Friday, June 27, 2008


Pre-Vacation Ponderings

To readers of this blog and those of you who landed here thanks to searching Google for "Mike Comrie boinked Salo's Wife", I'll be on vacation in sunny Tofino for the next 10 days. Don't be alarmed that I am MIA. I need the break from you :)

Sure, I'll miss the free agency frenzy, but maybe it's better that I don't see how badly Gillis screws this franchise, or fails to deliver anything but scrubs like Kyle Softwood.


As an aside, I am looking for a co-blogger to add to Hockey Rants. As you may have noticed, Greg hasn’t posted here since Scott Lachance last scored an NHL goal. His work has kept him very busy, so we need a replacement.

Do you have a blog that you've struggled with? Have the itch to blog about hockey and rant your head off? Think Pavol Demitra should be in the Hall of Fame?

If so, click the contact links on the left side and give me a shout. This site could use another good voice.

Some thoughts from our Southern Correspondent, Wayne:

WTF was Don Waddell (hockey killer) doing drafting a 6'1" 158 lbs. project center at the end of the first round? We need a center who can step in right away and feed Ilya the puck, along with getting garbage goals...

This guy (Levielle...isn't that what they play in the Army to wake you up in the morning?) is expected to go on to college and play at least 3 years...Great; by the time he suits up and plays for the Thrashers (after college and the minors), John McCain will be running for re-election...

Now, I'll have to disagree strongly with Wayne on this topic.

1. The only SAFE pick is a Crosby/Ovechkin type. Every other pick has an element of risk, and only the true superstars will deliver value. With 18 and 19-year old kids, you can never truly project how they'll develop.

2. When I hear SAFE pick, I always think of 'low ceiling'. Just because a guy is defensively responsible and has a good work ethic doesn't mean he is a safe pick.

Remember who was a safe pick? Nathan Smith. Yeah, look how that turned out.

Give me the guy with the highest ceiling any day, unless his attitude is complete rotten (Alexander Volchkov).

3. Never draft by positional need, unless you have a glut of 15 goaltenders.

Look, kids can rarely ever step in and make a positive impact in the lineup. How many draft picks step in right away? How many of those who do make a positive contribution? Hell, even Joe Thornton and Vinny Lecavalier sucked the big one in their rookie seasons.

By the time a draftee develops, which can be 1-5 years, the organizations positional needs will likely have changed. By the time your #1 centerman prospect develops, you may very well already have a good 1-2 centerman punch.

Simply put, you should follow the cliché and draft the best talent available. If you get a glut later on, then you make deals.

4. If you want to fill a need, then you need to sign and/or trade to fill that hole. Mr. 18-year old is not going to fill that #3 checking winger spot you need filled, is he?

5. They play the "Reveille" in the army :), and I play Reveillark in MTG. Booya!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008


Kyle Wellwood: Damaged Goods

When the Canucks picked Kyle Wellwood off of waivers, I didn't think too much of it, other than we're getting a risky Leafs castoff.

Then, I did a little more research, and I'm not liking what I'm seeing.

First, the injury history. It's not good news when any player has groin troubles, but how can a guy have to need THREE different surgeries on the area before they reach 30? Not to mention the fact that Wellwood broke his foot playing soccer earlier this off-season ... yeesh ...

The real cause for these injuries? Piss poor conditioning.

Take this diatribe from a Leafs fan over at "He Score, He Shoot!"
To say that Kyle is a baby-faced guy is the understatement of the century unless you quickly follow it up with "baby-bodied", "baby-legged" and "baby-conditioned". Everything on him is round. Kyle is so out of shape, he wouldn't make it in my league; and my league features Wash, who regularly samples an entire tasting menu with wine minutes before a game.

Everything about Wellwood's shit season can be attributed to the fact that last summer, the heaviest lifting he did was hauling the empty 2-4 case out of the back of the pickup and into his local LCBO. How do we know? Because unbelievably, Wellwood's dad said so last year before training camp.

Want proof?

How about this picture of his beer belly doing some hard rehab with his puckbunny girlfriend.

Second, Wellwood's style of play. The boy is soft, and not just his stomach, and also very small. 5'10"? With skates on ... Wellwood doesn't take the body, and doesn't shoot enough.

Basically, we have a tiny Power Play specialist in the mold of Herbert Vasiljevs.


Welcome to the Mike Gillis era.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It's Housecleaning Time in Toronto

Well, "Trader Cliff" Fletcher is certainly not your typical Interim GM. Besides, being given the reigns for at least a season, and not just 1-2 months, it seems Fletcher has been tasked with leaving a clean slate for the new GM (Burkie?) to work with.

Instead of just sitting back and waiting for his sponge bath, Fletcher has been busy cleaning house and getting rid of garbage stowed away in the attic.

Witness ...

1. Waiving Andrew Raycroft - one of JFJ's biggest mistakes was giving this young goalie a monster contract. Raycroft wilted in Toronto and never found the form he found in his rookie season. Raycroft is too expensive to be a backup goalie and simply not good enough.

2. Waiving Kyle Wellwood - This move shocks me somewhat, even if Wellwood is a midget and soft on the body. Wellwood is young, offensively talented, and isn't too expensive. You'd think Wellwood would stick around for at least another season.

Then again, the guy did only get 21 points last year in 59 games and is very suspect defensively. The Leafs are obviously worried about his ability to stay healthy, also.

3. Waiving/Buying-Out(?) Darcy Tucker - Love him or hate him, you know Tucker is an effective pest who can occasionally put the puck in the net. He's also overpaid at $3mil per season, and has had problems staying healthy. With his age (33) and his style of play, you know Darcy is an asset that will depreciate quickly.

4. Not going after Mats Sundin - Even if the Leafs don't intend to compete, this is a move that I think is a poor one. Besides being Mr. Maple Leaf, Sundin is also one of the most bankable, consistent offensive producers in the game. You can always count on Sundin to provide about a point-a-game whilst staying healthy. If Sundin wants to stay, why not sign him? It's not as if the Leafs don't have cap room.

I've been extremely critical of the way fossil Fletcher was brought on board and critical of the way the Leafs have managed their franchise since ... forever. Instead of finding a talented GM to chart a new course, the Leafs decided on some old guy to come in and simply 'hold the fort'.

That said, I have to commend the fact that Fletcher is not afraid to clean up some of the mess left behind and ensure that the GM-to-be doesn't have to waste time on such endeavors. While being in a 'holding pattern' for a season is a poor way to manage a club, Fletcher seems intent on at least allowing the Leafs to start fresh and not simply hang onto whatever chaff they have on board.

The fact is, JFJ signed a lot of players to deals that pay them too much: Jason Blake, Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, and Pavel Kubina. With the Leafs not being a very good team, it's obvious that some of these expensive players had to be let go in order to leave room for any future business.

As long as Fletcher doesn't spend this new-found cap room on aging vets in a stupid attempt to make the playoffs, the Leafs are, shockingly, looking like they might know what they are doing.

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Monday, June 23, 2008


Monday Morning Musings

The more things change, the more they stay the same *sigh*

Mike Gillis' reign of error as GM of the Canucks thus far has not been much different than the man he chopped to pieces in the media. (Nonis, FYI)

I figured since Gillis, who NEVER smiles, is going to gut the scouting staff, and would have dealt the 1st Rounder to another team.

Instead, Gillis got greedy, couldn't get a deal done, and ended up with Cody Hodson.

Now, reading Hodson's scouting reports, he's not a BAD pick for the 10th slot, he's just ... boring.

The Canucks have a history of taking boring '2-way' forwards with a rather low ceiling. Remember Nathan Smith? Hell, as hard as Ryan Kesler works and as well as he skates, he's not putting up big offensive numbers, nor will he ever.

The Canucks' are never going to be a great team if they continue to draft players that have no true "star" potential. Hodson may very well become a solid citizen for the Canucks, but it's highly unlikely he'll ever become an above-average player in the NHL.

The Canucks could have drafted bad boy Kyle Beach, but they went with the conservative pick ... bleh


Speaking of the draft, I was out on Friday and Saturday and was glad I missed to whole thing. How could anyone sit through 4 hours of First Round draft coverage. Yeah, I missed a lot of trades, but that'll allow me to slowly catch up on what went down.

The Canucks could have had Cammalleri, but ended up being rebuffed.

Canadiens got Tanguay and want Sundin. Gainey obviously knows the time is now and is being aggressive. In today's salary cap era, where few teams seem to be able to sustain success, you'll see teams go for broke if they see an opening.

At least the Habs have lots of good young talent, so going after Sundin and Tanguay won't cripple them in the long term.


Some very sad news to report as George Carlin, my favourite comedian and one of the very best, died at the age of 71.

The way Carlin saw the world and the way he talked about the softening of our language made him more than just a jokester. Listening to or reading Carlin's rants can open your eyes to the wicked ways of the world.

And, of course, those "seven dirty words that can't be said over the air."
"There will always be language taboos in any culture. There are aspects of our bodies that certain religions have put beyond the pale. I don't think it's cheapened our discourse. I think it limits people," he said. "I've always said I enjoy using all the language. Human beings invented all of this language. When I was a little boy, I was told to look up to policemen and look up to sports stars, and look up to the military. And we all know how they speak. Apparently it hasn't corrupted them morally. So. I think these words are overrated for their power."

Frat-boys like Dane Cook might be able to fill some arenas, but they will NEVER be 1/100 as funny or relevant as Carlin.


Speaking about humour, the boys at 2 Man Advantage are back with another hilarious episode.

Hungry Hungry Hippos + New York Islanders = Loads of fun.

2 Man Advantage hang out with a few Islanders on Islanders Illustrated and grill newbie Kyle Okposo. This is the kind of quality fan-made content that makes the Mainstream media less relevant in our lives.

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Friday, June 20, 2008


Is the KHL the New WHA?

In the last decade, we've seen the Russian Superleague dish out some very lucrative US$ contracts to NHL-caliber players. Despite the fact that Superleague tickets, like most European teams, are dirt cheap, and the attendance in most arenas isn't more than a few thousand, some salary structures of RHL clubs rival that of the lower-scale NHL clubs.

Now, this new KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) is threatening to expand this toss-money-around mentality akin to the old days of the WHA.

The WHA put $1mil together to lure Bobby Hull from the NHL, and now the Russians are trying to do the same with one Evgeni Malkin.

If the new Russian professional hockey league has its way, the National Hockey League career of Hart Trophy candidate Evgeni Malkin will be pretty short.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, the Russian teams are prepared to offer the Russian-born Malkin a contract that would make him the highest-paid hockey player in the world. The multi-year contract would be worth at least $12.5 million tax free per season, or the equivalent of $15 million per year in the NHL.

"Hey, we can afford to pay more than the NHL right now," a high-ranking executive with the Russian league, called the Continental League, told the Star. "Our economy is commodities-based so we're not going through the same problems that you have in America."
Hilarious. This guy really thinks Russia's economy is greater than the US of A's? Yes, Russia has some extremely rich bastards and things are looking up from a decade ago, but the economy of the entire country is hardly strong.

Commodities - That, my friends, is the key word. These Russian teams are owned by billionaire Oil, Energy, and Diamond Barons who need something fun to spend their excess cash on. What better than a hockey team which can double as a tax-shelter? Yes, I know I'm repeating myself from earlier posts, but the point is a good one.

In the NHL, owners actually try and make a profit, either on normal net income or on the sale of their team. Russian owners, such as the ones who want to be in the KHL, know that they'll be losing a lot of their own money. This is an expensive hobby, and a real threat to the NHL.

I know there is an element of "Yeah, right!" to the threat that the KHL could lure NHL players to Russia, but we have to realize that many players simply value their financial situation over playing against the best in the world. Players in Russia pay little or no income tax, which is another big incentive for them to put up with cold Russian winters.

Do you really think Malkin wouldn't take the bait and play in his home country?

If I were the NHL, I would be a bit nervous. These maverick billionaires have no qualms about spending their Monopoly money to overpay NHL stars to show off to their friends.

You know that if this KHL gets under way and doesn't fold within 1-2 years, the NHLPA will be happy. Sure, it means some of their members are going overseas, but it shows the NHL that they'll have to pony up more money if they want to keep the talent on this side of the pond.

As for the IIHF? Shockingly, they are siding with the NHL, but only because Malkin has one year left on his deal with the Penguins:

"We would view any signing, from either side, of a player under a valid contract, who does not have any legally valid out-clause, to be a clear violation of the mutual understanding and existing principle. It would potentially be punishable with suspended national team eligibility and suspension from all competition or activity organized by the IIHF or any IIHF member national association. This would include events like the Olympic Winter Games, the IIHF World Championship or international club competitions like the Champions Hockey League.

Of course, we know the IIHF would hail any true free agents to sign with European clubs. The NHL has long pilfered players from Europe, so envision how Fasel and his cronies would laugh it up as the thought of the KHL pilfering players from North America.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


The NHL vs. MSG. It's Getting Nasty!

Gary Bettman is a classic case of someone with Napoleon Syndrome. You know, a short little runt that has an insatiable taste for power to make up for his physical shortcomings.

Case in point is his personal vendetta (And it IS personal, believe you me) versus MSG for control over their ... website.

Yes, MSG dared not to become part of the collective, and actually likes to do its own thing. While I think it is better for the Rangers to be part of the whole thing, I respect the fact that they want to have their own voice.

The NHL, not liking anyone to step out of line, is threatening some serious legal action.

From the National Post:
The National Hockey League is threatening to strip Madison Square Garden of its ownership of the New York Rangers, WNBC reported Thursday.

According to the report, the NHL is seeking to punish MSG for accusing the league of violating anti-trust laws. On Wednesday, the NHL filed court papers that included a letter from commissioner Gary Bettman notifying MSG that it has begun disciplinary proceedings against the organization.

The league and the Rangers have feuded over control of the team's web site. In September, Madison Square Garden sued the NHL, saying it violated antitrust laws by monopolizing control of team promotions. However, a judge ruled in November that the league was within its right to take control of the web site.

In Wednesday's court filing, the league asked a judge to agree that MSG breached its contract by challenging NHL rules. The NHL further claimed that it can force MSG out of the league.

I am amazed that the judge sided with the league. Shouldn't the team be able to control its own frickin website? Geezus.

The Dolans are rich and powerful, and I am amazed Bettman is throwing such a hissy fit over a website. Do you really think he's going to kick MSG out of the league? I just can't see it happening.

Just call this what it is, rich men with small penises who can't stand to lose control. This is just a small example of why the human race is going to eventually wipe itself out ... people just cannot share.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The HHOF Screws Up Yet Again

Well, the idiots who run the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Glenn Anderson, Igor Larionov, and two other non-player jabronis (Ed Chynoweth, former WHL president in the Builder Category and Ray Scapinello in the Referee/Linesman Category).

I understand that referees and 'builders' contribute a lot to the game, but the fact is that the PLAYERS make the game, and should be put above the officials and rich businessmen who profit from them.

Why is it that we continue to have so many builders and officials inducted while only two players make the cut?


How can these morons induct only two players from the likes of Adam Oates, Phil Housley, Doug Gilmour, Dino Ciccarelli, and the other host of fine players that could have been considered?


Once again, the voters valued playoff exploits heavily as their selection of Glenn Anderson indicates.

Now, Glenn Anderson was certainly a fine player, and his playoff numbers (6 Stanley Cups and 214 points in 225 playoff games) are quite impressive, but was he anything other than a great supporting scorer during his career? Was Anderson ever one of the top players in the game at any one point? Did the HHOF not consider that Anderson is a horrible person who cheats his ex-wife out of alimony, among other lovely character traits?

Glenn Anderson was only ever ONCE in the top ten in scoring in any one season, when he finished with 104 in 1982-83. How many true Hall of Fame forwards, playing on the same frickin team as Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, would ever not make more Top 10's than that?

Meanwhile, superior players in Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour, and Phil Housley get the shaft. Crikey!

Yes, the same Adam Oates who had SEVEN Top 10 scoring finished, also finished with nearly a point-a-game in the playoffs, and sit 15th on the all-time points scoring list.


As for Igor Larionov, I don't mind his induction, although not at the expense of more deserving players. I know Igor would make it eventually, anyway.

At least Vladimir Crouton wasn't inducted.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


HHOF: Should Krutov and/or Makarov Make It?

With the Hockey Hall of Fame set to induct some more members into the holy shrine, everyone and their mothers has an opinion on who should be in.

Joe Pelletier, who is quite knowledgeable about the players who are up for nomination, goes out on a limb and proclaims that Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov should also be inducted, after assuming Igor Larionov's induction.

But are there more deserving European candidates than Larionov? We need not look any further than Larionov's own wingers to find two equally deserving Hall of Fame inductees, perhaps even more worthy - Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov.

Igor Larionov was the unselfish and brainy chessmaster of the KLM Line. With his help, both Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov harnessed their near limitless raw talent and became the best players in the world. I am absolutely convinced that both Krutov and Makarov are among the top 5 wingers of the 1980s. I would suggest only Mike Bossy and Jari Kurri would challenge either for top billing, with Michel Goulet maybe rounding out the top 5.

First, let's get it right out there: The Russians were a bunch of professionals in the guise of 'amateur' status that routinely beat up on true amateurs. Yes, they often did well against NHL competition in the rare times they met (Canada Cup), but not enough to get a true measure of their skill level. If we start inducting the likes of Krutov, then how about Milan Novy and Dzurinda? There are plenty of European players who you could make a case for, eh?

Krutov is an easy NO, given that he has a whopping 34 points in 61 NHL Games.

Yes, after doing very well for the Russian team, Krutov came to North America, got fat, and was out of the NHL after one season. He was 29 at the time, and finished off his career playing in the lower tiers of Swedish hockey. What a way to go, eh?

Unless you are Bobby Orr, you don't get inducted after finishing your good playing days at the age of 29. Krutov didn't prove himself to be at all good against NHL competition, and his career was quite short. At least Larionov proved himself worthy against NHL players. Krutov was simply a Russian-league star on a team that Communist government stacked well, and nothing more.

Makarov? At least his brief NHL career showed that he was a pretty good player. From the ages of 31-38, Makarov put up 384 points in 424 games. Showing that he was a point-a-game player after the age of 30, plus his international achievements, and you have a player that you can make a solid case for, if you do your homework.

In the end, I could see Larionov making it, and maybe Makarov in a very slow year, but never EVER Vladimir Krutov.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008


Dare to Dream: Demitra to the Canucks?

Whilst perusing her CanWest propaganda this fine morning, my girlfriend happened upon Tony Gallagher's latest pennings, and had my ears perking by mentioning those magic words:

"Pavol Demitra"

Oh? What's this?

According to Skeletor (that's Tony G, not my girlfriend), new GM Mike Gillis might be scrapping the Canucks' long-standing Anti-Slovak policy and has shown interest in Pavol.

Speaking of deals, there are also stories circulating around the league that Gillis and the Canucks could end up the subject of an NHL investigation if the GM's former client, Pavol Demitra, should end up signing with Vancouver on or about July 1.

While nobody is saying so officially, the word is that at least one general manager -- one would suspect it would be Doug Risebrough but nobody knows for sure -- is going to make a stink to the league that Gillis might have had improper contact with a player under contract to another NHL team (Minnesota) when the Slovak centre decided to come to Vancouver and be shown around by Markus Naslund.

Gillis wasn't even in town when his former client came to scope out the city, but for some reason somebody is telling at least one well-connected media guy he'll ask the league to look into the possibility of impropriety.

But any such contact would not only be difficult to prove, it would have been totally unnecessary on the GM's part.

The hitch? The Wild aren't really keen on keeping Pavol, but they know that his best friend, Marian Gaborik, would be easier to sign to a long-term deal if his BFF was still on the team.

I don't dare to dream about Pavol playing for the Canucks, because I know I'll have my heart broken. It would just be like the Canucks to end up with somebody crappy like Steven Reinprecht or some other castaway.

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Friday, June 13, 2008


Wayne's World: Musings on the Media

by Wayne, our boy from the South


Last week, in USA TODAY's TV sports section, there was a brief item about several current NFL players going to a TV "Boot Camp" at the NFL Network run by the sainted NFL Films (cue up symphonic warrior-type music). The seminar was to see if these players had what it took to move on to the commentary booth and/or wear the TV blazer when their playing days were over.

I'd like to see the NHL do something similar, but with a twist: have ALL players AND executives (league and team) attend a PR "Boot Camp" run by PR and media-types where they'll all learn how to be a little more media friendly. The instructors should come from both Madison Avenue and TV execs, with the latter not coming from Versus, but from other entertainment channels (E!, Spike TV, VH1) with the idea of getting all involved with the league to loosen up a bit, "let their hair down a little", stop delivering stock answers ("We have a real good organ-eye-zation"), and just get their faces out a little more. (And English lessons for those coming from Europe.)

Last Saturday, Jim McKay died. He was before your time; I wish you were able to see ABC's Wide World of Sports back when it was really good (early 60's-mid 70's). The show broadcast events no one (other than the partcipants) knew existed: Acupulco cliff-diving, demolition derby, sumo wrestling, and other stuff. But McKay (and others) made it so compelling, you couldn't turn away. (That, and there were only THREE networks then).

McKay was also ABC's lead announcer for the Olympic telecasts (ABC WAS the network of the Olympics up to Calgary in Winter '88), which pioneered a feature, first innovative, then later parodied and ridiculed: a feature called "Up Close & Personal", showcasing the athletes from other countries and their personal stories: The gymnast from Romania who was a product of the Communist system, the swimmer from Austria swimming for the memory of his brother dying of cancer, the barefoot track star from Kenya, etc. During the packaged TV obituary on The Worldwide Leader in Sports, Roone Arledge (the Godfather of what we see on sports television today) made a great comment: "You had to know who the people were, so you'd know who to root for."

I mention this because, as I've said too often in these emails, the NHL has no damn clue on how to reach the casual viewer. If pro sports had to depend on the casual fan, the NBA and NHL would've closed up shop years ago. There are way too many announcers who can X-and-O you to death (true for the NFL and NBA as well), but give you no reason to not to change the channel.

Remember that story about Georges Laraque visiting the sick boy? How come you never hear more stories like that? Why can't Versus, NBC, TSN, CBC, and the regional sports nets pool resources to interview players off the ice and tell their stories? Not only that, with more and more players coming from Europe, get on a damn plane and interview Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, et al, during the off season in their native lands?

We can't give charisma transplants to people born without, but the league and broadcast partners need to do something fast if they want to capitalize on the buzz after last week's Cup final...

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Quick Question: Who is Better Off?

Wayne, our ever perky Southern Correspondent, comes to me with a rather hard-to-answer question

In a typical Presidential election year, the candidate whose party is out of office always asks the voters, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Four years ago, NHL fans were about to face a lockout. Three years ago, we finally got back to playing. But are things any better for fans of certain teams? Of these teams, who's better off (or worse off) today than they were three years ago when the playing field was supposed to be leveled financially?

L.A. Kings
Atlanta Thrashers
Florida Panthers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Phoenix Coyotes
Chicago Blackhawks
St. Louis Blues

Or everyone's favorite:

Toronto Maple Leafs

Without having access to the finances of these clubs, it is very hard to comment on if they are truly better off than they were before the lockout

Chicago? They are much better off, simply because "Dollar Bill" Wirtz bit the big one and his spawn 'get it'. The Hawks are on TV (GASP!), have some great young talent, and seem to be getting some buzz in the Windy City.

St. Louis? They were always well off...they have a good fan-base, good corporate sponsorship, and never were in any danger.

The Canadian teams are doing great, but I would opine that they got hurt a lot by the CBA. We know the Canadian teams make a huge chunk of the league's revenues, so we know that these same clubs have to contribute a huge chunk into the revenue sharing pool.

Who benefits? Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, etc.. Oh, the Leafs are in terrific shape, especially since the Canadian dollar is strong, but they likely would be stronger if we were under the old system and the Leafs could keep every dime they make.

Does anyone else have some theories?


Trevor Linden formally announced his retirement today, to little surprise.

I've already done some Linden stuff on this blog, so head on over to FanHouse where I give non-Canucks fans a reason to mourn the NHL's loss.


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


TSN Delivers Groin Shot to CBC

If TSN and CBC were in a UFC-style fight, TSN (via CTV) would be young strapping utilizing the ground-and-pound technique on the old over-the-hill 'ceeb'.

Punch by punch, TSN continues to pound away at CBC's hold on hockey in this country and the CBC doesn't appear to know how to use 'the guard' to defend properly in this fight. The CBC is still alive and kicking, but seems incapable of stopping TSN's offensive tide.

Another big blow was dealt this week as TSN purchased the rights to Canada's other national anthem, the song formerly known as the Hockey Night in Canada theme song. This comes after TSN signed a deal giving them more games to broadcast, featuring more Canadian content.

Watching TSN last night, they spent a LOT of time bragging about their new purchase, and how they delivered an elbow to the face of CBC.

I mean, look at the headline: "CTV SAVES 'THE HOCKEY THEME' SONG". As if TSN is the saviour protecting hockey fans from the evil cheapness of CBC.

Brilliant PR, methinks.

Toronto, ON - CTV Inc., together with Copyright Music & Visuals, today announced that CTV Inc. has acquired all rights to 'The Hockey Theme' in perpetuity, preserving the song's legacy and ensuring it will be heard on national television for years to come. 'The Hockey Theme' song will now live on CTV Inc. properties TSN, RDS and across Canada on CTV during coverage of the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Olympics as outlined below.

"The song has a long and storied history in Canadian sports and has become ingrained in the hearts and minds of hockey fans across the country. It is an iconic tune, embraced by Canadians everywhere, and we felt it was imperative to save it. We know we will be in hockey forever, so there's no doubt this acquisition will create value for us," said Rick Brace, President, Revenue, Business Planning and Sports, CTV Inc. "It's an honour and a privilege to own such a cherished piece of Canadiana

The problem, as I see it, is that the song will always be known as the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, and part of CBC's Saturday night coverage. The song can never be truly owned by TSN, because folks like me will always associate it with CBC, Don Cherry, Ron MacLean, and so on.

The song is classic, strong, and ... not modern. TSN is all about the fancy graphics, state-of-the-art technology, and being 'cool'. The song just doesn't fit TSN's theme, and is akin to having your 55-year old step-mom go to the mall wearing a pink Hannah Montana t-shirt.

It just doesn't seem right, does it?


DJ Gallo, a funny writer (and part-Slovak!) over at ESPN's Page 2, 'found' a letter that the NHL wrote to Tiger Woods after the golfer/corporate whore slagged the NHL.

Good stuff!

(Original Link)

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Monday, June 09, 2008


Holistic Hockey Hall of Fame Picks

Over at his Legends of Hockey site, author Joe Pelletier has a look at the potential candidates to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 8 eight days time.

Joe has gone so far as to do his own Power Rankings, although I have no idea what criteria he used other than his own encyclopedic knowledge of the game.

Here is his power rankings, with a couple of his comments left in there.
Doug Gilmour
Igor Larionov
Pavel Bure - The Russian Rocket was the game's most electrifying and explosive scorer in the 1990s. But his career was cut short by injuries. If Cam Neely got in, so will Pavel.
Adam Oates
Dino Ciccarelli
Sergei Makarov
Claude Lemieux
Glenn Anderson - Clutch playoff performer is one of the top 5 playoff scorers in most offensive categories. But the squeaky clean selection committee does not like his off-ice reputation.
Boris Mikhailov
Anatoli Firsov
Tom Barrasso
Pat Verbeek
Mike Richter

Others: Mark Howe, Neal Broten, Phil Housley, Mike Vernon, Andy Moog, Rogie Vachon, Wendel Clark, Dale Hunter and Guy Carbonneau.


Now, if I had a vote, you can be sure the HHOF would not include the likes of Clark Gillies. I'm not as anal as some Baseball HOF voters, but I think the HHOF should include only the very best. Playoff success is not a great measure of a player given how a guy like Gillies can simply get lucky to be where he was. Poor Marcel Dionne was one of the very best, yet he was stuck on crappy LA Kings teams and never got close to the Stanley Cup.

If I was to pick 3+1 players to get into the HHOF, my picks would be
1. Adam Oates
2. Phil Housley
3. Mark Howe
4. Boris Mikhailov

I add the +1 candidate because I believe the HHOF should keep 'International' players in a separate light, especially if they spent the majority or all of their careers outside of the NHL. Less and less players do so, but it's important to recognize the Mikhailov's.

Now, some explanations

Adam Oates vs. Doug Gilmour - I know the media love Gilmour, and will select him over Oates, but I consider Oates the superior player. Oates ranks higher in career assists, points, and points created per game than "Killer"

Phil Housley - I know the waif-like Housley is easily panned by most hockey fans, but how can the HHOF possibly leave out one of the best offensive defensemen to ever play the game?

He ranks 18th in career assists, 4th among D-men, ranks 36th in points all-time, and, until recently, was the king of all American point scorers.

Mark Howe - Unfortunately, I know that Mark Howe will never make the HHOF, despite his family pedigree.

Howe was simply one of the league's best defensemen back in the mid-early 80s, overshadowed only by the likes of Coffey, Potvin, and Bourque. Those Flyers teams were hard to score against, and Howe was the prime reason.

Oh, as a defenseman, he also ranks 24th(!) all time in shorthanded goals with 28, and ranks 11th all time with a +/- of +400. Howe was a complete defenseman, but barely ever got his due.

Bure - While Neely was voted in, Bure will not. The media love "Sea Bass", but see Bure as nothing short of a 'pouty cherry-picking Russian'. Sorry, Pavel

Larionov - I'd bet on him making it, but I'd rather take Mikhailov as the 'International' pick. Larionov's NHL career wasn't even close to HHOF-worthy, so that is why I'm not exactly keen on voting him in. Still, we can't deny the risks he took and the path he helped pave for other Russians.

Ciccarelli/Anderson - Despite their numbers and skill, the HHOF votes just plain don't like these guys for their off-the-ice exploits. I think Anderson was a good-but-not-great player, while Ciccarelli has the numbers to support his inclusion.

Clod Lemieux - Playoff exploits aside, Lemieux was an above-average player who got far more fame than he deserved. All too often, he'd coast through the regular season. A hall-of-fame forward from his era should do a lot better than only 2 70-point seasons.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008


David Pratt Fired for Plagiarism

TV/Radio/Print personality "Big Fat" David Pratt is a divisive figure among Vancouver/BC sports fans. You either love him or, more probably, loathe the man for his blustery, opinionated views on the topic-du-jour. (He doesn't bother me too much these days)

Well, Pratt haters will be amused to hear that David Pratt has been canned from his side gig at The Province, our local mainstream birdcage liner.

The reason? A blatant rip off of a quote by American writer Rick Reilly, who is known more for being a fraud who poops his pants.

From one toilet to another, eh?

From the
mouth of the lion:
The Province is ending the column written by TEAM 1040 AM sports talk-show host David Pratt after he admitted to plagiarizing some portions of a Sports Illustrated piece written by well-known writer Rick Reilly.

The column, celebrating the winding down of the long career of Hockey Night In Canada play by play man Bob Cole, contained some clear similarities to the Reilly piece about legendary U.S. college basketball coach and broadcaster Al McGuire published in the Sept. 18, 2000, edition of Sports Illustrated.

The most striking was a passage in Reilly's piece: "They say he was born 72 years ago last Thursday, but don't believe it. McGuire dropped straight out of Guys and Dolls with a martini in one hand and a basketball in the other."
Pratt wrote in Tuesday's column in The Province: "Cole was born 75 years ago, but it's more likely he dropped straight out of Guys and Dolls with a martini in one hand and a puck in the other."

Now, Pratt claims that radio guys like him rip off/borrow quotes all the time. I suppose that is true, and it's not as if we don't all borrow/use lines.

But this? Purely lazy and purely blatant plagiarism. Pratt admits that he just wanted to go home early on a Saturday afternoon, and he got caught. Ha!

You just know that in today's Internet age, such plagiarism, especially of a fairly well-known quote, is going to be caught by somebody.

As a blogger and *cough*writer*cough*, I know better and liberally utilize quoting and block quoting in my post. How hard would it have been for Pratt to add a simple "As Rick Reilly might say" before his line? That would acknowledge the source, and he'd still have a job.

Now, Pratt's written content was pretty dull and not very intelligent. It's one thing for a blogger on a free-to-visit site, like me, to write crap, but it is another for a guy like Pratt to be paid by a newspaper, a product consumers PAY for, to write such drivel on a regular basis. Then again, The Province and the CanWest Empire is hardly known for its quality.


As an aside, I once committed by own act of plagiarism by posting material written by Rich "The American Hockey Fan", and should have been more vigilant in my posting.

A friend of mine had sent me a very humourous take-off on those Nigerian SPAM mails we receive all too often. I thought it was my friend who had written it, and so I posted it on my site. I didn't realize that Ritch had posted that material, which he wrote, the day before.

Lesson: I should have asked my friend if he wrote the material. He was known for funny stuff, so I just 'assumed'.

When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME


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EuroWings: The Cream of the Crop

Don Cherry must be crying into his loud polyester pajamas this morning. Not only did his beloved Gary Roberts not skate off into the sunset with a Stanley Cup, but the Detroit Red Wings are, by far, the most Euro-laden team to ever win the big prize.

It is true that in the past, you'd want Canadian grit and heart on your roster, given how most Stanley Cup winners were very much filled with a majority of Canucks (and a few Americans). The Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, and Anaheim Ducks had very few Europeans on their roster, and gave fuel to the fire about European players sucking trash when it counts most.

Then came this year's Red Wings... just look at the European influence on their roster.

Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Johan Franzen
Niklas Kronwall
Jiri Hudler (look at how many points he scored with so little ice time)
Mikael Samuelsson
Nicklas Lidstrom
Tomas Holmstrom
Valtteri Filppula
Andreas Lilja
Dominik Hasek

Yes, almost half of their playoff roster was European.

The best players on the team? They are European. You have Conn Smythe winner Zetterberg, captain Lidstrom, and slick Datsyuk.

Role players? You have the hard-working Franzen with Holmstrom, plus defensive-minded guys like Filppula and Samuelsson.

Yeah, the evil Swedes can certainly bring it when it counts.

It's not where the players are from, but which players you get. Yes, Zetterberg and Datsyuk were once playoff non-factors, but they obviously matured and learned how to score when the spaces get tighter and the battles get fiercer.

Despite the fact that I still maintain the Wings got lucky not to play a physical opponent other than overmatched Nashville in the playoffs(Anaheim and San Jose would have given the Wings fits), we can't deny that from start to finish, the Wings were just the best team in the league this year.

Record: 54-21-7 (1st)
Goals For: 257 (3rd)
Goals Against: 184 (1st)
Power Play: 20.7% (3rd)
Penalty Kill: 84.0% (8th)

As for the Penguins, this was a great year for them, and, despite the lack of a cup, no Pens fan should look back on this season with much derision.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Chad Kroeger: Wings Fan and Giant Douche

Crad Kroeger is the lead singer of the horrible band Nickelback, for which I, on behalf of many Canadians, apologize for our country spawning onto the world. Listening to their music is only slightly less painful than puncturing your ballsack with a Hattori Hanzo sword.

Kroeger is also a drunk driving douchebag that just happened to be caught cheering for the Red Wings in this (Getty Images) photo.

As if you needed another reason to hate the guy, besides the fact that he likes to such himself off, and is uglier than Hillary Clinton.

Way to jump on the bandwagon there, buddy.

Notice the douchebag look on his face, and the douchebag hand gestures? Does he think the fans are there to see him 'rock it out'?

Kid Rock as a Red Wings fan is believable. Chad Kroeger as a Wings fan is not.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Tuesday's Thoughts

As if typical with the Toronto Maple Leafs, they can't quite do anything right.

Such is the case of their soon-to-be-hire of coach Ron Wilson, a guy they've hired before a new GM has been put in place.

Toronto Maple Leafs interim general manager Cliff Fletcher says he's found the man he wants to coach the team and has offered him the job.

Sources tell TSN that former Sharks coach Ron Wilson is on his way to Toronto to meet with Leafs officials to try and work out a deal.

When reached by phone, Wilson, who was about to board a plane, refused comment.

While scrambling to catch a plane himself on Monday, Fletcher told reporters he had offered the Leafs' coaching job to a candidate and was in negotiations to seal the deal.

That's just asking for trouble down the line. What if the new GM and Wilson butt heads? What if the new GM wants to make an offensive team, and not the stifling defensive club Ron Wilson is so keen on putting out?

Of course, given JFJ's experience, we know the GM doesn't make the final call on whether the coach is hired or fired. It makes you wonder why anyone would take the job.

As for Wilson, we know he's an excellent coach. Still, I don't see him fitting in well in Toronto, given the kind of team they have. Wilson is very much defensive-oriented, and the Leafs have quite a few offensive-minded players on the club. Kyle Wellwood? Don't expect to stay around much longer.


The Pens got lucky, and should be kissing Marc-Andre's Fleury's feet all day for the way he stole Game Five for them last night.

You had the feeling the Wings had the game sewn up, and were greatly outplaying the less experienced Penguins.

But, Fleury robs Samuelsson with the save of the series, Hossa ties it up, and now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh.

At the very least, the NHL must be thrilled that the Penguins managed to stretch this thing out somewhat.


Freaknomics was a book that I enjoyed, and their blog is one I frequent regularly.

It was rather surprising that the blog mentioned hockey, albeit briefly.

The blog post points out one very interesting stat that the AP picks up.

Road teams have won 10 of the past 12 overtime games in the finals and are 15-4 since 1990.

Some interesting comments, including this one (poor capitalization included)

it is mental. the home team typically has the mental edge during the game as they “should win” and get energy from the crowd. as the game goes on and into overtime, that edge shifts to the visitor as they are now almost in a “nothing to lose” situation because technically, they should not be there still, they should have already lost. this translates into the home team playing “tighter” and leads to mistakes. since it is hockey, a single mistake can lead to a goal and the game.

in this game, detroit had it won until the lat .35 seconds and could clinch the cup at home. that increased the anxiety on their part. a pittsburg win would allow them to go back home for the next game….

One other point: Good teams tend to get home ice advantage because they put up good records. That's just a fact

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