Monday, October 31, 2005


Hallowe'en Mismash

A potpourri of tricks and treats for my little munchkins.

  • Roman Cechmanek may have retired from the NHL and moved back to Czechia, but he's still as crazy as ever.

  • Many pundits and fans believe the numerous penalty calls are giving us a watered-down version of 'hockey' that might not resemble the real spot they know and love.
    Right-Winger Grandpa Pinhead does a mini study on penalty calls over a 9-day span and the effect it is having on hockey.
    More rules=wider inconsistencies
    This is not the 'rule of unintended consequences',
    sportsfans, this is a 'given'

  • Wes Goldstein of CBS Sportsline gives us his Tricks or Treats from the first 2 months of the NHL.
    Jocelyn Thibault: He was pushed out of Chicago by Khabibulin but his landing in Pittsburgh has been anything but soft. Thibault missed some time because of a knee injury, but when healthy his numbers have been nothing short of ugly. Even though the budget-conscious Pens are paying him $1.5 million, you have to wonder how long they can tolerate someone who has a 5.65 GAA and an .857 save percentage.
    That IS ugly.

  • Feeling that weak draft? Red Line Report opines that the 2006 Draft will be weaker than Bud Light beer.

  • From the Yeah, I'm not making this up" Files.

    Dick will replace Johnson versus Gamecocks says coach Nutt.


    Happy Bloody Hallowe'en

    What would Hallowe'en be without a little blood and gore?

    Don't worry, no pictures of Mike Ricci to scare you away forever.
    If you have any cool pictures you want to share, leave the link/url in the comments.

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     NHL Blood
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    Saturday, October 29, 2005


    The Rules of Hockey Sweaters

    Michael "The Hockey Fanatic" Fedor and Erin Nicks recently wrote about Hockey sweaters and the 'rules' and do/dont's associated with wearing this sacred garbs.

    I live in a city full of snobby fashionitas, and hockey sweaters aren't exactly the most 'fashionable' pieces of clothing. Hockey sweaters are, however, special and sacred garments.

    First rule - Hockey players wear SWEATERS, not JERSEYS! Basketball players wear JERSEYS, this is not negotiable for Canadians. I can understand Americans calling them JERSEYS, but Canadians should always refer to them in the proper form. (I realize that I have called them jerseys before. I blame the USA)

    Never tuck in a hockey sweater, wear a No. 69 on a softball jersey or customize any piece with a personal nickname. You'll look like you should be wearing a helmet for all the wrong reasons.

    I actually have my own name on my jersey. Honestly, I have my name and number on mostly all of my jerseys. That way they all match.

    My theory is that my jerseys will always stay current. Or I'm the only one comfortable being oblivious that everyone sees I'm an incredible tool. I think it's fair enough after all the time, energy and support that I've given the Penguins over the years that I've been just like a member of the team. All my life, I felt like I wanted to feel like I belong to something. This jersey collection helps me achieve that.

    Is putting your own name on your sweater a dorky thing to do? Somewhat...but I like dorky :) It's a very common thing to do if you are a fan of a European hockey club and Fedor has a point: It will never be uncurrent.

    I bought a PAVOL DEMITRA sweater a few years back for about $100 and I wonder what I can do with it now. If I wear it to Blues games, I'll get the "He doesn't play for the Blues now" comments, plus the fact that he is no longer on the team and I may bring back bad memories.

    I could wear it to a Kings game to show my support, but then I'll look really out of place wearing a BLUES sweater and cheering on the Kings.

    Verdict - There is nothing wrong with customizing your own sweater with your own name on it. Just consider yourself more 'refined' and European ;) Just don't go putting something stupid like "SEX MACHINE" on the back of your sweater. (Yes, I have seen that before)

    As for those Maple Leafs jerseys -- they seem to be missing something. Perhaps a flammable liquid of some sort.
    :D Agreed.


    Let's list some of the real DOs/DON'Ts of hockey sweaters.

  • Do NOT wear the sweater of a player who disgraced the city. Anyone caught wearing a Mark Messier Canucks sweater should be shot on sight. The same goes for Alexei Yashin Senators sweaters, and Keith Primeau Red Wings sweaters. If you are a fan of Messier, wear his Oilers of Rangers versions. A true Canucks fan would never wear a MESSIER Canucks sweater. Never!

  • DO wear current sweaters adorned with the names and numbers of legends. A Red Wings Gordie Howe #9, a Chicago Blackhawks Bobby Hull sweater or a Bobby Orr #4 Bruins dealio will never go out of style. Not only that, but you show you know and respect hockey history. If you wear the letters of legends, you are hardcore.

  • Do be careful if wearing the names of obscure players. If you are worried about looking dorky, it may not be the best idea to wear a Warren Luhning Islanders sweater. Who the hell is Luhning? Hardcore fans will appreciate the fact that you have such a name on your back, but most fans will just think "Oh, he/she has his/her own name his/her sweater!" If you don't worry about such things, wearing your Lubomir Vaic Canucks sweater with pride.

  • Do NOT tuck in your sweater. The Demitra, Gretzky, Daigle, Jagr half-tuck is fine if you are actually playing the game. Tucking in your sweater in regular surroundings is dorky and goes against the true look and function of a hockey sweater.

  • Do NOT wear a sweater if it is not loose enough. Hockey sweaters are not slimming, and your big gut (This is a typical guy thing) will stick out even more if you wear a small sweater. You can never go too big with a hockey sweater. Trust me.

  • Do NOT wear one of those god-awful 3rd sweaters put out by the NHL clubs. You remember the Bruins Cheerios Bear, the Canucks red "Practice" sweater and the Mighty Ducks abominations? If you wear one of these, not only will you look silly, but you are basically saying "I'm a big tool that lets the NHL marketing department walk all over me!"

  • Do NOT wear a Team Sweden sweater. Ugly!

  • Do wear national team sweaters of any other sort. These are likely to never go out of fashion, and you can wear them to any game. You can attend a hockey game anywhere in the world wearing a Gretzky #99 Team Canada sweater. If you make an investment, this is one of the best and safest ones to make. Show your national pride.

  • Do wear Team Slovakia sweaters. Women who wear these instantly become 300% more attractive ;). The reverse affect occurs with Team Sweden and Team USA sweaters.

  • Do NOT wear hockey sweaters with big mustard stains on them. White sweaters are especially easy to get dirty in this way, yet I've seen quite a few people try to make the most out of their investment and hope nobody notices a big yellow blotch on their chest. Um...OK

    I am sure there are more rules that I haven't covered. Just remember to treat your hockey sweater with respect and be careful when making your purchase. Hockey sweaters aren't cheap, so make sure you get a nice loose-fitting one with quality lettering and a player that isn't a complete punk (Bertuzzi).

  • Friday, October 28, 2005


    A Civil War in Russian Hockey?

    "Oh, those Russians!"

    Joeri Loonen from pointed me to an interesting development in Russia. Apparently, Russian sports minister Vyacheslav (Slava) Fetisov is very close to the launching an ambitious new hockey league and it could get bloody.

    the Declaration was signed by the general managers of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Avangard Omsk, CSKA Moskva, Spartak Moskva, Severstal Cherepovets, SKA St.Petersburg, Khimik Moscow Region, HC MVD Tver, Molot-Prikamie Perm and the Minister of Tatarstan Republic, which is part of Russian Federation, Marat Bariev. (There are two teams from Tatarstan in RSL – Ak Bars Kazan and Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk).

    As it stands now, Dynamo Moskva, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Lada Togliatti, Metallurg Novokuznetsk, Vityaz Chekhov, Sibir Novosibirsk and Salavat Yulayev Ufa declined to sign this Declaration.

    The launch of EAHL is planned for next autumn. There will be nine Russian teams participating in the inaugural season as well as three teams from ex-USSR countries – Ukrainian Sokol Kiev, Belarus Keramin Minsk and Kazakhstan Kazzinc-Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk. The EAHL plans to expand in its second season when 16 teams are to be in the league. Most likely the additions come from two Russian teams, one team from Latvia and two teams from Eastern Europe region.

    In its third season EAHL is going to consist of 20 teams. The EAHL will have draft system like the NHL has.

    So, Fetisov has quite a few of the big power teams, but not all of them. Would Lada, Novokuznetsk, and Ufa all stay within the old league and try to compete against the breakaway league?

    Not only will Fetisov have to fight the 'old guard', but he'll be up against the IIHF which will want to control the league under its umbrella.

    Go to the article for full details.

    While the WHA failed miserably in North America, it looks like Fetisov's EAHL could finally shatter the grip the old guard has on Russian hockey. I also like the fact that teams from places like Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan will be included. Those smaller (in terms of hockey populations) countries usually just have 1-2 good teams and the leagues don't seem all that competitive to me.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005


    Hockey Talk 101

    Have you ever wondered what NHL players are really saying during those bland intermission and post-game interviews? With the exception of Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull, SEAN Avery, and Vaclav Prospal, NHL players tend to give the same clichéd responses and many of them are somewhat nonsensical.

    Graeme McRanor, of our local free rag "24 hours" gives a basic primer in translating "Hockey Speak"

    There's truth in every cliche. Anyone who's ever watched a hockey game will tell you that. Whether a team's mucking it up in the corner, scrambling for the equalizer, buzzing around the net, or getting beat to the puck, one thing is clear. No one in hockey abides by the number one cliche in the book: Avoid cliches like the plague.


    "We've got to give 110 per cent"

    While it comes from the heart, most of us know this kind of effort is best left to Superman. Even then, it probably only seems like 110 per cent to us, give the fact he's superhuman. It does beg the question, though: Why not 120 or 130 per cent? Lazy?

    How is it physically possible to give more than 100%? How many players have actually exerted 100% of themselves? We don't usually see players falling down on the ice in complete exhaustion, so the answer is pretty much a big fat ZERO. (Not that it would be very smart to give 100% in most situations).

    "We've got to play a full 60 minutes of hockey"

    Yeah, and the rest of us will put in a full eight hours of work. In theory.
    Yeah, tell me about it ;)

    Full article here.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005


    Analysis: Introducing the Evil Index

    It seems that the current trendy thing to do is to release a set of Power Rankings. Everyone and their mother seems to be doing their own lists based either on scientific formulas, W-L records, GF-GA, and/or picking names out of their asses.

    Well, the Hockey Rants Research & Development Department is always looking at better ways to approach analysis in the hockey world and we wondered: How can we provide you with a real ranking system that is relevant for predicting true success?

    So, we asked ourselves, what are the fundamental truths in life? What elements will remain constant?

  • We will die
  • We will pay taxes
  • Good triumphs over Evil

    Since death and taxes don't have a huge effect on on-ice results, we decided to focus on Good vs. Evil. Why? Because 'Good' teams should ultimately triumph over 'Evil' teams, at least in theory.

    In the old NHL, evil always triumphed in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Rangers over the Canucks, The Devils over anyone, the Stars over the Sabres, the Lightning over the Flames, the Avalanche over the Panthers, the Red Wings over the Hurricanes, etc etc etc... it was like the NHL had The Empire Strikes Back on constant rerun mode.

    BUT!!!! This is the New NHL(tm), and the tables might finally turn and we may finally get Return of the Jedi. Will good triumph over evil at least?

    Therefore, we decided to apply some hard science and measure the GOODness/EVILness factor of every single NHL team. Applying our strict standards of measurement, Hockey Rants can bring you a solid measure of how evil, neutral, or good a team is.

    Each NHL player is assigned a + (Good), 0 (neutral), or - (Evil!) rating of some degree. We add up each individual player on each roster and you get an overall team mark (Since hockey is truly a team game). In order not to unduly bias the rankings, the location and management of the team did not factor into this equation. While Toronto and Detroit might be a truly evil cities, we cannot accurately measure the effect this would have on the ice.

    A roster heavily tilted with GOOD players (Slovaks, and most Czechs and Canadians) will get a + rating while teams tilted with EVIL players (Russians, Swedes, most Americans, and guys like Sean Avery) will get a - rating. Using this system, we can determine who is most likely to win the Stanley Cup.

    Presenting...The Hockey Rants EVIL Index.

    Evil Index

    It's probably no surprise to many people that Detroit, Philly, and Toronto are at the bottom of the list.

    Vancouver? Well the roster is full of Swedes and Todd Bertuzzi.
    Columbus? I was generous enough to measure them with Jaroslav Balastik (since demoted) and Gilbert Brule (injured) listed on the roster. If you subtract these two players, they would rank below Florida and Montreal for sure)

    The GOODest team happens to be the Atlanta Thrashers, surprise surprise. The Rangers also surprise by appearing at +2. Jettisoning Bobby Holik, Brian Leetch, and Mark Messier really helped their ranking this year. With the addition of GOOD players, is it any wonder the Rangers are actually doing fairly well this year?

    When the Cup Finals roll around, the smart money would be on the teams with the forces of GOOD on their side. If Philly makes the finals, they won't win...and it has nothing to do with their crappy goaltending ;)

  • Tuesday, October 25, 2005


    A look at the POOR goalies!

    My pal, Chris "CK", commented on the fact that some of the NHLs usual star goalies are having very tough starts to this NHL season

    What do you think of the new NHL rules? Gotta love the fast pace of the games, thanks to the removal of the red line and the referees calling everything in sight. ;)

    But what do goalies think? With their defensemen unable to clear the front of the net as in days past, and the reduction in equipment, many of the NHL's top goaltenders have struggled thus far

    Albeit most of these guys had limited action the past year and are still getting used to new teammates, but still, when the only consistent goalies thus far have been Luongo and Hasek - it has to be a concern for team's.

    Well, let's look at the magical spreadsheet I whipped up and have a look at some struggling goaltenders. Of course, these are only small sample sizes, but it won't stop us from analyzing the state of things.

    Paris Hilton ain't here, fool!

    J-S Giguere - He was picked by many to struggle without his massive pads. He is also facing a lot of shots per game behind Anaheim's 'improved' defence.

    Jussi Markkanen/Ty Conklin - Conklin was worse than Ashlee Simpson's new album...the Oilers recalled an ECHL goalie to replace him. Markkanen was good in Europe last year and I don't think the Oilers should give up on him yet. He's really their best hope right now and his numbers aren't horrible.

    Mikka Kiprusoff - Has the magic pixie dust worn off? Kipper started poorly and just managed to crawl back up to the .900SV% mark

    Olaf Kolzig - Poor guy faces way more shots per night than any other goalie. Kolzig might arguably not be a good goalie these days, but I don't think even Hasek in his prime would have been able to carry the Crapitals to any decent record. Nobody even comes close to Kolzig's 38 shots against per game.

    Dan Cloutier - Same old, same old.

    Martin Brodeur - I love to say 'I told you so', and I bet the year-long layoff has hurt him somewhat. It's interesting to see the Devils now let over 30 shots against per game, so now Brodeur has entered into territory he's never come close to before. Without the supersolid defence in front of him, Brodeur is struggling mightily.

    Ed Belfour - He's old, his back is creaky, and he missed a year. People also forget that the Leafs have a pretty shaky defence and Wade Belak is getting killed in the New NHL. Also, this Bryan McCabe love needs to stop. The guy may be scoring a ton of points these days, but his defensive coverage is sometimes as bad as Bryan Berard's.

    Jose Theodore - Folks, this is why the W-L record is such a poor indicator of goaltending ability. Oh, we know Jose is a good goalie normally, but he's got a 5-2 record, faces very few shots per game, yet he is near the bottom in Save Percentage. The Habs are winning, and it's not because of Jose.

    Robert Esche - Next to Khabibulin, Esche is the biggest goaltending disappointment this year. The Flyers really protect him well but he's been a total sieve behind a strong defensive club. Esche may have the ball taken away from him if he doesn't shape up soon.

    Kevin Weekes - Look, If the Evil Swede is playing great, give him the #1 job for awhile. There isn't always a need to have "THE #1 MAN" on a team...look at Minnesota! If Weekes is cold right now, he shouldn't be playing. If he gets hot later, give him the run of things.

    Nikolai Khabibulin - Wow, he's turning out to be an ever bigger waste of money than I imagined! Chicago is actually doing well with prevent shots against, but Khabibulin is sucking the life right out of that team. If he's not killing them in their salary structure, he's killing them in the nets.

    We'll check back after a more substantial number of games have been played to see if any of these trends will hold. As the guys who sat out a year (Brodeur, Theodore) get back into playing shape, we would expect them to revert back to some level of 'normalcy'. Then again, CuJo is doing great behind a crappy Coyotes club and he's got the same level of rust to shake off.

    We'll also see if Olaf Kolzig finally snaps and kills one of his own defensemen.

    Monday, October 24, 2005


    It's good to develop HABits at a young age

    You know how there was always a smart one in the class?

    The kid on the left deserves an award ;)
    (assist to joolzie)


    Todd Marchant: A bad investment in a safe stock

    The Furnace Hockey Blog is lamenting the fact that Todd Marchant has been giving a poor return on the hefty investment Columbus (well, more like Doug MacLean) put into him.

    Todd Marchant ( 8games, 0 Goals, 2 assists)

    I think Blue Jackets fans were hoping for a better return on their investment, but so far Todd's play has been unispired, and he looks like the least interested player on the ice. While the Jackets have been suffering this season due to injuries of Nash, Brule, Fritsche, and Klesla; a veteran like Todd would have been looked to to step up the intensity of his game not to mention his on-ice production. So far, Todd's response: (the sound of crickets).

    Hmm, why is it that in pro sports, GMs and owners always pay for past performance and not future performance? Did the BJ's expect a 30 year-old Marchant to suddenly make a giant leap and do even better than he was as an Oiler?

    Oh, we know the BJ's got jobbed on the Marchant deal. I just wonder what the hell ever convinced Doug MacLean to give Marchant about $3mil a year for his services? (Now down to about $2.47 mil).

    Marchant's Stats during his Oilers years (GP G A PTS)
    1995-96 Edmonton Oilers NHL 81 19 19 38
    1996-97 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 14 19 33
    1997-98 Edmonton Oilers NHL 76 14 21 35
    1998-99 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 14 22 36
    1999-00 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 17 23 40
    2000-01 Edmonton Oilers NHL 71 13 26 39
    2001-02 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 12 22 34
    2002-03 Edmonton Oilers NHL 77 20 40 60

    Ahh, yes...the CAREER YEAR! While Marchant had a very well established track record (he was amazingly consistent offensively), he suddenly had one explosive year and Doug MacLean must have thought "Gee, he's really turned the corner! I'm getting a 50-60 point guy with great speed and defensive ability?"

    Meanwhile, Mistress Reality decided to come back from vacation and is it any surprise that Marchant posted these totals the following year?

    2003-04 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 77 9 25 34

    Somebody may want to explain the concept of anomalies with Doug MacLean. Marchant had 7 straight seasons with 33-40 points and then ONE season with an amazing 60 points. Anyone who has watch Todd Marchant blow 250 breakaways a year knows that Marchant was never going to post 60 points a year, especially as father time started to take away more of Marchant's physical abilities. While I would love Marchant on my team, you have to be smart enough to see that he had an established record of performance and he would likely either stay with that consistent production or dip a bit due to age.

    "One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong"


    Holy Hockey

    WORTH1000.COM (as in a picture is worth 1,000 words) had a little hockey photoshopped-picture contest.

    It's a decent diversion, and this one below had to be my favourite.


    The true story of Jesus Christ is revealed! :)

    Sunday, October 23, 2005


    Jeremy Roenick is funkier than thou!

    It's amazing that the marriage between Jeremy Roenick and the Los Angeles Kings didn't happen sooner.

    My pal Beezer passed along this videoclip of Jeremy Roenick getting down and funky during a preseason game versus the Avalanche.

    I'm just really glad Pavol didn't go and join him.

    Saturday, October 22, 2005


    Flyers do Boot Camp

    With the NHL schedule maker somehow finding a way to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 7-day break while the poor Western teams have to play busy schedules and travel lots, the Flyers decided to do a bit of team building.

    So, why not boot camp?

    It might sound harsh, but I'm sure the Flyers players were probably happy not to have to put up with another Ken Hitchcock 3-hour video training session.


    The Flyers learned firsthand what happens during military training and were led through a series of grueling, obstacle-course exercises designed to force them to participate as a team and rely on one another.

    "[The drills were] very demanding," said defenseman Chris Therien. "It gave us a 25- to 30-minute look at what they do here. We saw how they train. It gave a look at life in the military, at West Point. It was fun.

    "I loved it. That today was the core of team-building. The meat-and-potatoes. You're all in the heat together, you're all sore together. You're all trying to fight through at the finish because you don't want to let anybody down. You don't want to be one of the guys not finishing."

    While the Flyers have been firing offensively, their defense has been rather spotty and the Flyers aren't playing the tight hockey that Hitchcock is known for.

    I like this bit of creative thinking by Hitchcock. Instead of listening to him or one of the assistants babble on as they always do, they get a new fresh experience and get a break from the usual routine.

    It wasn't all just pushups and paces, though...

    The story that still resonated in their hearts and minds Thursday at the Skate Zone was that of cadet Derrick Hines, a young man some of them had met during their tour of the U.S. Military Academy before the 2003-04 season.

    Hines, an Army Ranger and an alternate captain on the Army hockey team, was killed during a gunfight with insurgents in Baylough, Afghanistan, on Sept. 1. He was 25. According to his hockey coach, Brian Riley, Hines kept firing at insurgents after taking a bullet that proved fatal.

    Flyers right wing Mike Knuble was moved by the story, even though he had never met Hines.

    "He wanted to go to Afghanistan and serve our country over there," Knuble said. "That's reality. We play a game and go on with our lives. These guys, by now, have buddies that have died. These kids are getting ready to give their lives for the cause. They're all so brave, so polite and so confident. We were a little in awe of them because they're getting ready to give their life if they have to.
    Not that I am for the war in/on Iraq, but pro athletes often lead very sheltered lives and a little dose of harsh reality can be a good thing for them.

    If anything, the Flyers certainly didn't look rusty as they beat the Leafs 5-2. In fact, the Flyers defensive effort was probably the best it has been all season.


    Friday, October 21, 2005


    For the 178,673th time...SLOVENIA IS NOT SLOVAKIA!!

    I know the Associated Press doesn't give flapjacks about hockey, and they hire the frat boys who can drink the most beer, but this is just stupid.

    Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil, right, celebrates with teammate Andrej Meszaros, left, of Slovenia, after Neil scored during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night, Oct. 21, 2005, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    From now on, maybe I should just start referring to all Americans as Armenians.



    Slovakia nominates 51 for Olympic Games - None named Palffy

    If you thought Canada releasing a list of 81 potential Olympic hockey candidates was something, Slovakia decided to follow suit and release 51 names

    For me, it's even more silly considering how big of a drop off there is from the established stars to the second tier. There really isn't a nice second tier of Glen Murray's to choose from. You either get Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik or Tomas Chrenko and Juraj Kolnik.

    The one BIG name missing is that of Zigmund Palffy. He has the talent to play for Team Slovakia, but he decided to quit International play after the last World Championships and he's sticking to his guns.

    As always, the big weakness is in goal. One of 4 guys could be the #1 starter and 5 of the 6 (Laco has no shot and he's a bad nomination...not that it makes a difference) have a shot at the roster.

    (Those without Central European character sets will probably get some garbage. Such is life for you heh heh)

    Goalies (6): Ján Lašák (HC Moeller Pardubice – ČR), Rastislav Staňa (Södertälje SK – Švéd.), Karol Križan (MoDo Hockey Alfredshem - Švéd.), Peter Budaj (Colorado Avalanche – NHL), Jaroslav Halák (Montreal Canadiens/Hamilton – NHL/AHL), Ján Laco (HC Košice).

    Defense (18): Zdeno Chára (Ottawa Senators – NHL), Martin Štrbák (CSKA Moskva – Rus.), Ivan Majeský (Washington Capitals – NHL), Branislav Mezei (Florida Panthers – NHL), Ladislav Čierny (Severstaľ Čerepovec – Rus.), Andrej Meszároš (Ottawa Senators – NHL), Radoslav Suchý (Columbus Blue Jackets – NHL), Jaroslav Obšut (Lulea HF Bears – Švéd.), Ľubomír Višňovský (Los Angeles Kings – NHL), René Vydarený (HC České Budějovice – ČR), Richard Stehlík (HC Sparta Praha – ČR), Tomáš Starosta (Neftechimik Nižnekamsk – Rus.), Dušan Milo (HKm Nitra), Milan Jurčina (Boston Bruins - NHL), Peter Smrek (Mora IK – Švéd.), Tomáš Malec (Binghamton Senators – AHL), Kristián Kudroč (SaiPa Lappeenranta – Fín.), Dominik Graňák (HC Slavia Praha – ČR).

    Forwards (27): Marián Gáborík (Minnesota Wild – NHL), Richard Zedník (Montreal Canadiens – NHL), Jozef Stümpel (Florida Panthers – NHL), Vladimír Országh (Lulea HF Bears – Švéd.), Miroslav Šatan (New York Islanders – NHL), Luboš Bartečko (Lulea HC Bears – Švéd.), Marcel Hossa (New York Rangers – NHL), Pavol Demitra (Los Angeles Kings – NHL), Marián Hossa (Atlanta Thrashers – NHL), Ladislav Nagy (Phoenix Coyotes – NHL), Branko Radivojevič (Philadelphia Flyers – NHL), Michal Handzuš (Philadelphia Flyers – NHL), Marek Svatoš (Colorado Avalanche – NHL), Jirí Bicek (Leksands IF – Švéd.), Radovan Somík (Severstaľ Čerepovec – Rus.), Martin Cibák (Tampa Bay Lightning – NHL), Rastislav Pavlikovský (MoDo Hockey Alfredshem – Švéd.), Peter Bondra (Atlanta Thrashers – NHL), Ronald Petrovický (Atlanta Thrashers – NHL), Tomáš Surový (Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins – AHL), Miroslav Zálešák (Södertälje SK – Švéd.), Andrej Podkonický (HC Bílí Tygři Liberec . ČR), Róbert Petrovický (Zürich SC Lions – Švaj.), Tomáš Chrenko (HKm Nitra), Richard Kapuš (Metallurg Novokuzneck – Rus.), Juraj Kolník (Florida Panthers – NHL), Martin Bartek (Matallurg Novokuzneck – Rus.).


    Dinner Jackets Demote Balastik


    This isn't the best news to wake up to...

    The Columbus Blue Jackets have assigned goaltender Pascal Leclaire and right wing Jaroslav Balastik to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, while goaltender Martin Prusek has rejoined the Blue Jackets following a conditioning assignment with the Crunch, club President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced today.

    Balastik, Columbus' ninth pick, 184th overall, in the 2002 Entry Draft, made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets this season. He tallied 0-1-1, two penalty minutes and a +1 plus/minus rating in five games. He joined the Blue Jackets after leading the Czech Elite League in goal scoring the past two seasons. In 331 career games in the Czech Elite League, he registered 117-98-215 and 242 penalty minutes, including 30-16-46 and 74 penalty minutes in 52 games with Zlin in 2004-05.
    Damnation, I'm starting to hate this club! First, Gilbert Brule goes down for 6 weeks and now Balastik is made a scapegoat for the Jackets crappy offense. Great...any player I like that goes to Columbus ends up cursed.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005


    There's no room for Hazing in Hockey.

    The CHL came down hard on GM/Coach Moe Mantha for his inaction in preventing hazing incidents from getting out of hand with his OHL Windsor Spitfires club. (Story Link 1 , Story Link 2)

    The league suspended Moe Mantha for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs as general manager and 40 games as coach for the incidents. The team was also fined a total of $35,000.

    "The league has a zero-tolerance policy on hazing and the league must make a very strong statement against it," OHL commissioner Dave Branch said Tuesday during a conference call. "Any form of hazing must be eradicated."
    What Branch found was disturbing, and he was not impressed with what he saw as a lack of leadership in Mantha, a former NHL defenceman who played for five teams in 12 seasons. Regarding the hazing incident on the bus, Branch acknowledged four players (he refused to say whether they were rookies) were forced to strip and crowd into the washroom of the bus in a ritual known as a "hot box."
    There was also the fight between a team rookie and Stars prospect Steve Downey which Mantha and the rest of the team could have prevented or stopped and never did.

    IMO, David Branch has done an outstanding job as commissioner. The league has continued to grow proud and strong and he isn't afraid to lay down the hammer with stiff and swift punishments. The NHL offices could learn a thing or three hundred from Branch.

    I was once involved in a hazing ritual with my high school rugby team, so I do know how awful of an experience it can be (even if mine was quite tame in comparison to the McGill 'broom' experience). I just don't get these rituals, either. How the hell am I supposed to feel part of a team by getting humiliated? If anything, it made me want to fight back punish the hazers (Which I did in one instance), rather than punish players of the opposing teams. How can you build team unity by pissing off teammates? I never did really ever forgive and forget what happened to me

    "Oh, but it's tradition!"

    Bullflop! As we know, tradition is a weak excuse for abuse of any kind. If you want to build team unity, go have a steak dinner at a strip club or play Mad Gab. If anything, Hazing is simply a petty ritual designed to make the hazers feel big to mask their own insecurities. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way...

    A Quiet Girl provides her own unique opinion on the matter and how this could be a bigger symptom of the 'spoiled athlete':

    Hazing is the ugliest side of sports and the aspect of sports I am most ashamed of. It is the side that promotes team "unity" at the cost of individuality, the unabashed, disgusting degradation of teammates and such a pure idea of a sport polluted by such a violent and irrational underbelly. It goes beyond the idea of team unity and cohesion into fucking abuse and sometimes I wonder why they choose to act out this way -- the peer pressure to stick a broomstick up someone's ass cannot be that great. I want to believe that the players are simply under a lot of pressure, away from home and a little too high on the premature freedoms of junior hockey but there are so many of them.

    Why didn't ANYONE on the Windsor bus stop them? Why did the coach and the owner of all people allow the future of their team to be stripped naked, humiliated and stuffed into a bathroom? They are playing for a hockey team, not joining a fucking cult. Why is there such a huge need to psychologically break them down like this?!

    There is a great price for inaction some times, and Moe Mantha is now paying it. Junior hockey involves parents letting their kids go away for months at a time and they trust the team to make sure their kids are treated in a respectful manner. The coach and manager is trusted to act as a guardian for the kids in many respects, so it's understandable that the CHL would enforce a zero-tolerance policy.

    And, according to Mike Toth of Sportsnet, this approach is nothing new.

    Back in 1979, I was a 16-year-old rookie attending training camp with the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers. The Tigers were a veteran club and in the early stages of the camp, there were definite signs that life was going to be rough on the rookies. One night, my roommate and I were asleep in the team hotel when a knock came on our door. It was a couple of older Tigers looking to give the rookies a scare by baring their claws. They briefly discussed the possibility of giving us one of the infamous "shaves" that were a big part of junior hockey folklore. But in the end, they satisfied themselves by making off with a bunch of our clothes.

    Was I scared?

    You bet.

    But the next day, coach Paddy Ginnell called everyone to center ice and read the entire team the riot act. With his trademark black cowboy hat and rough exterior, Ginnell had a reputation for being one of the toughest coaches in the league. But to a group of frazzled freshmen, he came off as a guardian angel.

    "I've been hearing that some of you veterans have been messing with the rookies," screamed Ginnell. "I'm telling you right here and now that if I catch any of you pulling that stuff, you'll be on a bus back home so fast that it'll make your head spin!"
    And just like that, the hazing threats came to a screeching halt.

    I expect some forms of very light hazing go on with every pro sports team and their rookies. I know the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning were notorious in Vancouver for having their rookies pay for an expensive team dinner at one of our local overpriced steak houses (it was the wine that racked up the bill). I've also read stories of certain NFL and MLB teams that have their rookies dress in slutty women's clothing on flights. Really, why is there a need to have this form of initiation? If the kid can play in the big leagues, then he has proven that he belongs.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005


    Canadian Olympic Long Roster Released

    Boy, isn't this just a silly exercise.

    Hockey Canada released their 81-man LOOOOOOOOONG roster(plus check out the massive support staff)

    You've got the usual suspects (Brodeur, Blake, Iginla), a bunch of rookies that have no chance in hell of making it (Lupul, Bouchard, Phaneuf, Cam Ward), and any Canadian player that has above-average talent.

    Basically, if you are a Canadian NHLer and didn't make this list, you probably aren't feeling too right about now. I mean...Dan Cloutier?


    Report: 62% of NHLers Willingly Put Their Vision at Risk!

    Ok, so the actual headline was "Survey: 38 percent of NHLers use visors", but we know statistics can be manipulated into shocking headlines :)

    According to a survey conjured up by The Hockey News...

    The hockey publication's findings revealed that 244 of approximately 640 NHL skaters (38 per cent) are wearing visors in 2005-06.

    The new totals cap off what has been a steady increase of players going with facial protection. In 2000-01, only 131 NHLers (24 per cent) wore visors. In 2001-02, the total rose to 191 (28 per cent). The number went up to 209 (32 per cent) in 2002-03 and 227 (35 per cent) in 2003-04.

    The Colorado Avalanche lead the NHL with 13 players using visors, while the Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers are next with 12 apiece.

    At the other end, the Chicago Blackhawks and defending Stanley Cup-champion Tampa Bay Lightning only have four visored players each. The average is 8.1 visors per team.

    It's nice to see the trend is rising rapidly, especially in the face of dumb comments like that of Mighty Ducks GM Brian Burke that each piece of new equipment becomes a weapon.

    Hmm, how do you use a visor as a weapon? Unless you headbutt the guy, that argument doesn't hold Diet Rite.

    Meanwhile, Tom Fitzgerald (formerly of the law firm Fitzgerald, Lindsay, Straka FPLC), woke up and realized what a dorkus he was for not wearing a visor.

    I'm an idiot for not doing it," Fitzgerald said.

    Not Fitzgerald. As quickly as he volunteered that he's never really worn one — save for a one-week stint in the 1996 playoffs with Florida — he said, "I've probably never given it an ample opportunity.''

    "I don't know why," he said. "I've seen what happened to Mats (Sundin), Owen Nolan.

    Indeed. This is one trend worth following, kids.

    Monday, October 17, 2005


    Hockey Blog Carnival #11: Angels Fall First

    Welcome one, welcome all to the Hockey Blog Carnival #11 here in the Land of Broken Dreams, known to the locals as Vancouver. It’s a dark, rainy, and depressing place. The surrounding doom and gloom tends to put me and the other locals in a rather foul mood most of the time.

    Why run the carnival here? Well, thanks to the provincial government’s employment regulations, I can pay my midgets, oh sorry, “little people”, less than the minimum wage. Why should I pay full salary for half a person?


    Let me introduce you to some of the locals. First, we have the folks over at Vancouver Canucks Op Ed, who have returned after a year-long hiatus. Be careful what you say, because anything incriminating may end up in their weekly Quote Sheet.

    Then we have J.J. Guerrero, the lone person in this city who actually misses the Vancouver Grizzlies. He runs the Canucks Hockey Blog, wishes Sean Avery would shut the hell up, and laughs at the Flames for signing an over-the-hill Bryan Marchment. Hey, ‘Mush’ may yet be useful for kneecapping certain ‘enemies’.

    That old man standing on the porch over there and shaking his fist at the kids is none other than Tom Benjamin of the Canucks Corner. He went insane after Crystal Pepsi was taken off of the market, and he’s had a Jihad against Gary Bettman ever since. Despite the early returns looking good, Tom believes Gary’s new NHL is akin to the wussified version of San Angeles from the movie Demolition Man.

    As you might expect, Tom has spooked a lot of kids over the years and the kids are fighting back.

    First, we have Eric McErlain, who wonders if Tom must be watching some ‘other’ game.
    As far as I'm concerned, I'm happy so far with what I've seen. Then again, I can't discount the possibility that I'm feeling this way because today's NHL is better than no NHL at all. So while I might be pleased to this point, I think we're going to need to wait a little longer before I'm ready to give a firm thumbs up or down.

    Andy Grabia of Sports Matters writes an open letter to Tom on behalf of Edmontonians:

    Today you decided to take a shot at Oilers owner Cal Nichols. Somehow, the idea that the Oilers will need a new stadium-IN TEN YEARS-is yet another example of how evil and awful NHL owners are. This prompted you to speak on behalf of the "good people of Edmonton" and attack the character of Mr. Nichols…

    …I think it would be best, Tom, if you just stuck with what you know best, and that is speaking on behalf of yourself. As a good citizen of Edmonton, and an occasional reader of your site, I resent you of all people speaking on my behalf

    Wait, there’s more! Tom L has his Sabre-a-rattlin in the direction of TB.
    At least Tom gets a bit of backup from The Ice Block’s David Singer, who is quite the goon, himself.

    This exclusive death match will be available on Pay-per-view for $24.95 USD.

    Now, we travel east into a band of gypsies that we call “Carolina Hurricanes Fans”. This ragtag bunch is just not the crowd to be messed with, folks!

    Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis scary-looking protector (pictured right) of the Canes nation is the ‘Stormbringer’. I wouldn’t mess with a woman that looks like that! She has a good heart, though, and writes a tribute to Ron Francis that would bring a tear to Chuck Norris’ wooden face.

    Then, we have the Acid Queen, a lady who once made shock-jock Jim Rome pee his pants. If you think Canes fans don’t know hockey, you’ll get a smacked by her +1 Bat of Reality so hard that your kids will be born with a headache. The AQ goes undercover and discovers just how illegitimate the sources of ‘Eklund’ really are. (Hint: They ain’t 2 Legit to Quit)

    CasonBlog is getting rather twitchy thanks to Keith Jones and OLN’s rather slow start out of the gate.

    What would a carnival be without a freakshow? David Lee of Red and Black Hockey brings you an exhibit of the ugliest NHL team sweaters from the past. Only the bravest of heart shall pass through these gates! David also brings you the tale of the re-union of the spooky Adams Family.

    Really, how can the Carolina Hurricanes have more dedicated bloggers than the historic Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins? Is hell freezing over? :)

    Oh, please be careful folks! Do *NOT* anger the Bertuzzi Beast! The last fool who did that had his neck snapped in half. It was awful…and my insurance premiums have tripled since then! Not pretty…

    Speaking of dangerous beasts, the Nashville Predators have been ripping apart the opposition and they haven’t been getting the attention that they deserve. The Predators Den will help educate you with detailed features of the Preds goalies, defense, and ”forwards.
    LadyPredator brings us the touching storing of Preds assistant coach Brent Peterson and his fight with Parkinson’s Disease.

    Now, we travel over to a rat-infested hellhole of Ottawa, where evil Senators roam. Hockey Country’s Craig McMurtry exposes even more of Sean Avery’s jackassedness.. Why is Craig chained to the ground? Well, he committed the great sin of spreading the mispronunciation of a Slovak surname.

    “and you’ll stay there until you get it right!”

    From Hockey Country, we go to Hockeytown where Paul Kukla wonders why the Red Wings official website is so out of date and out of touch with reality. Meanwhile, the fine folks at On the Wings uncovers the deep dark secrets of Mikael Samuelsson, and Behind the Jersey has an interview with the man, Eric McErlain of OffWing, whose blog inspired Hockey Rants.


    One of my pet peeves is the lack of ‘Sabermetrics’ available in hockey and the fact that not enough attention gets paid to statistical applications in the old-school world of the NHL. How else could Jim Carey ever win the Vezina with a 90.6% Save Percentage? “Oooh, look at the pretty wins and shutouts!.” Whatever.

    Well, Daryl Shilling has a great archive of studies to peruse, but he’s been busy with his new kid over the past year. Picking up the drop-pass, we have Hockey who have come out with their new Power Rankings based on their own formulas, and not how much media hype the teams can generate. Eric Cartman over at The Puck Stops Here has many great articles comparing past greats to their peers of today. He asks the relevant question: Is Roberto Luongo the best goalie in the NHL?

    “You can’t leave until you say YES”


    Follow me now into the House of Horrors…here we have the World’s Biggest Douchebag, Steve Simmons! In addition to his rather annoying ‘performances’ on TSN’s Wednesday Night Broadcasts, this doofus actually believed Steve Thomas and Bryan Marchment deserved roster spots with the Maple Leafs. Hello, this isn’t 1990!
    I enjoy beating this moron with my toy lightsabre.
    *thwack* *whap* *smack*

    Speaking of doofuses (or is that doofii?), Mark Messier was a rather big one during his time here. The so-called ‘Best Leader in Professional Sports’ was anything but. Ok, do I have a point? Well, sort of. The folks over at Hockey Dirt have a look at this year’s NHL captains.

    Of course, our House of Horrors is haunted by a ghost, Lyle “Spector” Richardson. Lyle digs into the spooky topic of Escrow and takes the NHL players to task for being so anti-visor.


    Want more? Here are some of the other sideshow attractions at our fine carnival.


    I hope you enjoyed yourself at this edition of the Hockey Blog Carnival. Before you leave, I invite you to visit the music tent, where I have brought the #1 act from Europe in 1979.

    Only the best for my customers ;)

    Saturday, October 15, 2005


    Leafs Thrash Atlanta at Fight Night

    It's figures...the one Leafs game that might actually be worth watching isn't on TV in the West Coast. I wouldn't take much pleasure in the Leafs beating the Thrashees 9-1, but the fireworks were explosive.

    While the Canucks/Wild matchup was OK (And the Canucks played damn well better than the 5-3 score indicates), it looks like we missed out on all the fun.

    You'd figure a 9-1 score and a nasty hit from behind by Andy Sutton on Darcy Tucker would produce something like this...
    TOR, T. DOMI, 09:34 - Instigator
    ATL, E. BOULTON, 09:34 - Elbowing
    ATL, E. BOULTON, 09:34 - Game misconduct
    ATL, G. EXELBY, 09:34 - Fighting (maj)
    ATL, G. EXELBY, 09:34 - Unsportsmanlike conduct
    ATL, G. EXELBY, 09:34 - Aggressor
    TOR, W. BELAK, 09:34 - Misconduct (10 min)
    TOR, W. BELAK, 09:34 - Roughing
    TOR, E. LINDROS, 09:34 - Roughing
    ATL, R. PETROVICKY, 09:34 - Roughing
    ATL, R. PETROVICKY, 09:34 - Roughing
    ATL, G. EXELBY, 09:34 - Game misconduct
    ATL, E. BOULTON, 09:34 - Fighting (maj)
    TOR, T. DOMI, 09:34 - Misconduct (10 min)
    TOR, T. DOMI, 09:34 - Fighting (maj)
    ATL, G. DE VRIES, 09:57 - Misconduct (10 min)
    TOR, J. ALLISON, 09:57 - Fighting (maj)
    TOR, J. ALLISON, 09:57 - Misconduct (10 min)
    ATL, G. DE VRIES, 09:57 - Fighting (maj)
    ATL, A. SUTTON, 09:57 - Attempt to/Deliberate injury

    W00T the hell?!! Jason Allison fighting? IF I were a Leafs fan (Lord help me), I'd be pretty mad that he dropped the gloves. Allison is one punch away from permanently drinking food through a straw.

    Oh, and typical of the NHL to play down the fight. Reading their game recap, it looks like the teams just had a tiny little scrap and got a little peeved after the game with each other.

    Here is 'Jer' of LiveJournal's Hockey group with a recap of the game for us that missed the fun.

    For those who didn't see what happened or only saw small highlights, here's an in-depth look at what happened.

    Leafs were winning 6-1 at the time. Defenceman Garnet Exelby and forward Eric Boulton had been laying in some heavy hits on Leafs players throughout the night, mainly Exelby, who had two questionable hits on the game. Domi had talked to Exelby in the middle of it, but nothing resulted. Boulton had also talked to Belak about possibly dropping them, but Wade laughed him off and nothing resulted.

    Mid-way through the third, Eric Boulton went in on Lindros in the corner and laid in an elbow to Eric's head. Domi, who had been also jawing with Boulton throughout the night, came over and shoved Boulton in the face. The two had words and were about to drop the mitts, when Exelby, who was also in on the play but was not part of the confrontation, grabbed Domi's arms from behind. Boulton took this opportunity to begin laying shots in on Domi, who was falling at this point. Ponikarovsky and Lindros then jumped in, while two Thrashers players [one was deVries, the other I think Serge Aubin] joined the fray. Wade Belak and Alexander Khavanov joined from the Leafs and it was basically a big pile-up, with Domi, Exelby and Boulton on the bottom.

    Eventually, Exelby got up and tried to fight with Lindros, who was only interested in holding Exelby back. Exelby took a couple of weak shots before that was over and done with. Boulton was pulled out of the pile by Belak and the linesman. Belak then tried to get at Boulton, but was held back by de Vries. The linesman grabbed Boulton - who proceeded to fall over, taking the linesman forcefully down with him [it was called a 'shove' but it more looked like they both just slipped and fell]. Belak then pushed de Vries, who slipped and fell into the pile. Not sure what happened after this as the camera had switched.

    Next play: Andy Sutton rides Darcy Tucker hard into the boards, and the 6'6" Sutton nearly [and some say "clearly"] grabbed Tucker's head and smashed it into the glass as the hit registered, knocking Tucker's helmet off and causing a cut which required 14 - 20 stitches.

    Jason Allison, basically the least likely North American on the Leafs to fight, went right after Sutton, expecting the guy who has quite a few NHL fighting majors and who is known as a fairly tough hombre to fight.

    This ALSO may stem from when Sutton gave Allison a very cheap knee-on-knee hit a few years ago, when Jason was with the Kings, which resulted in the injury woes for Allison beginning. So maybe a bit of revenge was on his mind.

    We never found out, however, as Sutton skated backwards away from Allison, who had dropped the gloves, and basically appeared to be refusing to fight him. Meanwhile, Greg de Vries dropped the gloves and forcefully grabbed Allison, waited until Allison was looking [no cheap shots] and began wailing away.

    So that's basically what happened.

    Friday, October 14, 2005


    NHL: LA Kings say 'NO' to Visors

    The LA Kings gave the royal thumbs down to the use of mandatory visors. What a surprise...the NHLPA members care little about personal safety. How can you expect to make more money if you suffer a career-threatening injury?

    Pavol Demitra
    The NHL Players' Association is currently holding an online survey of its players regarding the use of visors but the Kings wasted no time in making their feelings known, taking an informal survey in their dressing room even though the union is actually not asking players to formally vote on it.

    The Kings unanimously voted against mandatory visors.
    Now, Pavol Demitra is Teh Master of Disaster and will break you like plaster with his slapshot, but he can be a few pennies short of a dollar sometimes. You'd think the guy would have a good message for the youngsters out there.

    "I think it should be an option, but not mandatory," star winger Pavol Demitra, who started wearing a visor after a potentially career-ending eye injury in 2000, told the Los Angeles Daily News. "A lot of guys hate them. I used to hate them. I almost lost my eye so I started wearing one, but I would still feel more comfortable without it."

    I'm sorry, Pavol, but what the hell is wrong with you? *Grrrr* You grew up wearing a visor and then took it off for no apparent good reason. Your face gets smashed into the boards and you'd still consider going windowless? Aye, Carumba!

    "If I was a GM and I was paying a guy a lot of money, I'd definitely want to make it mandatory," said Kings centre Craig Conroy, who does not wear one. "But as a player, I don't think anyone should be forced to wear one."

    Is this simply a control issue? Would the NHLPA feel so macho as to fight the NHL if Gary Bettman were to say visors are now mandatory? Talk about fighting the wrong fight.

    This is one issue where I would support Bettman if he decided to lay down the law.

    Just a reminder that the Hockey Blog Carnival #11 will be open this Monday the 17th. I have a great show planned for you, but I am still looking for more submissions.
    Email me if you have something you'd like to have considered.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005


    Patrick's a 'Sharp' guy for wearing a visor!

    A throwaway item from this Flyers report that fits in well with the recent visor debates and posts going on in blogdom.

    Flyers right wing Patrick Sharp (right) suffered an 8-inch cut from the top of his lip to the top of his left cheek Tuesday night when Maple Leafs defenseman Ken Klee clipped him in the face with his skate blade.

    Sharp, who was sitting on the bench when Klee's skate hit him, needed 12 stitches to close the wound and returned to play the third period.

    "I didn't feel the cut," Sharp said. "I got kicked in the side of the head and that's what hurt the most. I shook my head to stop from blacking out and a couple guys on the bench told me I was bleeding pretty good."

    Sharp said Klee's skate left a mark on his shield and he is certain he would have suffered damage to his left eye if he had not been wearing a shield.

    Of course, the mainstream media doesn't pick up on the fact that a guy benefitted from the protection of the visor. Blood and victims sell, prevention doesn't. Just another lesson to the idiots from the Church of Cherry: visors prevent nasty injuries. Would you rather be 'tough' or have your vision?


    This Sabres/Lightning tilt is 3-3 in OT and has been a pretty exciting game. Two fast skating teams playing a back-and-forth game...Ryan Miller robbing Martin St. Louis with a nice poke-check on a 3rd period breakaway and now Marty takes a penalty in OT. I never considered the Sabres a must-see team before, but I like the look of their team in terms of entertainment factor. If you get the chance, catch the Sabres on TV some time.

    Edit: a great 3-3 game is now ruined thanks to a stupid shootout. Why reward both teams with a point for fighting to an even draw when we can give away a bonus point for lucking out in a skills competition *fumes*

    Why do the announcers/PbP assume that all the fans in attendance love the shootout? If I were attending the game, I wouldn't suddenly start falling in love with the damn things.

    Now, how many shooters will even attempt to deke? I would guess maybe 1.

    Daniel Briere...shoots and scores!
    Martin St. Louis...stuffed by Miller
    Tim Connolly...lost the handle on a deke attempt. tsk tsk.
    Brad Richards...tries a deke and loses the handle. The puck just bounces too much.
    Thomas Vanek...fakes a slapshot, dekes, and scores!! just barely...

    So, even with the Zamboni streaking through the center of the ice, the puck bounces a lot and dekes are a risky venture.


    Game Thoughts: Canucks 0 - Wild 6

    The Canucks 6-0 loss to the Gaborik-less Minnesota Mild last night was UGLY. Yes, it was ugly enough to deserve the full capital letters treatment. Apart from the play of Sami Salo and Ed Jovanovski, and the sound bites we got from Matt Cooke, who was miked, the rest of the Canucks played this game like it was a morning skate. The Canucks may have outshot the Wild 33-28, but they were outplayed as much as the score indicated. It's the kind of game that makes fans extremely irritated. What's the excuse for such lazy play?

    I really hate being shut out. I really hate not scoring a SINGLE goal. It's a real slap in the face and kick in the proverbial balls and I'd rather lose 10-1 than 6-0.

    I tried to come up with some redeeming qualities from last night's game, but I can't really find any from a personal standpoint. Sure, the Wild used their speed and scored some nice goals, but I don't have any members of the Wild in any of my pools! Thanks to Naslund, Morrison, and any other Canuck I might have (I'm not making the mistake of taking Bertuzzi again) for putting up big jelly doughnuts.

    The Canucks will be the first team to play back-to-back road games against the same team. Hopefully Game #2 won't suck as much as Game #1.

    Congrats to Yann Danis of the Montreal Canadiens for earning his first career shutout in his debit as he blanked the Thrashers 2-0.

    While I have talked about the 'Anglicization' of surnames in the past, it appears that Danis is getting the 'French' treatment of his name with "Da-NEE".

    My Slovak friend Daniel, who is very knowledgeable on Slovak surnames and geneaology, believes that Yann Danis has Slovak roots. Danis, which is pronounced 'DAH-nish', is a known Slovak surname and Yann (like Yan Stastny) is often the modified version of the common 'Jan'. Yann's parents both have Quebecois first names, so I can't say for sure if Danis is a true Quebecer or a Canadian-born Slovak. It's just something to think about.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005


    The NHL on OLN: A Work in Progress

    While we don't get the OLN NHL broadcasts on Canada's version of the Outdoor Life Network, TSN picked up the OLN feed for last night's Dallas/Phoenix derby. It was my first chance to see the OLN broadcasts and compare it to that of ESPN and ABC from previous regimes.

    Before I watched the broadcast, I had read the comments of other bloggers who were less than thrilled with the broadcast quality. As a Canadian, I'm used to high quality broadcasts and seeing each network continue to improve over the years with the on and off-ice production of their games.

    Mike Chen wrote:
    It was hard to nitpick about the exciting Pittsburgh/Buffalo game (heh, who would have imagined that phrase two years ago), but I am running out of patience with OLN's coverage. It's not Doc Emrick (whom I don't like) or the awkward studio team of Keith Jones, Neil Smith, and Bill Clement. No, it's the way that OLN insists on shooting the game at a "tighter" view.

    Essentially, the camera is zoomed in about 1/3 - 1/2 more than normal. Which is fine if there's a scrum in front of the net, but in this era of long passes and fast transitions, it makes it ridiculously frustrating to try and follow the game. What's worse is that the cameramen lose track of the puck at times and wind up just waving it around. If OLN really wants to emphasize the speed of the game, they should use traditional camera views and integrate the dasher cam that ESPN successfully used during the World Junior Championships. Right now, the broadcast just feels disorganized.

    Eric @ OffWing adds:
    When it comes to Canadian telecasts, tight shots have been used to good effect for years. What I think we're seeing now is OLN's growing pains. They're trying to do the right thing, they just don't quite know how to do it yet. Expect a bumpy ride for a little while longer.

    From my own OLN experience...

    Eric on the OffWing also found the picture quality to be lacking in his assessment:
    Another problem I have...was that the image quality on OLN isn't anywhere near as good as it was on ESPN (and about equal in quality to ESPN 2). I thought I might have been confused at first, but then I saw archival footage of Wayne Gretzky scoring goal #802 in a Kings uniform, and the difference in quality was quite dramatic. In addition, the image quality was even worse when OLN picked up the TSN feed of last Wednesday's shootout between Toronto and Ottawa on opening night. The ice was so bright it looked practically radioactive.

    Given OLN is a 'baby' at the NHL game and is not really use to live broadcast events, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and would expect them to work out the kinks. Thankfully, I have many other choices to watch games and don't have to put up with a lower quality production on a regular basis.

    As for the game itself, Phoenix really does look like a poorly coached team. That squad has some talent, but they have no on-ice chemistry and they looked really lost on the Power Play. The 2-on-0 SH breakaway goal for Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow was both beautiful and comical at the same time. How can the Coyotes have such a poor looking Power Play when they have Paul Coffey and Wayne Gretzky on the coaching staff? Ladislav Nagy just looks like he's frustrated out there, and Geoff Sanderson doesn't have the offensive smarts to really be on the PP on a regular basis.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005


    I Know What You Did Last Summer's Page 3 has a short but interesting look at what a few NHL players did during the lockout (The ones that didn't play actual hockey).

    Doug McIntyre profiles Curtis Leschyshyn's new cycling career, Sean O'Donnell's love of the culinary arts, Anson Carter's new recording company, Luc Robitaille's personal sports-training company, and Donald Brashear's foray into boxing.

    As a lifelong boxing fan, Brashear dreamed of being a ring legend while growing up in the mostly French-speaking Canadian province. Although he won't train during the NHL season and has no ambitions of entering the pro ranks when he eventually hangs up his skates, he'll step onto the canvas again next summer.

    "It's just a hobby. I'm having fun and making a dream come true."

    And how does the tough guy explain that blemish on his 2-1 record?

    "You can't lose focus for one second. That's what happened. I lost my focus for a little bit and he gave me a combination in the second round and I got a standing eight count. That's pretty much where he won the fight -- the rest of the time, I had the advantage. I'm pretty certain if I fought the guy again, I'd beat him."

    He sounds like a boxer already.

    D00d's got some nice cannons, though.


    NHL: Random Ramblings

    So, I'm back from a Thanksgiving weekend holiday up in Whistler. Although I feel recharged, I also feel greatly disconnected from the world. Going without the Internet for almost 3 days was like having a limb cut off. How ever did I enjoy hockey before the Internet was around?

    Yes, I am an internet addict. I need my fix 24/7.

    Random Ramblings
    To finish off, I appreciate the comments and candor regarding the visor issue. I'll have to catch up and comment later. I am typically a personal freedoms kind of guy, but it's obvious that people have to protected from themselves sometimes. Why do they have labels on WD-40 saying not to inhale the stuff? Because, people were dumb enough to actually INHALE WD-40!

    Saturday, October 08, 2005


    NHL: Visors - Why is there a debate?

    Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin will only *now* consider wearing a visor full-time, thanks to getting a puck in the eye and coming dangerously close to losing an eye.

    Mattias Ohlund didn't wear a visor until he nearly lost his vision do to an errent puck. Now, he wears one full time.
    Pavol Demitra didn't wear a visor until a few hits from behind in the board left his eyes looking black like those of a raccoon. Now, he wears a visor full time.
    Bryan Berard didn't wear a visor until an errant Marian Hossa stick destroyed one of his eyes for all time. Now, he wears a visor full time. Oh, and Mats Sundin saw this injury close up as Berard was his teammate at the time.
    Steve Yzerman never used to wear a visor until he almost lost an eye. Now, he wears a visor full time.

    Get the picture?

    Why does it take a drastic, life-altering injury to clue in these players to WEAR A FRICKIN' VISOR!!

    Sundin on wearing a visor: "Yeah, I think so, I think I've used all my good breaks," Sundin said Friday, meeting reporters for the first time since getting hit in the left eye with a puck seven minutes into Wednesday's season opener. "I've had some close calls with my eyes before."

    "Definitely when I start playing I'm going to have to wear one for sure and hopefully I can continue it. That's my goal, for sure."

    That's your goal?! Why does it have to be a frickin' goal with you? What's so hard about wearing a visor? Are you afraid Don Cherry will make fun of you?

    Of course, leave it to the NHLPA to bring out the "Personal Choice" line. As if making them wear visors will infringe on their personal freedoms as is a Fascist state.

    The league has long wanted to make visors mandatory, but can't do so without the blessing of the NHL Players' Association because it's a collectively bargained issue. The union has held player votes on the subject in the past and everytime the overwhelming response is that players want to reserve the right to make a personal choice on the matter.

    "Our members have always felt strongly that wearing a visor is a matter of individual preference, and we respect and support their right to make a personal choice," said NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon. "That said, the NHLPA continues to seek feedback on safety matters from our membership."
    What kind of union doesn't care about the personal safety of its members? Oh, right, the NHLPA Guild (rolls eyes).

    How about wearing a seatbelt? Maybe we should let people have "Personal Choice" when it comes to wearing a seatbelt. Who cares if they suffer death or more severe accidents in a car crash, at least they'll be free of that cumbersome strapping device.

    Yes, sometimes you need rules to protect people from their own stupidity. It makes you wonder why the NHL owners didn't negotiate this into the CBA. You invest millions in a player, why risk a career-altering or career-ending injury? You think the Leafs owners (Ontario Teachers) are pleased because they lost their star player to a preventable injury? Or how about the fact they could have lost Sundin for good because he refused to wear a piece of protective equipment that would not impede his game?

    Yes, Mats Sundin used to wear a visor and his play was just fine, thanks. It's too bad he picked up one bad "Canadian" habit and took it off for some stupid reason.

    The Puck Stops Here has their take on visors here.
    Jim Kelley offers his take on Sportsnet.

    I'll be off to Whistler for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. Let's all give thanks to Pavol Demitra's parents for knockin' the boots and giving birth to the best ever hockey player from Dubnica, Slovakia ;)

    Friday, October 07, 2005


    Jozef Balej brings his dancing show to Vancouver

    Well, the Vancouver Canucks *FINALLY* got a Slovak in the system. I almost had a heart attack.


    On the other hand, it's Jozef Balej... (*crickets chirping*) reports:

    The Vancouver Canucks have acquired winger Jozef Balej and a conditional draft pick from the New York Rangers in exchange for Fedor Fedorov.

    Balej, 23, joins the Canucks after spending the 2004-05 season with Hartford of the AHL. In Hartford, Balej scored 42 points in 69 games. Prior to the lockout, Balej was with the New York Rangers for 13 games, recording five points and four penalty minutes.

    Fedorov, 24, is a 6-foot-3, 230-pound forward who has not been able to fulfill his substantial potential. He's recorded two assists in 15 career NHL games and had 14 points in 29 games in the Russian SuperLeague last year. In 2003-2004, Fedorov scored 38 points in 59 games with Manitoba of the AHL
    Balej had a golden opportunity to make a weak Rangers squad and couldn't do it. So, the Canucks trade one floating malcontent for another, except the floating malcontent we get has less potential.

    Chalk this one up as a "doesn't make a flippin' difference" trade. It's nice to have a Slovak in the Canucks system, but it barely counts.


    Coach Gretzky - Not so Great

    Hmm, the Coyotes are now 0-2, appear to be the Keystone Cops on Ice Tour, and now Wayne Gretzky is making some rather dumb mistakes with his lineups.

    ...and I thought his brilliance would translate into wins? (rolls eyes)

    Wayne Gretzky committed the first major mistake of his NHL coaching career against his old team, and nearly got away with it.

    The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Thursday night, Gretzky's second loss in as many nights behind the bench.

    The rookie coach was responsible for a mixup in Phoenix's lineup at the start of the game. Right wing Fredrik Sjostrom was on the ice despite being listed as a scratch.

    Los Angeles coach Andy Murray knew it and even double-checked the rule book, but had planned on keeping quiet unless Phoenix scored with Sjostrom on the ice, which would have nullified the goal.

    But the Kings' stat crew noticed Sjostrom and alerted referees, who ruled Sjostrom ineligible for the rest of the game. Phoenix center Petr Nedved was the actual scratch, but he was listed as being available.

    A subdued Gretzky called it an oversight that was "just inexcusable."

    "It's my responsibility," he said. "It just was utter nonsense that it happened and I feel bad for Freddie and I feel bad for the team. It happened and it won't happen again."
    Of course, the real reason the Coyotes loss was Teh Greatness of Pavol Demitra. Pavol got the game-winning goal and an assist to boot.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005


    I <3 THIS GAME!

    After watching the Canadiens and Rangers play on TSN and the whole hoopla surrounding the opening of the season, it reminded me of why I love watching hockey and love the fact that the NHL is back in action.

    I might whine, piss, and moan about the NHL often (although never as much as Old Man Tom), it's time to feel the love!


    - Congrats to Tomas Plekanec for getting his first NHL assist on Chris Higgins' first NHL goal this evening. Plekanec finished with 1A, +2 in 13:26 of ice time. He won 5 out of 7 faceoffs and this has really become a positive part of his game. Who needs Yanic Perreault?

    - How weak did Kevin Weekes look on the Michael Ryder OT goal? It was a nice shot, but an NHL goalie should have that goal. It's misplays like that goal that will keep Weekes from carrying the Rangers into the playoffs.

    - GOD DAMN RED WINGS! At least the Blues made a game out of it, but you know the Wings are going to get a lot of points this year at the Blues' expense. Oh, and Petr Cajanek now has 3 assists in the first 2 games. Nice to see him producing now.

    - Keith Tkachuk has a pulled groin? How do you pull fat?

    - Kari Lehtonen placed on the IR...Martin Gerber with a tweaked groin...that's 2/3 of my Blogger's Challenge goalie rotation! Kari's groin problems are really going to haunt his Calder chances, and I wonder if they will always stay with him for his career.

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