Friday, September 19, 2008


"I Had the Last Waltz With You"

by Jes

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those ... moments will be lost in time, like rain.

Time to die"
- Roy Batty, Bladerunner.

Back in May of 2004, I got the notion to start this blog, and called it Hockey Rants because I love hockey and ranting. Simple concept, really.

I had often visited many baseball blogs (which there were/are plenty), and was tired of all the childishness of places like HFboards. I wanted a place where I could rant how I wanted, when I wanted, and on topics I wanted, without my voice being lost in the wilderness.

I didn't come into blogging with many expectations, other than having a home for some friends and family reading my blathering, and maybe getting a decent audience who appreciated thoughtful blog posts over playground arguments. I also found the whole process to be a lot of fun, and got to experience a little bit of the hockey writer's life.


4 years later, I feel the fun has disappeared for me. Perhaps the combination of writing for AOL and my own site just overloaded my positronic circuits, but blog posting now feels more of a chore and an obligation than anything else. I haven't truly enjoyed blogging very much for the past few months, and I don't see that changing in the near future.

You may have noticed I've hinted at burnout the past 1-2 months, and, like an old scented candle, I'm mostly now a mush of wax.

I look back at some of my older posts, and I realize that my content is not nearly as good as it used to be. The posts on this site used to be either funnier, contain more detailed analysis, and/or a lot of Czech/Slovak content, the latter of which I'm the most proud to have brought to the blogosphere.

Like Trevor Linden, I just don't have "it" any longer. I'm tired, worn down, and my abilities have been eroded over time. I know I'm capable of writing some good material, but it would take a lot of time and effort that I'm just not able to handle. When I think about the memorable posts I've written, most of it has not been writing over the past 6-8 months.

That is why I've decided to retire from regular hockey blogging and close the Hockey Rants chapter of my life, as well as stop writing for AOL FanHouse.

What does the future hold? Well, I like to rant and I like to write. I might change this site into an all-around Rants site (a mix of hockey, politics, pop culture, etc), or I might hook up with another blog and do some guest entries. Anyone who has any ideas is welcome to contact me. For the next while, though, I'm just taking an online vacation.


Hockey blogs have come a long way since I started. Back when I first posted here, there were maybe 10-12 hockey blogs TOTAL. There were many baseball blogs, but almost nothing revolving around our great sport. There was Hockey Pundits, Off Wing Opinion, Sharkspage, Hockey Update, and Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic. The blogroll was smaller than Steve Kariya.

Right after a lockout, there was a sudden explosion on the number of hockey blogs out there. People flocked back to the game, and also to the new type of technology and reach that blogging offered. No longer was I able to visit every hockey blog within my lunch hour.

Not only has the quantity increase substantially, but the quality as well. I used to pride myself on being near the top of the heap, but there are many other sites that just offer much more on the way of quality content than my little old site. Yes, I do feel like I've been left behind like John McCain's ex-wife.

I'm not jealous or spiteful, but rather thankful of how much great stuff is out there. No longer are we subjected to purely reading what bones the MSM throws at us, or are we limited to a few publications and websites. There is just so much out there for everyone, and, in the end, its all of us hockey fans that win.

Do I consider myself a pioneer? Yes, but just a small one. I have helped a few people start their sites out (those who asked), and I know a few people were like "I saw your site and felt I could do that, too!" I know I'm one of the true veterans out there, and am rather proud of some of the baby bloglings that grown up to be strong young sites.


As I mentioned, I didn't have a lot of expectations from starting this site. Fortunately, and most surprisingly, this site brought me a lot of opportunities and allowed me to meet many people: bloggers, fans, writers, and even an ex-girlfriend. :/

In Academy Awards fashion, minus the crappy, overrated movies *cough*No Country for Old Men*cough*, I’d like to thank and give a shout out to various people who I've met over the past 4+ years. I still intend to maintain contact with many of you, as I certainly won't stop being a hockey fan any week soon. Don't be offended if I forgot you, it just means you aren't important :) (kidding...)

In no particular order ...

  • Eric "Mac Daddy" McErlain, who scored me the gig with FanHouse and provided a lot of advice when I started out.

  • Michael "The Hockey Fanatic" Fedor, my fellow Team Slovakia member and one of the longest-serving hockey bloggers.

  • My Czech loving co-bloggers Dan (Czechmate) and Greg, who helped add another point-of-view and some extra content to Hockey Rants.

  • My girlfriend, Aurian, for obvious reasons ;)

  • PJ from Sharkspage for driving me around San Francisco for an afternoon.

  • Snoopyjode, who took over The Sidney Crosby Show, which I started as a social experiment, and made it into a real success.

  • Pavol Demitra, Jiri Slegr, Trevor Linden, Jan Bulis v2.1, and Tomas Plekanec for their continued awesomeness.

  • My FanHouse comrades: Wyshynski, Luongo, Lady Killer Mirtle, Ciskie, Schultzy, JD Press, Saler, Earl Sleek, Lackey, Starkey.

  • Stormbringer10, whom I haven't seen in years, for designing my site's banner.

  • The Acid Queen, who has helped me with female POV stuff and made me laugh with stories about her evil cats.

  • Alanah from Canucks and Beyond, who once took me out for dinner and helped me with some personal stuff ;), but hasn't spoken to me for ages :(

  • My sources from Czechia, Slovakia, and other parts of Europe, who wish to remain anonymous.

  • My part-time contributors ... guys who sent me in links to articles, news items, and other gossip: Southern Correspondent Wayne, Faux, 2 Man Advantage, the d00ds from Edinburgh, Big Dan, and so forth.

  • The fellows from, Misha/Schlegel, who gave me lots of good stuff before and during the lockout.

  • BBC Radio Five, for granting me my first ever radio interview. Man, was I ever nervous :/

  • Of course, those who read and comment on my side on a (semi)regular basis. A blog is nothing without eyeballs. Bloggers love comments more than anything else.

  • The MSM (Mainstream Mediots) for providing lots of fodder.

  • Tom Benjamin, another grumpy old-school blogger and the guy who actually made me look like a nice guy by sheer comparison.

  • Anyone else I've forgotten. I've met so many people and fell out of touch with so many people over the years.

    So, good-bye (for now) to all of you. I shall not disappear totally into the night, but I will step back and just allow myself to be a fan and observer, and probably comment on a few blogs which I've been neglecting to read lately due to my busy schedule.

    It's been an Al MacInnis blast!

    Regards, Jes Gőlbez
  • Labels:

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008


    Wednesday Wanderings: NHL in Europe, Economics

    by Jes

    Once upon a time, I wrote a pretty length post on why I believe the NHL would never work, on a full-time basis, in Europe. Playing an exhibition game or two is one thing, but a full season? It ain't gonna work.

    This post is a response to news that the NHL is looking at expanding into Europe ... again ...

    Since I can't find my original post, I'll just have to rehash some of my old arguments. Most of my European hockey knowledge comes from the leagues I follow (Czech and Slovak), so I may not be totally right when it comes to places like Finland and Sweden.

    1. Ticket Prices
    The average ticket price for a European club hockey game translates to about 10-25$ US. Most teams charge very little for their tickets, knowing full well that a. the people simply don't have that much money to spend and b. knowing fans won't spend that much for a hockey game.

    European clubs make their money almost primarily through sponsorship. You see it on their uniforms, their arenas, and even their team names, which are often sponsored. The NHL's model of ticket-heavy revenue is the complete opposite of what happens in Europe.

    Let's face it, most hockey fans in Russia, Czechia, and Slovakia do not have that much disposable income. I know people in Germany and Sweden could afford $60 tickets, but would they really fork out that much for 30-40 games a season? I doubt it. Once the novelty wears off, you'd likely see a lot of empty seats. I can't see 15,000 people in either city wanting to invest that much on the NHL.

    Yes, I realize some European teams get over 10,000 per game, but the ticket prices, like I said, are quite low compared to the NHL.

    The fact is that many of the rich KHL owners we hear about are oil robber barons or diamond mine owners, and spend money on their hockey teams as an expensive hobby. There aren't an endless supply of these oil barons, nor are many of them likely to want to spend NHL-level prices for their own pleasure. Yes, there are oil barons owning soccer clubs, but you know they make a lot of money from tickets and merchandise.

    2. Travel
    In the future, I see travel becoming even more of an issue than it is now. Fuel prices will not go down any day soon, and environmental concerns will only cause sports leagues to look into curtailing travel somewhat.

    In my view, fuel prices will cause the NHL to start playing even more intra-conference games, and try to eliminate some of the cross-country road trips that suck up so much gas.

    Traveling to Europe? Yeah, that would count as a long road trip, and it's certainly quite pricey if you do it constantly.

    3. Rivalries
    Having an NHL team negates one of the reasons Europeans go to hockey games: The rivalries. Slavia and Sparta's "derbies" just could not be replicated by a bunch of foreigners playing some team from Toronto or Helsinki. Inter-city and regional rivalries would just not exist in the European NHL.

    4. Gary Bettman
    D00d screws up everything he touches.

    Yes, I am a pessimist. Given how the NHL's short-term thinking has caused them so many problems, and given how many American franchises are far from strong, I think expanding into Europe is something the league just will not succeed at. Let the Europeans have their league and focus on making the NHL stronger, rather than even more watered-down than it is.


    More stuff to mention

  • NHL owners have to realize that the current American economic crises is not good for the league. Obviously, people are going to have less disposable income to spend on hockey games, and/or will be afraid to spend big for fears of even more crap happening

    If you are an UFA-to-be, you might want to think about re-signing rather than try the open market. Just a thought.

    On a side rant, this whole "crisis" is thanks to your lovely US government. For far too long, the US Government has let corporations run the country, including a highly-unregulated bank and finance industry. This, together with people's horrible spending habits, means that there is a lot of "artificial" money in the market that can never be repaid, and you have China owning a monster chunk of US Currency.

    Not to sound too much like a smart ass, but I always figured the US was set for a major collapse. No country can take on that much government and personal debt without the whole thing busting up eventually. Until people stop spending money they don't have, and until banks stop lending money they don't really have, the economy is not going to get better. I'm thankful that Canada had a bit more restraint, and isn't spending billions on a bogus war to inflate the pockets of a well-off minority (Do you really think Bush wants to drive down the price of oil? Ha!). That said, when the US economy tanks, it'll hit our country hard.

    (If you know basic economics and finance, than you know that a bank can take $1 of deposits and turn that into $7-10 of loans, hence creating a level of "artificial" money)

  • Over at his Legends of Hockey Blog, author Joe Pelletier goes into Boogie Nights mode and gives us his Top 10 Hockey Moustaches of all time.

    Personally, I would have put Harold Snepsts much higher, and would have had Dave Babych on my list. Lanny as #1 is hard to dispute, though.
  • Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008


    Czeching Out - Who Is The Best Remaining Bohemian?

    by Czechmate
    The end of last season also spelled the end of an era. Maybe some would disagree, but those people would likely lack facts to back them up, or at least would be considered as being cut from the Don Cherry cloth (which would likely look like a couch from the 1970's if such a cloth actually existed in a physical manifestation) of anti-European tendencies.

    What I'm talking about is the turning of the page on the Czech Republic's proudest era of NHL prominence; in other words, the retirement of Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek (again).

    These two players embodied the best of the best from our little nation of 10 million people.

    Sure, we outdrink the world in beer consumption, and not by a small margin, either! But our accomplishments don't end there. For such a small nation, who has been at the center of a constantly changing geo-political landscape that is Europe, we have done remarkably well in the world of professional hockey and soccer as well. Where hockey is concerned, Jagr and Hasek have been at the forefront of our success.
    Jagr is a sure-fire first ballot hall of famer, as is Hasek. The stats, individual accomplishments, international medals and Stanley Cups make it impossible to believe otherwise. However, both also have struggled in media and hockey fan appreciability because of their manic dispositions and perceived reputations as prima donnas. In fact, I've read as many articles, blog posts and subsequent comments that praise and thank the two for their respective accomplishments as I have read that suggest the author believes it is a good thing for the NHL that these two are now departed. It's really an odd juxtaposition, but one that I believe I understand.
    Anyway, with these two now in the history books, I wanted to take a look at who remains from my homeland, and of those, who is the best man standing. There is nothing really scientific about my analysis, but it does merit noting that of the list of players that follow, some are rated based on accomplishments in the past, while others are assessed on their potential for future accomplishments. The players are listed in no particular order. You decide which is our best player remaining...


    1 - Milan Hejduk: Hejduk has been the trigger man for Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche for 701 games, tallying 285 goals, 313 assists for 598 points. He has a career rating of +156, and has been fairly durable throughout his career. Hejduk is not the best skater out there, but has profound scoring instincts and a wicked wrist shot that can catch goalies totally unaware. He has experienced a bit of an up-and-down career in terms of production, but it seems that goes hand-in-hand with how the Avs fare overall. Last season, he tallied 29 goals and 25 assists in 77 games. Surely, he is one of the elder statesmen of our NHL representation, and will likely continue to decline as the years roll by.

    2 - Patrik Elias: Maybe it's because he plays in New Jersey's uber-tight defensive system and team concept, but Elias never seems to get any credit for his statistical accomplishments. In 745 career games, he has managed a very respectable 264 goals, 364 assists and 628 points. Combine that with his +162 rating over that time, and he looks like a pretty damn good two-way forward! Elias goes about his business quietly, and does his job very well. His stats would likely be even better if he played on an offensively-oriented team, but seldom does one hear him complain. He is a fixture on our international team, and was once even captain of the Devils until supplanted by coach Sutter, who seems like a less than ideal coach for European players. This guy is a winner. However, he isn't a showy winner, so he usually flies under the radar. I recall once drafting him in the 7th round of a pool with 12 people in it.

    3 - Petr Sykora: He's 31 years old, and has played 845 NHL games. His stats totals are pretty decent, although not outstanding. Over his career, primarily spent with the Devils, he has managed to score 275 goals and 353 assists for a respectable total of 628 points. Expect that total to rise significantly as long as he's playing with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh. Sykora is a goal-scorer with a very strong shot and sound offensive positioning. He isn't a particularly strong skater, but he does know where he needs to be on the ice in order to maximize his scoring chances. He is also under-appreciated for his defensive knack and quiet leadership.

    4 - Ales Hemsky: Hemsky is young, but has become known as one of the premier set-up men in the league. He is Edmonton's star forward right now, although with their strong core of youth up front, he'll surely fade into the background soon enough. Hemsky has amassed 70 goals and 195 assists for 265 points in his 349 game career, but is also a combined -23 in that time. I believe his defensive game isn't really up to par, but a lot of that is due to Edmonton's north-south style of play. Armed with better linemates for his early career, his totals could be much higher, although that is based more on speculation than any given facts. I believe Hemsky will continue to improve, and will eventually top 90 points in a season, especially now that Edmonton's youth is starting to get front-line billing.

    5 - Martin Havlat: Yes, I know, his injury issues are a huge deterrent from any fantasy hockey selection, but realistically, Havlat is a superior talent. After a slow and steady development in the Ottawa Senators' system, Havlat has compiled an impressive stats sheet, which includes 140 goals and 179 assists for 319 points in 379 games. In recent years, he has been near a point-per-game, but again, his insistence on playing a reckless game (grit, as it is called in Canada) has seen him very limited in terms of games played, thus limiting his effectiveness and production. I expect a full season from Mach-9 this year, and I expect a very strong statistical showing, especially if he plays with Toews or Kane for any stretch of time.

    Honourable mentions: Martin Erat (NAS), Robert Lang (MTL), Vaclav Prospal (TB) EDIT - TOMAS PLEKANEC (MTL) *** HEHEHE*** EDIT 2 - MILAN MICHALEK (SJ)


    1 - Tomas Kaberle: Kaberle may have refused to waive his no-trade clause last season at the deadline, and he'll likely be remembered as the guy who cost the Leafs Jeff Carter plus a first rounder, but his career has been very solid to this point. As a defenceman, he has been the bright-spot on the Leafs' roster for a few seasons now, with all due respect to Bryan McCabe. His playmaking ability is superb, as is shown by his 402 points in 681 games (333 of them assists). He has also managed to chisel out a +51 career rating on a Leafs' team that doesn't really understand the concept of defensive hockey. Kaberle might be traded this season, as he seems less reluctant to waive his NTC now that the Leafs are in rebuild mode, and if he moves to a contender, his totals could be in the range of 70 points in a season.

    2 - Roman Hamrlik: Some first overall picks end up being a bust (see Alexandre Daigle), but while some would question Hamrlik's selection at that ranking, it bears noting that the second pick overall that season was Alexei Yashin. At this stage, clearly Hamrlik was the better choice, even if he isn't considered a top-pairing defenceman in many circles. "Hammer" has put up a very respectable 531 points, including 136 goals, in his 1,076 games, which is largely due to his durability and great hockey instincts. His best season saw him score 65 points, with 16 goals, back in 1995-96, but that year he had a -24 rating. This is telling, because his last minus season was in 2000-01 with the Isles, where he posted a -20. Why is it telling? Well, because since then, he's been a plus player, including a career-best +22 with the Flames in 2006-07, meaning he has worked on improving his overall game. He used to be a powerplay quarterback type of defenceman, but now he's capable of lining up against the league's best.

    3 - Marek Zidlicky: Okay, so this guy doesn't make many lists... However, in his relatively short career (307 games), the powerplay specialist has racked up an impressive 175 points. It's better than a point every second game, which is fairly good for a defenceman. Some will point to his career -5 rating, but considering Nashville didn't really gain respectability until a couple of seasons ago, that really isn't bad for an offensive defenceman. His move to Minnesota this past offseason should see his rating improve, as Nashville isn't quite the defensively stifling team that the Wild are.

    4 - Michal Rozsival: I'm always baffled when people say he's over-paid and over-rated. In today's market, $5M for a guy who will score 10+ goals and 25+ points from the blueline while not being a defensive liability is pretty much fair market value (see Jeff Finger for definition of "overpaid"). Rosie has become a very reliable player for the Rangers, and has become an all-purpose defenceman in the NHL. He isn't overly physical, but no Czech players really are. I look to his career +48 rating and his steady production, and find that he's a capable first-pairing defender that any team could use, aside from the Wings and Ducks...

    Honourable mentions: Ladislav Smid (EDM), Jaroslav Modry (PHI), Pavel Kubina (TOR), Jaroslav Spacek (BUF), Filip Kuba (OTT), Rostislav Klesla (CMB) EDIT - ZBYNEK MICHALEK


    1 - Tomas Vokoun: Maybe the best kept secret in the NHL, Tomas Vokoun first earned respectability in Nashville, where he honed his skills and developed into an elite level goalie. Vokoun is a no-nonsense player who doesn't really have bad games. Like any goalie, he lets in bad goals here and there, but he very seldom stinks up the house on any given night. His career GAA of 2.54 and Save Percentage of .914 are extremely solid numbers, and one can only imagine how good those stats could be if he hadn't played his early career on a fairly weak Nashville team. Sadly, as far as top-flight goalies go, Vokoun is the only one from the Czech Republic in the NHL right now.

    Honourable mention: nobody!

    What/Who's coming up:

    1 - Martin Hanzal: The Phoenix Coyotes have a keeper here. Hanzal scored 35 points in 71 games last season, his first in the NHL, but the speedy winger was used more in a supporting role than a fore-front one. Hanzal projects to be a 25 goal scorer, and could hit as high as 75 points in the next few seasons.

    2 - David Krejci: Boston saw what this guy can do last season, where he notched 6 goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 56 games last year. However, he'll be in a more prominent position this season, and will likely come close to doubling that output. He has good wheels, a nose for the net, and soft hands. Potential could be as high as 70 points.

    3 - Rostislav Olesz: His slow production is largely attributable to playing in Florida. However, Olesz's strength is as an offensive contributor, despite what the stats sheet reads at the moment. With Olli Jokinen gone, the door is wide open for Rusty to step up and show what he is capable of. I see him at around 55 points this season, which would be a massive upgrade on the 30 points that currently stand as his career best.

    4 - Michael Frolik: Another Panther, but this time a prospect. Frolik was once considered the Czech Republic's answer to Sidney Crosby. I think that was a stretch, but this kid has superlative talent. Frolik is projected to become a first line forward with exceptional playmaking skills and a strong shot by, which I don't believe is a stretch by any means. I expect him to make a strong case for himself at camp this month, and likely find himself in Panthers' colours at the start of the season.

    5 - Jakub Kindl: The Wings know how to draft and develop players, and I think they found themselves a real gem in Kindl, who they drafted at 19th overall in 2005. Kindl's combination of size (although at 6'3" he needs to fill out his 183lb frame), skating ability and vision will make him a strong top-pairing defenceman down the road. His adjustment to minor-pro (AHL) last season was smooth, and all he needs is a vacancy in the Wings' lineup to make a strong push for a roster spot. Watch for him to knock on the NHL door in case of injury this season to any Wings' regular.

    6 - Ondrej Pavelec: Have to include a goaltender on the list of up-and-comers, and it looks like Pavelec is the guy (Marek Schwarz was considered our top goaltending prospect, but he has been very slow in developing and could prove to be a bust). Pavelec came in to the NHL last year in relief of Atlanta's annual injury issue - Kari Lehtonen. "Pav" only played in 7 games for the Thrashers, and considering the team's complete lack of defensive acumen, posted a respectable 3-3 record. There was talk earlier in the offseason that Atlanta might consider moving Lehtonen to get a defenceman, leaving Pav to be the team's starter, just to give you an idea of the potential this young goalie has (he's 21). I am not sure if he'll ever live up to that kind of expectation, but suffice it to say, he's a blue-chip prospect to at least be a regular backup, if not starter in the NHL.

    Anyway, I'm sure I missed a few players, like Jakub Voracek, Jiri Tlusty (for you Leafers out there) and many others, but there's only so many hours in a day. Feel free to post your opinions, or point out any other players deserving to be on this list.

    Until next time,

    Na Zdravi!

    Labels: , , ,

    Monday, September 15, 2008


    Monday Musings: Hockey Burnout

    by Jes

    As you might have noticed, the volume of posts on this site has slowed in the past month. Besides the lack of good hockey news, I'm still feeling under the cloud of Blogger Burnout. Even if there is a good story to be had, I just don't have the spark.

    Remember the story of young Steven Legein? He's the Columbus Dinner Jackets prospect that quit the game simply because he grew tired of it. All of the practices, training camps, video sessions ... it just wasn't worth it for the young prospect.

    This type of burnout seems to be happening more these days among our nation's youth, and most of it can be traced to those parents that push their children so hard in a usually-futile attempt to land a lucrative spot in the NHL.

    From The Province:

    But the seeds of hockey burnout are now being planted long before a player reaches the junior level, and [Canadian Hockey Head Bob] Nicholson agrees it is becoming a problem.

    "It's a big concern of ours that players aren't playing soccer, baseball, lacrosse like they used to (in the summer)," he said. "We're in board meetings now looking at ways to try to make sure that they're not playing competitive hockey 12 months of the year."

    Part of the problem is overzealous hockey parents with dreams of their son becoming the next Sidney Crosby. They're the ones forking out the cash for the summer hockey programs, which aren't cheap.

    "I think a lot of it comes right from the parents," Nicholson agreed. "It almost seems like it's worse now with the 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds. The message doesn't seem to be getting down to the parents right now."
    It's not that the kids don't like playing hockey, it's that they don't like playing it ALL THE TIME, and they don't like the constant work involved. Most kids don't like practices, and most kids certainly don't want to feel pushed into training year round. It just saps the fun out of the game entirely, doesn't it?

    Think of how many kids play at the highest level of junior hockey in Canada. It's a very small percentage of the total population of hockey players in that age group. Now, think of how many of those kids will ever make the NHL. It's a very small percentage.

    The fact is that if your kid can't possibly be one of the elite players during the course of a regular season, those few extra months are not going to make him the next superstar. That extra training might help the very best young players, but it's not going to help the mass majority become THAT much better.

    Again, we must look over to Europe to see how they do things right.

    In the summer, even the pro teams never set a foot out on to the ice. In Europe, the players play soccer and tennis ... they go mountain biking, they go jogging, they have fun doing other stuff that isn't even related to hockey.

    The result? The players are happier because they get a break from the game, and the players are better trained.

    Better trained?

    Yes. Soccer and tennis, especially, develop athletic traits that aren't always worked on so well in hockey. Both sports are great for developing agility and stamina, allowing players to develop quickness on a different surface. Biking is obviously great for developing stamina and vitality, something short-burst hockey training doesn't always do.

    Having a kid play hockey 12 months a year will leave them rather 1-dimensional in terms of their athletic training, not to mention bored to tears. It's hard for any mind to develop creativity and creatively when it is constantly focusing on one type of task.

    Edit: OK, I totally mis-read the Cherry quote. Woops. What do you make of this, anyway? sheesh
    Last March, on the Grapeline radio show, host Brian Williams asked Don Cherry what he thought about hockey parents whose kids missed games during spring break to go on a family vacation.

    "What do I think of them?" Cherry roared. "You want to know what I think of them? I think they're selfish rats that can't be counted on. The parents that take the kids out of the team and go on vacation are rats that can't be counted on. Can I say it any clearer?

    "That's not only my opinion," Cherry added, "but real hockey people think they're selfish rats who can't be counted on."

    Labels: , , ,

    Friday, September 12, 2008


    NHL vs. KHL: Don't Expect the IIHF To Help "Us"

    by Jes

    This whole NHL vs. KHL Cold War has been rumbling all summer long, and it's not going to go away any day soon.

    It was thought that the IIHF might not allow Radulov to play in Int'l events, in order to keep peace with the NHL and in their good books heading into the Olympics.

    From recent comments by IIHF head Rene Fasel, that doesn't appear to be the case.

    "When Aleksander Radulov returned from the NHL to Russia, he did not need an international transfer card because the NHL is not a member of the IIHF. Consequently, as there is not transfer agreement between the NHL and IIHF, we cannot prohibit him from playing for Salavat."

    "There is no doubt that Radulov violated his contract", but the current situation needs a political compromise. "The parties need to get to the table and develop common rules" and the KHL and NHL should find a compromise "that satisfies both Nashville and Salavat as well as Radulov.

    In fact, the Russian side is doing a lot of efforts to cooperate. They have prepared a legal text of the memorandum on the mutual respect of contract and to show their goodwill, they have shown willingness to forget about five of the disputed players.

    The NHL, on the other hand, is just using the Radulov case as an excuse not to negotiate and reach an agreement. And Bill Daly is accusing me for lacking courage?

    Prohibiting Radulov for playing will not solve the problems. The problems can only be solved at the negotiating table".
    You know, Fasel is quite right in that the IIHF really doesn't have to or have the legal right to do anything to the KHL or NHL in these matters. The leagues don't have any sort of connection of agreement, so it's carte blanche to steal players back and forth.

    Remember when Malkin broke his contract with a Russian club to play with the Penguins? We were all applauding him for that, weren't we?

    So, why shouldn't Russian clubs be able to pull the same stunt? It's a different league on a different "K"ontinent, right? These are two competing businesses, after all.

    I believe Fasel when he says that Daly and the NHL are simply using Radulov as an excuse not to negotiate. It has always been clear that the flow of players from Europe is a 1-way street and the NHL only pays anything to European clubs because they are strongarmed into doing so.

    It is best that the IIHF not take sides in this issue, and simply try and broker a deal between the two sides and get a transfer agreement in place.

    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008


    Revisiting Rod Brind'Amour's Physical Advantage

    by Jes

    Any hockey fan knows that Rod "The Bod" Brind'Amour is a fitness fanatic. While he's a smart 2-way centerman with good on-ice vision, his strength has always been that he's stronger and possess more stamina than just about any NHLer to ever lace on a pair of skates.

    While we know most NHLers are quite fit, Brind'Amour's elite level of fitness does contribute to the other more "mental" aspects of the game. Most players make mistakes when they are tired, and can't chase down errant pucks when they are sucking wind. Brind'Amour and others of his type make fewer mistakes and can make more plays simply because they have more gas in the tank.

    If you already didn't feel enough like a coach potato, the Globe and Mail has another article showing you how Brind'Amour works about 1,000 times harder than you, and how other players adopted similar trends to keep up with ... well, each other.

    The captain of the Carolina Hurricanes is one of the fittest players in the NHL because he refuses to stop exercising. He turned 38 over the summer and still has three years left on a contract he fully intends to play out.

    Brind'Amour typifies the character needed to be a veteran in today's NHL. In the past, some believed that longevity was best achieved by taking extensive time off over the summer to let the body heal before essentially starting anew during training camp.

    That strategy simply wouldn't work now.

    “It's definitely a year-round job,” Brind'Amour said during a recent interview. “I think the guys that approach it that way are the ones that last the longest.

    “Especially with the amount of money guys make now, if you don't treat it year-round you're foolish.”

    Chris Chelios is nearing 50, and he's still known for his insane workout schedule. There is obviously some benefit in keeping the engines running year-round.

    What is amazing is that these guys can work insanely hard year-round and their bodies just don't break down. You'd think Brind'Amour's body would just say 'ENOUGH!' and shut down from the physical onslaught.

    I think one attribute that isn't talked about enough is that some human bodies are just blessed with superior physical construction to others, like Lance Armstrong and his huge heart, or Michael Phelps and his myriad of physical features that help him swim faster (Double-jointed chest, for one).

    I know that my body produces a high amount of urea (blood/muscle waste, in simple terms) that makes it hard for my body to recover from physical activity. When I used to work 4-6 times a week, my body simply refused to put on muscle, and I would sometimes ache for days after a workout. Simply put, I could never keep up this type of schedule and expect to be in top physical condition in the long run.

    So, compare and contrast that to a guy like Rod Brind'Amour. Obviously, his body has a well-above average ability to recover from workouts and to keep up a high level of physical activity without feeling fatigued, run down, and susceptible to injuries. Compare and contrast that to NHLers who you might consider brittle?

    Brind'Amour (and Chelios) should get full credit for his work ethic, but nature obviously gave him a boost that some other humans just can't match, even if they wanted to. Perhaps there is something in their blood that can be measured, and teams looking at potential draftees might want to be on the lookout for in blood measuring or gene testing becomes the norm.

    Labels: ,

    Monday, September 08, 2008


    Bulgarian Women Are Easy to Score On!

    by Jes

    Bulgaria is not known for being a hockey power, so the fact that their women's team got blown away by Slovakia is no surprise.

    What is a surprise is just how badly they’ve been thrashed at an 2010 Olympic qualifying tournament over in Latvija.

    When my Slovakian friend sent this to my email, I thought it was a joke. Apparently not.

    Výsledky - sobota:
    Slovensko - Bulharsko 82:0 (31:0, 24:0, 27:0)
    6., 10., 12., 17., 21., 27., 30., 38., 39. a 52. Čulíková,
    5., 5., 14., 22., 31., 34., 39., 42. a 42. Veličková,
    6., 10., 21., 30., 34., 42., 57. a 58. Vargová,
    7., 7., 14., 14., 35., 45., 48. a 52. Celarová,
    16., 20., 26., 32., 51., 57., 59. a 60. Herichová,
    2., 5., 36., 37., 40., 45., 53. a 56. Gapová,
    6., 6., 24., 33. 54. a 54. Moravčíková,
    1., 4., 25., 29., 45. a 48. Karafiátová,
    9., 19., 43., 56. a 60. Kapustová,
    8., 10., 39., 53. a 59. Sroková,
    3., 17., 44. a 51. Danková,
    6., 13. a 25. Džurňáková,
    11. Konečná,
    8. Brémová

    That's right, Slovakia won 82-0. All but 2 of the Slovak women dressed for the game had at least a goal.

    The Bulgarians also lost 30-1 to Croatia and 41-0 to Italy, hardly hockey powerhouses in their own right.

    Every country has the right to try to qualify for the Olympics, but why did the Bulgarian federation even bother? Not only did they not have a chance in hell, but their women get completely humiliated.

    I wonder why the Bulgarians even bothered coming out for the final two periods. I mean, do they really expect a comeback after being down 31-0 after the first period? I guess these women have balls, or absolutely don't give a rat's ass how bad they do.

    Note to IIHF: Have some entry standards. IT makes the sport look like a joke when you have games like this. Just imagine if it was the USA or Canada instead of Slovakia? Triple digits, easily.

    Labels: , , ,

    Sunday, September 07, 2008


    Weekend Wonderings: Teddy's Angry

    by Jes

    Caps owner Ted Leonsis has never been one owner who is afraid to speak his mind, and he's one of the rare sports owners who talks publicly at all. Most owners are content to sit in their country clubs sipping expensive wine and laughing at how many people they laid off this week.

    Ted? He's ANGRY!!! and he takes a nice shot as some idiot in the MSM.

    From time to time, you have heard me rail against media pundits for their lack of criticality; original thinking; creativity; and basic non-understanding of what they are writing about.

    Well here is another rant. This time against Ross McKeon and his blog post mentioning contraction of six NHL teams including the Washington Capitals.

    First, the throw away notion of shuttering six major league teams is just mean-spirited. Those six teams employ thousands and thousands of people and support tens of thousands of families. I guess Ross wants us to lay off all those people in the toughest economy ever. And those teams generate dollars for their cities in taxes and they generate dollars to hundreds and hundreds of small businesses as vendor/ suppliers. All of that would go away and the benefit and glow of a major sports team franchise would leave those cities marked as second rate for a long, long time.
    For the most part, I agree with him. However, invoking the lost jobs argument, especially from a rich multi-millionare, comes across as disgenuine. People lose jobs all the time, and they can gain jobs just the same. It's not like jobs disappear into a black hole. Besides, most people who work at sporting events are part-timers: the concession peeps, the ushers/hosts, ticket takers, etc...

    Southern Correspondant Wayne chips in: While I doubt Leonsis' claim about "thousands and thousands" losing jobs, I do see his point: a few of the new arenas are hockey only (Phoenix, Miami, Nashville, Tampa), and don't have an NBA team to fall back on (I would make the joke that Atlanta doesn't have an NBA team, either, but I'm keeping my mouth shut for now, as they were the ONLY Atlanta team to make the playoffs in a year), with millions of $ to pay in municipal bonds...


    Over at ESPN, the Worldwide Leader of Slam-Dunk clips, columnist Terry Frei opines that attendance will decrease greatly if NHL teams continue to charge higher ticket prices.

    Will they? Perhaps in some American markets. The Canadian economy is still in fairly good shape and the dollar is fine.

    The NHL has always had a risky model based on low TV ratings and high ticket prices. The NHL knows it can get away with charging its hard core of fans high ticket prices because they are willing to pay. The NHL also gets a lion's share of its revenues from ticket prices, and not ancillary sources like TV and merchandise.

    One could say the NHL has always been teetering on the ledge when it comes to its revenue strategy, and eventually the league will come to a point where the teams will be charging too much for fans to justify the expense.

    Still, it's up to each individual team to set their ticket prices, and some of the Atlanta's of the league may very well have a much lower ticket range than the Minnesota's. It may be that the Minnesota's and such subsidize the Atlanta's even more than they do now. That's the price of revenue sharing.


    Friday, September 05, 2008


    Canucks to Retire Linden's #16

    by Jes

    Trevor Linden, the quintessential Vancouver Canuck, will have his #16 retired into the rafters of GM Place.

    No surprise there.

    The Vancouver Canucks made official Thursday what many have suspected since the final moments of last season: they're going to retire Trevor Linden's No. 16 jersey.

    The big event will take place Dec. 17 at GM Place.

    "It's going to be exciting," Linden said Thursday at a press conference to formally announce Trevor Linden Night. "I'm going to be a bit nervous but sharing that with our fans, my friends, my family and my teammates, or ex-teammates, will be very special."
    I just hope this game goes better for the Canucks than Linden's final game in the NHL, when the Flames trounced the Canucks 23-1 and the Canucks simply rolled over and played dead.

    In terms of # retirements, the Canucks are rather stingy on sweaters hanging from the rafters. After 38 years, Stan Smyl is currently the only retired number on the Canucks (#12), and there don't seem to be any great candidates in the near future. Compare that to the Buffalo Sabres, the Canucks' expansion brothers, who have SIX numbers retired.

    The only other possible candidate in the near future, given that past Canucks such as Tomas Gradin or Pavel Bure aren't even considered, would be Markus Naslund. Nazzy is the all-time leading Canucks goal and point scorer, and played almost as many games in a Canucks uniform than Smyl.

    The problem? Naslund's acrimonious departure. Naslund clearly sulked during his last two seasons with the club, and never really touched Canucks fans the same as Trev or Stanley Steamer.

    I would think that Mattias Ohlund will be a candidate some day, given his longevity and service to the club. Other than him, the clothesline is pretty bare.

    Labels: ,

    Thursday, September 04, 2008


    Thursday's Thoughts: TSN, Mats Sundin

    by Jes

    Americans have every right to be envious of our televised hockey coverage, especially that provided by The Sports Network (TSN), which has supplanted CBC as THE station to watch hockey on a regular basis, especially since they stole the frickin' theme song.

    Unfortunately, the producers at TSN don't seem to have heard of the credo "too many cooks spoil the broth". While the network has always prided itself on getting well-known experts to be analysts on their hockey shows, it has long gotten past the point where there are just too many talking heads.

    Look at the TSN roster of talking heads ...
    James Duthie (studio host who tries too hard to be funny)
    Bob McKenzie (The Insider and draft expert)
    Darren Dreger (a former host who is suddenly an insider. Too stuck in MSM clichéd way of looking at the game)
    Dave Hodge (Old man still kickin around. Likes to rant)
    Keith Jones
    Matthew Barnaby (surprisingly OK)
    Darren Pang
    Glenn Healy (utter crap and Leaf apologist)
    Pierre McGuire (MONSTER!!!)
    Mike Milbury (as bad as he ever was)
    Scruffy, the janitor (more insightful than Healy)
    Maggie the Monkey (psychic mammal)
    Plus other special guests they get during the playoffs and D-day. In the past, they had Neil Smith, Jeremy Roenick, and Mike Keenan.

    All too often, these "experts" (Mike Milbury is an expert, but on sucking) get very little screen time, and TSN is constantly switching from one face to another to get in a sound bite. It feels hurried and sporadic, and you can tell that they are trying their damndest just to fit people in, rather than provide in-depth analysis and insight the consumers demand.

    So, the TSN solution appears to be to bring in MORE talking heads ... John Tortorella and Ray Ferraro.

    On the positive side, I think both of these guys will be a huge benefit to TSN's roster. Tortorella is always a great quote, and unlike Milbury, actually knows what he is talking about and has actually had some actual success. Ferraro has proven himself to be well-spoken and a cool customer. He's worked hard to become an off-ice analyst and provides a lot more insight than the likes of Glen Healy and Greg Millen.

    If TSN really wanted to improve their product, they'd get rid of some of the fat and trim off Milbury, Healy, Pang (he can go back to ESPN or Versus), and keep McGuire to the play-by-play booth.


    Want to know where Mats Sundin head is these days? It's certainly not on hockey, since he's not even doing on-ice training.

    Nope, the big lug is going to be playing Poker for the near future, leaving you wonder if any team ought to bother chasing the guy for much longer. His head obviously isn't in the game, and he certainly doesn't seem to have the FIRE that you'd want out of him.

    Looking at what is left on the UFA market, however, can give you an idea why Gillis and his peers are still offering their first-born daughters to Sundin for his sacrificial fodder supply.

    Other than Shanahan, no other uncommitted UFA is really worth the Canucks bothering with. Matvichuk and Murray might be able to play decent roles, but the rest is crap.

    10. Nolan Pratt, 32, D. Slow, crappy.

    9. Stephane Yelle, 34, C. Just signed with Boston. The Canucks don't need another Byron Ritchie failure.

    8. Jeff Hamilton, 30, C. Who?

    7. Geoff Sanderson, 36, LW. Soft, unproductive, and useless. Why does any team bother with this guy?

    6. Bryan Smolinski, 36, C. Been there, done that.

    5. Martin Gelinas, 38, LW. Again, the Canucks don't need another gritty 3rd-4th liner. Canucks fans still love the guy, but he's not that useful any longer.

    4. Richard Matvichuk, 35, D. I wouldn't mind having him around in a 6th-7th defenseman role, especially over Nolan Baumgartner.

    3. Jassen Cullimore, 36, D. Sloooooooooooooooooooooooooow.

    2. Glen Murray, 35, RW. A decent sniper, but has serious health concerns. Canucks ought to give ice time to a prospect.

    1. Brendan Shanahan, 39, LW. I'd like to see him on the Canucks, as he could provide 25-30 goals and take some heat off of the Twins and Pavol. Unfortunately, I doubt he'll come to a West Coast club.

    Labels: , , , ,

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008


    Wednesday's Wacky Wonderings

    by Jes

    Today's random ramblings ...

    Smelly hockey equipment is a scourge that ranks up there with American Idol, white guys who think they are black, and Sean Avery. Many advances have been made in the washing hockey equipment, but that always presents just a temporary fix.

    Winnwell claims to have come up with a truly odourless set of hockey equipment that can get rid of stinky odour before it becomes a problem.

    Natural enzymes in water bond to the material that is used as a liner anywhere equipment touches a player's skin – even the palms of the gloves.

    The microbes generate organic-consuming enzymes that remain dormant until activated by perspiration, eliminating the environment that bacteria needs to breed.

    "It could work," says Pat Bishop, chair of the Canadian Standards Association committee that certifies hockey equipment. "Bacteria is what causes all that stink. Anything that makes it easier for players to wear and easier on parents is worth trying. Right now, my daughter is going to buy her son new hockey gloves because she can't stand the smell."
    Mmm, organisms fighting bacteria. Just what I want in my equipment!

    Colour me skeptical, but knowing how much hockey players sweat, and how long equipment sits in stinky bags, I can't see this working as perfectly as described.


    Over at Hollywoodtuna, the gossip guys have posted some probably-NSFW pictures of Willa Ford, aka Ms. Modano.

    Honestly, I can't see that she does it for me, especially in pictures that are completely airbrushed.

    Do guys really dig the Maxim-style airbrushed pics? I always feel that such photos make a woman look less desirable and simply more fake.


    I had serious doubts about John Davidson's ability to preside over the St. Louis Blues, but I have to admit that the club is in good shape thanks to his PR efforts and ability to not suck as a GM.

    Even the New York Times has taken notice of the job he's done in St. Loo.

    “This team had disconnected from the city, and we had to get people back in the arena,” he said, without naming Bill and Nancy Laurie, the largely absentee former owners who sustained huge losses, cut costs and traded away the popular Chris Pronger. “The Blues tradition had disappeared, and the fans wanted it back. We had to get them to believe again.”
    Aahh, yes, the Lauries ... the asswipes who tried to buy the Vancouver Grizzlies and move them while claiming that they really really really wanted basketball to succeed here. *eyeroll*. Even David Stern didn't like the Lauries, which says something.

    Larry Pleau is still around as the behind-the-scenes guy, and I think the set-up works well. Pleau's analysis of hockey players was awful, but he does know the nuts and bolts of NHL law and finance, and can help JD with the more technical side of things. This leaves JD the room to do his thing with the public and also with player acquisition.


    From the LOL! File comes word that the Philadelphia Flyers are going to hold a ceremony to honour Eric Lindros, and the Big Ego won't show up!! Bahahaha!!!

    As part of their September 27th preseason game against Carolina at their former home, the Flyers have invited all 15 captains back to take part in commemorative ceremonies, including Lindros who was named captain at the age of 21 in 1994. However, his tenure with the team ended in a bitter dispute with management, which included then general manager Bob Clarke.

    While Clarke, Lou Angotti, Mel Bridgman, Dave Poulin, Ed Van Impe, Bill Barber, Ron Sutter and Kevin Primeau have confirmed their attendance, Lindros has declined because of a previous commitment according to senior vice president of business operations Shawn Tilger. Lindros will be attending a memorial service that day for a friend's mother.
    Still bitter, Eric? Now that you are retired, perhaps you can set aside your petty differences with the club and do something right for the fans that had your back?


    To any readers in the UK, you'll be happy to hear that pugilistic Czech Marek Ivan is back in your neck of the woods.

    Yes, Ivan is one of the few Czechs that actually LOVES to fight, and does a pretty good job of being a toughie in between scoring a few goals.

    (thanks to Southern Correspondent Wayne for some of the linkage help)

    Labels: , , ,

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008


    Trade Analysis: Bryan McCabe

    by Jes

    The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their detox cleansing by dumping frumpy Bryan McCabe and his bad hairstyle on the Florida Panthers in exchange for Mike Van Ryn and a draft pick.

    It's no secret that I'm not a fan of McCabe's game. Yes, he puts up a pile of points, and is great on the Power Play, but his defence is atrocious, and he, far too often, goes out of position to make a big hit. Ever since his famed "can opener" was cracked down upon, McCabe's idea of defence is to put his blob-like body in front of a defender and hope that he hits something ... the puck, the ref, the opposing forward ... not pretty. McCabe is basically Sheldon Souray without the model good looks.

    This deal was more about dumping salary than anything else, so it's hard to expect the Leafs to come out ahead on the deal ... but how will they fare?

    Mike Van Ryn certainly has some skills of his own, and he did put up two straight 37-point seasons. That said, he put up just 2 points in 20 games last season and 29 in 78 games the season before. Ever since Jay Bouwmeester was given the lion's share of ice time in Florida, Van Ryn's game wilted, and his point production wasn't all that great.

    McCabe, on the other hand, put up three straight 50+ point seasons until last season, when he fell to just 23 in 54 games. With a healthy McCabe, you can expect about 15 goals and another 35-45 assists.

    So, the difference on offence is going to probably be about 15-20 points, which can be a big deal over a long season. In today's offence starved NHL, an offensive powerhouse like McCabe does provide some value.

    So, how does Van Ryn compare defensively to McCabe?

    Looking at some advanced numbers over at Behind the Net, it ain't pretty.

    RATING - Behindthenet Rating (+/- relative to team): -52 for McCabe and -51 for Van Ryn.
    QUALITY OF COMPETITION: Van Ryn comes out ahead with .09 compared to McCabe's .02.

    The other defensive stats are rather similar, so we could say that Van Ryn comes out slightly ahead, or just call it a wash and leave it at that.

    Now, I understand the Panthers want to make the leap into the playoffs eventually, but why McCabe? The Panthers' biggest problem has been preventing goals, and McCabe is NOT going to help that. The last thing the Panthers need is a defensive liability on the ice for 25 minutes a game, and an expensive one at that.

    Thumbs down to the Panthers, and thumbs up to the Leafs for clearing out salary. Van Ryn is no star, but he's not chopped liver, either. He will give the Leafs a competent defenseman to plug a hole while plumber Fletcher orders a new part.

    Labels: , , , ,

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?