May 31, 2009
May 30, 2009
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Maybe you should cover one eye just in case the pictures makes the other eye explode.
Luckily, this is just a random person coming up with this concept. It has nothing to do with the team whatsoever. Thank the hockey gods!
Frankly, I remember all of the 80s, and that was bad enough. Why would someone willingly revisit them? It boggles my mind.
May 28, 2009
You know, I've written a lot about this. And this is one of the better posts I've seen on the topic. But I've sort of felt like people might think that I'm a hater, which is so far from the truth that it isn't even funny.
So the deal behind that is that I think he can do better than the situation in Tampa. In fact, I think Lecavalier should ask for a trade just to get clear of that disaster - but, of course, he wouldn't ever do anything direct like that. Sill, he deserves better than to be stuck on a team that's very poorly managed and probably won't be turning things around any time soon. This coming season will probably be more of the same as last year, I think.
It's all well and good to stick with a team thru both the good times and the bad, but you've also got to know when to throw in the towel and move on, too.
John, my blogging partner on Raw Charge, wasn't sure if he should write about this, but James Mirtle and myself told him that he should. So he did. And it's been pretty popular, actually.
This is pretty sad, really. I mean, the Tampa Bay Lightning selling furniture on eBay? Not a great PR move, if you ask me. It gives them the impression of teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, at a time when NHL teams aren't all that financially stable.
Now, whether they are or not is almost beside the point. A number of things that this ownership/management group has done recently just reinforces this impression for the general public. And as with most things in life, it's the perception that really matters, not the actuality.
People are running with this story, and not necessarily hockey fans, which makes the general public believe that the team isn't doing very well at all. John sent me some links, and I've found a few on my own. James Mirtle's From the Rink, Puck Daddy, DRays Bay (SB Nation Tampa Rays blog), and Sticks of Fire so far have posted something on this.
My favorite quote so far is from Sticks of Fire (which is a Tampa area blog):
"Still, it’s tough to see your NHL team so desperate for cash. What’s
next? Odd Jobs by Vinnie? Marty with a “will (try really sorta hard
to) score goals for food” signs? Are we gonna bump into Oren [Koules]
down at Amscot?"
May 27, 2009
Hard to say that this guy is telling the truth about selling to guys who play for the Caps, but I find it interesting that he didn't point fingers closer to home - the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now, I'm not saying that anyone off of the Lightning use steroids at all. Frankly, after the season that they've had, I'm inclined to say that probably no one is.
But why point out the Caps, of all teams? Let's say that this guy is telling the truth, that he did sell steroids to some guys off of the Caps. I'd just like to be upfront and say that I don't think Ovechkin would be one of them, if that's the case. Mostly I think that because he wants to play for Russia in the Olympics, and that's a banned substance. Not too many guys are stupid enough to jepardize their chances of making it to the Olympics. And while Ovechkin might be a lot of things, stupid isn't usually one of those.
The overlooked aspect of steroids is that they help players recover from injuries faster. Everyone focuses on the muscle development aspect of them, and being bulky just slows you down in hockey. So, naturally, a lot of people automatically dismiss steroid use in the NHL because of that.
I don't think that there are a lot of guys using, to be honest, but I think that there are probably a few. Actually, I think the bigger problem is probably either addiction to pain killers and/or amphetamine use. But that's just pure speculation on my part.
Reaction to the Steroids Report in Washington
It's pretty much everyone saying what you'd expect. No surprises here.
May 26, 2009
"There is nothing quite like the failure of a sports owner in AmericanThe article itself only sort of applies to hockey, but this quote says it all about Tampa Bay. And about a few other teams that I've followed over the years. Being a sports fan isn't for the faint of heart, that's for sure.
society. You can't impeach them or vote them out of office. You can stop buying
tickets, but if you're a die-hard fan, it is hard to stop caring. You just have
to watch, get angry, convince yourself things will change, watch, get angry
again ... on and on, until the owner either sells the team or dies."
If this is true, then it makes me very sad. I don't begrudge him wanting to play in his home country on the same team as his brother, but I don't want him to go, either. This has put a damper on my whole entire day.
May 25, 2009
You know, I don't get this, either. I never have. And while I was never ever a cheerleader, I was friends with them in high school, and my best friend in high school was a part of the dance team. I even let her talk me into trying out one year, and was three people away from making the squad out of the 80 or so girls that tried out. So it's not like I have something against them.
One, there's no place for cheerleaders in any hockey arena. In football, you've got the sidelines. In basketball, there are the ends of the courts. In hockey? No place for 'em.
And two, they're an unnecessary distraction. Well, admittedly, they're an unnecessary distraction in any sport. It doesn't help that I've been traumatized by watching one too many little girls fall from their high perches. I'm always waiting for the next one to take a face plant.
Really - why does anyone need to be distracted from the game? Any game. I mean, you're there to watch the sport. Girls in little tiny outfits distract you from why you paid $75 for an okay seat to watch a hockey game in the first place.
And while I know that I'm echoing the woman in this article almost point for point, women who watch hockey are far prettier (okay - hotter) than female fans of other sports. Why bother with the cheerleaders when there are plenty of women to ogle in the stands? I'll admit that half the reason I tart myself up when I go to games is because I never know who I might end up sitting next to.
Seriously, if men get to have cheerleaders, then I think the women ought to get something out of it, too. Wait a second and let me think about this.... Nah, never mind. The hockey game is all we need to be happy.
May 22, 2009
This is a very good breakdown of the Phoenix Coyotes' financial situation. And, frankly, it gives you a great idea as to how NHL teams generally work. It doesn't look very good, does it? It's too bad that sports team owners don't seem to have a lot of practical business sense when it comes to running things.
I guess that probably comes from hiring former players instead of hiring people with job experience. I'm not saying athletes are stupid at all, just inexperienced. And we've all see how that's turned out in Tampa Bay this last season. Ultimately, running a team is like running a business - you should only hire the people who qualify for the position.
You should not hire friends and family, and definitely not retired athletes simply out of gratitude or nostalgia. The hockey teams that are the most successful are the teams that have experienced people running them. And most of those people are not former NHLers. I have no problem with former athletes running things as long as they work their way up to that position just like anyone else.
Being granted a co-GM position, such as Brett Hull was upon his retirement, was a bad move in my opinion. And going from player to head coach like Gretzky did? Also another bad move. Even Patrick Roy had enough sense to start in junior hockey before trying to make the jump as an NHL coach. And while Steve Yzerman might've gone directly to the front office upon retirement, he's still in only a supporting role as Vice President of the Detroit Red Wings. Although, I do sort of question his appointment as Executive Director of Team Canada's Olympic team with him only being two years out of the game.
Regardless of how people think of sports, it still is a business - money is what makes it work, or not. And as with any business, the bottom line is that you have to earn more than you spend. It doesn't all come down to player salaries versus ticket sales, tho. Operating expenses are much more involved than that.
However, it really does come down to wins and tickets - at least here in the US. If the team has a losing season, then a team loses money. Americans like watching winners, after all. They don't want to blow their money on watching a losing team, particularly when tickets are so expensive. Unless they're there to watch the visiting team, that is.
May 19, 2009
As posted on the blog, Raw Charge....
Ever since Vincent Lecavalier was drafted into the NHL by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1998, there have been rumors of him being traded to the Montréal Canadiens. For the most part, it’s just been wishful thinking by Montréal fans because they want the best French Canadian NHLers to play for the Canadiens. Last January, according to Montréal’s general manager Bob Gainey, those ever-present rumors came close to becoming reality.
It’s a well-known fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning are not in the best financial situation. But a lot of teams in the NHL aren’t, so that’s not too surprising. It’s also a well-known fact that Vinny has an 11-year, $85 million contract extension with a no-trade clause that kicks in July 1st. Potentially, the option that is now on the table that may ease some of the Lightning’s financial pain is to trade Lecavalier for some desperately needed defense, draft picks, and/or prospects.
Unfortunately, contracts in the NHL cannot be renegotiated once they’ve been signed. So the natural assumption has been that the Lightning would probably trade Lecavalier before July 1st while they’re still able to. And the most likely scenario would be to trade him either right before or at the draft – which, interestingly enough, is in Montréal this June. Though the rumors have been going on for years, do the Canadiens really have a need for a player such as Vinny?
Montréal is hardly the only team in the NHL that could be interested in Tampa Bay’s captain. Just because there haven’t been many rumors about trading Lecavalier to other teams doesn’t mean that teams around the league aren’t evaluating what they have and thinking about making their own offers. Obviously, though, not every team will be able to pull off such a trade.
There are a number of teams that could use a top-line center. And there are a few teams that were very disappointed in their playoff showing that could be looking to revamp their lineup. Based on those two criteria, as well as team depth charts, the current salary cap (which isn’t expected to change much next season), monies committed towards the salary cap for the next two seasons, and the number of restricted free agents (RFAs) and unrestricted free agents (UFAs), a list can be made as to which teams that might be in the running.
First, a couple of notes: All the numbers are from the 2008-2009 season unless otherwise noted. The centers listed were chosen according to who scored the most points at that position for each team. Information about no-trade clauses was not available. The current cap floor is $40.7 million, while the current cap ceiling is $56.7 million. And as for Lecavalier himself, keep in mind that his numbers are from a season when Vinny was playing with a bad wrist and recovering from shoulder surgery.
Tampa Bay – 14th in the Eastern Conference
○ $38.595 million (’09-’10)
○ 7 UFAs, 6 RFAs
○ Vincent Lecavalier: 6’4", 225 lbs., 29 years old
○ 77 games – 29 G, 38 A, 67 P, 54 PIM, -9
○ $10 million (‘09-‘10), $10 million (’10-’11)
Boston – 1st in the Eastern Conference; lost to #6 Carolina in the second round
○ $46.733 million (’09-’10)
○ 6 UFAs, 4 RFAs
○ Marc Savard: 5’10", 195 lbs, 32 years old
○ 82 games; 25 G, 63 A, 88 P, 70 PIM, +25
○ $5 million (‘09’10), UFA (’10-’11)
Boston is in an intriguing situation. While they certainly aren’t happy with falling out in the second round, they did have a lot of injuries and it was an improvement over last season’s one series-and-done performance. Their salary cap is a bit high as well, but may want to tweak their lineup a bit, which is why they’re included on this list. They’re pretty deep at defense, so the Lightning might have a variety of return possibilities from the Bruins.
Montréal – 9th in the Eastern Conference
○ $23.521 million (’09-’10)
○ 10 UFAs, 5 RFAs
○ Saku Koivu: 5’10", 185 lbs., 33 years old
○ 65 games – 16 G, 34 A, 50 P, 44 PIM, +4
○ UFA (‘09-‘10)
Surprisingly, Montréal does have need for a top-line center. Nothing against Koivu, of course, but there is the potential for the Canadiens to not re-sign him. They were very disappointed in how they finished this season, and are looking to overhaul the team. There are rumors that the current owners are looking to sell, they do need a new head coach, and Gainey’s position as the general manager isn’t all that secure. While they are also fairly deep back on the blue line, the defenseman that keeps getting mentioned in the Montréal-Tampa Bay trade rumors is Mike Komisarek. And then there’s the added bonus that they’ve long wanted Vinny in a Habs’ uniform, so they might be willing to give more up to the Lightning than other teams would for him.
Edmonton – 11th in the Western Conference
○ $46.946 million (’09-’10)
○ 3 UFAs, 4 RFAs
○ Shawn Horcoff: 6’1", 200 lbs, 30 years old
○ 80 games – 17 G, 36 A, 53 P, 39 PIM, +7
○ $7 million (‘09-‘10), $6.5 million (‘10-‘11)
Edmonton isn’t as deep, but they are looking to revamp their team as well. Defensively, they’re okay after you get past Sheldon Souray. But they are very interested in adding more scoring up front.
Los Angeles – 14th in the Western Conference
○ $43.188 million (’09-’10)
○ 2 UFAs, 3 RFAs
○ Anze Kopitar: 6’4", 220 lbs, 22 years old
○ 82 games – 27 G, 39 A, 66 P, 32 PIM, -17
○ $6.8 million (‘09-‘10), $6.8 million (‘10-‘11)
LA is a younger team that hasn’t been doing as well as they’d like. They’re looking to move up in the standings and could use some veteran talent. Rumors have it that defenseman Jack Johnson is not happy in LA and would like to be moved. Most importantly, they have plenty of cap room. This is a team that may be willing to give away some draft picks.
Nashville – 10th in the Western Conference
○ $32.987 million (’09-’10)
○ 8 UFAs, 2 RFAs
○ Jason Arnott: 6’3", 220 lbs., 34 years old
○ 65 games – 33 G, 24 A, 57 P, 49 PIM, +2
○ $4.5 million (‘09-‘10), $4.5 million (‘10-‘11)
Nashville is a bit more financially stable than people think, which is why they made this list. They have some older forwards and could use someone in their prime. They’re pretty deep at defense, and though most of their defensemen are in their 30s, that would definitely be a benefit for the much younger Lightning defense.
San Jose – 1st in the Western Conference; lost to #8 Anaheim in the first round
○ $46.751 million (’09-’10)
○ 8 UFAs, 4 RFAs
○ Joe Thornton: 6’4", 235 lbs., 30 years old
○ 82 games – 25 G, 61 A, 86 P, 56 PIM, +16
○ $7.2 million (‘09-‘10), $7.2 million (‘10-‘11)
It’s pretty safe to say that the San Jose Sharks were not happy with their playoff performance. Being the number one team in the NHL and then losing to the eighth seed is obviously not a good showing. Thornton, in particular, has been singled out as having had a very poor playoff series. So poor, in fact, that there have been people in Canada questioning whether or not he should be on the Olympic team. If the Lightning want to pull off a one-for-one trade, this one could be it.
Vancouver – 3rd in the Western Conference; lost to #4 Chicago in the second round
○ $33.283 million (’09-’10)
○ 9 UFAs, 3 RFAs
○ Henrik Sedin: 6’2", 195 lbs., 29 years old
○ 82 games – 22 G, 6 A, 82 P, 48 PIM, +22
○ UFA (‘09-‘10)
Vancouver has a very interesting situation on their hands. Both Daniel and Henrik Sedin are UFAs this summer, as is D Mattias Ohlund. Goalie Roberto Luongo is being painted as the scapegoat for losing in the second round. And there are a couple of players that might prefer a change of scene, Tayler Pyatt being one of those because of his recent tragedy. Vancouver’s a team in flux, and they might be willing to give up quite a lot for Lecavalier. Already the names of both Sedins, Ohlund, and Luongo are being mentioned in some block buster trade rumors.
Where Lecavalier might go, and who for, is still up in the air. There are possibilities outside of Montréal, however. Surprisingly, Montréal itself seems to have a legitimate reason for making a trade. And with a little more than a month until the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, as well as free agency starting on July 1st, the situation will start becoming clearer soon enough. The rumor mill will start up again in earnest, and more player names and teams will be added to the list. Then we will all finally see if Vincent Lecavalier ends up staying in Tampa Bay – or not – after all.
Ten sports stars and their bizarre pre-game rituals
I'd said in a blog a while back about how the Tampa Bay Lightning needed a good sports psychologist, and I got a few people ask me if there was such a thing. I found that to be odd, but whatever. I suppose people generally don't want to be thought of as crazy, and athletes are no exception. The thing is, tho, is that the average person already considers most athletes to already be at least a little crazy. So an athlete (or a team) talking to a sports psychologist actually makes sense to the average fan with little to no social stigma attached.
The obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD) also makes sense. Most fans when reading this will realize that. Again, this has no stigma attached. Sometimes, people perceived as talented get off pretty easy when it comes to social issues that many other people struggle with. And this is definitely one of those cases.
People who aren't high performance athletes are stigmatized for having OCD. And they're pretty embarrassed about it, too. Which is silly since it's a pretty prevalent problem. Actually, one of my sisters has OCD - but she's also mildly autistic, too, and the two almost always go hand-in-hand. Still, once it becomes widely known that many athletes have OCD, or may have OCD, less stigma will be attached to those non-athletes who have it. So that's a good thing.
A person without OCD will typicallly have a set routine, but have no problem if something interupts that routine. They won't freak out, and they won't have problems playing a game if an interuption happens. They'll just go on their way doing what they regularly do without giving it a second's thought. They might joke about the distruption throwing them off if things happen to go wrong, but they don't actually believe it. And they'll change things up periodically, just because they can. It's typically relaxed and no big deal.
A person with OCD tends to be pretty rigid when it comes to their set routine. Things have to be a certain way, and that way always or else it'll upset them. And if that routine is screwed up somehow, then they're convinced that things won't go well. In severe cases, it can be completely debilitating. In very mild cases, it can cause some worry or anxiousness, but the individual is still able to carry out whatever it is they're supposed to be doing.
We've all heard of athletes who have had some odd little rituals. Hockey goaltenders and baseball players generally tend to be the most well-known. But the people who have it participate in all kinds of sports. The important part is recognizing it for what it is so it can be managed - just as you'd do with any other disorder. Awareness is half the battle.
May 15, 2009
This makes me happy. As I've said, I like Sergei Fedorov and I'll be genuinely sad when he finally retires. I can't say that about many hockey players, actually. Markus Näslund was certainly one, but they really are few and far between for me.
May 14, 2009
Not quite hockey related, but here you go. It could be in a very roundabout way, I guess. Anyways, it's good to see that the NHL isn't the only sport on the verge of imploding. Because, you know, Phoenix is only the beginning. Just an example of how it can always get worse.
May 13, 2009
"...Has been drafted in the fourth round, 199th overall in the United States Hockey League entry draft."The first girl to be drafted into a junior league. Huh. She's a goaltender, of course. Something to keep an eye on, tho. It doesn't say in the article, but Alex Rigsby (nice generic first name) is 17 years old, 5'7", 145 lbs. - according the USA Hockey.
Girls stop growing tall at around 18 years old, by the way, so she might be able to eke out half an inch or so by the time she's done.
You know, I say things like this, and I get beat up on and told that I must hate Canada - just because I'm an American saying similar stuff that's in this article. A Canadian says the exact same things, and while fellow Canadians question it, they're totally reasonable about it. Don't you just love visceral knee-jerk reactions?
It's been interesting to see how people are reacting to this situation - people from all countries, that is. I think that most non-Canadians will agree that if Canada can support another team or two then they should have them. But I can't tell you how many non-Canadians agreed with my earlier statement that most Canadians have this annoying air of "possessive entitlement" when it comes to all things hockey. Not just Americans, but Europeans, too. They all have said pretty much the same thing - we like Canada, and we like Canadians, but they do really have this annoying air of "possessive entitlement" about hockey.
A friend of mine from Michigan - a Detroit Red Wings fan, actually - said that Canadians get very sensitive if you question their devotion to hockey. Which is true. I mean, you criticize a Canadian hockey fan about how they approach hockey and all of a sudden they think you hate Canada. It's happened to me time and again.
Any little bit of criticism, and they immediately feel like you're attacking them. It's nuts. If Americans were like that, the entire planet would've been in a nuclear holocaust decades ago. Maybe it's because I'm American, and I'm used to the entire world constantly dissing on everything American, but seriously, stop being so hyper-sensitive. A criticism isn't a hate-crime.
I understand that hockey is their national identity - which I think is pretty sad, actually. I mean, here they have this beautiful and pristine country and all they can say is that they're not American and they love hockey. Really? That's it? C'mon, I'm not Canadian and even I can come up with more things that they should be proud of their country for than that.
Anyways, there's this more visible divide in hockey now. You've got the Canadian fans who demand that they deserve more teams simply because they're Canada, of course. And then you've got everyone else who kind of agrees that there should be more teams in Canada, but are sort of puzzled and wary over this bizarre frothing-at-the-mouth nationalistic behavior that Canadian hockey fans are exhibiting. Although, some of their beliefs about the situation are interesting.
I've read all kinds of things like Gary Bettman hates Canada and doesn't want any more teams there. Which is really why he's trying to stop the sale of Phoenix to Balsillie. That's the most popular one, actually. And the most paranoid. Bettman doesn't like Balsillie and that's why he doesn't want him to have a team - it's as simple as that. There was talk a month or two ago about the possibility of the NHL putting a second team in Toronto, which doesn't seem like something the commissioner would do if he didn't want any more teams in that country.
Then there's the egotistical approach that Canadian fans are what's keeping teams in the Sunbelt afloat. That it's the Canadian snowbirds that winter in warm places that make up all of the fans in those NHL cities, and without them teams would fail. Which, having lived in Tampa, I can tell you that that is not the case in that particular city. So I'm sort of doubting that's the case in the others as well. There's no doubt that Canadians do go to games in those places, but I don't think they're in large enough numbers to really make a big difference one way or the other. And I doubt that there are definitive numbers suggesting otherwise.
Oh, and then going along with that is the notion that Canadian-based teams are making all of the money in the league. And they're tired of supporting the dead weight Sunbelt teams when they should be relocated into Canada, or at the very least in a more northern US city, anyways. Although that might be the case now, but it hasn't always been that way. In reality, if the exchange rate between US & Canadian money goes back to what it was 10 years ago, it would be the American teams propping up the Canadian ones. So that's sort of a self-defeating argument - especially since the exchange rate constantly changes.
My favorite one, tho, is the climate bias. "Warm cities just don't breed hockey fans" is the general philosophy. Which I think is funny since, if hockey is supposedly such a great sport, it wouldn't matter where the team is located, right?
If Canadians understood Americans at all, they'd realize that it has nothing to do with snow and frozen lakes, but everything to do with the win column. Hockey is an expensive sport. Not just to play, but also to watch at the NHL level. Americans want to be sure that they'll be getting their money's worth if they're going to drop $50-350 for a ticket. And that doesn't include parking, food, and drinks - that's just for one seat. If the team sucks, then they just won't go to games. And it's exactly the same for baseball, basketball, and football.
It has nothing to do with the climate. I mean, Chicago was awful just a couple of years ago, and they had problems getting people into the seats. But no one ever thought about moving them elsewhere, even tho the United Center echoed like an empty cave some nights. Then they put a winning team on the ice, and now they're selling out. That's the way things work here. So the fact that Phoenix isn't drawing crowds has less to do with it being in the middle of a desert and far more to do with the fact that they haven't made playoffs in six years now.
So Bettman isn't trying to keep teams out of Canada, Canadian snowbirds aren't the only people going to games in the Sunbelt, the US-Canadian exchange rate won't stay favorable forever, and hot weather does not mean people will not like hockey. I know that people in Canada love their hockey - no one questions that - and because of that they want more teams. But just like everwhere else that wants an NHL team, you'll have to wait your turn. Assuming that a particular city can support a team to begin with, of course - Canadian or American. So take a deep breath and relax. The world is not out to get you.
But if you keep acting crazy like you have been, you might want to consider seeing a psychiatrist who's from a relatively hockey-neutral country like the UK.
May 12, 2009
This explains soo much!
"It's been a bad year for bankruptcies and the NHL. William (Boots) Del Biaggio faces jail time after having been found guilty of fraud for the way he helped finance his minority purchase of the Nashville Predators.
"Meanwhile, the Atlanta Thrashers owners are fighting with each other, Tampa is looking for new investors and the New York Islanders are hinting at leaving unless they get a new arena.
" "There could be other (bankrupt) teams down the road," said Zimbalist. "There are a lot of teams – as it were – skating on thin ice." "
Poor Dallas. To have to suffer what Phoenix is going thru just sucks. Bankruptcy isn't fun for anyone, I wouldn't think, and I feel bad for everyone in both cities.
You suffer one little economic downturn, and see what happens?
Gee, this doesn't just scream that the NHL - and by extension the owners - has been poorly managed for a long time now, does it? I mean, seriously, teams are dropping right and left. Or could be dropping left and right. Just depends on how things go.
MLB, the NFL, and the NBA all seem to be doing fine so far. So you've got to wonder what the story is. Money, obviously, but what are they doing differently that the NHL isn't? Three guesses, and the first two don't count. It's called "marketing."
Well, I don't think that Canada will be able to save all of these teams. It doesn't mean they won't try, but all that's keeping a few of those Canadian teams afloat is a favorable exchange rate with the US. If that goes, then some of them won't last, either.
Can you say "contraction," NHL? ["Contraction...."] I knew you could.
Wait - a league that actually holds its officiating people accountable? I didn't think that actually happened. Not in real life, anyways. How weird.
And on that note....
nhLOL - discipline
May 11, 2009
The post itself is really rather pedestrian, but I found this comment by Neil A to be pretty dead on:
"Keep the 'Yotes in Phoenix. The last thing that US hockey fans need is less generation of hockey fans in a large market with a real estate problem that can only be described as a speed bump. If Balsille wants a team to move to Southern Ontario, he should take the Islanders....And the rebuttle comment by habs1rule:
"Look at the kids from the desert trickling into the WHL...in the next generation, that could be about 20% of the WHL from the southwest. It isn't Canada's worst nightmare to have teams in the southern US. Canada's real worst nightmare to have USA beat Canada in the Olympics on a consistent basis. Canada's real worst nightmare is to have the NHL have more American's than Canadians."
"What some Canadians are kind of upset about is this...Canadians fund all the junior hockey programs, sell out their arenas which increases the revenues for All teams, Yet because of higher taxes in Canada, ..When players become free agents, they want to play for American cities and teams, helping those teams win more Stanley Cups... Its like owning a chicken farm, coming home, and finding you cant even get a couple of friggin Wings" on your dinner plate..."You know, sometimes the comments are better than the posts themselves.
I don't think professional athletes really understand what they mean to the average fan. And I'm not talking about in a stalkerish kind of way, either. I'm talking about a fan and their favorite players and their team. Male, female - doesn't matter because it's all about the same.
Let me see if I can explain this.... It's sort of like the apartment building cliché. Everyone has their schedules, and you end up seeing the same four or five people most days. Sometimes you talk to them, and sometimes you don't. Maybe you know their kids' names and what they do, if you even talk to them at all, but that's about it. You get used to seeing them all the time, so when one of the regulars moves out, you realize that you knew absolutely nothing about them. And, weirdly, you miss them even tho you were only the most casual of acquaintances.
That's how it is for fans. Athletes are the people they see all the time, but never really get to know. But it's comfortable and reliable - almost like a real friendship, but without all of the work. And then when they get traded or retire, you suddenly realize that you genuinely miss them and that the team will never really be the same without them.
If they're traded, you can at least take consolation that you'll still get to see them sometimes on another team. If they retire, you hope they come back somehow doing TV or radio or something so they're not really gone. And we know that it's weird - it's weird to us, too - but it's also true.
So I found myself last week pretty upset that Näslund had retired. Genuinely saddened, in fact. It was like an old friend had moved out of the apartment building. I had hoped to watch him play last season, but wasn't able to, so I was hoping he'd stick around for another year so I could get another chance.
I watched Näslund play in Vancouver for a long, long time. I could go over his list of accomplishments, but if you're interested in that, you can look it up on your own. What you'll find if you do, tho, is that he has only one individual NHL award to his name. His peers voted to award him with the Lester B. Pearson Award, which is the league MVP as voted on by the players. He didn't win any other awards NOT because he wasn't good - he had a fantastic career despite not winning the Stanley Cup - but because he was always a team guy first and always.
With Näslund, it was never about individual accomplishments. It was always team first, no matter what. He rarely talked about himself, and he always did what was in the best interest of his teammates. Which is probably why he's such an underrated player. He never put himself forward over his team, so he was constantly overlooked.
I've talked to a few hockey fans of other NHL teams over the last week, and every one has said pretty much the same things. They're all sad to see him go as well, and they all think that he still has something more to offer any NHL team. They all respected him greatly as a player, despite none of them ever being a Canucks fan.
He could've been as big a name as his friend Peter Forsberg, if he'd wanted to, but Näslund preferred to keep a low profile work behind the scenes. He didn't want the spotlight. You never heard about his charity work, tho he was very involved in the community in Vancouver. You never heard about any side projects or businesses he may or may not have had going on. Unless it had something to do with being on the ice and in an NHL uniform, he didn't talk about it publicly. He played in Vancouver for 11 or so seasons and was captain of the Canucks for eight years, and for all of those years, that was all anyone needed to know.
And the announcement of Näslund's retirement from the NHL was no different. Few athletes realize on their own that it's time and leave gracefully at a moment of their own choosing. Usually, they desperately hang on to their career until they're finally kicked out of it - which usually makes them look a bit foolish in some regard. And Näslund rarely put himself in a position to look foolish. As one would expect, there were no press conferences, no dragging out his decision to retire all summer and for half the next season, and no lengthy goodbyes. Just a simple thank you.
"I would like to sincerely thank Glen Sather and the New York Rangers for giving me the opportunity this past season in New York," said Naslund. "I would also like to thank the Vancouver Canucks and all of their fans for their support over the 11-plus seasons I was a part of their organization, as well as to the Pittsburgh Penguins where I began my NHL career."Well, I'd like to thank you on behalf of the fans, Markus. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to every team you've ever been on. It's been a priviledge and a joy to have watched you play hockey. Best of luck in whatever it is you decide to do, and don't be a stranger, okay?
May 10, 2009
The quarterfinal matchups were:
- Russia beating Belarus 4-3
- USA beating Finland 3-2
- Canada beating Latvia 4-2
- Sweden beating Czech Republic 3-1
- Russia beating the USA 3-2
- Canada beating Sweden 3-1
- Sweden beating the USA 4-2
- Russia beating Canada 2-1
- Russia (7 NHLers)
- Canada (24 NHLers)
- Sweden (8 NHLers)
- USA (23 NHLers)
- Finland (8 NHLers)
- Czech Republic (8 NHLers)
- Latvia (3 NHLers)
- Belarus (1 NHLers)
- Switzerland (2 NHLers)
- Slovakia (5 NHLers)
- All teams had a 25-man roster: 22 skaters, 3 goaltenders. These numbers are based on rosters final as of May 2nd.
- Tournament MVP: Ilya Kovalchuk [Atlanta-NHL], Russia
- Best Goaltender: Andrei Mezin [Metallurg Magnitogorsk-KHL], Belarus
- Best Defenseman: Shea Weber [Nashville-NHL], Canada
- Best Forward: Ilya Kovalchuk [Atlanta-NHL], Russia
- Goaltender: Andrei Mezin [Metallurg Magnitogorsk-KHL], Belarus
- Defenseman: Shea Weber [Nashville-NHL], Canada
- Defenseman: Kenny Jönsson [Rogle BK Angelholm-SEL], Sweden
- Forward: Ilya Kovalchuk [Atlanta-NHL], Russia
- Forward: Martin St. Louis [Tampa Bay-NHL], Canada
- Forward: Steven Stamkos [Tampa Bay-NHL], Canada
Canada (silver medal): RW Martin St. Louis (4 G, 11 A, 2 PIM) & C Steven Stamkos (6 G, 2 A, 4 PIM)
St. Louis finished the tournament the scoring leader, now with 15 points. Stamkos was tied in overall scoring with Jason Spezza [Ottawa-NHL] of Canada for fifth place, both with 11 points each. Stamkos tied for the goal scoring lead with two others, Niko Kapanen [Ak Bars Kazan-KHL] of Finland and Spezza, all with seven goals each. Both St. Louis and Stamkos were named to the All-Star Team.
Ramo played all tournament with his only start against Denmark in the preliminary round, in which he was awarded a win.
Latvia: RW Martins Karsums (1 G, 3 A, 27 PIM)
The United States of America: NoneTeam leaders: Scoring leader - D John-Michael Liles [Colorado-NHL] (1 G, 8 A, 9 PTS); goal scoring leader - D Jack Johnson [LA-NHL] (5 G); assists - D John-Michael Liles [Colorado-NHL] (8 A); penalties - RW David Backes [St. Louis-NHL] (33 PIM).
For game summaries, please go to the IIHF > Statistics page.
May 9, 2009
I've always liked Sergei Fedorov. I think I've seen him play live on three teams now. The funniest time was in Nashville, when he was playing with Columbus when he yelled something back to a heckler near me during a commercial break. I was sitting behind the Blue Jackets' bench and there's that break in the glass for the tunnel to the locker room so you could hear Fedorov clearly. He was a bit embarrassed about it afterwards - probably because his teammates were giving him grief over it - but it was hysterical.
The reason I've always liked Fedorov is because he's a forward who can play defense like he's played it all his life. As a matter of fact, he occasionally does play defense for the Washington Capitals at times - and not just on the power play. That's a rare, rare thing and I think I've only ever seen one or two other hockey players at any level be able to do that. I like the players that are versatile like that - they can play most positions. I also tend to like defensemen who can play forward, which is far more common, for a similar reason.
It's not only is an indicator of ability, but also of intelligence. To be able to play more than one position, and play it well, means you have to understand both your regular position and the other position you end up in. Well enough, anyways, to be where you're supposed to be positionally and to know what tasks are your responsibility.
That's not always an easy thing to do. Hockey is an extremely a reactionary sport - thinking about what you're doing literally slows you down. So to be able to react appropriately at the right time in a different position on the ice is really pretty amazing, if you think about it.
And Fedorov's been doing that his entire career. I'll be very sad the day he retires.
So if were talking about teams that can't fill their seats, then why don't the NY Islanders have rumors (or, rumours, as the case might be) swirling around them about moving to Ontario? Or what about Chicago, a couple of years ago? That place was looking pretty empty. What about Detroit? That area's in a serious economic downturn. Buffalo's been struggling, and they're pretty handy to that area.
Seriously, not even Washington is selling all of their seats for playoffs until game day. Despite it being the second round against Pittsburgh, the most overly NHL-hyped series this season. And what about relocating Ottawa, since they're not doing very well, either? Edmonton has had the exact same troubles as many Southern teams, but no one talks about them moving.
As you can see, there's a warm-climate bias going on in the NHL - and among many fans in a certain northern country here in North America.
I don't begrudge Canada getting more teams. I think that if they can support them, and there's a legitimate reason for a team to move, then they should have them. I happen to like Canada, and I like Canadians. So I have no problem with any of that.
However, what I don't like is their possessive sense of entitlement when it comes to hockey in general - and in regards to the NHL in particular. They feel they deserve more NHL teams simply because it's Canada. Hockey is their sport, so naturally they should have as many NHL teams as they can. When, history has clearly shown, a team won't necessarily work in a place just because of its location - both in Canada and in the US. Failures in Winnipeg, Minnesota (North Stars), currently Long Island, and Québec City come to mind off the top of my head.
I've actually seen one wonderful idea (insert sarcastic tone here) that Canada ought to create their own league and call it the CNHL. Put 12 teams together with only Canadian players, and significantly lower player salaries so that the average Canadian can go to games with their families. Make it a specifically Canadian thing and leave the rest of the world out of it. Yeah, good luck with that.
It's ironic that, as these rumors of Phoenix - and now Atlanta - go around, that three of the eight remaining teams are located in warm climates. Or, relatively warm climates, anyways. Anaheim is beating top-seeded teams left and right, while there could be a Southeast Division final in the Eastern Conference. Only one team from Canada is still in playoffs, and that's Vancouver.
So, right now, both Phoenix and Atlanta could end up in Hamilton, Ontario, with two different owners. Although, Kitchener (Ontario) has also been suggested for Phoenix. But if both teams end up in Hamilton, how would that work out? And could they take the title of "Hockeytown" away from Detroit at that point?
Assuming, of course, that the NHL doesn't just end the Phoenix franchise, should Balsillie win custody of the Coyotes, just to spite him. And believe me, it is a custody battle at this point. However, the NHL still has the last say as to which sports team franchises exist and which don't. They hold the license to all of the teams in the league.
So, two down, three more to go. Does Kansas City get Tampa Bay, Florida (Panthers), or the NY Islanders? Las Vegas, which has been a favorite for an NHL team for a while, would be a seriously bad move. They're one of the worst economically hit areas of the US. Then there's the perennial favorite of Seattle - despite having no backing and no arena, while Portland (Ore.) has at least the arena part of it.
As for Canada, the NHL is thinking about putting a team in North Toronto, which I think is a good idea but I'm not sure that they'll do that if two teams end up in southern Ontario. I sort of think Montréal could use a second team, too. And we can't forget restoring Winnipeg and Québec City to their rightful places in the NHL.
If moves should happen, then I'm in favor of a more radical realignment of the league. Three conferences, with the top four teams in each going to playoffs, and four wild card spots open to all remaining teams based on their records to make up the last group. That way, it's the same 16 teams there are now for playoffs. #1 plays #4, #2 plays #3, and the wild card group is seeded according to their records.
The truth of the matter is that, for those traditionalists who complain about hockey being in warm climates, nothing will satisfy them until they're all moved out of those areas. And if those teams were relocated into Canada, all the better. After all, they're entitled to all of the hockey teams they can get, right? It's their game, after all. At least, I think I've heard that somewhere.
May 8, 2009
Okay, I'm just as passionate and competitive about hockey and sports as the next person, but seriously. This is ridiculous. It's just a GAME! It's not life or death, and it's not going to make any kind of impact in your life three months from now who wins or loses the next game, this series, or the Cup. Get a grip and get over it. And get some anger management counseling while you're at it.
May 7, 2009
This is a pretty awesome quote, I have to say.
"If there's a better quote in the Stanley Cup playoffs than the one Vancouver Canucks defenseman Sami Salo gave about his injury, we haven't seen it. When asked whether it was an ankle, knee or groin, Salo replied: "That's close. Or maybe it's just a burning sensation when you pee ... You never know." Wow ... come to think of it, would an STD be categorized as a lower body injury by NHL media relations?"
I knew that Dan Boyle of the San Jose Sharks reposted stuff from his personal blog here, but I never really looked into it until today. Looks interesting. I'll have to check it out when I get home. I don't think I'll join it, tho, since I need another place to blog like another hole in my head.
I've always thought that putting together an athletes only blogging website would be cool. Set it up so that it's more of a sports new site than a personal dating site. It'd be nice to get sports news from the athletes themselves instead of having the press as a middleman.
I've also been thinking about putting together a site for women hockey bloggers, too. The regular sites are alright, I suppose, but the average guy tends to misunderstand women and sports a lot. Nothing cheesy, but someplace where women can express their sports opinions as well as admire the athletes themselves.
Maybe I should consider doing that instead of blogging myself. That's kind of a good idea, actually. Too bad I don't have the money for it. Hmmm.
In case you still wanted to go but wasn't able to get tickets the first time around....
May 5, 2009
The quarterfinal matchups for tomorrow are:
- Group E #1 Russia vs. Group F #4 Belarus
- Group F #2 Finland vs. Group E #3 USA
- Group F #1 Canada vs. Group E #4 Latvia
- Group E #2 Sweden vs. Group F #3 Czech Republic
The relegation round ended yesterday, with Denmark winning the group.
Canada (4-0-1): RW Martin St. Louis (4 G, 10 A, 2 PIM) & C Steven Stamkos (6 G, 2 A, 4 PIM)
St. Louis is still leading the tournament in scoring, now with 14 points. There are four players behind him with 10 points each. Stamkos is tied for the goal scoring lead with two others, Niko Kapanen of Finland and Jason Spezza of Canada, all with six goals each.
Ramo has not played since his one and only start against Denmark, in which he was awarded a win.
Latvia (3-2-0): RW Martins Karsums (1 G, 3 A, 27 PIM)
The United States of America (2-1-2): None
Team leaders: Scoring leader - LW Patrick O'Sullivan [Edmonton-NHL] (4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS); goal scoring leader - D Jack Johnson [LA-NHL] & Patrick O'Sullivan (4 G each); assists - D John-Michael Liles [Colorado-NHL] (6 A); penalties - RW David Backes [St. Louis-NHL] (29 PIM).
For game summaries, please go to the IIHF > Statistics page.
May 3, 2009
I've just quoted one of my friends. We were sitting in a pub, having fun, talking hockey when he said that. I couldn't believe my ears. Honestly, I was shocked, mad and disappointed at the same time. I absolutely disagreed with his statement but I didn't want to spoil the fun we were having, I didn't want to start any fight so I just said it was his opinion and didn't talk about it anymore. But it stayed with me and I feel I need to prove he was wrong.
When I became a Lightning fan Marty St. Louis was definitely one of the very first guys who attracted my attention. His speed, intelligent passing and his simply smart hands blew me away. I was amazed by the fact that such a small player can be so visible on the ice. It came as a shock when I've found out that he has never been drafted. He's been signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay, July 31, 2000 (He's been also signed as a free agent by Calgary, February 19, 1998). I couldn't believe almost nobody wanted him on their team.
When my friend said "he had only one great season" I'm sure he meant the one when the Lightning won the Cup. Sure, that is the year which comes to the mind first. Marty appeared in all 82 games of the regular season and recorded 94 points (38 goals, 56 assists). Was awarded the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Bud Light Plus/Minus Award. Led the Lightning in goals, assists, points, plus/minus, SHG, GWG, and led all Lightning forwards in ice time. He naturally appeared in all 23 games of the SC playoffs and at the end he hoisted the Stanley Cup over his head. But was this season really the only one to be remembered? Of course it was very special because of the amazing feeling of the victory but I'm sure there were another seasons which show Marty's an extraordinary player. Season 2006/2007 could be one of them. Marty set his career highs with 43 goals, 59 assists and 102 points. Broke his own franchise record for fastest 3 goals as he scored a hat trick in 6:17 during the 2nd period 10/26 vs. CAR. He showed his qualities also in the upcoming seasons. He recorded more than 80 points in both of them with more than 50 assists in both of them as well.
I could keep writing about his stats. I could keep talking about his career highlights. That he played in 5 NHL All Star Games (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009), that he won individual puck control competition and finished 2nd in fastest skater competition at SuperSkill Event during 2003 All-Star Weekend, scored the game-winning goal in overtime to send the series to Game 7 in the SC finals vs. CGY in 2004. Played for the National team Canada at '05 World Cup, '06 Olympics and IIHF World Championships in 2008 (now he's playing on team Canada at World Championships in Switzerland and damn he's incredible).
Yeah, I know that you must already be fed up with all the facts I've mentioned so I'll stop with them now. The thing is that the numbers don't lie and they kind of prove that Marty is definitely one of the best players in the league, but it's not only about the statistics. Most of all it's about what a great person Marty is. If Vinny wasn't the captain there's no doubt that it would be Marty who would wear "C" on his jersey. He has "A" though and he shows that he deserves it every time he steps on the ice. He works so hard no matter what the score is. The Lightning could be trailing by 4 goals but he doesn't care. He goes for it. He goes for the goals. He can cover both ends of the ice. You see him fighting for the puck behind the net in the offensive zone and when the puck is lose you suddenly see him in the defensive zone jumping into the shot trying to block it. He gives everything to the game and he shows what hockey is really about. About heart, commitment, dedication, determination, faith, strength, sacrifice and fightning 'till the very end. Marty never gives up. He never stops until the horn signals the end of the game. Last but not least, he barely finds his way into the penalty box. Do you want to know what the sportmanship means? Look at Marty and how he plays. And that all together is what makes him essential for the Lightning. They need guy like Marty. "True captain" some people say. So I strongly deny that we should get rid of him.
There is a problem though. Yes. Money & salary cap. I'm really worried, scared you could say, that it's not possible to have both Marty and Vinny on the Lightning the next season. I said that hockey ask people to sacrifice but I can't sacrifice one priceless player for another. If any of them, Marty or Vinny, leaves the Bolts, I'll be destroyed. You can bet on that. The upcoming summer really scares me.
I was trying to think of anything what is bad about him. I wasn't successful. Yeah, I might be biased and blind. I might not see the negatives. I don't know. Well... to close this blog I have to say that even though he's not that kind of "super star" like Ovechkin, Malkin or Crosby, it doesn't mean he's an average player.
May 2, 2009
Canada: RW Martin St. Louis (4 G, 7 A, 2 PIM) & C Steven Stamkos (5 G, 2 A, 2 PIM)
Canada is 4-0 on the tournament now, recently beating the Czech Republic 5-1 yesterday. Stamkos scored two goals, registered one assist on a St. Louis goal, and was called for cross-checking. St. Louis scored a goal and also had one assist on a Shea Weber goal.
St. Louis is still leading the tournament in scoring with 11 points in three games. While Stamkos is tied for the goal scoring lead with Niko Kapanen of Finland with five goals. Canada’s next game is against Norway tomorrow.
Finland: G Karri Ramo (1-0, 0.947 SV%, 1.00 GAA)
Finland is now 4-1, having just beat the Czech Republic 4-3, Slovakia 2-1, and losing to Belarus 1-2 in a shoot out. Ramo has not played since he started the game against Denmark. Finland’s next game is against the Canada on Monday.
Latvia: RW Martins Karsums (1 G, 3 A, 27 PIM)
Latvia is 4-1, having just recently beaten Switzerland 2-1 and France 7-1. Karsums was awarded two assists in the game against France on goals by Karlis Skrastins and Girts Ankipans. Karsums has had some controversial hits in the tournament, and is third overall in penalty minutes with 27 PIM in five games. Benoit Quessandier of France leads the tournament in penalties with 31 PIM. Latvia’s next game is against Austria tomorrow.
The United States of America: None
The Americans are 3-2 in the tournament, recently losing to Sweden 6-5 in overtime, beating France 6-2, and losing to Russia 4-1 today. Defenseman Jack Johnson (Los Angeles-NHL) leads the squad in scoring with six points (4 G, 2A, 2 PIM). He and left wing Patrick O'Sullivan (Edmonton-NHL) lead the Americans in goal scoring, both having scored four goals each. Defenseman John-Michael Liles (Colorado-NHL) leads the assists category with five, and right wing Lee Stempniak (Toronto-NHL) leads the team in penalty minutes with six PIM. The United States’ next game is against Switzerland on Monday.
For game summaries, please go to the IIHF > Statistics page.