Thursday, August 31, 2006


Baby Blue

Well, the Thrashers actually made news today -- not by signing Kari Lehtonen, but by scrapping the old dark blue home jerseys in favor of the thirds. (link here, registration required)

Unexpected, at least by me, but the new jerseys are super-popular (they were far more visible than the old style in the stands last year) and people really bought into the relatively incoherent "Blueland" marketing campaign. I have mixed feelings on the switch -- on one hand, the stylized "T" that dominated the departing jerseys was Kelly Buchberger-level ugly, and I won't miss that. On the other hand, I'm not crazy about baby blue, and the asymmetry caused by the "ATLANTA" on the new style's left arm just looks silly.

But it's all about selling jerseys, and this'll sell bundles to people who had the old home version (which of course is the old road version, and if you think that is past confusing me, think again). I don't have a jersey featuring a current Thrasher -- the plan last year was to get Tomáš Klouček, under the idea that he was the future cornerstone of the team -- so when I shell out for a Hossa jersey this year, I'll just hedge my bets and get it in white. All things considered, it looks pretty classy by comparison.


Stefan Blaho: Just Another Victim

R.I.P. Stefan Blaho (1985-2006)

It happens at least once a year. A Czech or Slovak hockey player dies in an automobile accident. Combine thin roads with a need for speed and you get a few dead bodies. I guess they never learn. picks up with an English language version of the story.

Slovak hockey player Stefan Blaho, a fourth-round pick of the New York Islanders, has died in a car accident. He was 21.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said the crash happened just after midnight Tuesday near the Slovak town of Krasnany. That evening Blaho had scored a goal for Slovak champion MsHK Zilina, the team he was about to sign for, in an exhibition game against Banska Bystrica.

Blaho spent the three last seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with Sudbury and Sarnia.

The forward, taken in the 2003 NHL entry draft, represented Slovakia in the 2003 IIHF world under-18 championship and the 2004 IIHF world under-20 championship.

Marcel Hanzal, a 32-year-old who last played for Dukla Trencin of the Slovak league, survived the crash.
I know Jaromir Jagr often jokes about his own bad driving (his license was suspended for speeding), but it's something the Czech and Slovak players are notorious for and you wonder why they just don't slow down a little.

Edit: According to the article, the car was a Mitsibushi Pajero, which is worth about US$ 26,000 or so.

Marcel Hanzal was indeed the driver of the vehicle, and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.71 mg/l.

Blaho wasn't much of an NHL prospect at all, but he was a decent Extraliga prospect. At the very least, he's dead now and it's not really a time to bitch about how good/not-good of a player he was.

PS: What is it with these Hanzal guys? It wasn't too long ago where MARTIN Hanzal got busted for smoking marijuana.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Tanabe and Dumont Finally Cash In

Two of the rejected arbitration award winners, JP Dumont and David Tanabe, found new teams willing to pay for their services.

1. JP Dumont signs a two-year deal with the Nashville Predators:
He has agreed to a two-year contract worth $4.5 million. He will be paid $2-million the first year and $2.5-million in the second.

The 28-year-old forward became an unrestricted free agent in early August when the Buffalo Sabres walked away from an arbitration ruling awarding him a one-year $2.9 million contract.

Predators general manager David Poile explained the club was happy about the Sabres' decision to walk away. "This was a guy who was not on our radar when the off-season first came about. But because he was made a free agent he became very attractive to us. The Buffalo Sabres thought they lost a really good player and a really good person."
A really good person? Ok....If he was a really good player, the Sabres would have spent the $2.9mil to keep him. Obviously, he wasn't THAT good.

On the other hand, the Nashville Predators needed more size and offense up front. Even if Dumont is pillowy-soft, he'll add some more skill up front to a Nashville Predators team that is looking scarier and scarier as we approach the season. $2.25 averaged over two seasons for a guy who pots 45-50 points a season is a justifiable for a team that is trying to make the big push like the Predators are.

LadyPredator suspects that the Preds' forward lines will look like this...

Impressive...most impressive...

2. David Tanabe signs a $900,000/1yr dealio with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes have dipped into their past and have signed free agent defenseman David Tanabe to a one-year, $900,000 contract.

Sources tell TSN Tanabe spent last Friday meeting with Hurricanes management and worked out for the club in an effort to prove some of the injury issues the 26 year old has struggled with are behind him.
I know Tanabe has been somewhat of a disappointment, but the guy
1. has 371 games of NHL experience
2. is 26, and it's quite likely that he'll make quite a 'leap' this season as defensemen are notorious for peaking a bit later than forwards.

This is a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Hurricanes. At the very least, they get a guy who can play 3rd-line ice time without sucking too many eggs. If Tanabe does make a leap and provide more at both ends of the ice than he has in his career, the Canes make out like bandits. Two thumbs up!


A look at the Colorado Avalanches

I can't believe I'm actually wasting time blogging about the Colorado Crapalanche, but since Greg is going to be doing that often enough, I might as well get used to the infestation.

As of the best information I could gather, we can see that the Avalanche are yet another one of those clubs spending around $40mil of cap space to field a mediocre club.

Per, the Avs are paying $4.6mil for bonuses pertaining to LAST season. Nothing worse than paying cap space for things that happened in the past. Some pre-cap contract issues are coming back to haunt the Avs, and I couldn't be happier for them.

Goaltending: The Avalanche had a cheaper, better-performing option on David Aebischer and they traded him...WHY? Well, apparently Aebischer doesn't have 'big game' experience/ability and he isn't Quebecois.

All they have is an extremely expensive, balding goaltender with a family deeply connected with the Hell's Angels. To top it off, his idea of a quality date is to cheat on his current girl with Paris Hilton. Talk about 'binning'. *ick*

A look at Jose's SV%'s over the past few seasons
2000-01: 90.9%
2001-02: 93.1%
2002-03: 90.8%
2003-04: 91.9%
2005-06: 88.2%

Hmm, can you say one fluke season? 2003-04 wasn't so bad, but Jose's true ability seems to be around the 91.0% area when you smooth things out.

Defence: Quantity versus Quantity. Brett Clark making $1.5mil? In this universe? Patrice Breezeby...oh boy... at least this unit has 8 solid NHL defensemen and depth is important in case of injuries or in case some other team is dumb enough to trade something of value for Brisebois. Jordon Leopold and J-M Liles give this unit a good bit of offence from the back end, while Klee, an old favourite of mine, may be too far past his prime to be effective any longer. Still, none of these 8 are first-line quality. It's going to take a real team effort and a lot of juggling to make this a unit that works well.

Forwards: I know Marek Svatos and his wonky shoulders normally plays on a line with Joe Sakic, so these lines aren't a great guess on my part. This forward corps has some of everything with good defensive stalwarts like Laperriere and Konowalchuk with the offensive Sakic, Tin Man, Hejduk, and so forth. The wild-cards are definitely Wojtek Wolski and Tyler Arnason. Arnason is talented and can be productive, but is also extremely lazy and it appears that the Avs may not have room for him. Wolski may get a full-time gig this season and could rip 20+ goals.

Overall: I like the Avs ability to score goals and perhaps they can make a decent producer out of Arnason. The loss of Rob Blake will hurt, but probably not as much as people would expect. The simple fact is that this looks to be a .500 team at best unless Theodore can somehow find the form he had during his one dream season. If Theodore can't regain his game, the Avs are sunk.

Just another team for the Canucks to walk over on the quest for the cup, eh!

Monday, August 28, 2006


Bruins sign Secret (Free) Agent

Yes, I am a complete dork. I read this headline and instantly thought of James Bond: Golden Eye

Bruins sign Hobey finalist Trevelyan

The Boston Bruins signed Hobey Baker finalist T.J. Trevelyan to a multiyear contract.

The 22-year-old Trevelyan played the last four seasons at St. Lawrence University. He had 78 goals and 76 assists for 154 points and 204 penalty minutes in 150 college games.

The five-foot-10, 170-pound native of Mississauga, Ont., was one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which recognizes the top U.S. college player.

For those who don't remember, Alec Trevelyan was Agent 006, who found out about his Lienz Cossack roots and ended up turning on Bond. "Janus" was one of the coolest villains ever, and it's a shame that stupid Pierce Brosnan had to win that battle.

I suggest we give T.J. the nickname of "Janus" as a tribute.

You can now go back to your regular web surfing.


An Offseason Look at the Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins had one of the more interesting off-seasons, not only signing Petr Tenkrat but ALSO getting (they were impressed by the Tenkrat signing) Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, while shipping former golden boy Andrew Raycroft to Elba, and waving bye-bye to Shawn McEachern, Travis Green, and the Pooh Bear jersey.

It's likely no team has improved as much this off-season. Definitely more than enough to escape the Northeast cellar, but is it enough to make them contenders?

In goal, Tim Thomas's great 2006 helped spur Raycroft's departure from town -- now the Bruins have to hope that the league doesn't figure Thomas out, and they don't have Blaine Lacher: the Sequel on their hands. Prior to 2005-06, Thomas never really did much outside of the Finnish league -- his AHL/IHL stints were decidedly middling. But Thomas is really just marking time until Hannu Toivonen is ready to go full time -- the 22-year-old looked pretty great in limited time last year, and was on a pretty hot run before an ankle injury ended his season.

Defensively -- hey, did you hear the Bruins signed Zdeno Chara? It was in all the newspapers and everything. Along with Brad Stuart and Paul Mara, they've got a pretty formidable top three. Beyond that -- well, hopefully Milan Jurcina and Mark Stuart (who'll probably miss the start of the season) are ready for prime-time. Nathan ("The New Greg Hawgood") Dempsey, Andrew ("The New Andy Sutton") Alberts, and Wade ("The New Wade Belak") Brookbank will see third-pairing time.

Up front, the signing of Savard was much-ballyhooed. He'll give them considerably more punch, though anyone who thinks he'll match his Atlanta numbers is encouraged to compare his current wingers to Kovalchuk and Hossa. Savard, Patrice Bergeron and the eternally-overlooked (I know, because in preparing this I forgot he was on the team) Glen Murray are all top-flight players; Marco Sturm and Brad Boyes will chip in their share, too, and I think we're all joined in hope that Petr Tenkrat will play like he did in Oulu. Rookie Phil Kessel is a huge wild card; I wasn't in favor of signing him, as young guys with crappy work habits could use some seasoning lest they become Pavel Brendl. But if Kessel rises to the occasion, I'll cheerfully shut my mouth.

They better hope he rises to the occasion -- the Bruins are pretty thin on the wing. Besides Sturm, Murray, and Kessel, the remnants are pretty thin. Shean Donovan's lost whatever magic skates he found for 2003-04, and Mark Mowers whined about being used poorly in Detroit, a team not really known for using players poorly. Yan Stastny was decidedly ok in spot NHL duty last year.

Prediction? Second in the Northeast, early exit in the playoffs. They're gonna be a lot better, and Chara's a much better heart-and-soul of the team than Thornton, but their forward depth is pretty scant past the top guys. Now, the real question: how many points will Petr Tenkrat score? 75? 100? 150?

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Atlanta Thrashers Salaries as at 08/26/06

Unlike Greg, I don't have all that much love for the Atlanta Thrashees, terrible uniforms and all.

So, this allows me an outsider's perspective on my blogmate's pet team.

From information gathered, here is the projected lineup and salary structed for the Thrashers as of today.

Take away about $1mil for demotions and allow a bit for whatever Lehtonen will get, and the Thrashers look to be spending at least $40mil on a team that has a small chance of making the playoffs.

Last season, we saw an offensive powerhouse of a team fail to make the playoffs, and now they lost Marc Savard to the Bruins and Peter Bondra to (supposed) retirement. Funny how they are still paying for Bondra even though he's now babysitting his kids.

One big IF is Kari Lehtonen. IF the Thrashers can get a full year out of Kari without his groin popping like a wine cork, they ought to win a few more games by having a real NHL goaltending rather than ECHL-grade chopmeat like they had last year for most of the season. If Kari shall falter, Brathwaite and Hedberg aren't going to help much. They are good backups, but not the goalies who can carry such a team.

On D, we can see how much of an upgrade the embattled Vital Fluids Vishnevski really is. He instantly becomes the top defensive stopper on this club (Sorry, but deVries is done like 25-cent meatloaf).

That defense is scary...for the Thrashees. $2.7mil for Havelid? $1.9mil for Andy Sutton? What the hell?!?!11111 Still, add in the potential of Braydon Coburn and this group figures to be a bit tighter than last year's leaky boat. I hope Steve McCarthy's fine play carries over and he can prove his talent once and for all.

Up front, the Thrashers seem to resemble so many clubs with a very expensive top-heavy roster and a lot of crap on the bottom two lines. There isn't a lot of defensive ability up front save for the Steroid-monkey defector and Niko Kapanen. Rucchin is really showing his age, but he's better defensively than Marc Savard could hope to dream of (yet the offensive dropoff probably offsets this far more).

In the end, I see a team that is still going to give up far too many goals to make the playoffs.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The Dog Days

This is the toughest time of year for me, as a hockey fan -- training camp is still a few weeks off (though my subconscious keeps telling me, perhaps as protection, that it's due to start any day now), the majority of interesting off-season news has passed (if we're relying on Anson Carter, J.P. Dumont and Nikolai Zherdev to make news, it's a slow period), and I'm left desperately reading Atlanta Journal-Constitution stories about Kari Lehtonen's off-season workout regimen (things learned: he's very committed, he's still a bit chubby, and his nickname is "Kärpät," which is a type of weasel).

In lieu of anything really going on, how about a trip down memory lane?

The first hockey player I ever adopted as a "favorite" was Wilf Paiement, during what were his final days as a Colorado Rockie. I didn't really know anything about the sport at the time -- I was too young to appreciate anything other than the colorful uniforms zipping around -- but I'd eagerly devour box scores and newspaper articles. That's, in retrospect, probably why I seized upon Paiement. As one of the only good players on the team, his name was much more likely to show up.

Paiement is largely forgotten now, except as the answer to an overused trivia question (who was the last player to wear #99 besides whatshisface), but in his time he was a pretty good player, (and this is in retrospect -- my fuzzy childhood memories lack anything near the depth needed to back this up) generally good for around 70 points and 120 penalty minutes. On those hideous Rockies teams, he was really the only consistent threat other than Barry Beck.

Unfortunately, my fandom was to be short-lived. Within the first season that I was paying any sort of attention, Paiement was sent to Toronto in the Lanny McDonald deal. That was undoubtedly a good trade, but I think on some level it embittered my young, pliable mind, and I didn't really give McDonald proper credit for his talent until after his retirement (and the Rockies botched his acquisition anyway). I didn't really grasp the concept of "trades" at that stage in my life, and the idea that my favorite player was no longer playing for his team struck me as evidence of something fundamentally wrong in the universe. (When baseball fandom forced me to deal with my favorite players departing due to free agency, several circuits just flat-out blew up.)

Paiement bounced around for much of the '80s, having a few really good years with the Leafs and Nordiques, and a few lousy years with the Rangers, Sabres, and Penguins. The Rockies, of course, didn't last much longer in Colorado than Paiement did -- and if you think it was tough for me to understand a player leaving Denver, just imagine my confusion when the whole team did.

Ol' Wilf did make one more contribution to Colorado hockey lore. Years later, when Kris Draper tripped and hit his face on the McNichols Arena dasher, an old incident got dragged back into the light -- Paiement whacking Detroit's Dennis Polonich in the face with his stick back in 1978, effectively ruining Polonich's career (and drawing a big ol' lawsuit from Polonich, too). Writers used that as evidence of a history of violence between Colorado-based teams and Detroit, which strikes me as a bit of a stretch, but then I'm not trying to churn something out every day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 Fantasy Guide Available Now!

Late August is an exciting time for hockey fans, even with no actual games to watch on the tube.

Why? Well, it's magazine time!

Every year, I'm one of those types that goes and grabs the whole stack of magazines off of the rack: McKeens, THN, Forecaster, etc... I grab almost everything (even The Sporting News...when I was caught in the USA and they had NOTHING else).

Well, now, the site I do a bit of work for, has come out with a guide and it's a whopper and a great deal.

Yes, I am shilling for something I helped work on, but at US$4.99 and at 300 pages, it's a pretty sweet deal. (Though I only wrote 1 out of the 300 pages, so it's not as if I did all that much). With your purchase, you can download the entire PDF right onto your computer and peruse the 300 pages at your leisure, complete with the ability to search through the document for every instance of PAVOL DEMITRA's name.

So, go to to check it out.

On another note, I'll be doing the St. Louis Blues reports for the site again this season. At least the Blues will have more than one player worth taking in a fantasy draft.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Canucks Salary Structure as at August 22nd, 2006

Thanks to my super-secret inside source, I gots me a transcript of the conversation at the Robo Luongo signing.

Nonis: Just sign here and we're all set.

Luongo: *signs contract* Alright! I'm looking forward to this!

Nonis: And don't you worry. We'll be doing everything in our power to make you feel comfortable.

Well... I heard it rains a lot in Vancouver during the fall and winter.

Nonis: Yup.

Luongo: And, I heard the women are really snotty and high-maintenance.

Nonis: True...

Luongo: And, the media is vicious and there will be a lot of pressure for me to perform miracles.

Nonis: Well, yeah...

Luongo: So, how are you going to make me feel comfortable?

Nonis: Simple! We're going to load up on crappy AHL-calibre players so that you'll get the 50 shots a night that you're accustomed to!

Luongo: *facepalm*


How else can you explain GM Dave Nonis going out and signing flotsam such as Yannick Tremblay and Rory Fitzpatrick!? Unless the Manitoba Moose are loading up for a Calder Cup run, signing negative-impact players is never a good thing.

As of today, here are the Canucks commitments estimated for the upcoming season.

So, at least $42mil is locked up in what we got now.

I've heard rumours of Trevor Linden signing on the dotted line for about $600k, but nothing confirmed as of yet.

Lukas Krajicek remains the lone big RFA to be re-signed, and he'll not be getting much of a raise.

And the backup goaltender? The Canucks need someone who is willing to sit on their ass a lot and get paid the league minimum. Steve Shields? Wade Flaherty? We just have to hope Luongo stays healthy, or the Canucks are DOOMED.


Monday, August 21, 2006


Every Girl's Crazy About A Sharp-Dressed Man

I recently remarked to a friend that one of my greatest regrets in life is that I didn't stock up on Hasek Hot Sauce when it was still available. Add to that regret -- I didn't re-outfit myself head to toe in Krzysztof Oliwa's clothing line.

Oliwa's NHL fortunes have waned in recent years, aside from one full-time stint in Calgary, and I kind of doubt we'll see him at the highest level again. A little-known casualty of his career dip, though, is his foray into the sartorial arts.

Starting about the turn of the century, Oliwa Enterprises had two clothing lines -- "KO Gear," still described on a barely-functioning website as "Urban Apparel for the American Mix," and "Polish Hammer Enforcer Gear and Apparel." The latter website is totally down, which is unfortunate, because I would now sacrifice a few years off of my life for a "Polish Hammer" t-shirt. And, while I wouldn't ever wear it, there's something (seriously) rather charming about some dude from Tychy, Poland, coming to America to play hockey, and ending up selling clothing marketed to the hip-hop audience.

I have always liked Oliwa -- he seems like a generally good chap -- and as he went into hockey exile last season, I sort of comforted myself by muttering "at least he's got the clothing line." Now I find out even that isn't true.

For those who want a new look to start off the 2006-07 season -- KO Gear is selling its stock on eBay at what can only be described as "closeout" prices. Get rid of that ugly Red Wings jersey and wear a real conversation-starter.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Hell Is Other Goalies

There's a strange depressing haze over Atlanta these days, an existential angst that seems to prevent any sort of intelligent writing about hockey. In lieu of that, here's an example of what you turn up when you're very bored at work and do a Google image search on former AHL goalie Dusan Salficky:

A gallery full of Czech goalie mask art.

There's also some NHL and national team stuff, if you poke around a bit. Hopefully Monday will spur some actual deep thought about hockey.


Jaromir Jagr: King of Czech Hockey (Once Again)

Jaromir Jagr, he of the sandpaper voice and 60-inch thighs, has been crowned the King of Czech Hockey for the best Czech Player (the Golden Stick Award) for the SEVENTH time. Why do others bother to even show up?

The awards were held at the Thermal Hotel in Karlovy Vary, giving Jagr and his new model girlfriend lots of opportunities to 'relax'.

1. Jaromír Jágr (New York Rangers) 507 hlasů
2. Tomáš Kaberle (Toronto Maple Leafs) 433
3. David Výborný (Columbus Blue Jackets) 326
4. Aleš Hemský (Edmonton Oilers) 183
5. Petr Bříza (HC Sparta Praha) 164
6. František Kaberle (Carolina Hurricanes) 162
7. Marek Židlický (Nashville Predators) 148
8. Martin Erat (Nashville Predators) 145
9. Václav Prospal (Tampa Bay Lightning) 127
10. Martin Straka (New York Rangers) 125

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Pavol the Artist

While slip-sliding down the tubes at Internet Waterpark, I came across a masterpiece work of art by our boy Pavol DEMITRA.

Clearly, the man has had one too many concussions :(

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Customer Service

Well, hell, talk about results. I call for the Thrashers to bring Vitali Vishnevski into the fold, and kapow -- I emerge from a cross-country flight to find out that Double V is Atlanta-bound.

I liked Karl Stewart, but who'm I kidding -- I'll take Vish over one more grinder (and a couple picks) any time. The defense just got a pretty severe upgrade, and now a couple of my less-favorite defensemen can become trade bait.

Most importantly, though, is the solid evidence that Don Waddell is responding to my every desire. If I'd known it was this simple I would have exploited it long ago. So, Don, I'd like you to trade Andy Sutton and Shane Hnidy for Peter Forsberg, and Brad Larsen for Rostislav Olesz. And then give me a million dollars. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Slovak Fashion Show

The Slovak Hockey Federation recently had an awards gala, in which Marian Hossa took home the big prize as top Slovak Hockeyist, beating out poor Pavol Demitra and Lubos Visnovsky.

More importantly, it gave fans a rare chance to see Slovak guys wearing something other than sweatpants, shorts, or jeans. One thing Slovak men are not is fashionable.

Here's Zdeno and his sister, who must be about 6'3" herself.

Here's Pavol and Maja, obviously the best looking couple of the night!

Here's Marian Hossa and his girlfriend, who easily wins the 'Worst Dressed' Award. Poor Marian looks embarrassed.

Here's Miro Satan and Ingrid "Catwoman" Smolinska. Satan hasn't changed facial expressions in 4 years and 6 months. Chuck Norris would be proud.


An offseason look at the Atlanta Thrashers

One of the reasons Jes called my name for this gig was the "insight" I could allegedly provide into the Thrashers. Since the extent of my insight has generally been "Atlanta shouldn't have dropped Frantisek Kaberle," that might be a tall order.

Making it more of a tall order, I'm on vacation right now, back in Colorado. The clear skies and perfect weather, the cold beer, and the twelve-foot-tall granite statues of Alexei Gusarov scattered about the state all make it a bit tough to think about the Thrashers with any coherence. But I'll press on.

As last year wound up playoff-less, pundits far and wide treated it as a momentary aberration, a bump in the road on the route to some future Thrashers dynasty. The Thrashers responded by getting, largely, worse this off-season. They still have quite a solid shot at the playoffs, but it's all dependent on a few big ifs.

GM Don Waddell has taken a rather laissez-faire attitude to getting goalie Kari Lehtonen under contract this summer. His lack of concern is impressive, since the lack of the Round Mound of Rebound for most of last season doomed the Thrashers. Lehtonen's wonky groin (and at this point, we should point out that he's run into severe groin problems much earlier in his career than Dominik Hasek -- logic suggests that therefore, he will end up being even better than Hasek in the long run!) really wouldn't be well-served by any sort of holdout, and good lord, the Thrashers certainly wouldn't be well-served by starting the season with the goalie tandem of Johan Hedberg and Fred Brathwaite. Both fine fellows, certainly, but confidence-inspiring? No.

I bitched far-and-wide about the Thrashers' defense being the team's Achilles' heel last season, and, well, it's about the same (minus Jaroslav Modry and his unerring ability to cough up the puck at the blue line on a power play). Niclas Havelid and Greg deVries are both solid. Steve McCarthy looked like he'd finally developed into a real NHLer; if that holds true into the new season, it'll be rainbows and ice cream in Atlanta. But beyond that? Garnet Exelby is a "physical presence," as they say, but not much else. Andy Sutton and Shane Hnidy are there, presumably, to keep the Thrashers from only fielding four defensemen on a given night. The wild card is Braydon Coburn -- he's been touted as a combination of Bobby Orr, Doug Harvey, Chris Pronger, Winston Churchill and Superman since he was drafted, but had a rather undistinguished season with Chicago last year. The plan seems to be that he'll be ready, come hell or high water, but if not? I'll spend a season complaining about the Thrashers' mistreatment of Kaberle.

(One reason to dream: Spector's has reported that Atlanta may be looking to get Vitaly Vishnevski from the Ducks. Aside from the fact that I'll have to look up the spelling of his name every time I type it, I heartily approve. I wouldn't even mind seeing Sutton go the other way! Everyone would win there, except for the Ducks.)

Finally, up front, where the Thrashers have Ilya Kovalchuk! And Marian Hossa! And ... not really very much else. Oh, boy, is the lack of secondary scoring scary. Marc Savard and Petr Bondra are gone, replaced by Steve Rucchin and ... Jon Sim, I guess? Beyond Kovalchuk, Hossa, Rucchin, and Crazy-Eye Kozlov, there isn't much proven scoring to be found. Niko Kapanen is an upgrade on Patrik Stefan, but no one's going to confuse him with Peter Forsberg. There's a lot of speculation that Alex Bourret is ready to go, but he's yet to play beyond the QMJHL. Beyond the aforementioned guys and Bobby Holik -- who will do what he's always done, and eat up a lot of salary cap space doing it -- the forwards are all players who have yet to really hit their stride at the highest level (Jim Slater, Karl Stewart) or AHL-level talent (Eric Boulton, J.P. Vigier, Glen Metropolit, Jason Krog, Brad Larsen).

Having sounded the alarm bells across the board, I'll go out on a limb and predict the Thrashers will finish second in the Southeast -- that's right, ahead of the Lightning -- and make their first playoff appearance this year. But ultimately, their lack of anything resembling depth will doom them quickly. They're solid on top but light and fluffy underneath. That's great in a Creme Brulee, not so good in a hockey team.


Sean Avery: Hell on Ice

While most of the NHL was enjoying playoff hockey, Sean Avery was giving an interview to Maxim Magazine in between running over dogs with his HUMMER and frying ants with a magnifying glass.

I wouldn't want the asshole on my team, but he certainly gives interesting interviews.

Some of the highlights

Doesn’t it hurt your team that you spend so much time in the penalty box?
It does, but a lot of my penalty minutes have been 10-minute misconducts at the end of games. Yelling at refs or when something really bad has happened, or we’re losing and I just can’t control my emotions anymore.

(Jes: While he did have 7 misconducts, he also lead the NHL with 71 minor penalties. Not hurting his team?? He doesn't even realize that he is...)

You’re 5'9", not tall for an enforcer. Where does your mean streak come from?
My mom. She’s getting older now, but she used to be a bit of a crazy woman. In a good way.

(Your average functional family...)

Who’s the most overrated NHLer?
Shane Doan in Phoenix, for sure.

He has more goals and assists than you, by the way.
He probably makes three million more than me, too. How many points does he have? I’m sure he doesn’t have that much more than me. He’s a whiner. A lot of the respect he gets is because he’s just a clean-cut guy. He seems like a real yes-man to me.

Which player would you love to cross-check into the boards?
The guy I owe the most right now is Kirk Maltby from Detroit. He busted in my nose earlier this year. I was going after Chris Chelios, and there was a big pile, and it happened so quick. When people come together, they’re coming from all angles. And it was more of a really, really giant bitch slap. I don’t think Maltby knows how to punch, he just knows how to slap. He got me good. But I know Malts would never square off and fight me. If I dropped my gloves, he’d skate away and I’d get a penalty.

(Jes: Avery is not the only one who thinks Maltby is a gutless punk)

Are there other guys you get pumped to face?
There are a few guys on Anaheim I would really like to do a number on. I’m not a big fan of Andy McDonald. He’s an arrogant little midget who would never back up anything he says in his life.

(Jes: Well, that's why he goes and hides behind The Fridge...)

Anybody you’re afraid of?
Uh, no. There’s some pretty scary girls that work the door in L.A., at the clubs.

Are shootouts good for the game, or just hockey’s way of selling out to increase ratings?
They’re awesome. I don’t know why everyone looked upon it as this dreaded thing where we were selling out. It’s a breakaway, it’s a shootout. You decide regular-season games by it. It’s great for the fans. We, as players, like watching it probably more than anyone.

(Jes: It figures Avery would love shootouts...)

Has there been too much hype around Sidney Crosby?
The kid has proved that he’s a big-time player. Thank God for the league that it actually worked like LeBron. He’s good, the guy can play.

(Jes: Good answer.)

You’ve dated Rachel Hunter and Elisha Cuthbert. What’s your secret?
I must have a really good smile [laughs]. I’ve got a great personality as well.

(Jes: The real secret? Women want bad boys who they think can be tamed, rather than a nice guy who treats them well. Oh, the money helps, too)

You’re known as a partyer. Ever show up to practice hung over?
Yeah. That’s part of what being an athlete is. If you burn the candle at both ends, you gotta be able to do it at work. I’m young enough and in good enough shape. Not a lot of people work in L.A., and there are a lot of parties.

(Jes: Wow, I'm sure Marc Crawford is happy to hear that)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Type of teh Day

A heads-up reader sent us another typo discovered on the hockeyweb. Not surprisingly, it's from "Canada's Sports Leader" once again.

"There's are no details to small"

No detail too small, except for proper grammar in the first frickin' sentence!

Monday, August 14, 2006


Slava Kozlov's Shifty Eye

My pal, Beezer, asked me about Biatchislav Kozlov's eye, because it's something that's always looked a bit freaky to me.

Is it a fake? I doubt it, because we'd all know about it.
What happened? An orbital bone injury? Or is he just a demon like I've always suspected?


Edit: Picture Fix0red


How can I miss you if you won't go away?

Thanks, Jes, and hello, world.

As Jes mentioned, I'm Greg, from the Post-Pessimist Association, which manages to occasionally talk about hockey ... more specifically, the Thrashers of Atlanta (where I live now) and the Avalanche of Colorado (my home state). I'm not sure when Avalanche fandom became the Scarlet Letter of hockey -- why does a team that exists only to create joy cause such hatred? -- but I've learned to block it out by putting Patrick Roy's Stanley Cup rings in my ears at night. And by drinking vodka.

Quite an honor to be here. Hockey Rants was one of the first blogs I started reading regularly after I discovered that people could magically use their computers to talk to each other about my favorite sport, and I look forward to contributing. Particularly after the Avs ring up five goals in a game against Luongo later this year.

* * *

This summer's player movement had all the sanity and calm of a black-market bazaar in Marrakesh -- Pronger fleeing south, the free agent madness, Hasek's return to Detroit, and now Evgeni Malkin apparently recreating "Stalag 17" -- so a few deals sort of slipped under the radar, already forgotten moments after they were completed. My personal favorite? Petr Tenkrat is coming back to the NHL, after four years out in the cold.

It's not hard to see why Boston's trade-and-sign of Tenkrat didn't attract the attention of, say, the Zdeno Chara deal. Tenk managed 13 goals and 38 points in chunks of two seasons with the (Mighty) Ducks and Predators, along with some spot AHL duty, before fleeing to the friendly confines of Finland. He's been a star with Kärpät Oulu for a few years now, winning a couple championships, but apparently that no longer was enough; before the Bruins deal came along, he'd already defected to Switzerland's SC Bern.

Maybe Finnish cooking just agrees with him -- his best seasons have come with Kärpät, Ilves Tampere and Hameenlinna, and a brief excursion with Russia's Khimik made his NHL time look productive by comparison. It's probably too much to hope that he'll just go wild in the NHL -- we all hope for second time lucky, but his speed and scoring ability didn't translate into much before. Still, the Bruins aren't quite sporting Kovalchuk and Hossa on the wings, so maybe he'll get ample opportunity to make a dent.

Regardless of what happens, though, I've always been fond of Tenkrat and his ill-advised haircut, and I'm glad to see him back. I'm hoping this, along with the Blackhawks' (rather inexplicable) trade for the rights to Vaclav Pletka, heralds the beginning of a new trend -- teams bringing my obscure favorites back. Where's Lubomir Vaic? Rene Corbet? Isn't it about time for someone to give Tomas Divisek another shot?


Hockey Rants: The Apprentice

No, I am not an egomaniac millionaire with horrible hair looking for a 30-something yuppie to lick my boots every morning, nor am I hosting a boring reality show devoid of sex, drugs, and Slovaks.

Due to work and school commitments and just general burnout, I needed a good apprentice to help with the site and keep our 'high' level of quality up and keep away the excess groupies that I can't handle.

After months and days of arduous scouting, Greg from Post-Pessimist is 'The Chosen One'.

The Pros: He knows his Czech hockey, he collects Czech (and Slovak) hockey sweaters, he understands the awesomeness of Lubomir Vaic, and he's got a good sense of humour.

The CON: He's a Colorado Avalanche fan.

(You may now proceed to throw stinky garbage in his direction)

There will be more changes on this site over the next few weeks as Greg adds his content and the site will not longer be just my own personal shrine to Pavol. Don't worry, there will be enough Pavol love for everyone plus all of the usual 'quality' content (stop laughing, you) that you've come to expect.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Petr Sykora lands with the Oilers

After pimping himself to the 29 other NHL teams and finding no takers, Petr "It's seek, not sick" Sykora (not the other Petr Sykora who played 2 games for the Crapitals and bolted home last know, THAT one...right?) basically gave up and signed with the Edmonton Oilers, aka "Option J"

The Edmonton Oilers have signed free agent forward Petr Sykora to a one-year contract.

Before confirming the deal, Sykora underwent an MRI on his groin on Friday which was followed by the announcement at a news conference in Edmonton.

The unrestricted free-agent forward scored 23 goals with 51 points for Anaheim and the New York Rangers last season. He could be relied upon to fill the void left by Sergei Samsonov, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens.

Sykora is a funny animal. He's got a lot of talent, but he really is more of a support guy rather than a guy who will lead a team offensively. When Sykora can find the right linemates to click with (Like he had in NJ), he's capable of some gaudy numbers. When he's on his lonesome or with linemates he doesn't click with, he's basically a good 2nd line winger and nothing more. Which version will the Oilers get? It's hard to say...

                            GP  G A  PT PIM
1998-99 New Jersey Devils NHL 80 29 43 72 22
1999-00 New Jersey Devils NHL 79 25 43 68 26
2000-01 New Jersey Devils NHL 73 35 46 81 32
2001-02 New Jersey Devils NHL 73 21 27 48 44
2002-03 Anaheim Mighty Ducks NHL 82 34 25 59 24
2003-04 Anaheim Mighty Ducks NHL 81 23 29 52 34
2004-05 Magnitogorsk Metallurg 45 18 13 31 44
2005-06 Anaheim Mighty Ducks NHL 34 7 13 20 28
2005-06 New York Rangers NHL 40 16 15 31 22

Looking at his production, we see an obvious decline and the obvious fact that he is not a top line offensive talent. The rumoured price is $3mil, which is decent for his production level and the fact that it's only one year.

Now, Sykora didn't talk to the Canadian media yet, as far as I know, I'll translate a statement that he gave to the Czech press.

Now, back on Earth. Is time for downsplash.
Into sea of eternal glory my spaceship crash!
People have arrived for to cheer me from near and far...
and, as I float, I open door and shout

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Czech Prospect Michal Repik Interview

Ahhh, the dog days of summer. Some people are going slowly insane with the lack of hockey news, but I'm enjoying the break. This was such a long off-season/season that any excuse not to surf the web for a few days and keep up with the latest is much needed.

In any event, I'm not going totally news-deprived. Thanks to my friend Robert, I can bring you a translated interview (completed with my dumb comments) that Vancouver Giants forward Michal Repik had with It's nothing deep, but it's a decent look into one of the top prospects heading into the 2007 Entry Draft.


Hockey beginnings?

I started playing when I was four years old. My dad brought me to the game. I also used to play soccer, but from the 5th grade I quit soccer and focused solely on hockey.

(Typical of most Czech players, who play 2-3 sports before they solely concentrate on one. Is it any wonder how the Czech Republic produces such good hockey and soccer teams? Unlike India, which has a billion people and can't win an Olympic medal)

Favourite coaches?

I wouldn't like to forget to mention someone, every coach helped me in some way. I would definitely mention Ada Bilek, who brought me to Sparta Praha. And also Mr. Sindel, who was my coach in the Sparta juniors.

Most beautiful hockey memories?

I appreciate playing at the Memorial Cup a lot. Another beautiful memory was winning the European youth Olympics we won with the Czech Under-17 team in January, 2005.

What made you most sad?

The fact that I didn't make the 2005 Under-18 WJC. I missed the 2006 U18 WJC due to the WHL playoffs and got injured before the 2006 WJC in Vancouver.

What are you most afraid of?

I'm afraid of injuries which would happen either to me or my family.

What makes you mad?

Cheap shots from opponents on the ice and off the ice. Lies, jealousy, and bad people.

Do you watch politics?

Not at all. I don't have any personal favorites there.

(Good. You'll be better off not bothering with politics)

Favourite actors?

I have many favorite actors, I can't say who is the personal favorite of mine. I like the movie 'Last Samurai' or Czech comedies. I had a few DVDs with me in Canada and watched movies when I had some free time.

("Last Samurai" Oh, dear...I hope he isn't attending Scientology sessions)

Favuorite music style?

I'm not very demanding as far as music goes. I prefer techno music. But I don't attend any concerts, I listen to music at home.

Favourite pet?

We don't have any pets, I like dogs and cats.

Favourite color?

Blue or white.

Ideal vacation?

This year I visited Egypt with my parents, brother and my girlfriend. It was terrific. I would like to visit Hawaii one day, it is six hours away from Vancouver when you would take a flight there. Hopefully I will be able to go there one day.

(Family and girlfriend? That must have been....awkward...)

Favourite car?

I don't have a driving license yet. I prefer Audi or Ferrari.

(No love for Skoda?)

Favourite food?

Coke and juice to drink. As for food... Sirloin steak that my mother prepares. During the season I eat mostly rice, chicken, meat or pasta. Simply typical food of hockey players, but I don't have any problem with it.

Your agent?

For Czech Republic Jaromir Henys, and overseas, Rich Winter.

What newspapers and magazines do you read, do you read the internet?

I read the internet every day when I'm in Canada. I read the news, look what is new here in Czech Republic. When I'm here, I read the Blesk and Sport newspapers.

(Blesk? No doubt for the Girl of the Day photos)

What women do you find hot? Do you have a girlfriend?

I have a girlfriend, her name is Blanka, who hails from Vlasim just like me. I don't have any women type which I would prefer. My girlfriend has to be nice and modest.

Are you superstitious?

Yeah, quite a lot. I always put my gear on from the left side first. I have also lots of pre-game superstitions. When I have a bad game, I change some of them.

Any hobbies?

I don't have much spare time during the season. Mostly I was just sitting at home, watching movies or read the internet. Our team owner Mr. Toigo took me to a trip on his boat once, it was one of the many nice moments I experienced in Canada last year.

Hockey goals?

I want to play my best hockey during the next season. It will be my draft year, I would like to be a high pick. My big goal and dream remains the NHL, I would also like to play for the Czech senior national team

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Bobby Clarke Made My Girlfriend Cry

So, I'm at work, plugging away at some reconciliations when I get a call from my girlfriend, the Flyers fan, who was obviously upset about something...

Her: "Did you see what the Flyers did?"
Me: "No...."
Her: "Oh...I can't believe it!"

So, I go and check out, fully expecting the Flyers to have finally traded for Markus Naslund.

Nope, what I see is this...

Just days after accepting an arbitrator's decision on winger Kyle Calder, the Chicago Blackhawks traded him and his $2.95 million contract to the Philadelphia Flyers.

In return, Chicago received centre Michael Handzus, who is slated to make $2.128 million this season.
"Ohhhhhh..." I said in utter surprise, "Well, that sucks."

Yep, my girlfriend's favourite player was traded from her favourite the CHICKENHAWKS!! Obvious to say, she was quite upset and had the wind knocked out of her sails.

Ouch! Now, her favourite Handzus sweater is obsolete (join the club, honey), and her favourite player is now in Hockey Hell.

She didn't understand my pain when Pavol was traded to the Mild. She even made fun of me, so I was quite tempted to laugh at her when I saw this trade...but, I'm not THAT mean.

Now, Handzus is one of my favourite players, his hair is wicked awesome, and he's a great 2-way player, but just how stupid are the Blackhawks?

They trade a 27-year old player, in his prime, who led their club in scoring last year, for an older center coming off of a very nasty and serious shoulder injury. WHY?

Oh, Kyle Calder won his arbitration! How dare he!

So, they'll overpay Adrian Aucoin, Nikolai Khabibulin, and The Brat, but they consider $2.95mil too much for a guy who put up 59 points last year playing with crappy linemates?
*sigh*. I don't get the logic, quite honestly.

As for Handzus, he'll now have to put up with The Brat and The Verb as his Czech buddies, since he's pretty much a homebody who needs the comfort of a compatriot. Sure, he gets to center players that don't suck (ala Donald Brashear), but he'll never see the playoffs again until he's traded or earns his freedom. I don't mind too much that Michal is in Chi-Town, since I really hated watching him have to wear a Flyers sweater for so long.

As for my girlfriend, she's torn whether to buy a Handzus Chickenhawks sweater or not.

The good news? Maybe she'll stop being a Flyers fan ;)

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Five Weird Things

So, Mike Chen tagged moi and wants to know FIVE weird things about me.

Just five, eh?

1. I have a tattoo. That's not weird in and of itself, but I'm also an accountant. How many accountants do you know that have tattoos? Exactly.
That barbed wire crap doesn't count, either!

2. I have an aunt and an uncle who are both younger than I am. Yeah....

3. I don't show it much here, but I'm a huge baseball fan. My favourite team is the Chicago White Sox (long before the bandwagoners) and my favourite players are Carlton Fisk, Jose Valentin, and Frank Thomas.

4. As much of a loudmouth as I can be on the Internet Tubes, I am very shy and reserved in real life. Hard to believe, I know.

5. I eat the same Vermicelli/Protein Source dish every day, at least once a day. Friends are amazed that I can eat the same stuff all the time, but I'm lazy and not a picky eater.

I'll tageth The Evil Swede and The Stormbringer.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Blues go to the Retread Market for Rucinsky

Instead of giving a young guy like Lee Stempniak a chance to develop, Blues GM Larry Pleau is wasting more money and signing old Martin Rucinsky, who found himself out of the Czech Mafia in New York because Glen Sather ran out of hush money.

TSN Story:

"In Martin, we have added a veteran goal scorer with proven leadership skills to our line-up today," said Blues president John Davidson. "We are happy to have an opportunity to acquire a player of Martin's ability and look forward to his second stint with the St. Louis Blues."

Rucinsky, 35, was a point-per-game player last season with the New York Rangers, recording 55 points in 52 games. He has registered 20-plus goals in four of his 14 NHL seasons.
Sure, Rucinsky was a point-a-game player last season, but we've seen this song and dance before.

In the comfort of New York, Rucinsky has played some his best hockey with his Czechmates around. Rucinsky has displayed the same great talent when surrounded by his pals playing with the Czech national squad. Once he leaves his comfort zones, however, he's just rather ordinary.

2001-02 New York Rangers NHL 15 3 10 13 6
2002-03 St. Louis Blues NHL 61 16 14 30 38
2003-04 New York Rangers NHL 69 13 29 42 62
2003-04 Vancouver Canucks NHL 13 1 2 3 10
2005-06 New York Rangers NHL 52 16 39 55 56

Does anyone expect a 35-year old Rucinsky to be the same player he was last season, or the mediocre player he was with the Canucks and Blues?

Really, the Blues aren't going to make the playoffs, but are spending money in a vain attempt to get there. Why not use a cheaper option like Stempniak who may develop and give a Rucinsky-like level of production?

It's not a horrible signing, but it does seem unnecessary.


Sincere apologies to The American Hockey Fan, a hilarious guy who, although he is American, did not deserve to his have Pronger posting ripped off like I did.

It was an accident, and this shows that bloggers should be careful of where they get their material and ensure where the original source comes from.


The Truth Behind Chris Pronger's Departure

Thanks to my incredible inside sources from St. Louis, I have uncovered the strongest rumours yet as to why Chipmunk Pronger's wife demanded that her husband be traded. Consider these rumours a strong "G-Force 7"

Before game one of this year's Stanley Cup finals, Lauren Pronger found herself without a ticket to one of the biggest games of her husband's life. Not wanting to break her husband's concentration by bothering him with a ticket request, she burst into tears on the way out of the Oilers practice facility. Her breakdown was noticed by Oilers backup goaltender Ty Conklin, who tried to cheer her up by saying he had always liked the SUV she drove. Lauren told Ty the whole story and they came up with a plan. Lauren would dress up in Conklin's helmet and pads, as there was practically no chance he would play that night with starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson en route to an MVP performance. She would watch the game undetected from the bench, and in exchange, would give him her SUV. After agreeing to the deal, Lauren threw her car keys to Conklin, who mishandled and dropped them.

All went as planned until late in the final period, when the unthinkable happened. Roloson suffered a series-ending knee injury in a collision, and was replaced by Lauren Pronger in Conklin's uniform. With 32 seconds to go in regulation, Lauren misplayed the puck, and Rod Brind'Amour easily jammed it in for the win. Embarrassed by not only the fact that she had cost her husband and the Oilers the game, but also that anyone as ugly as Brind'Amour had ever actually scored with her, Lauren demanded her husband be traded. As a postscript, Ty Conklin was so embarrassed that he asked to go somewhere where "he would never be seen again."
He settled for the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Lauren demanded her husband be traded to America after the following email was intercepted by a Federal Fraud Investigator in Canada:

Edmonton, Alberta
FAX NO: xxx x xxxxxxx



I hope this letter will not embarrass you since we have not had any previous communication. My name is Lauren Pronger and I am the wife of the NHL superstar Chris Pronger. I got your reference from your country's trade department under private enquiry that is not related to my aim of writing you this letter and went further to have it confirmed by the Canadian Exports Promotion Council (CEPC).

We as holders of official positions in various player's wives committees, discovered some contracts that were grossly over-invoiced, either by omission or commission. Also we discovered that the sum of $65,560,000.00 (Sixty-Five Million, Five Hundred and Sixty Thousand United States Dollars Only) was lying in a suspense account, although the American contractors were fully paid their entitlements after executing the said contracts. We all agreed that the over-invoiced amount be transferred (for our own use) into a bank account provided by a foreign partner, as the code of conduct of the Federal Civil Service does not allow us to operate foreign accounts.

We are therefore seeking your assistance based on the balance amount of US$45.560M, which can be speedily processed and fully remitted into your nominated bank account. On successful remittance of the fund into your account, you will be compensated with 25% of the amount for assistance and services and 5% set aside for expenses contingency.

This transaction is closely knitted and in view of our SENSITIVE POSITION we cannot afford a slip, I assure you that this transaction is 100% risk free. I am at your disposition to entertain any question(s) from you in respect of this transaction, so contact me immediately through the above private e-mail addresses and fax number. Please note that the DEAL needs utmost confidentiality and your immediate response will be highly appreciated and we will use our own share of the money to establish a lucrative business in your country.

Please you should contact me immediately with your private fax and telephone numbers where further details in respect to this transaction would be sent. Please you can also contact me on yahoo at XXXXX.

Yours truly,

Obviously, she had to skip town.

She's a spoiled rich chick married to a professional athlete and would rather be living in California, where it's sunny and nice, than Edmonton, where it's cold and shitty.

Actually, you know what citizens of Edmonton?
Forget that that last one, that's WAY too far fetched


(Credit to Ritch the American Hockey Fan, whom originally posted this story)

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