy� purchases on my list. I don�t always agree with their stuff, but it�s a shame that I won�t have much reading material for my plane trip to San Francisco.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Team Non-World Cup

I made a quip earlier that I thought I'd follow up on.

If all of the injured players decided to get healthy and form their own little team, they would probably kick some serious booty in the tournament...it�s getting ridiculous in that aspect.

So, I decided to formulate a team of all the injured and defected players to see how powerful Team Non-World Cup, or Team Pampers, would be.

Nikolai Khabibulin
Ed Belfour
Evgeni Nabokov

It helps that both of Russia's star goalies have pulled out of the tournament, leaving Maxim Sokolov as the poor sucker who has to take the brunt of his team's defections. Most countries would take this trio over what they currently have.

Rob Blake - Chris Pronger
Mathieu Schneider - Derian Hatcher
Pavel Kubina - Andrei Markov
Alexei Zhitnik

Pronger and Blake on one unit (Ouch! for Canada) makes any defense corps automatically kick some tail. We got a lot of offense in this group with a couple of monster mashers. Again, this unit it stronger than many of the countries could hope for.


Sergei Federov - Steve Yzerman - Zigmund Palffy
Alexei Zhamnov - Robert Lang - Valeri Bure
Sami Kapanen - Jeremy Roenick - Esa Pirnes
Maxim Sushinski - Jan Benda - ??

A very powerful offensive group, but we need a 12th man plus some big players and defensive players. This unit is a bit too one-dimensional, especially with Valeri Bure up front. If Peter Forsberg pulls out (which is the rumour floating around), we can add him as the 12th group and we'd have a group that would put more than a few pucks in the opposition's net.

Really, this roster just shows you the large number of big names that have pulled out of this tournament. I can't remember a MAJOR tournament that had this many defections. As training camps are under way, hopefully we don't have many more.

Who would coach this squad? Well, Ivan Hlinka is dead and cloning technology is still in it's infancy...since Scotty Bowman was offered the Russian job and turned it down, we'll give him the reigns.

Friday, August 20, 2004


World Cup: The Passion of the Brodeur

You know, the constant parade of players pulling out and snubbing the World Cup of Hockey has frustrated a lot of fans.

That's why it's nice to see at least one player, Martin Brodeur, speak out and call out some of his fellow well-paid brethren:

"To me, this is the biggest competition and if you're 100%, I don't know why you wouldn't be here,' he said. "It's great to compete at this level.

"You think about Canada vs. U.S.A. or Canada vs. Russia, and the level of play will just be excellent. I'm not disappointed (in those players), I just think you would want to play in these kinds of games."

"If the guys are hurt and they can't be here, then that's fine. I understand that completely," Brodeur said. "But there are some guys who have just pulled out and they have no excuse.

Guys like Mathieu Schneider are pulling out because they can't get insurance?


You know, the one that pays you money when you miss work...


I forgot the name


Oh well, who cares.

Admittedly, the Canada World Cup has lost much of its luster over the years. Changing political tides and 8-year long breaks will do that. Still, this tournament is HUGE and you only get so many chances to represent your country on such a big stage.


The Mediots Are Out!

Oh boy, it looks like summer vacation is over for the moronic mediots from the Center of the Universe.

Case in point: Mike Ulmer - Team Canada Will Rule the World

This baby shouldn't even be close.

Two years after reasserting Canada's standing at Salt Lake, Canada has retooled while the rest of the hockey world has treaded water.

Riiiight. This past draft's top 2 picks were Russian, and it's not as if Canadians are monopolizing the individual awards.

that country's entire system but even the masterful Hlinka wasn't expected to generate much out of a thin roster built around Patrik Elias and the burned-out Jaromir Jagr, especially with Roman Cechmanek in goal.

Thank Germany and Slovakia for coming out and that leaves Canada.

Hmm, Remember Nagano? 1998? The Czechs won with a roster that had almost half of it constructed on non-NHLers. (BTW, Vokoun is going to be #1 you moron!). The European countries train a lot more together than the Country-club Canadians (Remember the last World Cup? The players partied at Whistler and golfed more than skated) and tend to play a much better team game than the Canadians. Looking back at Salt Lake City in 2002 and recent World Championships, the Canadians have had a nice wave of luck and have been able to ride their talent rather than great team play.

It's one thing to win. It's another to win while setting the table for future victories. Canada should manage that fine.

Hmm, since when does winning one single-point-in-time tournament set the table for future victories? Whether Canada wins or not in 2004 has absolutely NO effect on future tournaments. Canada won't gain mystical video-game powers that allow them to shoot 130 Miles-per-hour and bodycheck opposing players 30 feet in the air because they win a tournament.

It's this kind of cockiness that has me pull for Slovakia more and more in these types of tournaments. Putting up with overconfidence, ignorance, and xenophobia really just gets tiring.


Golbez to San Francisco!

I'll be heading off to San Francisco from August 28th to September 7th. Blogging, obviously, will be lighter (I'll have access down there, thankfully).

If any readers from the San Jose/San Francisco want to get together for a beer/meeting/whatver, and/or has some good tourist advice for a pasty polar bear, feel free to send me a shout over email at golbez@shaw.ca or ICQ: 3312164

I hope I can follow the World Cup of Hockey down there somehow (ESPN2?). I'll finally get to see my first regular season baseball game (Giants/A's), and jump off the Golden Gate bridge.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Slovakia: Palffy Out, Cibak In


The Slovak Hockey Federation announced today that Zigmund Palffy has pulled out of the World Cup of Hockey, and will be replaced by the pride of Liptovsky Mikulas: Martin Cibak.

Up until now, the Slovaks have escaped much of the injury devastation and player defections that have plagued the other countries. Regrettably, Slovakia did not get into the tournament unscathed and this is a major blow.

Unlike the deep squads from Canada and Czechia, the Slovaks do not have the depth to sustain losses to many of their front-line stars. Slovakia�s B-team has had difficulty against weaker teams like Hungary in the past few years, so big losses like Palffy will severely hinder the Slovak�s chances at conquest.

If all of the injured players decided to get healthy and form their own little team, they would probably kick some serious booty in the tournament...it�s getting ridiculous in that aspect.

Life goes on, and now the Slovaks are preparing for their training camp.

Right now, the projected lines to open up training camp:



I�d love to see a reunion of the St. Louis Slovak Pak (Demitra-Handzus-Bartecko), but that seems unlikely as Demitra will be used primarily as a center.


Oh, and here is a picture of Hlinka�s car after it was smashed, thanks to the good(?) folks at hokej.idnes.cz. It would be hard to survive this devastation.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Robert Lang: The Man with the Golden Stick

Robert Lang: The Man with the Golden Stick

A more upbeat news item that got lost in the sudden death of Ivan Hlinka � Robert Lang was awarded the Zlata Hokejka (Golden Stick) as the best Czech hockey player in the world. Lang finished 1st over Nashville�s Tomas Vokoun and NY�s pouty Jaromir Jagr. Lang finished the year with 79 points in 69 regular season games between Washington and Detroit, along with 9 points in 12 playoff games with the Wings (where he was arguably their best forward).

This is the 36th awarding of this honour, which used to be given to the best Czechoslovakian player in the world before the �Velvet Revolution� split the countries apart. Such legends as Peter Stastny, Ivan Hlinka, Vladimir Ruzicka, Robert Svehla, and Milos Holan (who was a star before cancer took his career) have won the award in the past.

For awhile, it was basically the �Dominik Hasek/Jaromir Jagr� award, as each player had a pretty good hold on the thing and won a record 5 Golden Sticks each. Now that both of these players are no longer at their zenith, we�ve seen some new blood lately with Milan Hejduk and now Robert Lang winning the award.

This is truly the pinnacle accomplishment for Lang, who is quite the NHL late bloomer. He didn�t really become an impact star and 2-way force in the NHL until he was 29 years old!
While his fellow Litvinov compatriots adapted to the NHL quite quickly (Slegr, Reichel, and Rucinsky), Lang bounced around between the 3rd/4th lines in LA and Boston, the Czech League, and the IHL before finding his groove with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not many NHL stars have their best years when they are 29-33.

(Interesting Note: Somehow Nashville (and Golbez pet) prospect and Ostravan lady killer Zbynek Irgl managed to get the same amount of points (1) as Detroit's Jiri Fischer.

You girl GIRL, IRGL!)


Yes, the NHL and NHLPA met for a long discussion about the proposed CBA, what kind of expensive steak to order, and other nonsense.

Honestly, I still don�t have the desire to talk about this issue despite the fact I�ve thought about it quite a bit over the months. All of this greed and public posturing is still making me sick, and on the outside, it appears both sides are incredibly stupid. Given how poorly the NHL has been run over the years, this level of stupidity doesn�t really surprise me.

If you want some �outsider� takes on the CBA, head on over to our friends at Sharkspage.com, OffWing.com, and Is It Hockey Season? for their viewpoints and discussion on the matter.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Ivan Hlinka: Memories...

With yesterday's tragic news regarding Ivan Hlinka, here are a couple of photos from his happier days.

(Thanks to Duc for providing these photos to me)

Hlinka the Heartthrob: Here is a picture of a very happy Hlinka holding up some divorce papers. The girls are screaming now that their favourite dreamboat coach is back on the market.
But what's with the girl on the bottom left giving the Nazi salute?

Back in the CSSR: Here is Hlinka back when he was a stud with the Czechoslovakian (Soviet Socialist Republic).

Working hard...or hardly workin? - Here is Hlinka playing Tetris on his cellphone while Mario tries very hard to get excited about his next shift. That Hlinka was one great motivator.

Monday, August 16, 2004


Ivan Hlinka: Dead at 54

More bad news to wake up to and report before the World Cup.

Ivan �Smiley� Hlinka, current coach of the National Czech team, former Canucks player and Penguins coach is dead, today, at the age of 54.

Hlinka was involved in an auto accident outside of the resort town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). TSN.ca has a brief English-language recap of the story.

Although Hlinka is generally thought of as a no-nonsense old-school hardass by North American pundits, and not held in much esteem, Hlinka is quite a legend in the Czech Republic for his efforts as a player for the Czechoslovakian national team and as a coach of the new Czech Republic national program.

As a player, Hlinka won 3 World Championships Gold Medals, 5 WC Silver Medals, and 2 WC Bronze Medals. Hlinka was also part of the 1976 Olympic squad that won silver and 1972 Olympic squad that won a bronze.

Hlinka came over to North America for two productive seasons with the Canucks, where he put up 123 points in 137 games. Hlinka was 33 when he returned back to the Czechoslovakia, and then two years later, he would begin his distinguished 2nd career as a coach.

From 1985 to 1994, Hlinka was the coach of the Litvinov team. During his tenure, Litvinov produced a bevy of incredibly talented players that grew up together: Jiri Slegr, Martin Rucinsky, Robert Lang, and Robert Reichel being the most notable.

Hlinka got his first real exposure to current-day North American fans when he led the Czechs to a surprising Gold Medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. Hlinka had previously led the Czechs to Olympic bronze in 1992, before NHLers were allowed back into the tournament.

Hlinka also led the Czechs to WC Gold in 1999 and 3 other WC Bronze Medals.

So, Hlinka won a combined 14 World Championship medals and 4 Olympic medals.

What fans here remember most about Hlinka was his stormy tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2000-01. NHL fans just didn�t take kindly to a strange European coaching a team; Especially a coach who eschewed his English lessons and wasn�t exactly known for being the best communicator.

It was hoped Hlinka would be able to control Penguins diva Jaromir Jagr, and lead the Czech-heavy Penguins squad to success.

Despite a pretty solid 42-28-9 record and semi-finals appearance in his initial year, Hlinka seemed to be at odds with Jagr, owner Mario Lemieux, and hockey writers the entire time. When Hlinka opened up the next season with 4 straight losses, it gave the Penguins the perfect excuse to fire him.

Of course, the fiery Hlinka continually battled the Penguins for the next few years for monetary compensation that he was supposed to get for being fired. It was a stormy 1.1 years, and together with the horrible experiment that was Alpo Suhonen in Chicago, this pretty much turned off NHL teams to European coaches.

Saturday, August 14, 2004


Scott Niedermayer: What does the future hold?

Scott Niedermayer was awarded a $7mil one-year arbitration award, tying the record award given to John "Chocolate" LeClair in 2000. This $7mil puts Niedermayer at the top of the Devils salary totem pole right along with Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens.

I'm a little surprised that the award wasn't higher, given the fact that the Devils were supposedly offering $7mil and then $8mil a season for 5 years, while Nieds wanted $9mil for the same period.

From an earlier entry...
Niedermayer doesn�t have the glaring poor +/- that Gonchar has, and the Devils have already offered $7mil per season. This has already set a high salary floor.

Niedermayer�s agent expects $8 or $9mil, and I expect that he may easily get it. Based on the Devils offer, which would put Niedermayer at the top of the Devils food chain, and the low award to Gonchar, my psychic senses tell me that Niedermayer will be awarded around $7.5mil per season.

Why only $7.5mil? Looking at his offensive numbers prior to this season, they don�t blow you away. If an arbitrator can see through Gonchar�s offensive stats, perhaps they can see through the fact that Niedermayer has shown only one truly �elite� season.

(So much for the idea of my own psychic hotline)

Now, hearing that the Devils offered Niedermayer $40mil over 5 years, I am surprised that Niedermayer didn't just take that contract and run.

If he settles on the one-year deal he was awarded, Niedermayer will have to get $33mil over 4 years in the open market to match the offer the Devils have been reported to have shoved in his face.

Would Scott Niedermayer get $8.25mil a season on the open market? With all the talk about salary caps and cost certainty, it looks like Scott is taking an awfully foolish risk. If he doesn't have another Norris-like season, I'd think he'd have trouble getting close to the type of dollars the Devils have been willing to give him.

It's likely true that the Devils' offer includes a lot of payment deferrals, as they would not want to have Niedermayer making $8mil while Brodeur makes over $1mil less.
At the same time, the Devils are offering both BIG money and LONG-TERM security. That's tougher to get in today's market, and probably in tomorrow's market as well.

Just because the Blues are dumb/eager/whatever enough to give Pronger $10mil a year doesn't mean the market will be the same for Scott once he is 'free'.

I wonder if Scott wants out of New Jersey? His free-flowing offensive game was stifled for the longest time, and it can't be all that exciting playing in a city where they hold their Stanley Cup celebration in a parking lot.

If I were Scott, I'd negotiate a bit more and take $40mil+ over 5 seasons. If/when the new CBA is in place, you may not see those kind of offers again.


Hal Gill??!?!

Hal Gill Boston's lumbering 6'8" ogre was named Mathieu Schneider's replacement for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Eric at Offwing.com asks...
Think of it this way: who would you rather see battling Joe Thornton and Vincent Lacavalier down low in front of Team USA's net: the 5'10" 192 pound Schneider, or the 6'7" 250 pound Gill?

To which I answer: I'd rather have Matt Schneider, who Joe Thornton and Prince Vince can't possibly just skate around and look like a pylon. Gill is the type of player that will take bad penalties when he gets caught flat-footed.

After he saw a large handful of pundits and peeps deriding the selection of Gill, he asked With Schneider gone, who else could Ron Wilson and his staff reasonably recruit for the cause.

I'm left without any answers. If Gill is substandard, who would be a better pick?

You know, it's a tough call. There really is a glaring lack of depth with Team USA's A-team talent (look at the World Championship rosters they have to cull together each year...not pretty), and the new wave of great talent is still in it's junior/developing years. There aren't a lot of great options...

1. Eric Weinrich - When in doubt, go with experience.
Weinrich was left off of the original roster, and is a better NHL, video game, fantasy hockey, and whatever defenseman than Hal Gill. Weinrich has extensive experience with the US squad at various events, and was given the top defensive duties at the recent World Championships (where he finished with +3 in 4 games).
Sure, he may be old, but he still has the wheels to keep up with other countries' speedsters, and he plays a solid position game. Weinrich won't be exposed nearly as much as a guy like Gill.

2. Paul Martin - No, not the crusty old Prime Minister of Canada, but rather the fine upstanding rookie from the New Jersey Devils. Martin averaged 20 minutes of ice time per game with the Devils and played solid hockey in all situations. He has the poise that would allow him to do well in a big tournament.

To his discredit, Martin doesn't have the senior team national experience to fall upon. Hal Gill, at least, has played in the World Championships. Even so, I'd take the young and polished Martin over Gill.

3. Andy Roach - In the spirit of the Olympics and unsung heroes, how about the hero for the USA at the World Championships?

As most Americans don't follow this tournament (It's not even on TV down there for the most part), they probably wouldn't have a clue who I'm talking about.

Well, for starters, he broke the hearts of the Czechs as the shootout hero at the World Championships in Prague...and he managed to escape the country alive.
In the bronze medal game, Roach was again the hero when he scored the deciding shootout goal against the Slovaks.

This guy has broken more Slavic hearts than Anna Kournikova.

Roach is a 5'11" (undersized) offensive defenseman that has spent the last 5 years in the German Elite League. In that span, he has put up 157 points in 269 games.

His exploits earned him a spot with Team USA in Czechia, and he proceeded to put up 2 goals in 3 assists in 9 games, in addition to his 2 huge game-winning shootout goals.

After his fine performance, the Blues, in a rare moment of foresight, signed Roach to a contract and he'll help replace the offensive void left by the almost-certain departure of Al MacInnis.

I shouldn't be touting this bastard, but he's certainly earned the chance to be considered for the World Cup squad.

Why must only the NHL be considered the only source for quality hockey players? The other countries in the world get fine contributions from non-NHL players (The Czechs in Nagano...Dopita, Kucera, Ruzicka, Patera, Prochazka, etc), so why doesn't the talent-thin USA consider guys like Roach?

Thursday, August 12, 2004


World Cup: Russia...Let's not and say we did!

So, now more Russian players have decided not to play in the World Cup of Hockey.

As if Gary Bettman doesn�t have enough problems on his plate with the CBA, now his showcase tournament is being given a big �meh� by quite a few star players.

I promise I will never use the expression �meh� again. If I do, you may shoot me.

From this TSN report, we see that Sergei Fedorov, Alexei Zhamonov, Alexei Zhitnik and Valeri Bure have declined the opportunity to play in the World Cup.

Ok, Val Bure is now big loss.

This brings me to an earlier post I wrote regarding Khabibulin, the Russian team and possible future defections...

How can a player or worker possibly improve their working conditions? Like any labour strike, the player can simply choose to withhold their services. It's the best and most powerful tactic availble to their disposal.

If Sergej Federov joins Khabibulin in this 'strike', and other players follow, then the Russian Federation just may get the message and realize that they have lost the support of their best players. The Russians can't be truly competitive if the best players continually spurn their homeland.

If nobody else joins Khabibulin in pulling out, then the Russkies will just move on as always. If a star like Federov decides to join Khabi, then others may follow, and the domino effect might be enough for Steblin and/or Tikhonov to get canned.

The Russians are now without Nabokov, Khabibulin, Mogilny, Val Bure, Zhitnik, Zhamnov, Federov...

Now that a big chunk of their best players have pulled out, has the Russian Federation got the message loud and clear?

I haven�t heard much scuttlebutt about movements within the Federation, which leads me to believe that particular body is still constipated with a bad case of Steblinitis.


Jiri Fischer has been named Pavel Kubina�s replacement for the Czechs on the World Cup team. After a pretty poor regular season, I can�t understand why Fischer was selected to the World Cup team over other better replacements. Lener must have something against Jaroslav Modry and Filip Kuba, who have both played superior hockey to the Fischerman over the past year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Zdeno Chara and Big Asset Management

Zdeno Chara and the Senators recently agreed on a 2-year deal as reported by tsn.ca.

Chara will make $4.6mil next season and $4.9mil in the season after that.

Let�s compare him to the other defensemen making similar dough (Figures shown are for next season), and their production the past 2 seasons...

Chara ($4.60mil): 79 16-25-41 +33 & 74 9-30-39 +29
Aucoin ($4.25mil): 81 13-31-44 +29 & 73 8-27-35 -5
McCabe ($4.45mil): 75 16-37-53 +22 & 75 6-18-24 +9
Redden ($4.70mil): 81 17-26-43 +21 & 76 10-35-45 +23
Gonchar($5.50mil): 71 11-47-58 -14 & 82 18-49-67 +13

In terms of points and +/- production, Chara fits in nicely with the other defensemen in this tier. At the same time, I figured a Norris Trophy candidate like Chara would have made at least $5million next season, given how Gonchar was awarded $5.5mil and Niedermayer was offered $7mil/season by the Devils. Let�s face it, Chara offers the size and physical aspect that the other defenders here clearly cannot offer.

Why would Chara settle for less than $5mil?

What�s funny, at least to me, is that the Senators have 2 high-quality defensemen in Redden and Chara for just under $10mil next season, and the Blues are stuck with paying ONE defenseman $10mil next season: Chris Pronger.

The problem for the Blues is that their hands were somewhat tied. They had to offer/qualify Pronger at least $9.5mil in order to keep his rights.

They could have easily said �No, you aren�t worth that much money and we�ll go for cheaper options, or you�ll need to take a pay cut�

Would Pronger make $10mil on the open market? Clearly, he wouldn�t get $10mil in these conditions.

The Blues, however, know that Pronger would have told Larry Pleau to take his pay cut and shove it. Pronger would get a nice contract elsewhere, and would probably not want to play with the Blues, citing a very damaged ego.

Has your employer ever asked you to take a pay cut? Even if you are overpaid (anyone in sales and marketing), would you not give your employer a big middle finger in response? Even if you did take a pay cut, you�d likely be spending your working time playing Minesweeper or polishing off your resume and faxing it to other companies.

So, either the Blues bite the bullet and sign Pronger back at $9.5mil (They signed for $10mil, which seems odd to me), or they pretty much lose him.
With MacInnis likely gone to a career ending injury, the Blues weren�t willing to lose both of their keystones on the blueline. Without Pronger, (And Demitra) the Blues would be pretty much cooked.


Big Dan is on a roll as of late. He was discussing the Islanders and how they have basically had a very poor team over Milbury�s tenure. Why is that?

His post here lists many of the deals that Milbury has made over the years. The man (Milbury, not Dan) clearly loses most of his trades, and the quality of his organizational depth has eroded over the years.

For all of the great drafting the Islanders have done, or the assets the Islanders have had, Milbury has managed to manage them poorly and leave himself with a team that is not very competitive and has some big dead-weight contracts (Much like Larry Pleau and the Blues).

To me, the biggest reason for the Islanders lack of real success has been Milbury�s clear lack of direction in running his franchise over the years.

One day, they want to be competitive, so they throw huge bucks at Peca and Yashin. The next day, they cut payroll, and so on. The Islanders have switched directions numerous times and they rebuild their own team before it�s even built up...it�s mind boggling.

The best example was his Luongo trade...he basically traded a young franchise goalie to the Panthers (Plus Jokinen) for two inconsistent non-impact offensive wingers (Kvasha and Parrish). Milbury then drafted an inferior goalie prospect, Rick DiPietro, and missed out on Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik.

Imagine the Islanders with Gaborik or Heatley, Jokinen, AND Luongo instead of DiPietro and Kvasha/Parrish. Yeah, I know Jokinen may never have flourished without Keenan�s prodding, but it�s not as if Kvasha has done any better than the �old� Jokinen ever did.

The real model franchises in the NHL are those teams that have a true direction, and STICK WITH IT.

Look at the New Jersey Devils and the San Jose Sharks.

The Devils have drafted well and produced most of their talent from within. The Devils set a specific payroll structure to which they will not deviate (Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur get XXX and everyone else goes below).
They don�t need to sign expensive free agents because they have cheaper options in-house. They stick with their plan and don�t suddenly shift directions overnight, even when they miss the playoffs.

The Sharks, under Dean Lombardi, attempted to mimic the Devils structure (So much so that Lombardi asked Devils GM Fat Lou for advice), so they started on a long-term plan and the results have left the Sharks with a roster of talented, young, and fairly inexpensive players.

The Canucks, under Brian Burke (Lou Lam was his former coach), switched to this long-term philosophy and the Canucks are now a much better off than they were under the Keenan regime. Most of the Canucks core players are signed to long-term deals that are reasonable to both the team and player, and slightly under �market� value.

Formula For Success:
Solid Payroll Structure + Good Drafting + Good Player Development + Good-Value Free Agents + Not Losing Trades + A team-wide Organizational Philosophy + Sticking WITH THE DAMN PLAN = A Strong Franchise.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


World Cup: Belfour BACKing Out

The World Cup of Hockey is quickly turning into a tournament of �who won�t be there�, rather than who WILL be there. We saw earlier that Rob Blake pulled himself out, and now...

Toronto�s hard-drinking, television tossing goaltending Ed Belfour has pulled out of the World Cup as his reoccurring back problems have flared up again. He�ll be replaced by biker-gang member Jose Theodore

Now, Maple Leafs fans must be nervous, given the fact their team just gave Belfour a guaranteed 2-year contract, with an option for a 3rd year. Total Cost? $22 million over 3 years.

Belfour was and has been great for the Leafs during his tenure there, but why would you give a 39-year old goalie with a creaky back a guaranteed 2 year deal? Is there an insurer dumb enough to actually give the Leafs a policy? It probably cost the Leafs a small fortune just to get insurance on Belfour�s deal.

Belfour was 34-19-6 last year in 59 games with the Leafs. He also had a nice 2.13GAA and 91.8 SV%. He also missed 11 games with 3 separate injuries, and played hurt during the playoffs. It doesn�t make a whole lot of sense to make to sign Belfour for more than 1 year guaranteed.

Would Belfour have been able to get the same contract on the open market?

Big Dan from the Face Off Circle presented an argument that I thought was interesting:

I'd do what Detroit has done this year (Yzerman, Shanahan, Chelios, Schneider). I'd offer a significant pay cut. Eddie, here's a two-year $8 million deal. You are free to shop your services around. If you are offered something better, let us know and we will decide whether to match (as you know Belfour wants to stay playing near his hometown). That is a fair offer.

If Belfour walks, you sign a guy like Weekes for $1.5. If he does not pan out, you wait for the right deal. As the season progresses, budgetary constraints could cause Dunham/ Cechmanek/ Fernandez/ or Thibault to be dealt for a crappy draft pick.

Or Ferguson could call up George McPhee about Olaf Kolzig. I'd rather have a 34-year-old Kolzig at $6.25 than a 39-year-old Belfour at $8. I am sure you wouldn't have to twist their arm very hard either. The Caps are going to suck anyway and they have Ouellet and Charpentier and Daigneault in goal (Stana left).

My guess would be Belfour would return to the Leafs for around 2-year, $10 million.

After looking at his argument, I can see why the Leafs gave Belfour what they did.

Let�s face it, as much as a risk as Belfour is, he�s still one of the better goaltenders in the NHL. It won�t hurt the Leafs nation to overpay somewhat for Belfour, especially since he *might* be given a good deal by another team, even in today�s market. Goaltending is seen as the #1 position of importance by most franchises, and there are other contenders out there who might have considered giving Belfour a similar deal (Especially the goalie-hungry Rangers). This isn�t a Bobby Holik-like signing.

What the Leafs really need to do is get a backup who doesn�t suck.

Forget what the Leafs are paying Belfour, the fact that they paid Trevor Kidd $650,000 to basically lose games for them was one of the biggest wastes of money since the BC �Fast Ferries� fiasco (If you live in Vancouver, you know what I mean).

If I were a Leafs fan, I�d be worried that the Leafs haven�t gone out and signed a capable backup goaltender to fill in while Belfour may be injured. A quality backup would also allow the Leafs to rest Belfour during the regular season, so he�d be minty fresh for the playoffs.
As long as the Leafs are dishing out more cheques than the welfare office, they might as well spend a bit more to get a quality backup goaltender. The options in their system haven�t panned out, and their window of opportunity is closing as their veteran stars are getting older.


Kubina out of the World Cup

Another high-quality defenseman has pulled out of the World Cup, and this time, it was a surprise.

Czech Team spokesman (and kick-ass writer) Pavel Barta revealed that Kubina has withdrawn due to the effects of drinking too much beer after winning the Stanley Cup. (The concussion story is a clever cover-up)

My guess is that they will subtract the �IN� and name Filip Kuba to the roster as a replacement. At the very least, Kuba is 4/6th�s the defenseman that Kubina is.

Monday, August 09, 2004


Adrian Aucoin: Worth a whole lot o' Coin!


It's a good time of the year to be an ex-Canucks defenseman.

First McCabe cashes in on a career year, and now Adrian Aucoin has been granted a nice raise.

According to Newsday.com, Aucoin has been awarded a $4.25mil contract for next season. After this, he'll become an Unrestricted Free Agent (according to current CBA terms).

Compare this deal to his contemporaries.

(I'll use the last 2 seasons together with their salary for next year)

Aucoin ($4.25mil): 81 13-31-44 +29 & 73 8-27-35 -5
McCabe ($4.45mil): 75 16-37-53 +22 & 75 6-18-24 +9
Redden ($4.70mil): 81 17-26-43 +21 & 76 10-35-45 +23

Most any smart fan and scout would tell you that Redden is clearly better than his other 2 peers above. How about McCabe vs Aucoin. Who would you rather have?

Just for fun...let's compare

What Aucoin has been able to do is eat more ice than Oprah on a smoothie binge.
Aucoin was 3rd in ATOI this past season and 7th in 2003.

2004 - 26:37 ATOI (18:27/4:11/3:58) (ES/SH/PP)
2003 - 29:00! ATOI (17:29/6:03/5:27)

2004 - 25:43 ATOI (17:41/3:40/4:21)
2003 - 23:38 ATOI (16:30/3:55/3:13)

Part of this is the Islanders almost exclusive use of 4 defensemen. Aucoin, Niinimaa, Hamrlik, and Jonsson all play about 23 minutes a game. Martinek, Cairns, and whatever dog scraps are left get almost nothing. The Leafs have a bit more depth so they don't force themselves to use McCabe as much.

Looking in a team context...

Aucoin's +29 led his team this season after finishing 23rd in 2003!

McCabe's +22 led his team this season after finishing 6th in 2003.

Offensively, they both have similar overall totals in the past 4 seasons

Aucoin: 308GP 37-104-141 231PIM
McCabe: 314GP 44-105-149 473PIM

So, it's pretty obvious to see that these 2 are very compariable in terms of statistics. Certain fans have been telling me that they though McCabe was given too much by the Leafs. However, if he compares so well to Aucoin, the arbitrators likely would have given him the same award the Leafs gave him in a contract...and they did this all without going through a nasty arbitration process.

Who would you take? It's a matter of personal preference.
McCabe will give you a more talented player with a penchant of making more mistakes and taking bad penalties. On the other hand, McCabe is much more physical than Aucoin and can be depended on more to be a force against the beasts of the East.


Like McCabe, Aucoin has really grown since he was traded from the Canucks.

After being drafted in the 4th round, Aucoin made the Canucks for good in 95-96 and provided the Canucks with a serviceable 3rd line defenseman.

It was in 98-99 that he exploded onto the scene with 23 goals (and a whopping 11 assists) in 82 games.

Aucoin was using his big slap shot on the Power Play and the puck was going in for him at an amazing rate.

The problem for Aucoin was, he was looking a lot like a one dimensional defenseman.
He wasn't too physical (and he still isn't), he couldn't pass the puck very well, and he was very predictable on the Power Play.

in 99-00, those same shots weren't going in for him, and his goal total dipped to 10. I remember watching him miss the net way too often (It seemed only 1 out of every 4 shots hit the net) and do little else but shoot the puck.

Now, Aucoin wasn't all that physical, but he was better defensively than most gave him credit for, especially Mark Crawford.

As the old story goes, if Mark Crawford doesn't like a player, there is nothing that player can do to win himself out of the doghouse.

Despite Aucoin's big shot, decent defense (His +/- compare to his team was pretty good, even though he wasn't a top line defender) and good size, Crawford didn't like how Aucoin wasn't very assertive.

BAM! Aucoin is then dealt for Dan Cloutier and the Cloutier era began in Vancouver.

After a brief stint in Tbay, the Bolts dealt him to the Islanders for Mathieu Biron.

Talk about a deal Milbury actually won!

All Aucoin has done with the Islanders is become a hell of a solid all-around defender. He's learned to pass the puck (Gasp!), play good positional defense, and give a dependable or positive effort in every game situation.

As much as I thought Aucoin was shafted by Crawford, I don't think anyone here expected that he would become a very solid all-around defender.

Oh, he's getting more shots on goal than in his Vancouver days, but his game isn't based simply on that one aspect of his game.

Would the Islanders trade Aucoin for Cloutier?

Exactly, they wouldn't... it's too bad Aucoin could never grow more under Crawford than he did.

Friday, August 06, 2004


OSHL - Arcade Hockey Come to Life!?

This news release was a bit of a bombshell that was released on Sportsnet.ca this past Monday.

According to the report:

Randy Gumbley, owner of a Junior A team (Streetsville) in the OHA, has initiated a media friendly, player friendly hockey league, which will be called the OSHL.

Why is this anything to look at?

Well, for one thing, this startup league claims to have things the long-running WHA (in compassion) does not...people and places.

According to group responsible for making the OSHL a reality, arena bookings are written in stone.

Cloutier has already committed to play in the splinter league, should the NHL go ahead with a lockout. Other NHLers rumoured to be on board include both Primeau brothers, Dominik Hasek, Roberto Luongo Alexei Yashin and Chris Osgood. Gumbley feels he has an excellent rapport with players and agents, including Mark Osborne.

And how about these funny rules...

The league will house a number of different, and experimental, rules. Each team will allow 12 skaters, including one goaltender, and will play 4-on-4, three 17-minute periods. No red-line will exist, blue-line icing is the norm and all penalties will be taken as penalty shots with chasers. Each period will end with a two-player shootout, not reflective on the gameday score, but rather each goal in the shootout will be allocated to tournament points -- three points for winning the game, two for winning the shootout.

Wow! A blend of arcade and pond hockey come to life! Too bad they won�t have pucks on fire and landmines laid randomly under the ice surface.

According to the report, the OSHL was supposed to become �public� on Thursday. I was waiting for it to become public before commenting, but nothing has happened yet.

Now, we have not heard anything since this release, nor did we hear anything about this OSHL before. It�s rare to have any type of news this big kept under wraps so well. The hockey hounds can usually sniff out something like this long before it�s made public.

It makes you wonder if this Gumbley guy is simply blowing smoke up our asses�
Still, I think this idea is perfect, and much more suitable to the current market climate than the flawed and dead-before-life WHA.

Like the old Wayne Gretzky Travelling All-Stars, this is a perfect short-term diversion for the fans in case of a lockout. There is much less financial commitment from the league, and less time commitment from the players. It will keep the fans amused, keep the players in decent shape, and will be easily collapsible if the NHL resumes operations at any point during the winter.

While the WHA has no real player commitments and trouble with arena leases (Toronto can�t even get one), the OSHL, if it�s not lying, would already have a choke hold on the WHA with a commitment of players and leases. If players such as Yashin and Cloutier are in on the OSHL, you can bet other players will jump on board with this �sure thing�, rather than take their changes with the WHA.

Unfortunately for us West Coasters, this league is strictly in the (l)East. I wonder if a C-sports channel like The Score will pick up the OSHL if it�s a go.

I�m keeping my eyes and ears open on this OSHL. It�s a good idea, and much more likely to succeed and achieve its goals than the WHA.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Thursday's Crazy Roundup

What can I get for ten dollars?

Any'ting you want!



1. Speaking again about Slavic ex-Oilers, Jaroslav Pouzar is now battling leukemia. Ex-Duck and Ex-Trinec defender Milos Holan also faced the same battle, and he lived through it and is now coach of Znojmo�s junior squad.

2. Hokej.sk confirms that Trencin defensemenAndrej Meszaros and Andrej Sekera are both coming to the CHL next season (Vancouver and Owen Sound, respectively). Just confirmation for those who weren�t 100% absolutely convinced.

3. August 9th will mark the anniversary of Zoltan Batovsky�s tragic death. Many NHL and Extraliga stars from the area of Banska Bystrica will be taking part in an exhibition game in his memory. Players there will include hometown NHL heroes Richard Zednik, Michal Handzus, and Vladimir Orszagh. Many other non-Bystrica stars such as Pavol Demitra will also be taking part.

4. Speaking of Zednik, who is probably my 4th favourite NHL player (Demitra, Slegr, Orszagh, Zednik�yeah that sounds right) just signed a new 3-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens. He�ll earn $2.3mil, $2.4mil, and $2.6mil the next 3 seasons. For a consistent 30g/50point producer in today�s NHL, that�s a fair value for both sides.

5. In an earlier write-up about the Czech World Cup team, I had written that Robert Lang was not going to play in the World Cup, because he�d rather spend time with his family
Still, the Czechs put him on the roster anyway, hoping that he would attend.

Today, we get confirmation that Bobbie Lang won�t be playing in the World Cup (told ya!), and his spot will be taken by not-so-Mighty Duck, Petr Sykora.

6. Here�s a picture of Martin Havlat in a Trinec jersey. He�s training with the team, and may even consider playing with them in case of a lockout (instead of evil Sparta, hooray!).

Trinec beat Demitra�s hometown of Dubnica 5-1 in a Crystal Cup exhibition game. Preseason hockey in August just doesn�t feel right�

7. Bryan McCabe and the Leafs avoided arbitration and tsn.ca reports the two sides have agreed to a deal.

With Gonchar�s arbitration award of $5.5mil, I wonder if this spurred one side to want to get the deal done before the catfight.

As for McCabe himself, I remember his tenure with the Canucks�and he�s come a long way since his days in Vancouver.

When he arrived here in the shocking Linden trade in 1998, McCabe was a mess with his confidence in the toilet. He was given captaincy of the retched Islanders, a task he was obviously not ready to handle.

McCabe was obviously thrilled to be here, as his play in the later part of the 97-98 was forceful and a shot in the arm to the lifeless Canucks.

Of course, the adrenaline wore off in 98-99, and he reverted back to making constant defensive mistakes. Igor Kravchuk would have been proud. It didn�t look like he would ever develop into the star defender he was touted to be on his draft day.

When he was dealt to the Blackhawks in the blockbuster that got us the Sedinbots�, I was thrilled to see him gone. We wouldn�t have to see him choke 3-4 times a game. His play with the Blackhawks certainly didn�t make anyone in Vancouver regret the deal, especially when the rookie Sedin�s were doing quite well at the time. All the Hawks got for McCabe was Alexander Karpovtsev, which, at the time, seemed like a fair deal for a shaky young defender.

If you can get past the Leafs overdrive hype machine, you can see that McCabe has steadily increased his offensive production ever season, and has become one of the better 2-way defenders in the NHL. He�s still a bit shaky in the defensive end, but he�s a LOT better than he was with the Canucks, Islanders, and Chickenhawks.

It only took him 4 teams and 2,387 giveaways to do it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


Will you take this arbitration award, in sickness and in health?

The early returns are in! Sergei Gonchar and Pavel Kubina are both richer bastards than they were 2 days ago.

Pavel Kubina - Was awarded a 2-year deal which will pay him $3.1mil and $3.4mil for the next 2 seasons. This is exactly what I predicted earlier ($3.25mil per season average), so my predictions have been pretty good so far. Maybe I should charge $5 a minute for this stuff and speak in a thick Jamaican accent.

Kubina was seeking $3.7mil a year, and the Bolts were prepared to pay $3mil a year for 3 years. Both sides came out pretty well on this one.

Sergei Gonchar - The media hounds are all over the fact that Gonchar was awarded a one-year deal at $5.5 million.

Compared to the $3.65mil he earned last year, the 51% jumps out at most people.

It�s also shocking to most that the Bruins so easily accepted the ruling, given the past aversion to paying out big contracts (excluding Martin Lapointe).

Look at the background to this particular case, and it�s not a really surprising decision, after all.

According to this Boston Herald Article, the Bruins had offered Gonchar $4.6mil, while Gonchar�s agent countered with $8.75mil! Given the award of $5.5mil, the Bruins clearly �won� this arbitration hearing, and were more than likely fully expecting and willing to pay Gonchar any award that was around the range of $5.5 to $6.0 million/season.

Given the past history of arbitration awards (Demitra got $6.5mil/season), I am quite stunned that the most offensively productive defenseman in the NHL wasn�t awarded a deal worth at least $7mil per season. Elite defensemen such as Pronger make $10mil, and Gonchar is certainly just a tier below that.

Of course, now comes the requisite whining from Gonchar�s agent

``As expected in the current environment, the Bruins took an aggressively negative approach toward the arbitration,'' Barry said yesterday. ``We don't feel that the characterizations that were made of Sergei's game were accurate, and we feel they were done solely to achieve whatever their goal was in the arbitration.''

Barry added: ``They took a very aggressively negative approach to Sergei in order to buttress their argument that he wasn't as good as Wade Redden or Ed Jovanovski (two players cited in the hearing).''

Well, duh!!! Do you expect the Bruins to talk up Gonchar? The Bruins are trying to get the lowest contract possible, and will obviously do whatever it takes to win their side of the argument.

Why do players and agents insist on the player attending these arbitration hearings? Most of these guys have fragile egos it seems, and/or are not used to criticism, since they have always grown up in charmed lives (Always the best in their group, etc etc).

Why hire a player agent in the first place, if the player insists on going to the hearing? Note to players: If you spend a huge commission on an agent, and don�t want your feelings hurt, then you let the agent attend the hearing on your behalf and stay home and play golf.

No player should EVER cry foul about having their feelings hurt in this process, because it�s set up in such a manner that the team has to cut the player to pieces in order to win their argument.


Will there be aftershocks?

Remember how Scott Niedermayer rejected New Jersey�s offer of around $7mil per season.

Unlike Gonchar, Niedermayer, the Norris Trophy winner, has a truly legitimate claim that his salary belongs amongst those paid to Pronger and Lidstrom.

Although the offensively superior Gonchar was award just $5.5mil next season, Niedermayer�s game will be tougher for Devils GM Fat Lou to chop into bite-size pieces.

With Scott Stevens gone for most of the year, it was Niedermayer who stepped up and became the best d-man in the NHL (In the minds of NHL writers, that is).

Will Gonchar�s low award hinder Scott�s efforts?

Niedermayer doesn�t have the glaring poor +/- that Gonchar has, and the Devils have already offered $7mil per season. This has already set a high salary floor.

Niedermayer�s agent expects $8 or $9mil, and I expect that he may easily get it. Based on the Devils offer, which would put Niedermayer at the top of the Devils food chain, and the low award to Gonchar, my psychic senses tell me that Niedermayer will be awarded around $7.5mil per season.

Why only $7.5mil? Looking at his offensive numbers prior to this season, they don�t blow you away. If an arbitrator can see through Gonchar�s offensive stats, perhaps they can see through the fact that Niedermayer has shown only one truly �elite� season.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Zdeno Ciger: Good Riddance or Goodbye?

Zdeno Ciger, quite surprisingly, announced his retirement today at the age of 34. Although Ciger was a national team mainstay for many years (and former Captain), his retirement was met with as much celebration as it was with sadness. Is Ciger the Slovakian version of Tom Barrasso? That almost fits the bill.

Given Ciger�s penchant for unexpected career moves, maybe this isn�t such a big surprise?

Ciger is not a well known name to most NHL fans, but I�m sure Oilers and Devils fans remember the quiet, enigmatic winger who had great skills, but whose head and heart wasn�t always in the game. Most of the GM�s in fantasy leagues I was in were asking me about him, as if he was some kind of Slovakian hockey god :)

�When is he coming back to the NHL?�
�Why did he leave in the first place? He was so good!�
�Would you trade me your 1st round pick and your left arm for him?�

C�ger was drafted in the 3rd round (54th overall) of the 1988 NHL draft by the New Jersey Devils after being named Czechoslovak rookie of the year. He came over in 1990 and split the season between Utica and New Jersey.
After spending two-and-a-half seasons floating between the AHL and NHL, struggling to learn the language and adapt to the lifestyle changes, Ciger was dealt to the Oilers in 1993 for Bernie Nicholls.

It was with the Oilers that Ciger could finally get a chance to show off his offensive skills, and he flourished in his 4 seasons with the Oilers. Of course, he missed most of 94-95 in a contract dispute, so it was more like 3 seasons.
In 95-96, Ciger was an offensive force on a poor Oilers team (This was the darkest year before they started getting better), and he finished with 70 points in 79 games. He was a restricted free agent and was offered over $1mil/season by the Oilers (At that time, his offer was pretty good).

Yet, he left that all behind and suddenly returned to Slovakia to play with Slovan Bratislava. He didn�t give any rhyme or reason, he didn�t try to negotiate for more money�he just simply went home and played for about US$150,000 a year in front of crowds one-fifth the size of those in Edmonton.


Some writers in Slovakia speculated that it was his wife, who was unable to get nursing credentials in Canada, which was the main reason for Ciger�s return home. Others speculated that the Oilers� offer was of the lowball variety, although Ciger never really attempted to negotiate in the first place.

In a 2001 interview with the Slovak Specatator, Ciger gave a brief glimpse into his mindset for returning home.

Regarding $$$:. "I wanted to try playing in the NHL, but I never intended to stay forever. There are more important things in life than money."

Regarding his wife: "That's all media bullshit! She (his wife) was at home with the children then, and anyway I came back for a whole complex of reasons, including being near my parents."

Ciger and his wife divorced in 2000, which led to speculation that Ciger was �free� to return to the NHL. There were plenty of teams interested in Ciger�s services, including the Minnesota Wild, who had success with another older Slovak player (Sekeras).

Certainly, Ciger�s celebrity status in Slovakia was taking a beating after a few years. For one thing, Ciger has always been very outspoken, often in a �whiny� matter. Ciger was openly complaining about the state of Slovak hockey (which does need some fixing), his spot on the National team, his telephone bill, and so on.
Ciger also whined a lot to the referees during games. After spending years in North America, where the officiating is clearly superior, Ciger was getting mugged and hacked at will and didn�t take kindly to it. There were many instances of Ciger throwing sticks and gloves at referees, including one in this year�s playoffs, where Ciger attacked referee Jakubec. (Which is strange, given that Ciger and Jakubec are childhood friends). Many fans thought Ciger was more of a whiny Hollywood type in comparison to his teammates.

Many fans, already resentful of the large financial advantage that Bratislava has on the other Slovak teams, weren�t too thrilled with the fact that Ciger made so much more than the typical Slovakian player. Ciger was certainly worth his contract, but many Slovaks, living with puny wages in comparison, saw Ciger as the whiny highly-paid superstar on the league�s richest team.

Perhaps this led to Ciger finally making his long-awaited return to the NHL in 2001 with the New York Rangers. After 5 years in Slovakia, Ciger had finally been lured away from home, but his return didn�t go too well.

After 29 games with the Rangers, Ciger clearly wasn�t fitting in with the team (Given how many overpaid whiners the Rangers have, I found this rather odd). Ciger�s game had eroded after years against weaker competition, his defensive coverage was incredibly poor, and he was dealt to the Lightning for Matthew Barnaby. Ciger finished the season with just 25 points in 56 games, and that was the end of his NHL career. Once again, Ciger gave up and went home.

Overall, Ciger finished with 228 points in NHL 352 games. Solid numbers for a good 2nd-tier player.

After his return to Slovakia in 2002, Ciger also found himself no longer part of the senior national team. Ciger�s skills clearly didn�t match up with the best in the world, and his attitude wasn�t appreciated by his younger peers. It didn�t help his cause that he was always wavering in his commitment to join the squad.
At the very least, Ciger was a force again in the Slovak Extraleague, and he finished this past season with 60 points in 51 games.

This sudden retirement clearly fits the trend of his career. If there is one constant in Ciger�s hockey career, it�s been that he has never seemed happy playing the game. Despite the lucrative offers from the NHL, Ciger played for far less at home. Even then, Ciger never seemed to enjoy himself much on the ice.

Thus, it�s easy to see why many fans in Slovakia are shouting �HURA!� at the announcement of his retirement. It�s hard to like a player that whines a lot and doesn�t seem to enjoy playing the game. There are many people that would donate both kidneys for the opportunities and natural skills that Ciger has, and it�s a shame that Ciger could never appreciate the fortune that his career brought to him.

1990-91 New-Jersey Devils 45 8 17 25 8
1991-92 New-Jersey Devils 20 6 5 11 10
1992-93 New-Jersey Devils 27 4 8 12 2
1992-93 Edmonton Oilers 37 9 15 24 6
1993-94 Edmonton Oilers 84 22 35 57 8
1994-95 Edmonton Oilers 5 2 2 4 0
1995-96 Edmonton Oilers 78 31 39 70 41
2001-02 New-York Rangers 29 6 7 13 16
2001-02 Tampa-Bay Lightning 27 6 6 12 10

Sunday, August 01, 2004


Hitting the Links

With the hockey news very slow as of late, and the sunny long weekend here in Vancouver, I thought it would be a good time to update the links section on the left-hand side of the page.

These are all sites I visit on a regular basis, and they have some quality stuff. When you are done visiting here, I'd suggest you check them out for some good stuff.


In relevant news today, Gonchar and Kubina were the first two arbitration hearings scheduled for today.

Kubina - Wants $3.7mil and was offered $3.0mil/year for 3 years. Looking at his production in the past 2 seasons (35 and 22 points), I don't expect he'd get the $3.7mil that he wants. I would predict no more than $3.25mil for next season.

Gonchar - Arbitators love offensive numbers, and Gonchar has more numbers than a racket.

03-04: 71GP 11-47-58
02-03: 82GP 18-49-67
01-02: 76GP 26-33-59

Gonchar made $3.65mil last season, and when he sees a guy like Pronger get $10mil, you know he's in for a BIG raise.
Gonchar is no Pronger, but he's the #1 offensive blueliner in the game today.
I wonder if the Bruins would consider walking away if he got a big award? Now, that might be enough to finally cause a riot in Beantown (If they can peel themselves away from the Red Sox games long enough to care).

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