Thursday, November 30, 2006


Feeling a Draft

It's struck me, over the years, that as much success as the Avalanche have had on the ice (two Cups since '96, Vancouver fans!), the Pierre Lacroix/Francois Giguere era has been pretty lacking as far as the draft goes. Years of high hopes for Peter Ratchuk, Mikhail Kuleshov, Martin Grenier, and the like have embittered me.

I don't know if the Avs are really any worse (or better) than any other team, but (with one glaring exception) it seems like they've had a lot of underwhelming draft classes since coming to Denver.

Having some spare time at work tonight, I thought I'd take a look. I only started looking in 1995 -- rather unfairly, perhaps, since the Nordiques' 1994 draft class produced Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk, and Tim Thomas. But this is hardly a scientific study, really -- more just humoring something that's been bugging me for a while.

So, the draft classes. Players that saw NHL time are in bold:

1995: Marc Denis, Nic Beaudoin, John Tripp, Tomi Kallio, Brent Johnson, John Cirjak, Dan Smith, Tomi Hirvonen, Chris George

Only Denis and Johnson remain in the league. Kallio was serviceable enough for the Thrashers for a couple years; the other guys were just on the fringe. Best player: Denis

1996: Peter Ratchuk, Yuri Babenko, Mark Parrish, Ben Storey, Randy Petruk, Luke Curtin, Brian Willsie, Kai Fischer, Dan Hinote, Samuel Pahlsson, Roman Pylner, Matt Scorsune, Justin Clark

Only Babenko and Hinote ever played for Colorado -- Parrish was traded away (for Tom Fitzgerald, I think) and Pahlsson in the Ray Bourque deal, which I certainly can't complain about. Hinote, Pahlsson, and Parrish are all very different players with similar usefulness levels -- I'd say Pahlsson is the best of the group, but I'm not religious about it or anything.

1997: Kevin Grimes, Graham Belak, Rick Berry, Ville Nieminen, Brad Larsen, Aaron Miskovich, David Aebischer, Doug Schmidt, Kyle Kidney, Steve Lafleur

Ok -- I'm a pretty big Avalanche fan, and in 1997 I was probably watching the draft. But for the life of me I cannot remember anything about Kevin Grimes. Uh, according to, he hasn't played since 2004. And he appears to have been a tough defenseman. That's about it. As an added bonus, the Avs managed to find the less-talented Belak brother. Only Aebischer keeps this from being a comically bad year. Best player: Abby, by a mile.

1998: Alex Tanguay, Martin Skoula, Robyn Regehr, Scott Parker, Ramzi Abid, Philippe Sauve, Steve Moore, Evgeny Lazarev, K.C. Timmons, Alex Riazantzev

The odd year out. Giving us hope that the Avs were perpetually self-sustaining, Lacroix accumulated four first round picks, in exchange for Mike Ricci, Stephane Fiset, Chris Simon, Curtis Leschyshyn, Landon Wilson and Anders Myrvold. There were rumors that the four would be swapped for the number one pick, giving Colorado the Michael Jordan of the NHL; that didn't happen, obviously, but they still came away with four NHL regulars. Unfortunately, those four were eventually swapped out, most depressingly in the Regehr/Corbet for Theo Fleury trade. Added bonus for the year: I've seen Riazantzev spelled more different ways than any name I've ever seen. Best player: Regehr.

1999: Mikhail Kuleshov, Martin Grenier, Branko Radivojevic, Sanny Lindstrom, Kristian Kovac, Will Magnuson, Jordan Krestanovich, Anders Lovdahl, Riku Hahl, Radim Vrbata, Jeff Finger

Ah, Mikhail Kuleshov, perhaps the biggest disappointment. The early reports indicated this rarely-seen Russian winger was a diamond in the rough -- then it took a few years to get over, and he was a fringe AHLer when he got here. Grenier was part of the "I was traded for Ray Bourque" club. Of the full-time NHLers here, two of them were in the last three picks. Best player: Vrbata.

2000: Vaclav Nedorost, Jared Aulin, Sergei Soin, Agris Saviels, Kurt Sauer, Sergei Klyazmin, Brian Fahey, John-Michael Liles, Chris Bahen, Aaron Molnar, Darryl Bootland, Sean Kotary, Blake Ward

Or perhaps Nedorost is the biggest disappointment. He came to Colorado mucho hyped, made the cover of local magazines as the star of the new century, and so on, and ended up traded for Peter Worrell. He's back in Ceske Budejovice now, I think. Beyond that? I hadn't realized that the Avs originally drafted Kurt Sauer or Darryl Bootland. Learn something new every day. Best player: Liles

2001: Peter Budaj, Danny Bois, Colt King, Frantisek Skladany, Cody McCormick, Miiko Viitanen, Pierre-Luc Emond, Scott Horvath, Charlie Stephens, Marek Svatos

Two solid contributors bookending a bunch of minor-leaguers. It's about time for me to stop thinking that Mikko Viitanen's going to be a NHL star. Best player: Svatos.

I'll rather arbitratily stop here -- after 2001 it's probably still a bit early to tell, and it saves me having to contemplate that the Avs gave up Tom Gilbert for Tommy Salo.

But -- am I wrong here? Does this seem a bit below-par for a team over the same time period? Only the 1996 and 1998 classes can really be considered at all productive, beyond a player here or there. I'm not a stats guy -- or rather, I like stats but only when other people do them. So I really don't know if this is just about average. What say you?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Happy Birthday, Pavol Demitra

November 29, 1974 is one of the most important dates in world history. Why? Because, in a little village in Northern Slovakia, Pavol Demitra, your lord and master, was born.

Other great events in history on November 29 include...
1830 - November Uprising: An armed rebellion against Russia's rule in Poland begins.
1945 - The Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia declared.
1947 - The United Nations General Assembly votes to partition Palestine.
1975 - The name "Micro-soft" (for "microcomputer software") is first used in a letter from Bill Gates to Paul Allen.
1990 - Gulf War: The United Nations Security Council passes United Nations Security Council Resolution 678, authorizing "use all necessary means to uphold and implement" United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 "to restore international peace and security" if Iraq did not withdraw its forces from Kuwait and free all foreign hostages by January 15, 1991.
1992 - Dennis Byrd of the New York Jets was temporarily paralyzed by a neck injury during a football game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

In honour of the celebration, here is a video clip of Pavol Demitra pwning Roberto Luongo with his trademark 'move'.

Long live The Pavol! Long live the king!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Team by Team: One Up, One Down Part Deux

It's time to take a look at NHL teams 21-30 and one positive and one negative surprise on the statistical side of things.

I know I haven't done teams 11-20 yet, but they just don't matter as much.

+ Alexander Semin: The most popular player on San Francisco's Castro Street quietly came back to the NHL and has 17 points in 19 games.
- Richard Zednik: Now, d00ds got 11 points in 17 games, but just 3 goals! That's not very Zednik-like

+ Henrik Sedin: 20 assists in 24 games!! Impressive! Too bad he has just 3 goals
- Brendan Morrison: He's certainly not a 1st line centerman, but he's proving not to be even a 2nd line centerman with just 11 points and a -6 in 24 games. He gets good ice time with decent players, and he's not making it happen.

+ Darcy Tucker: 16 goals in 25 games, including 11(!) on the Power Play. His team worst -7 does detract from that, somewhat
+ Kyle Wellwood: This team doesn't another positive, so I'll hand one to Kyle Wellwood and his 21 points in 25 games. He was an awesome junior scorer, and hardly anyone gave him a chance in the NHL. Well, he's showing that talent can beat height.

+ Martin St. Louis: Last season was rather disappointing and we figured it was perhaps his true talent level. Now? He's got 15+15 in 24 games and a team best +8.
- Vaclav Prospal: 3+11 and a team worst -6. He's not pulling his own weight.

+ Lee Stempniak: 8+6 in 22 games and just 4 PIM. Lee is getting a chance to play, and I was worried he wouldn't after the Blues signed a bunch of old American fogeys.
- Dennis Wideman: 1+4 in 19 games. This guy is supposed to be their best offensive blueliner, and he's not really packing up the points.
- Manny Legace: This isn't grammar school, so I can do a double-negative. Legace found one team willing to take a chance on his mentally-shaky ass, and he's responded with an 88.9SV% and a 3.34GAA. Yuk.

+ Matt Carle: The offensive-minded blueliner, one of many Sharks prospects that seem to sneak under the rader, has 3+11 in 24 games.
- Ville Nieminen: 1+1 and -6 in 18 games. What's the use of having pests on your squad? Unless they are actually talented, ala Tikkanen and Linesman, then they just tend to suck.

+ Mark Recchi: The old man is still getting it done with 6+13 in 22 games.
- John Chocolate LeClair: I know he's also old and has a wonky back, but 2+5 in 21 games is even worse than I expected.

+ Georges Laraques: It's hard to find any positives on this team, but The Rock has 4+6 in 20 games, and is getting them the hard way as he has 0 Power Play points
- Enver Lisin: I don't know much about the guy, but he's a RW with 2 points and a -18...a -18!!!!! In 17 games. This guy sticks out like a sore thumb. What the hell is he doing in the NHL?

+ Randy Robitaille: 4+10 in 19 games. Yes, Randy Robitaille is outperforming Mike Richards, RJ Umberger, Petr Nedved, Sami Kapanen, Jeff carter, Kyle Calder, and he's doing it for the minimum
- Kyle Calder: Wow, did the Flyers really trade away a great 2-way centerman for this? Did anyone forsee Calder with 0 goals and just 3 assists and -13 in 21 games. What the hell happened?

+ Jason Spezza: 11 goals in 24 games. This might not seem overly impressive, but Spezza's career high for goals is 22, so he could beat that this season. (It should be noted this his shorts per game isn't higher than usual, so he's just more accurate more than anything)
- Martin Gerber: OK, so I detailed before, in a letter to Muckler, why signing Gerber for such a big contract wasn't necessarily a fine risk. On the other hand, did anyone predict such a bombing at the box office? 89.0%SV and a 3.45GAA compared to Ray Emery's 92.3SV% and 2.25GAA.

Monday, November 27, 2006


It's all Trent Yawney's Fault, Dammit!

Another coach gets fired in Chi-Town and takes the fall for bad management and even worse ownership. This time? It's Trent Yawney taking the fall...

Trent Yawney was fired Monday as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, who have lost 12 of their last 15 games. He was replaced by assistant Denis Savard.

Yawney, in his second season coaching the Blackhawks, had a record of 33-55-15. Chicago has 16 points this season -- only Columbus has fewer -- and could be on the way to missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years.

"The bottom line is wins and losses, and we need to win more," general manager Dale Tallon said on the team's Web site. "We've had some injuries, but in spite of that we're a better team than our record shows."

Savard is a Hall of Fame player who joined the Blackhawks in 1997 as an assistant coach. His first game in charge will be at home Wednesday against Dallas.

"I've always wanted to be a head coach," Savard said. "The circumstances are not the greatest because when you take over for somebody midseason it means things did not go as well as we all expected."

A better team than your record shows?

Hmm, with Handzus and Havlat out of the lineup, and Rene Bourque recovering from a skate to the throat(!) just how 'good' does this team look?




Ok, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these lines, since I can't find the real line combos for this team anywhere. Even with Havlat and Handzus and Bourque, does this look like a playoff team to you?

I don't know if Yawney is a good or bad coach, as I don't follow the Hawks closely enough to know. Still, how is it his fault that Khabibulin forgot how to stop the puck like a real NHL goaltender? How is it his fault that he's saddled with a roster...gah...just look at it!! Brian Boucher as a backup? Who in their right minds thinks that the players above are going to get anywhere near the playoffs? I barely know some of the players, myself!

So, once again, another coach takes the fall for Wirtz and Tallon and now Denis Savard can be the fall guy. Savard has always wanted this type of position, and now he'll quickly find out that he got the worst possible head coaching position in the NHL. He'll get little support from his bosses and he's saddled with a club that has more weaknesses than the petroleum industry's 'studies' on Climate Change.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006


Good Clean Hate

Much has been written about the Caps-Thrashers brouhaha the other night, enough so that I don't really find myself with anything to add about the last couple minutes of the game (other than to say while on the one hand I can't defend Andy Sutton, on the other this wasn't exactly Hunter-on-Turgeon in terms of historic injustices). Instead, I'll note a positive (for me, at least) outgrowth of the whole batch of hurt feelings.

Now, finally, the Thrashers have a good rivalry. I've noted in the past that the Southeastern division suffers from a lack of hate. I was a moderate Caps fan in pre-Thrashers days, owing to spending a lot of time with friends in DC. I've always had a sort of quiet respect for the Hurricanes (or not-so-quiet, in the case of Frankie Kaberle). I don't really mind one way or the other about the Lightning. I frequently forget the Panthers exist. It's tough to get a good frothing rage worked up about any.

But this -- this is a watershed. Glen Hanlon flapping his arms? An old-fashioned donnybrook at the end of the game? (yeah, the Thrashers lost that, but they won the game, suckas!) People outraged? Priceless! Wunderbar! Bring it on!

"Us" isn't so much fun without "them." Now the Thrashers aren't just facing a collection of faceless teams intent on depriving them of victory -- now they have a good healthy enemy.

The Capitals fans are upset about a perceived pattern of dirty play by the Thrashers, noting that their players were all advocates of Gandhi until Sutton forced their hand. I can't really quarrel with that. We all tend to see our guys as choirboys (as an Avalanche fan, I still wonder how exactly Kris Draper messed his face up in '96). Some fan anger just builds the rivalry.

Everyone's commented on the negatives that came out of Wednesday night's game -- the suspensions, the fines, the heated words that everyone will end up regretting, undoubtedly. I prefer to look at it as something that's made the NHL's forgotten corner a bit more interesting.

Just for some old school fun, a YouTube clip I've dug up before: the Nords-Canadiens Good Friday Massacre of 1984. Linked rather than embedded because some goofball has flagged it as "inappropriate content." Makes Caps-Thrashers look like capture the flag.


Team-by-Team: One Up, One Down

Just because I feel like it, I’m going to go team-by-team through the first ten NHL teams (alphabetically) and highlight a positive surprise and a negative surprise statistically. The common thread is that they kind of ‘wow’ me in some way.

+ Chris Kunitz (23 13-7-20), who joins the Ray Whitney waiver-wire rejects who have proven themselves to be stars. Funny thing is that the Ducks were the first team to waive him.
- Some wanted Ilya Bryzgalov (90.2SV% in 7 games) to take over the #1 job, but he’s been far poorer than JS Giguere (92.1SV%)

+ Scott Mellanby is still kicking it the age of 40 with 6 goals and 8 assists in 23 games.
- Kari Lehtonen was supposed to be the saviour in nets, but a 89.4SV% in 19 games isn’t gonna cut the cheese.

+ Marc Savard – For all of the poo-pooing (including my own) of the Bruins paying so much for him, he’s got 5 goals and 21 assists in 20 games and is proving that his points were not all the creation of great linemates.
- Stanislav Chistov has loads of promise but has never shown any of it in the NHL. 2 points in 6 games with the Bruins isn’t making the Ducks think they made a mistake.

+ Thomas Vanek has really exploded this season with 23 15-13-28 +15
- Ales Kotalik is one of the few black spots on this squad with just 14 points in 23 games and a team worst -1

+ Rod Brind’Amour. I didn’t figure he’d be able to repeat his offense, but the workout king leads his squad with 33 points in 25 games.
- David Tanabe is showing why the Bruins let him go with 0 goals and 2 assists in 16 games.

+ Mathew Lombardi has a team leading +12 and has 14 points in 20 games. He’s provided some decent secondary scoring.
- Tony Amonte is really showing his age with just 5+3 in 20 games.

+ Nobody is talking about Radim Vrbata, but he’s been producing with very little help around him. 17 points in 21 games and a +7 on this squad is All-Star worthy.
- Adrian Aucoin. I figured he’d have a bounceback year, but 1+5 and -5 in 20 games isn’t what they are paying him for.

+ Duvie Westcott – In Bryan Berard’s absence, Duvie has been good offensively with 3+5 in 11 games.
- Poor Gilbert Brule has 1+2 and -9 in 17 games. This isn’t the Calder performance I expected :( Stupid Jackets.

+ Tyler Arnason, the laziest mutha this side of Kevin Federline, is quietly producing well with 6+9 in 22 games.
+ Surprisingly, nobody blows me away as a negative ‘surprise’, since most players are performing to expected levels. So, I’ll highlight another positive in Paul Stastny, who has 4+10 in 22 games. His -7 is sucky, but I’m pleasantly surprised to see him doing well offensively.

+ Eric Lindros is no star, but he’s helping my co-worker in his office pool with 5+11 in 22 games. He’s performed fairly well on the Power Play and hasn’t been injured yet!
- Jaroslav Modry – Just 3 points (1+2) in 20 games is poor for a guy with his skills.


Pavol Demitra Memory of the Day: Blaster Master

Damn, some of these videos in my collection make me feel old.

Here's Pavol blasting a Power Play goal past a helpless Jocelyn Thibault back in March of 1999, when James Mirtle was about 8 years old and people liked a band called N*Sync.

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Friday, November 24, 2006


Photo of the Day: Satan is Scheming

Just what are these two planning??


Thursday, November 23, 2006


A Hockey Rants Thanksgiving Post

While our American friends are busy stuffing themselves into a coma with antibiotic-laced Turkey, high-calorie stuffing, and hypersweet cranberry sauce while watching No Fun League Amerikaner Football, us Canadians are just living yet another standard Thursday.

Still, I've been told that I need to be more positive in life, so I'll take this opportunity to give thanks for the good things in the Hockey World.

This really does take an incredible amount of energy for me. (Must resist jab at Gary Buttman)

  • Thanks to the country of Slovakia for producing some of the world's finest hockey talents: Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, Robert Svehla, Peter Bondra, Marian Hossa, Ladislav Nagy, Vladimir Orszagh, Michal Handzus, Lubomir Vaic, etc...
    Lubomir Vaic

  • Speaking of Lubomir Vaic, the tabloids caught him being a good boy and dishing out turkey dinners to the men and women of the US Army who are fighting hard over in the Middle East. What a guy! You wouldn't see Nicklas Lidstrom do something like this, would ya?

  • Thanks also to the Czech Republic for producing some of the world's finest talents. Of course, it shouldn't have been too hard when they kept most of the resources to themselves after the breakup of the CSSR (See how hard it is to keep positive?): Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Kaberle, The Brat, Hepatitis Boy, Petr Cajanek, Jaroslav Balastik, Roman Kadera, Richard Kral, and Valdemar Jirus.

  • Thanks to OLN/Versus for actually caring about hockey. Sure, the reach isn't nearly as good as the mainstream networks, but it's nice to see the network actually take care of hockey and treat the game with respect.

  • Thanks to the CBC for the Hockey Night in Canada double-header. If my foggy memory isn't failing me (thanks to cannabis and NyQuil for that!), the CBC used to show just one game on Saturday nights. From 4pm onward, us Canadians are set with good hockey coverage

  • Thanks to the LA Kings for not only taking Dan Cloutier from the Canucks, but signing him to a 2-year extension, thus guaranteeing the Canucks have an easier time scoring goals versus the Kings.

  • Thanks to the NY Islanders organization for providing great lessons in mismanagement and a lot of humourous news stories. The funniest things in life are always non-fiction.

  • Thanks to the friends, contacts, bloggers, and other people I have met through this site. This place has given me plenty of new opportunities as well as helped me learn a lot about the game. Reading the various blogs is the best way to get hockey news + analysis + a fan's perspective. (Stan Fischler's site, notwithstanding)

  • Thanks to YouTube for providing a free and easy service that lets us upload our Pavol Demitra videos for all to see.

  • Thanks to Sportsnet and TSN for increasing their hockey coverage of both games and analysis. The CBC and local broadcasts aren't the only thing in town now that we have more national broadcasts.

  • Thanks to Sweden for 4 of the Canucks' 5 best players, Britney Spears lyrics, Ingmar W. Bergman's LSD laced sweater creations, and cheap, decent, and easy-to-assemble furniture.

  • Thank you to the Columbus Dinner Jackets for giving me a reason to hate again now that Bobby Clarke 'resigned'. Thanks also the Red Wings, Avalanche, Stars, Leafs, Donald Brashear, and the Devils for your continuing contribution to my hatred.

  • Thanks to Sidney Crosby for being the best young thing to come out of Canada since Wayne Gretzky and for helping rescue the Pittsburgh Penguins.

  • And a BIG thank you to Jim Hughson for throwing Greg Millen out of the broadcast booth and onto Sean Avery. (or was that just a dream?)

  • Wednesday, November 22, 2006


    A Chance for Redemption

    First Petr Tenkrat, now this. Jaroslav Balastik is back up, and has a chance to impress presumed new Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. Can Tomas Kloucek be far behind?


    Head-to-Head: Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin

    Who's better, Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin? This question has plagued the world's greatest scientists and know-little mainstream hockey writers for the past couple of seasons.

    They've all done their articles, research, matriculations, and come out with some very biased arguments for 'their guy'.

    Well, here at Hockey Rants, we believe in FAIR AND BALANCED hockey analysis, so here is a FAIR AND BALANCED head-to-head comparison of the league's two biggest and brightest stars. Now, you will have the definitive answer as to which one of these fine kids is truly #1.

    GOAL SCORING: Edge to Ovechkin
    PLAYMAKING: Edge to Crosby

    Crosby: Falls just a little too easily
    Ovechkin: Just ask Sergei Gonchar
    EDGE: Ovechkin - He enjoys getting hit as much as dishing hits.

    Crosby: Full of dirty Slavs
    Ovechkin: Full of dirty politicians and lobbyists
    EDGE: Crosby. If you had a big bomb, which city would YOU blow up? Exactly.

    Crosby: Reebok, Pepsi, Gatorade, Frito Lay, Sher-Wood, Upper Deck, Vanity Fair...
    Ovechkin: CCM, a cover of some crappy video game...
    EDGE: Crosby - He's marketable and raking it in.

    Crosby: The MVP award he will win this season
    Ovechkin: The Calder award he won last season
    EDGE: Crosby - MVP is much better than the Calder

    Crosby: The Sidney Crosby Show!
    Ovechkin: Nuthin'
    EDGE: Crosby

    Crosby: Missed the CHL Top Prospects game here in Vancouver due to 'injury'
    Ovechkin: Fired his agent to hire his mommy.
    EDGE: Ovechkin - I still haven't quite forgiven Crosby for faking an injury just so they he didn't have to come out West.

    Crosby: Chicken, Pasta (Spaghetti), ye olde standard stuff.
    Ovechkin: Oatmeal-stuffed gerbil.
    EDGE: Crosby

    Crosby: Thousands of screaming jailbait teens
    Ovechkin: Ted Leonsis
    EDGE: Crosby - C'mon, this one isn't even close.

    Crosby: Sid the Kid, El Sid, Darryl
    Ovechkin: Alexander the GR8, OV8
    EDGE: None - Sid's names are boring and Alexander the Great has been done many times before. (And a stupid GR8 variant doesn't score points)

    Crosby: Shooting pucks into a washing machine on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
    Ovechkin: "The Goal"
    EDGE: Ovechkin - Leno might be mainstream, but 'The Goal' is what everyone remembers.

    Crosby: A babyface donkey.
    Ovechkin: Robocop.
    EDGE: Ovechkin - The new faces of the NHL aren't exactly pretty, and Ovechkin gets the edge from hiding his face from us...for now.

    Crosby: Never played with Lubomir Vaic :(
    Ovechkin: Neither did he.
    EDGE: The terrorists!

    Crosby: Cliched, somewhat bland, but has a positive attitude
    Ovechkin: D00d is kinda crazy, very outgoing, and smiles too much to be a real Russian
    EDGE: Ovechkin

    And finally,
    Crosby: A bit of everything, with a hint of country.
    Ovechkin: Rap, R&B, and Techno
    EDGE: Crosby. Ovechkin's favourite 'musician' is 50 Cents. Ugh.

    The final count? Crosby 8 - Ovechkin 6

    That settles it! Sidney Crosby > Alexander Ovechkin.

    Remember, this was a FAIR AND BALANCED comparison. Really.


    Tuesday, November 21, 2006


    Back Home Again?

    Rumors are gathering steam again that Peter Forsberg's about to get traded away from the Philly shipwreck, and that Colorado's one of the likely destinations (San Jose is the other listed). St. Louis-based John Hadley seems to be the source, making it a bit more reliable than average message board blather; Hadley's a Petr Čajánek-hating oddball, but he's also often right on these sorts of things.

    For a Colorado fan, the idea falls into the always-dangerous category of trying to reclaim past glories (for Jes, I presume, the idea just induces vomiting), a la Messier's return to NY. Colorado's more than one player away from a Stanley Cup, and the prospect of dealing with Paper Forsberg's eternal injuries again is less-than-thrilling.

    Then, what to give up? The Avs would need some significant salary cap relief to make this even remotely feasible, and the only high-ticket item that could really fit into the Flyers' plans is Milan Hejduk (well, maybe Jose Theodore, if they want to take a big chance on improving their goal situation, but I can't see anyone else being stupid enough to trade for Jose). More likely, the Flyers want young guys, the Wolskis, the Svatoses, the Stastnys. And even thinking of giving those guys up is upsetting.

    Ah, but then, there's that old magic. Forsberg's departure was the biggest blow to Avs fans; moreso than Roy's retirement, moreso than Foote or Blake leaving, moreso even than Josef Marha getting traded away. Everyone else hated the guy, we loved him, and he remains the most electrifying player Colorado has seen.

    By the time I hit "Publish" on this, of course, Forsberg could be a Shark, or have signed a Flyer-for-life contract, or headed back to MoDo. But as much as it has the potential to go wrong, I'd love to see him back in Colorado. Revel in the memories now, regret it later.

    * * *

    In actual trade news, the Rangers just picked up Brad Isbister from Carolina for ECHLer Jakub Petruzalek and a conditional draft pick. If anyone has any theories why the Rangers did this, I'm all ears. Seriously, Brad Isbister? Why?

    Monday, November 20, 2006


    Sidney Crosby: By the Numbers

    Before the season, certain naysayers and unbelievers were claiming that Sidney Crosby had already peaked, would face a sophomore slump, and lose the scoring race and MVP award to Alexander Ovechkin.

    Well, woe to those who doubt the greatness of Sidney Crosby. While he sits tied for 4th in the NHL in scoring with 28th points (with at least 4 games in hand), Ovechkin sits down in 16th place with the riff-raff.

    Let's break down the numbers. Hammer time!

    Ice Time:
    2006: 20:08
    2007: 20:55

    Points Per Game
    2006: 1.26
    2007: 1.55

    Shots Per Game:
    2006: 3.43
    2007: 2.55

    PIM Per Game
    2006: 1.35
    2007: 1.33

    Face-Off %
    2006: 45.49%
    2007: 50.42%

    Production (Minutes between points)
    2006: 15:58
    2007: 13:26

    So, Sidney has really worked hard and improved on his weak face-off percentage of last year and has achieved a nice break-even ability. The only downside I see is that he still takes too many minor penalties and his shots-on-goal numbers are down. Other than that, Sidney just keeps on improving.



    Oh, those crazy Swedes!

    The latest news from the Evil Kingdom:

    Pupils at a school in Sweden are being terrorised - by a drunken elk.

    Police say the animal has probably been eating fermented apples in a garden, reports Sky News.

    Jan Caiman, a police officer in Molndal, said: "That could be the problem. We could be dealing with a boozy elk."

    Elk can weigh as much as 1,100 lb and personnel at the school described the erratic male as "completely mad".

    The receptionist at the school, near Molndal, in the south of the country, told the Gothenburg Post: "The children are really scared."

    Police have contacted hunters and said that if the animal does not sober up and calm down, it could be shot.

    Fermented apples? What kind of apples trees do they have in Sweden? Why can't we import them here? I ought to ask the Sedinbots if they can nab me some.

    Simple solution: Just shoot the damn thing, dissect it, cook it, and feed it to the kids. You'd teach them all about biology and cooking, and feed the kids all at the same time.

    (Hat tip to Stormbringer)

    Saturday, November 18, 2006


    Pavol Demitra Memory of the Day

    Thanks to the help of my readers, I managed to download a program and figure out how to save the streaming highlight videos to my hard drive. Yes, we can beat the system!

    Here's Pavol and Marian goin Wild...

    You guys rock!...though not nearly as much as Pavol. Nobody does. Not even Jaroslav Balastik.

    Friday, November 17, 2006


    Canucks 4 - Blues 2: Post-Game Musings

    I forked over $100 for the privilege to sit in the lower bowl of GM Place (among the beautiful people) to watch tonight’s Blues-Canucks tilt. The Canucks won 4-2, and pretty much outplayed the Rhythm and Blues in most every area. Why can’t they play like that every frickin’ game, eh?

    Yes, I was the tall, handsome stud in the Blues DEMITRA sweater gently parrying the uninspired comments from jealous Canucks fans. Hey, don’t get mad at me because you spent $200 on a shirt with a stupid looking whale-thing on the front.

    The guy wearing the vintage Canucks Cam NEELY sweater = awesome.
    The guys wearing a Bertuzzi or Cloutier sweater = sad.
    The guy wearing a Mark Messier sweater should be shot.

    Random thoughts as they spring into my mind.

  • The Blues were so impressed by the Canucks (lack of) offensive ability that they dressed 3rd string goalie Jason Bacashihua tonight.

    You may look at the boxscore and say “Wow, he stopped 40 of 44 shots! He doesn’t seem that bad!”

    Stopped? No. Juggled? Yes. D00d has Robert Esche-like rebound controls and flops around like a dying tyee on Crystal Meth. Even a floater from centre ice was an adventure. “Cash’ is obviously Japanese Yen as supposed to British Pounds. Even Jim Carrey (yes, the actor, not the Net Detective) would have stopped Ryan Kesler’s weak backhand that made it 4-2.

  • Keith Tkachuk and his fat booty got a goal, a fight, and knocked Markus Naslund on his Swedish meatball ass. I like.

  • Radek Dvorak – You are one of the league’s best skaters, so try using your speed once in awhile.

  • Speaking of slow skaters, Trevor Linden really does have one large fork sticking in his backside. I know Bill Guerin is pretty slow out there, but we know he’s just lazy. Linden doesn’t get involved physically (You can see him cruising on the outside) and is always a step behind the action in the offensive end. His defense is passable at times, but he ought to know when to fold them.

  • The new scoreboard-video screen thingamajig is impressive. Most impressive. It’s too bad they have to waste so much airtime showing dorky Canucks fans dancing around as if we give a rat’s ass they are on “TV”.

  • Ice Girls – These babes have some fine asses. We’re talking just a notch below Jessica Biel or my own girlfriend. Impressive...Most impressive!

  • Fin, the Canucks stupid mascot, threw popcorn on my friend. Yes, the mascot abused my friend just because he was wearing a Blues sweater. Where a harpoon when you need one?

  • I love how PA announcer John Ashcroft pronounces Martin Rucinsky’s name as if he were French.

  • Yes, it really did take that frickin’ long for Doug Weight to get his first goal of the season.

  • Roberto Luongo was getting a lot of heckling all night long. Welcome to Vancouver, where we LOVE our goaltenders.

  • Patrick Coulombe is small. Not Greg Hawgood small, but still shrimpy nonetheless. He’ll have a nice long career in the AHL and Europe, I’m sure.

  • According to the boxscore, Mike Glumac played just 4:34. Those must have been the most visible 4:34 of all time, because I swear I noticed him a lot tonight. D00d hustles and works hard and gets his nose into places Dvorak don’t.

  • Markus Naslund – Nice shot! Where in the hell has that been all season long?

  • Ye olde media crap here.

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    Last Chance to See

    Poor Jocelyn Thibault's career may effectively be in the toilet, as the Penguins' backup goalie, but he carries a mark of some distinction: he's one of only a handful of active NHL players who once wore the colors of the Quebec Nordiques.

    It doesn't seem like the Nords moved all that long ago (although contemplation of the timeframe reminds me that I was 22 when it happened, and that in turn leads to more unpleasant contemplation), but eleven years is an eternity in a professional athlete's life -- and now there's only a dozen guys left who once called Le Colisée home. In addition to Thibault, there's Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Owen Nolan, Adam Foote, Mike Ricci, Martin Rucinsky, Chris Simon, Aaron Miller, Jon Klemm, Mats Sundin, and Martin Gelinas.

    At this point, I'd guess the smart money is on Sundin, Rucinsky, or Foote being the Last Nord Standing -- Sakic has sorta indicated he's about done, Peter Forsberg seems to want to move back to Sweden more each day, and the rest of the guys are more-or-less done.

    It's even worse for the old Minnesota North Stars -- only Mike Modano, Richard Matvichuk, and Derian Hatcher remain in the NHL, and Matvichuk is (I think) on a roster in name only. Eleven Hartford Whalers remain (I'll guess the last one from that crew will be J.S. Giguere or Chris Pronger), and ten Winnipeg Jets (eleven if Alexei Zhamnov counts -- I've lost track of his status). There, Shane Doan seems the likeliest to last the longest, although I think Teppo Numminen is set on playing forever.

    (Just for trivia's sake -- and here, I'm sorta guessing, so feel free to correct me -- it looks like Brad Marsh was the last Atlanta Flame, and I'm pretty sure Joe Cirella was the last Colorado Rockie. Dunno about the last Scout, or Baron, or Seal -- or last St. Louis Eagle -- I'd check around but my employers like the occasional bit of work)

    These numbers could change, of course, if a Rene Corbet or Igor Ulanov returns from Europe, a Sean Burke gets called up, or Dave Karpa makes his every-few-years surprise-return to the NHL. But regardless, the last vestiges of a few once-proud teams are getting closer to extinction. So spare a moment to think of these guys, and remember that the next time you see Josh Thibault sitting on the bench, or Owen Nolan shaking his head as the Coyotes give up the seventh goal of the night -- you're seeing history.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006


    A Letter to Sens GM John Muckler

    Dear John Muckler,

    There has been a lot of recent teeth gnashing in the panicky Ottawa sports media and among the cranky fanbase over the performance of goaltender Martin Gerber, the player on which you pinned so many hopes. A 3-8-1 record with a 3.45GAA and a 89.0SV% puts him right in the lower echelon of the league's goaltenders.

    Knowing you operate, you have no doubt tuned out the people in Ottawa and have completely ignored the firestorm of criticism that has been lobbed your way.

    So, allow me to give you an outsider's perspective.

    You should have seen it coming.

    That's right. I'm telling you, flat out, that you should have seen Gerber's performance coming from a country mile away. You should have never expected him to be a great #1 goaltender and lead the Sens to the cup. You shouldn't be surprised that he hasn't turned into a Vezina winner.

    Was it last season's awful playoff collapse? No, I'll let that slide. Gerber is not the first NHL goaltender to have an awful time in their playoff debuts.

    What was it? How about his performance during the entire season? Did you ever consider that?

    Now, at the time the Carolina Hurricanes signed Gerber, I gave them the thumbs up for the transaction. Gerber did very well for the Ducks as a backup, and had a great season during the lockout. Gerber cost only $1mil in salary and had a good pedigree. He deserved the change and he rewarded the Canes with solid goaltending and a franchise record 38 wins.

    38 wins!! Yes, the shiny 38 wins that blinded you and caused you to blow your wad and sign Gerber to a $11mil/3 season deal that pretty much sets the guy up for life. I know it can be hard for an old school GM like you to look past his 38-14 record, but that's exactly what you SHOULD HAVE DONE!

    Let's dig a little deeper, and see that his 90.6SV% and 2.78GAA were not all that impressive. Gerber ranked about average in his goaltending statistics behind a Stanley Cup winning team. Even the Blues' Curtis Sanford was better than Gerber.

    The Canes won so many games thanks to their great offence as supposed to the goaltending of Martin Gerber.

    Plus, signing a goaltender named after baby food is considered bad luck on Romulus.

    So, the next time you go out into the free agent market to sign a goaltender (if you even get the chance), dig a little deeper and look past the W-L record to know what you are really getting. Would you buy a car simply on the brand name and paint job? Maybe you would, but you'd likely get burned.



    PS: Meszaros for Morrison?

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    Wednesday, November 15, 2006


    MUP: Most Useless Player

    Thanks to the rapid expansion of the NHL to 30 teams over the past decade, the door has opened up for some very marginal talent to enter the NHL ranks and make a decent career for themselves. Unfortunately, not every player is all that good or all that useful, yet they are somehow afforded a job.

    When constructing a roster, it's usually the norm to give every player some sort of role: Scorer, playmaker, penalty killer, grinder, goon, waterboy, etc. Now, what if you have a player that brings absolutely nothing to the table? He'd sound kind of useless, wouldn't he?

    Thus, the inspiration for the Brian Savage Award for Most Useless NHL player.

    This doesn't necessarily mean the worst, mind you. Wade Belak and Derek Boogaard are terrible players, but at least they can pound the snot out of people and have some use to their teams.

    No, a truly useless player possesses absolutely no positive attributes or ability to play any sort of role.

    What makes a player useless? A useless player possesses all of the following attributes.

    1. Lack of offensive ability
    2. Lack of defensive ability
    3. Lack of physical presence beyond average
    4. Lack of fighting skills
    5. Lack of leadership skills beyond average
    6. Lack of hustle, intangibles, etc... beyond average

    Yes, there are NHL players who fit this mould. Let's look at some of the 'best' candidates.

    1. Ryan Johnson, St. Louis Blues: Ryan Johnson, the younger bro of Greg Johnson, has somehow managed to piece together a career of 420 games despite being extremely useless. 73 points and a -75 in those 420 career games show you just how great he is.

    His best offensive year was the 20-point effort he had as a Lightning in 2000-01. With the Blues last season, Johnson put up a stinky -21 and 9 points in 65 games.

    For the Blues, he doesn't kill penalties, because he can't. He doesn't produce any offence, because he has little talent. He doesn't fight much (153 career PIM), play all that physical, or provide anything of value. Despite this, he gets a regular 10 minutes of ice time and a night and makes well over the minimum ($700k+).

    SO, for playing so many games and earning such a nice salary while doing absoluting nothing but sucking, I'll have to award Ryan Johnson with the 1st Brian Savage Award.

    The runners up.

    2. Mark Rycroft, Colorado Avalanche: The former St. Louis Blue and linemate of Johnson's, Rycroft is pretty much a Ryan Johnson clone, only Rycroft was never drafted while Johnson was a 2nd round pick!

    Somehow, Coach Q thought Rycroft was the answer to replace Brad May's utter suckiness, but Joel forgot that Rycroft can't fight and doesn't hit.

    In 174 career games, Rycroft has just 36 points and 84 PIMs with a -13. He's an atrocious skater and can't be used on the penalty kill, and he'll never produce offensively.

    3. Jeff Hoggan, Boston Bruins:

    Another former St. Louis Blues forward, Hoggan has just 65 games under his belt, but 9 points and an impressive -20 with just 48 PIM. Hoggan does show more speed and hustle than either Johnson or Rycroft, but it's not like that helps Hoggan do anything of value for the Ruins. Hoggan's prime ability is to handle 5-6 puckbunnies at once, therefore saving the star players from wasting their energy on sinful pursuits.

    Dishonourable Mention:

    4. Steve Goertzen, Columbus Dinner Jackets: Only the BJs would find it in their hearts to dress a mediocre WHL player (yes, he was a 3rd liner in juniors!) 42 times over the past two seasons. In those 42 games, Goertzen has 0 points (what a shocker) and he's -17!

    To his benefit, Steve has played only 5 games this year as the BJs probably realize that he shouldn't really be on the big club, plus Goertzen does have a good work ethic and can punch people up once in awhile. Still, this guy should simply not be on an NHL roster. You might as well just concede a goal for every game this guy plays.

    Those are just 4 examples of NHL players who add nothing to an NHL roster, yet somehow seem to get dressed more often than a guy like Petr Tenkrat. Any other worthy candidates I may have been overlooking?

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006


    Why Does Greg Millen Hate Freedom?

    The NHL announced that it will be handing out something, on a monthly basis, called the Mark Messier Award.

    Naturally, I was curious as to why the NHL would award somebody for being a selfish, prickly, think-for-himself asshole that conspires with the team's GM to get rid of players he doesn't like and demands a role well above his current abilities.

    Alas, it appears the award is going to be a bit different than that.

    With input from the league, Messier will select a player each month who best exemplifies leadership qualities both on and off the ice. A leader of the year award will also be handed out at the end of the regular season.

    Considered by many to have been the greatest captain in hockey history, the fiery Messier wore the "C" while leading the 1990 Oilers and 1994 Rangers to the Stanley Cup — becoming the only player ever to captain two teams to an NHL title.

    That's right you mediots, just keep perpetrating that shop-worn myth that Mark Messier is the greatest leader in professional sports, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

    It's amazing how the structural inertia of a media-made reputation is almost impossible to change at times.

    Not only does the bald-headed buttwipe get an award named after him, but he's now popping his shiny dome into the broadcast booth.

    Recently retired National Hockey League superstar Mark Messier will join Versus' game coverage at least six times during the league's regular season, as well as during the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
    Didn't Messier state that he would pretty much not watch any hockey once he had retired? I guess his ego just wasn't bring stroked enough and he needed his 'fix'.


    Meanwhile, the Columbus Dinner Jackets did something right for once and fired crappy coach Gerard Gallant. Members of the Gilbert Brule fanclub might have a reason for optimism.

    Gerard Gallant took the fall for the Columbus Blue Jackets' slow start and was fired by the NHL team on Monday.

    President and GM Doug MacLean was forced to make the move after watching his team get off to a 5-9-1-0 start. Columbus has yet to qualify for the post-season since coming into existence in 2000. "Obviously we haven't been performing as well as we would have liked this season," said MacLean. "It's a tough decision I had to make.

    "It's a sad day for me because Gerry and I go way back and he's a good person. But hopefully we can turn things around now."
    That's right, Doug, it was all Gallant's fault that the BJs have a horrible defence, questionable goaltending, and a lack of offensive firepower. Once again, good hockey organizations have strength at the top, and the BJs won't be a success until the root cause, DOUG MACLEAN, is long gone.

    Anson Carter: 15GP 2-1-3 -5

    He's sure showing them!

    Saturday, November 11, 2006


    A New Reign of Terror Begins!

    PETR TENKRAT *clap* *clap* *clap-clap-clap*

    Not since 2001-02 has the NHL world seen a force of this magnitude.

    Yes, Petr Tenkrat is back, and Greg is drinking himself silly in celebration.

    Petr Tenkrat 1 (Yan Stastny, Mark Mowers)

    Despite getting Gilbert Brule ice time (about 7 minutes) Tenkrat's awesomeness is already apparent as he would be on pace for an 82-goal season if he were to have played every game this season.

    Meanwhile, imprisoned and suppressed Czech players like Tomas Kloucek, Jan Hejda, and Jaroslav Balastik can draw inspiration from Tenkrat's performance and hope that Petr can shed some light on the awful treatment of marginalized Czech players.


    Vindication of a sort

    Boston recalls Petr Tenkrat, Petr Tenkrat scores a goal. Just think where you'd be now, Bruins, if you hadn't dumped him in Providence at the start of training camp...

    Friday, November 10, 2006


    ...but the Flyers suck even more!

    Sure, the Canucks sucked last night, but they haven't sucked all season.

    The same can't be said for the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that has just been so futile that the Borg are saying "We told you so!"

    I just love looking at this train wreck of a club. A coaching change, a GM change, and mind-bogging waiver-wire activity haven't helped this club one bit.
    Let's look at the damage

    Record: 3-11-1 - LAST PLACE IN THE NHL
    Power Play
    : just 8 goals and an 8.8% success rate in 15 games. For a team with Simon Gagne, Peter Forsberg, and Joni Pitkanen, this is inexcusable.

    The Flyers have 4 players with a -10 or worse after just 15 games: Mike Richards (-11), Kyle Calder (-11), Joni Pitkanen (-12), and Derian Hatcher (-17).

    Chewbacca is on pace to finish with 0 points and -93 is he plays every game as well as he's played so far this season.

    The goalies?
    Antero Niittymaki has numbers that aren't good, but don't cause earthquakes (3.07GAA and 88.7SV%)
    Rebound Machine? 5.31GAA and 81.4SV%. Even Martin Brochu could have done better.

    Peter Forsberg - It's VERY odd to see him with more goals (5) than assists (4). He's also racked up 34 PIM this season, which is usually what he gets for an entire year. He has 8 chinsy minors and one game where he took 18 PIM. Is Peter getting frustrated?

    Forsberg doesn't even have a single assist since October 14th! How does Forsberg go almost an entire month without an assist? (and he's not even injured!). Again, I blame Ingmar.

    Will it get better? Mike Knuble and Jeff Carter are now both on the IR, and new coach John Stevens (who the hell is he?) hasn't proven himself to yet be an able coach. They still keep Rebound Machine around and give Chewbacca 20 minutes of ice time per game more than he should be getting.

    Colon Campbell even rejected the GM position with the Flyers after realizing a cushy job with the NHL is much better than having Ed Snider tell you which over-the-hill rejects to sign to 4-year deals.

    It couldn't happen to a nicer city ;) (although I'd get much more joy if this was the Maple Leafs)


    Yes, kids, the Canucks are teh sux0rz.

    “They sucked!”

    That pretty much sums up the Vancouver Canucks last night as they got blasted by the Anaheimlich Ducks 6-0.

    It’s frustrating enough to watch your team get shut out, but it’s excruciating to watch them get pwned like they were an AHL club. Like going to a really bad strip club, there was no satisfaction and absolutely no payoff. The only good thing I can say is that I wasn’t one of those idiot Yaletown Yuppies who paid $100 to go see such a stinker.

    Sure, the shots on goal might not look like a lopsided effort (27-20 for the Ducks), but it was obvious the Ducks only allowed the Canucks any shots on goal to pad up the SV% of JS Giguere. There was absolutely nothing positive to say about the Canucks’ effort last night.

    Are the Canucks supposed to be a playoff team? I’m just not seeing it. How can the Canucks make the playoffs with a lineup less offensive than a Bill Cosby monologue?

    Roberto Luongo/Dany Sabourin – If we wanted Cloutier/Skudra-level goaltending, we would have kept the original Cloutier/Skudra tandem. Start stopping pucks and stop sucking ass.

    Trevor Linden – I’m sorry, but you are D-O-N-E. Linden doesn’t score, doesn’t hit, and takes so long to get to the puck that I could watch a Kevin Costner flick AND go to the washroom before he gets there. The Canucks would be better off calling up Rick Rypien and getting someone who brings something to the proverbial table.

    Edler/McIver/Coulombe – I realize you guys are quite young and didn’t expect to be here, but STOP MAKING MISTAKES! JUST STOP IT!

    Mattias Ohlund – This guy’s defensive game has fallen off a cliff this season. Ohlund was -4 last night and now has 24 PIM (12 minors) in 17 games. I blame Ingmar.

    the Ducks improved to 12-0-4 -- topping the league's previous best start of 15 games by the 1984 Edmonton Oilers (12-0-3).

    "Obviously the Oilers were an unbelievable team and they won a few championships so it's an honor to break their record," O'Brien said of the Ducks, who have benefited from the new standings and the elimination of ties.

    It’s disgusting that this ‘record’ is even mentioned. Without the shootout and point for overtime losses, the Ducks wouldn’t have had those silly bonus points to begin with. The Ducks start is NOT better than the 1984 Edmonton Oilers and shouldn’t ever be discussed in those same terms.

    Oh, and the Ducks are hella boring. I realize this year’s Canucks are about as exciting as any Margaret Atwood book, but a top team like the Ducks ought not to induce drowsiness. Not even NyQuil is at potent as watching the Ducks clog up the neutral zone like a hairball.

    This picture from the Tom Kurvers Fan Club sums up this season perfectly.

    Vancouver Canucks

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006



    Johan Hedberg's had the hot hand in Atlanta lately (and as I write this, naturally, he's given up two first-period goals to Ottawa), and it's made him the flavor-of-the-month down here -- even just one month into his Thrasher career.

    Hedberg's one of those guys I routinely forget is still in the league, since his brief moment of glory as a hot Penguins rookie earlier in the decade. When he signed with the Thrashers this off-season, I was surprised that he hadn't been playing in Europe, and was more surprised he'd been with Dallas -- how did I not hear about that? I vaguely remember him playing for the Canucks at some point, which is more or less the death knell for any goalie, so I figured he was backing up Peter Skudra somewhere in Bulgaria or something.

    So, I was pleased to see he was still around -- it was like finding out that your old high school friend hadn't ended up in jail, as everyone predicted -- and more pleased to see him start doing really well once Kari Lehtonen faltered a bit.

    But I wasn't expecting to find him already a fan favorite when I (belatedly) attended my first Thrashers game of the season Monday night (5-3 over the Bruins). People already had moose antlers and Hedberg jerseys. Calls of "Mooooooooooooooooose" echoed through the arena after good saves (and he made some great ones). Atlanta fans have quickly gravitated to goalies in the past -- Pasi Nurminen had perhaps the most dedicated cheering section of any player in the team's short history -- but even this is a bit weird.

    (And Hedberg has given up two more goals since I started writing this, and been yanked for Lehtonen with the Thrashers trailing 4-2. Note to self: don't start posts while the game is on)

    Couple other Thrasher notes from my first time seeing them live:

    * Much has been made about Ilya Kovalchuk's new commitment to defense, but all that means is that he's playing it, not that he's playing it well. Kovy on the point is still a rather nervous proposition -- it can result in goals, goals, goals (as it did against Boston) or a whole lot of odd-man rushes the other way (as it has tonight).

    * Marian Hossa, meanwhile, may be the best thing ever to happen to this team. Not really the most daring comment to make ("Brad Larsen is the best thing ever to happen to this team" would be more interesting), but the other night just reminded me what a joy he is to watch, fantastic in all areas. Ilya got the hat trick the other night, but Hossa was the best player on the ice.

    * The defense was a major source of concern heading into this season, but it looked solid the other night, and the more suspect members of the corps (Exelby, Sutton, Hnidy) all looked calm and reliable, a far cry from the messes of last season. None of the frequent defensive-zone turnovers, blue-line giveaways, sloppy stickwork. Maybe poor Jaroslav Modry was the problem? Maybe Vitali Vishnevski, funny as he looks, is the "steadying influence" of legend?

    Meanwhile, Senators-Thrashers is 4-4. Blogger problems and work have rendered this whole thing somewhat irrelevant.


    Typo of teh Day: TSN Blows...

    Even with a Stanley Cup win and the support of Ric Flair, the Carolina Hurricanes just can't get any respect from the major Canadian mediot outlets.

    A screenshot from this morning's ICE CHIPS at
    Lindsay Lohan

    Who said what to who?

    (hat tip to 'board now')

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006


    Tomas Kaberle: From Gun Shy to Trigger Happy?

    Toronto Maple Leafs fans are notoriously Anti-European. Call it the Don Cherry Disease, or just a general "We want to be like Americans" attitude of the city, but European players have to fight a lot harder to earn the respect of Leafs Nation.

    Doug Gilmour? Wendel Clark? Tie Domi? These good old Canadian boys are revered as demi-gods. Borje Salming, Nik Antropov, Alexander Mogilny, Robert Reichel, Mats Sundin, Dmitri Mironov, and Tomas Kaberle? They are just soft 'Europeen' pussies. (Although Sundin seems to have finally earned some respect, it took him an awful long time to do so).

    The one player who has had to put up with far too much crap than he deserves is Tomas Kaberle. A great 2-way defenseman, he can never seen to do any good in the eyes of many Leafs fans.

    One of the main criticisms of Kaberle's play is that he just doesn't SHOOT(!) enough for the Leafers. Kaberle, as he has admitted many times, always looks to pass first and shoot second. As a European trained defenseman, he was brought up to QB the Power Play with passing skills and setups, while letting the forwards take the shots with more high-percentage plays. Putting the puck back to the blue-line for a shot on goal is not as desirable of an option for European coaches as North American coaches.

    With Kaberle already at 6 goals this season (including a recent hat-trick), I've heard a few Leafers comment something along the lines of "It's about frickin' time!"

    It's not that Kaberle can't shoot. Tomas has got a blast that would make Peter North jealous. So, is the criticism valid?
    Looking at the numbers, I can see their point. Before the lockout, Tomas reached the century mark in shots only once, and his high was 1.45 shots per game. For an offensively talented defenseman, that tally is in Craig Janney territory of gun shyness.

    After the lockout, and an MVP season in the Czech Extraliga, Tomas has been shooting the puck more and getting good results. Sure, the shot% last year stunk, but he racked up a lot more assists on the Power Play. When not setting up a Bryan McCabe blast, Kaberle's shots were creating more opportunities.

    It's nice to see Tomas showing more confidence in his shooting. Being less predictable on the Power Play will only make him even deadlier as the lanes open up for him as defenders second guess themselves. It would be in his best interest to keep his shots-per-game at a level of 2 per game.

    Monday, November 06, 2006


    Are the Thrashers bad for your health?

    When you go to a hockey game, you know to expect some danger. Flying pucks, t-shirts shot from a cannon, some fat guy who likes to take off his shirt, and maybe a dead octopus are all dangers we expect to face at a hockey game.

    How about an epileptic seizure?

    Yes, the Atlanta Thrashers celebrate their goals with special effects right out of an episode of Japanese Seizure Robots.

    The video evidence is clear. This looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Saturday, November 04, 2006


    Hejda Lives!

    Lost in the furor over Edmonton's Friday night loss is a Jan Hejda sighting. Up until last night, he was one of the members of a rather unfortunate club -- guys who began the year on a NHL roster, weren't sent down, weren't injured, but also weren't making it into any games. After last night, by my count, the only remaining players who haven't played are Travis Green of Anaheim, Jon Klemm and Mathias Tjarnqvist of Dallas, and Rob Davison of the Sharks. All, presumably, green with envy over Hejda's 14:29.

    I caught a little bit of the game -- I was at work, and miracle of miracles, it was on -- and as you might expect from someone who hadn't been in a game since the preseason, he sometimes showed bursts of energy, other times looked like he was unsure how the sharp things on his feet worked. He went -1, no shots, no PIM. Hell, I am (and I presume Jes is) just happy to see him get into a game. Hopefully he'll be back in soon, so that he's not one of those poor souls who goes into the record book with one game, no points, forever and ever.


    Mike McGoo Strikes Again!

    As if the hockey world needed further proof that Mick "McGoo" McGeough was one of the worst officials in the NHL, Mickey did us Canucks fans a favour and basically decided that the Edmonton Oilers would lose to the Dallas Stars last night.

    Even the referee agreed the Edmonton Oilers might have gotten a bad break in Friday's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.

    With just four seconds left to play in the game, Ales Hemsky looked like he had scored on Dallas goalie Marty Turco but referee Mick McGeough called the goal off. He had blown the whistle a heartbeat before on the face-off, convinced that Shawn Horcoff had made a glove pass off the draw.

    It was something the replays showed did not occur.

    Upon further reflection, McGeough agreed.

    "It was a blown call on my part," he said after the game. "It was poor judgment on my part. I thought he had his hand on the puck on the face-off but it was his stick. My judgment was poor on the play."
    Yes, I know, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. It just seems McGoo makes a lot more of them than others.

    As a Canucks fan, I can't be too disturbed that the Oilers get another notch in the loss column. I'd also be tempted to buy the guy a beer myself. I mean, what we all need is to hear Edmonton Oilers fans cry even more than they already do.

    As an aside, an idea I know would never happen: Award the Oilers a point. If there is such an obviously botched call that DID cost the Oilers a point (You can argue all you want that Dallas would have scored in regulation again but you'd know your full of crap), the Oilers should get a special point in the league for OFFICIAL INCOMPETANCE. If they review every goal 500 times and everyone knows the Oilers got jobbed, then give them the point they should have had.

    Edmonton Coach Craig MacTavish:
    "It was a retarded call," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish snapped. "There is no other explanation for it. I know he is a veteran official and at times I have found his antics humorous. But if this is the product of that there is a problem.

    "It was a ridiculous call. I had no idea what he had called. Nobody saw the hand pass on the play because quite clearly there wasn't one. It's beyond reason.

    "He should be suspended."
    Better yet, how about make him sing "Three Blind Mice" before the next Oilers game he officiates?

    Mike W at Covered in Oil:

    I'm probably too mad (drunk? yeah, drunk) to spend much time writing about this, but um, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!? I'm still trying to figure out if referee Mick McGeough is even allowed to make the call that ultimately cost us the game, let alone how it makes me feel.

    It's bad enough that MacT says it's retarded -- especially when there's a trainer named Joey Moss with Down's Syndrome four feet away when he's making the quote. You know he's mad. As we all should be.


    You know, the referees can complain about botched calls being shown on the scoreboard all they want but if a player makes a mistake, he's accountable in that it will gets shown. What makes the referees so special? This drives me nuts at baseball games - the Blue Jays won't show close plays either.

    Just complete bush league by the NHL. Out of curiosity, did the whistle even blow on the glove pass? It that's why Hemsky was so open, fair enough. I didn't hear it though.

    There's a nice shot of Staios on the bench after that bastard McGeough butchered that call screaming "You fat fuck!" Games like this, I wish that the Oilers had Jim Schoenfeld on the bench so that he could go and confront McGeough in the hallway after the game. They should fire Craig Simpson, let the players run the PP and hire Schoenfeld to fill the position of referee disturber.

    Andy @ The Battle of Alberta:

    If MacT gets fined for his comments about Mick McGeough, I think we should help pay it. I could even set up a Pay Pal account. Sure, he's a rich man, but he's gonna take that bullet for all of us. It would be a nice symbolic gesture...

    Oh and one more thing. Craig MacTavish is my favorite coach in forever but he needs to apologize about that "retarded" remark last night. As galling as that call was and it was made worse by the fact that the ref involved is a pure ham sandwich but what he said was way over the line. I understand that word has evolved into a less vicious one over the years and I'm even prepared to allow that younger generations are unaware of the sting that retarded has to people my age but Craig MacTavish IS my age and he needs to make that right.

    re·tard1 (r-tärd)
    To cause to move or proceed slowly; delay or impede

    Yes, MacTavish should apologize for using the wrong verb. Idiotic, Stupid, Incorrect, and Just Frickin' Insanely Moronic would have been more correct terms to use.

    In the end, Oilers fans will realize that they are not the only ones who have been jobbed by McGoo over the years. I'm sure we could dig through the archives and find about 750 examples of how the Canucks got screwed by the guy over the years.

    Friday, November 03, 2006


    Jan Bulis: The Emulator!

    I recently came up with the Jan Useless moniker for Jan Bulis. It's a bit mean and may become obsolete if Jan stops sucking more ass than Max Hardcore.

    So, I felt I should come up with something that I could use on a regular basis that wouldn't end up with a bomb letter from the Canucks front office.

    Then, it hit me! (No, not the bomb)

    Who comes to mind as a player who wears #38 and has a nice, shiny, bald head?

    Pavol Demitra, of course!

    So, what's up with Jan Bulis' turn into a Pavol Demitra copycat? Yes, Bulis also wears #38 and also has a chrome dome to match. Isn't that just a little coincidental?

    Jan Bulis used to have hair. He had a Euromullet would have earned him awards and adulation in Kentucky and Milan. Why did he switch to the circumcised penis look?

    Perhaps he's trying to copy Pavol Demitra? Is he 'emulating' his hero?

    EMULATE - to try to equal or excel; imitate with effort to equal or surpass

    At first I thought of UNREASONABLE FACSIMILE as a nickname for Bulis, but it doesn't quite flow off of the tongue as well as THE EMULATOR. Yes, I know dub thee, Jan Bulis, to be The Emulator. Now, if only you'd start producing Demitra-like numbers...

    Thursday, November 02, 2006


    Am I seeing things?!

    Is this for real?

    Scoring Summary
    1st Period

    Vancouver 8:08, Ryan Kesler 1 (Alex Burrows, Lukas Krajicek)

    *rubs eyes*


    PPS: Damn Wilds!! What is the Canucks record against these assholes? 1-52-7?


    11/02/06: Thursday's Thoughts

    Round the hockey world we go...

    1. The Todd Bertuzzi/Alex Bald/Bryan Allen for Roberto Luongo and Lukas Don't Krajicek is looking better with each passing day. Robo is giving us the goaltending we expect, Krajicek looks so smooth and confident and has a lot more potential than Vanilla Ice Allen, and we got rid of a huge tumour.

    Now, it seems Todd Bertuzzi's back is causing him problems. This is most likely the effect of carrying the Canucks on his shoulders for so many years.


    TSN reports:
    Florida Panthers forward Todd Bertuzzi underwent surgery Thursday to repair a herniated disc.

    Head coach and GM Jacques Martin said that Bertuzzi would be re-evaluated next week. The star winger is expected to be out six to eight weeks.

    Bertuzzi has sat out since sustaining back spasms against Washington on October 18. After receiving treatment and injections for the injury, he decided to undergo surgery.
    Not that Bertuzzi was doing great things anyway. Sure, he had 7 points in 7 games, but 4 of those points came in the season-opening game against the woeful Bruins, and his usual attention to defense was evident in his -3. Anyone outside of Yaletown *sucks* missin the guy? Probably not.

    2. Alanah Banana over at VCOE is having a little brainstorming session to come up with nicknames for some of the Canucks players. I added in a few new ones and golden oldies, especially a new moniker for Jan Bulis: JAN USELESS!

    It's mean, cruel, and spiteful, but it's pretty much true.
    In 13 games, Bulis has had a boatload of ice time and has just 2 goals and 4 assists, mainly from breathing the same air as our emotionless, yet talented, Swedes.

    Useless has also picked up Brendan Morrison Disease and has 9 minor penalties in those 13 games. He's not scoring, his defense isn't great, his work ethic wavers, and he takes bad penalties. He's basically Jarkko Ruutu without the mouth.

    3. What do these rich players do with all of their dough? Buy stock in Microsoft? Invest in Spice Girls collectable cards? No, these boys like their toys, especially Mr. Potatohead.

    On any given day off, Gaborik will hop into the seat of his state-of-the-art race-car simulator -- one of only two built by CXC Simulations.

    The simulator is modeled from actual high-performance race cars and Gaborik insists is as close to real as it gets. The seat moves and shakes with the driver and the graphics take you to the Italian Grand Prix in the very same Ferrari driven by champion Michael Schumacher.

    “The guy who built it for me had Indy pro race car drivers drive it and they said it was pretty close,” Gaborik said. “It’s unbelievable. I love that thing. It’s so much fun.”
    And, unlike Dany Heatley, there is no risk of injury and/or loss of life.

    (cheap shot, low blow, yes I know)

    4. Apparently, some asshole lawyer in Quebec wants a Team Quebec at the upcoming World Championships.

    I also want a bag of dill pickle potato chips, Pavol Demitra on the Vancouver Canucks, and a lifetime supply of Cuban dark rum, but you don't see me holding press conferences about it.

    Earth to asshole lawyer, nobody cares what you want. All it would take is for someone like Roberto Luongo to say publicly what a dumbass idea this Team Quebec is to pretty much deflate that tire.

    5. Let's end on a positive note, shall we?
    Here is JP's (of Japers' Rink) favourite music video of all time. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006


    Google Video + NHL = Total W00tness!!

    Thanks to Joe Pelletier for pointing out the fact that Google Video and the NHL have teamed up for a rather big development.


    From Google's Video Blog.

    Wanna see a recent National Hockey League game you missed? How about reliving a classic like Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final between the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks? (Jes: No, not really...)
    To celebrate the NHL's 89th season, starting today fans around the world will be able to watch in-season full-length games on Google Video. Besides watching games, you can also post and view your own content at the same place. So even if you can't make it to the arena to see pucks flying around at 100 mph, Google Video can be your place for fast-paced NHL action. Be careful out there!
    This is an absolutely fabulous development for the NHL, which needs to do anything it can to increase its exposure. Putting so much content out on the internet in one easy-to-access location is clearly a good use of the technology. Right now, you can find games from this season up until the 27th-28th plus selected classic games like the stupid Rangers winning the cup.

    While Joe thinks the NHL will eventually charge for the content, right now it's absolutely free, so go and check it out while you can.

    Should the NHL charge for this content? With the need for exposure, it might be wise for them to keep the content free for some time to build up an audience and exposure. It's not like the NHL is posting games from last night, and I can't really see anyone paying something like $2.99 per game.

    Perhaps charging a lump-sum yearly/monthly would be a wiser choice. I can see some paying a decent monthly fee for the right to watch any game at any time. Missed your team's easy win over the Blackhawks from last week? Got a broken VCR? Well, just fire up Google Video and there ya go.


    Don't worry, folks, I haven't had any thoughts of stringing myself from the ceiling with a rope of shoelaces at the news that the Dinner Jackets waived Herr Balastik. In fact, I'm rather giddy at the prospect that Jaro may get a chance with another organization (how could the Blackhawks pass on him when they need help badly?)

    Go figure that the BJs lost again tonight. They scratch Jaro and give Brule fewer minutes than I have fingers. Until they get some people who know what they are doing, and some defense, they are destined to suck like K-Fed's latest 'rap' album.

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