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Observations From Yesterday

 

I put in around 90 minutes a day, give or take a half hour, getting each days blog entry up.  The rest of the day, I work towards earning money as best I can – columns, real estate copy, working on the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp, or soliciting new sponsors.

Yesterday, I recieved an extremely generous donation from an Aggie in Alaska, Frank Reddick.  Frank was living up in AK when I was playing, and in looking for ways to support the University hockey program, he bought my jersey at an auction and gave it to my family the second I was no longer NCAA eligible.  He is buddies with a couple of my roommates as well, and has done more for us than he’s ever needed to.  So, to Frank, THANK YOU.  It’s feels wonderful to have the time I put in to this justified.

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Crap, same costume, AGAIN!

Crap, same costume, AGAIN!

I’ve written a couple columns in the last few days that I really liked.  When that happens, the response is usually great.  The problem though, is that I received the NHL media stuff in my inbox the other day, took it at it’s word, and went on to write about the amazing growth of attendance and television ratings.

And though the NHL has seen major gains, my point is this: did anybody catch Capitals/Thrashers on TV yesterday?  It was in Atlanta, and I was embarassed watching it.  After naming ATL as one of the four teams to see huge growth in attendance, it looked like 7/8ths of the fans came dressed as blue seats for halloween.  How am I supposed to write about how awesome their ticket sales are, when all it takes is someone with two eyes to see they aren’t doing that well at all?

(The other article is an elaboration of the gay rights for hockey players blurb that started some conversation yesterday.  We’re ridiculously behind the times in sports.)

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Knuck it up.

Knuck it up.

Is doing the “pound” (knuckle-bump) officially the new “old-white-guy-high-five” yet?  Isn’t it time for Afro-Americans to continue to lead the way in cultural trends and start something new?  This may be the only time in our culture where you still see young black men and old white men using a similar form of expression. 

Except old white guys “blow it up” sometimes now, which kills me (case in point: Clark Gillies Charity golf event, where my Dad and his group, in a scramble event, honored each good shot with a double-fist simul-pound, with TNT like results… PZCHOOOOOO!  They were hilarious).  Oh, and apparently the fear of “pandemics” promotes the pound too.  Whateves.  (says the kid who lives 2.5 hours from the Mexican border)

*****frolov

Alexander Frolov got me thinking: there’s nothing worse than playing well after being benched.  Its such a stupid situation to be put in.

Basically, post-benching, if you play well the coach takes credit for “motivating you”, even if all he did was earn himself a dose of seething resentment.  Then, given the chance to play again, you get a couple bounces and he takes credit.  Long term, it’s not effective, I promise.  Pulling that card out in game seven?  Fine, Frolov is hot (because Frolov is good).  Looking forward to that relationship deteriorating as soon as he cools off again.

Jeff Update

 

Life is a crazy thing, isn’t it?

Two days ago (as his ordeal was happening), there was a note waiting in his inbox.  It was from the Canadian Olympic Committee – he’s been chosen to be one of Canada’s hosts at the 2010 winter Paralympics.

He’s currently learning to say hello in a bunch of languages so he can greet people.  I teared up again.  Ha.

Topics of Interest

 Thanks to everyone for the wonderful support of my brother’s situation.  He’s doing very well today!

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trade for tixDid you hear about the woman who just got arrested for prostituting herself for world series tickets? (that wasn’t a set-up for a joke, believe it or not).  Her online ad had herself described as a “buxom blonde willing to get creative in a trade for World Series tickets”.  Once an undercover officer said he had the tickets and arranged the “trade”, she was cuffed and charged.  That actually happened.  Baseball tickets.  Go sit in the corner and think about what you… tried to do, woman.

{“Buxom” falls into the list words I use and understand, but would find it hard to define.}

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The Naked Shootout (for those of you who don’t know what it is)

The naked shootout that the Tampa Bay Lightning attempted was funny – especially within the team.  Really, they don’t know what’s going to end up happening themselves.  Guys just come up with stupid games (as people know, mustache boy – loser grows a ‘stache – has caught on, but guys play for dumb stuff every day.  Bagel Boy (loser gets bagels for the next morning), Juice boy (loser pours everyone gatorade), and the most frightening of my career – earring boy (loser gets a temp earing for two weeks).

But I’m a little bothered by the public gushing about the naked shootout.  Mostly cause I think it’s not that funny, and because I can tell it’s going to catch on, despite being one of the lesser shootout games.

The  Idaho junior Steelheads (17 year olds, I guess?) did it too.  Kids that age are not mature enough for the naked shootout to be “dumb funny”, so it’s just dumb – they think its the nudity that’s funny, not the public demeaning of a teammate (silly kids… they’re way off).  I want to slap those kids.  Then, to compound the problem, some woman who sees it calls the cops.  Right, because THATS what we need the nations police doing, stopping 17 year old boys from being harmlessly dumb.  Don’t worry.  To quote an officer “The investigation is ongoing”.

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We were musing – in the spectrum of “difficult jobs to get as a homosexual”, do you think  there are many that would be harder to have than men’s hockey coach?  It’s such a homobphobic culture.  Is this why I don’t know of any?  And on that thought, does anybody know of an openly gay hockey player?

I mean, statistically, there has had to have been hundreds.  And, it’s no myth that women’s hockey has it’s share (one female ex-college player told me “it’s creepy watching them give each other they eye in the room”.  You can’t make that stuff up).  But to this day I know of zero.  I have a few guesses on ex-teammates (Tassone? Probably Tassone right?).  But still, zero.

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Fill it up again!

Fill it up again!

So what if Anthony Kim, young PGA tour stud parties his ass off?  There is no sport that it matters less in.  It’s not a team game, so if he hurts his game, he only hurts himself.  Not everyone strives to be the best human ever at their sport, some are just happy getting paid (ie. me). 

It’s not tennis where being at the peak of your physical prowess is key.  Fine, it’ll hurt his chances (and liver), but the guy is doing just fine the way he’s doing it.  I just can’t fathom why anyone cares, and why the story is on TV.  I like him so much more knowing he likes to put back a few shots the night before he hits a few shots, and he still kills it at the games highest level.  Win one for the guys who’d do it the same way, AK!

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I spoke with an unnamed professional coach about a month ago (possibly one that had been drinking) with a “scoop” for me to write about.  He was being blackmailed by a player that he was going to have to cut.  This player saw the writing on the wall, and I guess the year before, the coach had swung at the kid after a game.  That’s really all I’ll say about that, but isn’t it crazy that stuff happens behind closed doors?

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I’ve tried to explain a few things to rec league players on my blog, since I’ve recently become their liason between pro and their style of hockey. Now it’s your turn to explain something to me.

In your game, is there some “don’t shoot through screens” etiquette?  Yesterday a guy came down one on one on me, then blasted one into my foot.  I’m limping today, and was irate for about two seconds.  Then I thought “it’s hockey, you have no right to be mad”.  And now i’m thinking… “don’t I”?  I’ve held back a number of times from firing it into a crowd so far.  What’s the etiquette on this?

Jeff’s Ordeal

 

As much as this is a sports blog (yayyyy Datsyuk finally awoke from his coma and scored me some fantasy points), it’s also a personal blog.  Today is personal stuff, so if you’re looking for sports, time to re-direct, homie.

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A few months ago, my brother Jeff broke his femur.  You may think that for a guy already in a wheelchair, that’s not a huge crisis, but he still has to transfer in and out of bed, the shower, vehicles and a million other places.  It’s a big deal for more reasons than we need to get into.

The brace he had on to steady the leg left his ankle with some sores, so he’s been going shoeless Joe Jackson.

When Jeff goes to get groceries, he rips over in his powerchair, because imagine trying to wheel yourself carrying bags of food.  Not cool.  This Sunday, Jeff had taken the powerchair to the store, then was stopping in at his neighborhood pub to meet my cousin, and probably to meet a pint of Okanagan Spring’s 1516.

With patchy sensation (mostly none) in his legs, he didn’t feel when his foot slipped off the footrest and onto the ground – he was heading up a cement ramp in that powerchair, and sheared four of his toes to the bone – and then some.  An ambulance ride and the grossest picture you’ve ever seen later (thanks for that one, bro), Mom and Jeff went home to monitor the toes.

As poorly circulated ground beef is bound to do, it started to look bad.  Mom immediately took him back to the hospital the second they noticed a negative change, where the surgeon said he’d have to amputate three toes before the infection spread, like ASAP.  Jeff has had a ton of surgeries (somewhere in the mid 30′s), but this was a new one to all of us.  Aesthetically, he was bummed, but it wasn’t going to change his lifestyle any.

For long surgeries (I’ll try not to get tooo into the details here), they put a catheter in.  After the surgery, it was blood that came out.  Jeff started seizing.  And you need to understand – Jeff is no invalid.  He can sit there and BS and go fishing and play sledge hockey and call me a toolbag, whatever – this was a complete shock.  Then he stopped breathing.  They called Code Blue and rushed him to the ICU.  Then, miraculously, he started breathing again.

And then it happened again.

I’m tearing up writing this.  My Mom had to sit there and watch and try to get as much help in the room as possible.

And we all just waited (Dad was here visiting Brianna and I).  He stabilized, so they told her, and Mom sent us to bed, a continent away. 

By the time my Mom went to bed and got a few hours sleep herself, we were all up and waiting on more news.  I drove to my fiance’s work because I was such a wreck I literally didn’t know what to do.  I was walking in… and he called me.

I cried man… boy did I cry. 

He laughed. 

“Dude…I’m fine dude”.  And then he re-assured me with lies “my foot looks good” (his foot looks like the crusher-claw of a lobster) “I feel good” (he only lost about a small human’s worth of blood) and “we’ll have a blast when I’m there in a month” (he’s having no fun, because I’m beating him within a foot of his life… that inch stuff isn’t as funny any more).  And here we are.

Here’s the stupid picture of his dumb life-size face that he sent me.

Jeff after code blue

(Clearly there was some psychological damage – apparently, upon being given a second chance at life, “The Freshmaker” has the power to induce happiness.  Wires got crossed somewhere)

When I asked if I could write this story today, he text back “no problem, let the seven-toe jokes begin”.

And how’s this for a two-toed kick-in-the-ass: while the surgery was going on, and Mom ran to the OR to see what was happening… someone stole Jeff’s bag.  Laptop, wallet, everything.  Is there anything lower than seeing an unguarded laptop at a hospital and taking it?  Eff forgiveness, if that person is by some crazy odds reading this, I hope you die an awful death on your way to hell.

So.  On the heels of all that… how’s your day going today?  :)

Jeff is on the mend – texting me jokes all morning – and alls well that ends well.  And hey, Jeff – three toes less means you’re closer to that weight-loss goal you set, right?  Congratulations!

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And if you reeeeallllly want sports, here’s the link to USA Today’s Power Rankings. (Though from the looks of the player picks, my opinions were not shared. Pronger is having the best season in the league as a d-man? Is he really?)

A Links Course

Jeff n JB 

I’m not quite in the frame of mind necessary to be simultaneously insightful and sarcastic as I usually try to be when I write.  Without going too far into detail, and without being too much of a Debbie Downer, I’ll just say that I almost lost my brother last night (who’s also my best friend and best-man-to-be).  He’s apparently on the mend though.  If you wanna know more about Jeff, here’s his personal site.

So, what you get instead, is Bourne’s Blog’s version of a clip-show.  A bunch of links to stuff I’ve written recently, or just feel like linking to.  Hope you enjoy:

 

 

1)  Personal travel stories I gathered in quote form from six current/past NHLers – Dale Hawerchuk, Josh Gorges, Chris Higgins, Brett McLean, Eric Nystrom and Bryan Trottier.  Personal Travel Stories

2) For Yahoo! Sports hockey blogger “Puck Daddy”, I contributed Five Reasons I Love Hockey.

3) An email interview I did for Kuklas’s Corner’s Patrick Hoffman a few weeks back – If you can tolerate a couple uninteresting answers to start, it gets a little better. An Interview About Myself… and the NHL

4) An article I wrote a few weeks back about Trevor Smith being a step away from Islanders-ready (and if you ask me, I’d swap him out with a person they think is ready right now). Trevor Smith

Aimed At You, Phoenix Fans

 

Let’s be clear on something Phoenix fans – I don’t dislike the Coyotes.  I keep saying they aren’t going to do well because I don’t think they’re going to do well.  I don’t like Carolina.  I think your team is bad.  There’s a difference.

I did my Power Rankings for USA Today… today… and I feel good about them.  I’ll link to the rest of my rankings tomorrow, but for today, I’ll just run my top ten teams:

  1. Pittsburgh
  2. Colorado
  3. Washington
  4. New York Rangers
  5. Buffalo
  6. Calgary
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Chicago
  9. New Jersey
  10. Phoenix

Worth noting

* Philly dropped from second to out of my top ten this week.  5-3-1 in 9 games with a roster as impressive as theirs just continues to defy logic.  Why aren’t they better?

* Phoenix crept into my top ten.  I’m never quite sure if a power ranking is supposed to be “top ten seasons so far” or “top ten teams who’ll win the cup” or something totally different.  I tend to think its a reflection of the season to date, with a minor bias towards those teams with more promise.  And up til now, the Coyotes have had the tenth best season in the NHL (and of course, that’s judging them as a real team with no “…for the Coyotes” kicker.  I bet it feels good to shed that kicker with their good start).

* Both at 6-3 in nine games, I have New Jersey ahead of Phoenix because they’re 5-0-0 on the road. 1-3 at home sucks, but five road wins makes their season to date better.

* My top five has four Eastern Conference teams.  When you look at the records, it’s tough to argue – even though Buffalo has only played 8 times, it’s still impressive to only have one loss (6-1-1).

* How about some of the teams I thought would struggle in the West flying outta the gates?  Phoenix, LA, and Dallas all started surprisingly well.  Unfortunately, someone has to lose every time a game is played.  Watch for a trend towards reality in the coming weeks.

* I realize I have Washington high again.  They’re 6-2-2, and that “slight bias towards teams with promise” did it to me again.  If you were the GM of a team that was a goalie away from being a legit Cup threat, wouldn’t you be making calls around the league every day?  Twice a day?  TO EVERY TEAM?

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 For hockey fans in Phoenix (and they do exist), coverage of your home boys isn’t great.  Actually, coverage of hockey period isn’t great.

I have good news.

Ahh.... I heart you CJ's

Ahh.... I heart you CJ's

Bourne’s Blog has a new sponsor.  In general, as I start adding more sponsors, I may have to lie to you.  “Oh, I really love using Glidden paint, and you should too”.  “When I score goals, I do it using Hammertime’s double-shafted lead sticks – it’s got a built-in cup holder!”.  But this one is no lie - Cactus Jack’s bar is awesome.

With more than 15 flat screens, the NHL package, TSN and CBC… if you wanna see a game covered at all, or better than Versus does it, it’s at 4747 Elliot Road by the Safeway in Ahwatukee.  Good food and cheap drinks.  And I mean cheap.  And though it’s not my cup of tea, they have three pool tables, Golden Tee, all the good bar staples.

So, here’s what I’m thinkin Phoenix fans.

You hate me.  That’s fine.  But lots of you hit my site everyday, I have that sort of technology that exposes you, believe it or not.

This Saturday, let’s go watch Hockey Night in Canada.  Let’s talk hockey.  Let’s hash this out.  I’m just trying to get a feel for this idea, so you can comment on here or write me an email, whatever.  My new sponsor wins, and I get to actually get to know you.  Thankfully, while drinking. 

How many of you would want to watch some hockey on a million-inch (give or take) with real commentators with me?  We’ll even put the Phoenix game on an adjacent TV, and I won’t make any smart-ass remarks (everyone who already knows me in person just spit water on their monitors).  You in?

Islanders and Coyotes Thoughts

 

Dad’s observation on hockey coverage, from yesterday: “It’s interesting that between all the hockey analysts on TSN, ESPN, NHL Network, Sportsnet and Headline Sports, not one of them has ever really won – let alone a Cup.”  I’m not sure if he’s right about that or not, but I certainly can’t think of one.  Kevin Weeks?  Ray Ferraro?  Mike Milbury?  Maybe Bob McKenzie has one? 

By the way, I still can’t mention Pierre McGuire’s name without having the other half of the conversation get spitting mad. As my buddy Neil mentioned on here, he’s “polarizing”… only thing is, I’m yet to hear anyone be on any pole other than “that guy’s an idiot”.  “You see what Evander Kane’s thinking HERE?  He’s thinking ‘I’ve got big Ron Hainsey backing me up, two forwards caught deep, a defenseman that struggles doing an eagle-pivot to the left, and I’m coming down on a goalie with damaged confidence from last weeks shellacking when he got pulled in the second period, so I’m gonna drive it wide and fire it off the back wall so it comes out to my lightning fast linemate streaking on the other side, who’s gonna BURY it.’  How good is this kid, Gord?  Only 18 years old.  EIGHTEEN!”.

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Couple slew-foots in the NHL lately.  I hate the f***ing play.  How cheap is that?  It’s the one-man equivalent of having someone kneel behind a guy and pushing him, only twice as dangerous.  That play isn’t regarded with a whole lot of respect in the hockey community, as I’m sure you could’ve guessed.  Ovy’s wasn’t that bad (the “borderline slewy” can be tough to gage), but Arthuykykykykyku-e-i-e-i-o-kin’s was.

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Gotta love the uni's, at least

Gotta love the uni's, at least

My Isles, they’re a-strugglin’.

When I watched the highlights, and saw some of the namebars, I was a little less surprised at their struggles.  I had been so caught up in their positive names (ie. young guns Tavares/Okposo, supposedly better goaltending in Rolo/Biron, d-man Streit), that I forgot they were occasionally dressing guys like Thompson and Reichlicz. 

They have officially given my friends on the team enough “development”.  They need Comeau, Tambellini and Neilsen to be good now, not “up-and-comers”, or they’ve wasted their time on them.  Tim Jackman has been consistently good, but his “good” is different from those guys I just mentioned, that are supposed to provide some offense.  Tim isn’t.

It’s like some of the guys on that team have free passes to be NHLers, and they’re just happy to be there.  Not that Bailey won’t be a good NHLer by the time he’s old enough to legally consume alcohol, but would he have played on any other NHL team last year?  This year?  I keep waiting for somebody to grab an opportunity by the balls and run with it on that team.

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Trying to cover Ballard in college led to the line "Somebody getta f**king leash on that guy!"

Trying to cover Ballard in college led to the line "Somebody getta f**king leash on that guy!"

And last, after the Coyotes hot start, and me writing an article saying they’d suck, I hadn’t backed down.  Then they beat the Bruins.  Then they beat the Red Wings.  At some point (speaking of cutting losses) I’m going to have to say I was wrong.  But I’m just. not. ready yet.

The Coyotes will still miss the playoffs, but instead of 15th, they’re looking at 9th/10th.  TSN has them ranked somewhere in the NHL’s top three.  Hard to argue – they’ve handed Pittsburgh their only loss, and even their own losses were games they could have won.

So I’m sitting down to do USA Today’s power rankings…. and the boys cracked the top ten.  Right now, I’d be an idiot to claim otherwise.

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Last, you can now sign up for membership on HockeyPrimetime.com (www.hockeyprimetime.com).  In November, HPT will be unveiling it’s discount shopping portal to it’s members (certain percentages off at stores like Best Buy, Home Depot and more when you buy online).  They support me, so definitely support them.  The latest piece I wrote for them is on bad travel experiences, from the mouths of the players that live them.

Thoughts On Pleasures, Beer and the French

 

A fellow Kelowna guy, Jordan Abney, made a great point yesterday:

One of life’s best, completely unnecessary, but totally great moments is getting your hair washed at the hairdresser, is it not?  As he pointed out, yes, I’m capable of washing my own hair.  Yes, I could buy some nice smelling shit.  But nothing beats that thorough scalp massage.  No need to rush, sister.

Can someone make the head rub the focal point of their business plan?  I would easily spend $15 bucks to drop the haircut and get a 15 minute scalp massage… wouldn’t you?

*straight shave*****

And while I’m being coddled, is the straight shave not one of the most amazing services still provided to males outside of brothels?  Even thought it kinda reminds me of the end of Gran Torino (if you haven’t seen that yet, you’re messing up), I can’t wait to get a real good one someday soon.

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Beer of the Month:  Finally, I tracked down a local one worth promoting.  Oh, and one worth anti-promoting.  If that makes sense.

I dunno who the dude is, but that's the beer.

I dunno who the dude is, but that's the beer.

My Beer of the Month for October is the San Tan Brewing Company’s “Sunspot Gold“.  As they describe it, it has a “deep, rich golden colour”, with a “delicate hop character”.  Basically, it’s really hot here, and the selling point of this beer is its drinkability (no, Bud Light doesn’t have that word trademarked).  I can already see my Canadian visitors pouring Clamato in it.

The worst of the month belongs to the same brewing company, and goes by the title “Strawberry Whit”.  Described by the bartender as “so bad the staff is thinking of buying what’s left and dumping it”, it was nauseating.  In trying to think of what we’d rather do than drink another sip of the sample, my buddies and I agreed that breaking the glass and cutting ourselves with it would be superior.

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Hockey tip of the month: Don’t be afraid to have the puck.  And for the most part, that’s aimed at rec league players.

I don’t mean don’t pass – you need to pass as much as possible in rec hockey.  I just mean don’t panic.  I imagine the soundtrack in the head of the average player on bad rec teams is “Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God”.  Chill out.  Once you get the puck, step (1) is to continue skating.  Then step (2) is think.  It looks like guys want to get rid of the grenade on their stick before it blows up, so they pull the pin and chuck it into the next guys feet.  It’s okay to have it for a few seconds.

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Olivier Labelle can say his name faster than you can.

Olivier Labelle can say his name faster than you can.

Is North American hockey anti-francophone?  No.  They have every opportunity – teams want to be good, and they don’t care who’s in the jersey… they really just do. not. care.  They’d dress a snow leopard if he could win faceoffs.

But in general (just being honest, don’t shoot the messenger), well-liked French guys are pretty rare.  I played with a couple BEAUTY’S in Utah – Olivier Labelle and Christian Gaudet, and tended to get along with French players a lot better than other guys, but I can see why they have a bit of a negative rep, unfortunately.  Guys say that they seem entitled, and not that warm.  I’m just sayin.

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Other major ideas I’m saving for columns – pranks, puck bunnies, and plus/minus etiquette.  Oh, and someday, the steroids piece.

If you missed it yesterday, check out my article on team identity (and the Maple Leafs) at USA Today here.

And, I should have some hockey thoughts courtesy this weekends visitor soon - as my fiance calls him “Big B”.  Thaaaattt’d be my Dad.

North America or Europe?

 

USA TodayBefore we get too deep into anything on the blog (you know, cause I usually discuss such deep topics), check out my latest column for USA Today here.  It’s on team identity, how tough it is to find one when you’re losing, and how the Toronto Maple Leafs are the perfect example of that.  Don’t be shy to comment, recommend, and just generally make the major newspaper provider feel like they’ve made a good hire.

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It’s weird, how getting older means you see your friends less.  People move, get married, have kids, all that.  So of course, it’s always nice when you get the chance to reconnect. 

One of those ridiculous-looking sponsors supplemented his salary directly. Do we think this doesn't happen in NA to circumvent the salary cap?

One of those ridiculous-looking sponsors supplemented his salary directly. Do we think this doesn't happen in NA to circumvent the salary cap?

In junior, my roommate Andrew Derton was like a part of my family.  He’s down in Phoenix playing for the CHL team (er, change of plans on that, but anyways), so he’s spending some time over at my place.  It’s been nearly FIVE YEARS since I’ve seen the guy I once lived with for two years, won a championship with, and endured Mussonlini-as-a-coach with.

And just like yesterday’s blog involved some hockey thoughts that I mentioned came up over beer with a different guy, the following came up over red wine with Derts:

Derty played in Belgium and Holland a bit last year, and in talking about that, we got onto an important point for players making the “where to play” decision after junior or college.  North American hockey matters on your resume.

A little known fact about going to play overseas for fans, is that they really want you to have some experience over here before you go over there.  For the small and talented ”he’ll be great in Europe” guys, they should really stick it out over here for a year before they go (especially since it’s a LOT harder to go Europe to NA than NA to Europe). 

Good experience here can earn you double/triple what a similar player to you will be earning, strictly because you have North American pro under your belt. You're right, fate, a broken face in Boise is much better than being overpaid near Amsterdam.

Before I broke my face in shattery-five places last year, I was in the midst of negotiating a deal in Europe, and had just had a deal for 750 Euro a week in The Hague (Netherlands) fall through (teams there are only allowed two imports per team, and there were some complications I don’t feel like writing out).  They pay housing and bills on top of that, and there’s almost no tax.  Neato.  Glad I broke my face and took up writing… stupid computer…

{<——- No, you’re right, fate, a broken face in Boise is much better than being overpaid near Amsterdam… I look like Artie Lange there.}

Anyway, he was telling me that on his CHL team, there were Europeans coming across to play in North America for two reasons:  One, the money is gone in a lot of lower European leagues (not all are mob backed.  I’m looking at you, KHL…).  Apparently the economy isn’t just bad here.  But the bigger one, two, is that they were trying to better build their resumes to earn better money. 

He was playing with a Dane, a French fella, Czechs, a Slovak and some Russians.  And, as is to be expected, and is typical, most to all of them hate “our” style of game (here comes the flood of “then go home thoughts” from readers).  I don’t mean that in a derogatory anti-Euro way at all; I’m stating a fact.  Most of them hate the dump and chase buffonery North American coaches employ (and I side with them on that).

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I have my “to blog about” file on my phone that I update when I chat with people and think of something.  I add stuff at sporting events, at red lights, wherever.  The downside of this, is that I think I get good ideas in the middle of the night, so I enter them in the file.

I consistently wake up to some cryptic, garbled nonsense that I have no clue how to decipher.  My favourite, by far, came last night, apparently around two a.m.

PopTart from an Oscar Envelope?

…yeah.  See?  These are the type of insights you’d miss if you didn’t read this blog.  (I love the question mark, like I wasn’t certain if it was a good idea or not.)

Fights, A Conspiracy, Kovalchuk and Jeanneret

 

A buddy of mine from Kelowna, Ryan Beckmann, happens to live 10 minutes from my front door in Phoenix.  Having someone to BS about sports with has been a great way for me to come up with hockey topics/ideas/thoughts, because in the past, the couch hasn’t reciprocated with many viewpoints I hadn’t thought of.  The following are topics we’ve dredged up over the past couple weeks of beer and BS time (some of these may be expanded into column form shortly):

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Being big doesn't make getting punched any more fun.

Being big doesn't make getting punched any more fun.

*In hockey, there’s nothing cooler than a team leader fighting to make a statement.  Specifically, I’m talking about guys who don’t have to fight doing it to show their team, “f**k yeah this is important”, so teammates can see that “hey, if our goal-scorer is fighting, we damn well better step it up too”.

And even more specifically, I’m thinking of Iginla vs. Lecavalier in the Calgary/Tampa Stanely Cup final (the two best offensive players in the series, both of whom happen to be tough), and Thornton vs. Getzlaf in last years playoffs, largely so Thornton could prove to everyone in the stands and on his bench “yeah, this matters to me, I just happened to play a relaxed style of game, and it works.  Is this what you want me to do?  Switch to being this guy?”  Either way, very cool.

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Any chance the Flames had simply agreed to help Theo get some publicity before the release of his new book?  And that’s why the whole “comeback” fiasco?  Everything would suddenly makes sense, wouldn’t it?

Theo has a new book about to be released and wants to churn up some momentum and headlines to boost it’s sales.  He’s broke.  Nothing would do that quite like a “return to the NHL”.  He talks to the Flames about his idea (or someone else’s), and they agree to let him “tryout” as a thank you for his years of service, and suddenly he and the Flames are making headlines.  Is it that ridiculous?  Would you have heard about/been as interested in his new book if it wasn’t for his recent “comeback”?

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Ilya Kovalchuk is a bag of fireworks personified.  Is it possible to be less famous while being the second-most electrifying player in the NHL (behind Ovechkin)?

He’s thrilling.  I can’t think of someone who’s less celebrated while being one of the top five players in a major professional sport.  I know everyone knows he’s good and all that, but he’s rarely in the conversation with Crosby, Ovy, Malkin, Datsyuk etc.  I’d love to see him play in Toronto and get some media attention (or even better, NYR, so he could have the media plus good teammates - has the guy ever had a good teammate?  Name three players he’s had to work with).

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And on the topic of uncelebrated, can we get Buffalo Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret a few more mainstream jobs before he retires?  Can he start calling Hockey Night in Canada?  Can Versus get him to cover every game ever?  Something?  Someone get on this before he has an anyeurism from going Sabre-crazy – he might be the best in the biz right now (just listen to the first minute or so, and you’ll know who he is):

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Snuck out a 5-4 victory in Fantasy hockey this week, still without Hossa, and without Datsyuk playing.  Fear me, BBHL.  I’m almost back to .500.

The One With Josh Ciocco

 

My favourite comment of yesterday didn’t come on the blog, but courtesy my fiance.  I was grabbing a quote for an upcoming article via text from a guy I respect and admire, and she dropped:  ”Did you just send a smiley-face to Bill Guerin?” on me.  Man, when you put that in context, it really does sound inappropriately fruity.

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UAA jersey were style at it's finest. I just love 'em.

UAA jerseys were style at it's finest. I just love 'em.

Commentor “Mike” asked a question about gear, to which I responded that a few of my thoughts on gear (on style, really), can be found here from about ten days ago on hockeyprimetime.com.  After explaining to him that I wasn’t a “gear bitch”, the term used to refer to guys who always need their gear fixed, new, changed or something, our trainer (PD) from college backed me, and the rest of my college class up here (especially Mark Smith, right Peeds?  That guy would’ve used a field hockey stick if that’s what you gave him.)

In keeping with the style and gear theme, the following is a great comment from a former teammate in Josh Ciocco.  But first, let me give a you quick bio on the guy:

Josh and I were both right wingers in Vernon.  Josh was probably the toughest 5’10″ (generous?) hockey player I’ve ever played with, and he could play the game too (in fact, if I recall, you didn’t love the fighting part?)  I was probably the softest 6’2″ (generous?) hockey player you’d ever seen, but I could play too (thank god).  The University of New Hampshire liked us both.  They flew me down to tour the campus.  Apparently, for their right winger spot, they wanted 5’10″, tough and talented, as opposed to 6’2″, talented and deathly afraid of violence (nah, it’s cool man, we almost made the frozen four in Alaska too, enjoy the scholarship).

Making the cage cool is like making a seatbelt cool - thus, style is tough in collge.

Making the cage cool is like making a seatbelt cool - thus, style is tough in collge.

{Semi-tangent here, for Josh – the one game they came to watch us both, I hit you with a breakaway pass in overtime for the game winner (lacrosse play), and you had a scholarship there within weeks. The “donate” button is on the right.}

He became the captain there (oooo congratu-frickin-lations), played pro, blah blah.  Where this is headed, is that it’s nice to find a good bitching partner.  There’s a bitching club on every team, really.  They get really big when the coach is an ass, or the team is losing.  It’s cathartic, like therapy.  And Josh and I could bitch like no other.  In fact, when we met in a pro game four years later, we went out and did the exact same thing.  But anyways, here’s how the world of gear and style went down at UNH:

“At UNH, my roomates and I played bad style poker for like, three weeks. We would play blind hands of poker, if you won, you were out, the last one in, or the “loser”, would have to have some sort of bad style in practice the next day. We would have one loser for each game, and we would play multiple games for bad style. You hit the nail on the head with most of them, but these were the topics we went with…Tape your tuuks black, Full tuck on the jersey, neck guard or turtle neck, socks pulled over the heels, klima tape job on the stick, and no tape on sock-shin pads so they’re falling all over the place. Sometimes there would be multiple losers, im laughing here picturing Jacob Mcflikier take to the ice with black tuuks, a fully tucked jersey, and socks over the heels…..On a side note, you know how you write notes on the whiteboard to the trainer and sign your number under it? example, “Can I please get a new stick, thanks, 14″ I used to love writing the note, “can I please get a neck guard for the game tomorrow, thanks, “someone elses number” good times.”

That was a priceless move, the requesting of something for someone else.  “A smaller cup, 18″ or for a right-handed linemate who can’t score “left-handed stiff-flex Sakic curve, 17″.

And last, from the Ciocco files, a testament to both of our getting older (and his getting whipped):

I love animals.  I frequently run animal pictures on my blog.  Josh’s girlfriend’s dog (why aren’t you two crazy kids married yet?  Would you ask her that for me?) is in a cute contest, and is giving the money to charity.  Something about fighting animal cruelty, I forget.  Rest assured it’s a real one (or maybe it was “the human fund”…).  Third prize is $500, second is $5,000, and first is A MILLION STUPID CUTENESS RELATED DOLLARS.

This is Merlin the Puggle:

You're the one who wanted "my dog is in a cuteness competition published, not me.

You're the one who wanted "my dog is in a cuteness competition" published, not me.

If you think he’s cute, and I do, follow this link and give him your vote!

 

All Things Hockey

 

In one of the most epic goaltending performances I’ve ever seen, my ridiculously stacked rec league team generated 70 shots in three 15 minute periods, and scored six times.  So kudos to that guy (and keep in mind, “rec league shots” tend to contain an unhealthy dose of breakaways).

A few thoughts from that game, before I move on to the NHL:

This, except made of the reverse magnet they made my stick out of.

This, except made of the reverse magnet they made my stick out of.

- When I decided to pack it in, and hadn’t really played since December, I wondered how long it’d be until I “lost it”, as in, being good.  Well, what was the date yesterday?  October 14th?  So for those of you playing professionally right now, the answer is that it takes somewhere around ten months for the stick to stop feeling like an extension of your hands.  Trying to stickhandle last night felt like the puck was a “reaction ball”  made of some magnet’s north pole, and I was using a Bauer South Poll Xtreme, Modano curve.

- My rec team had caught a glimpse of my last post.  Had the joke not been somewhat exposed in the locker room pre-game, it would have been hilarious that they came out calling for passes in strictly stick taps (commentor “PVeltkamp”: we’re in a small, albeit slightly fake fight – I talked to lots of people about the stick tap. If it doesn’t work, you look like a douche.  If it does, you look like a douche, but you have the puck.  A general rule to live life by has to be “avoid looking douchey”, doesn’t it?)

- Best two goalie related comments I’ve heard in awhile: 

*In regards to a goalie who went down in a pad stack, and didn’t feel like getting up to face the rebound shots, a player referred to this elusive, rarely seen in the wild technique as “look, he’s doing the couch potato!”  Just lying on his side, watching TV… with huge gear on.

* In regards to the goalie who so thoroughly dominated my rec league team calling for a timeout to fix his pad, our goalie skated over to the bench, looked over at the other goalie reaching behind himself to do repairs and said “Whassa matter, horseshoe fall outta his ass?”

Annnndddd (more than) enough rec league talk.  Onto the NHL.

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- I wouldn’t buy Jonas Hiller’s helmet at a second-hand shop (where I assume he found it) for a nickel.  I’m willing to bet someone made $900 on that paint job.  “OH GODIspilledallthepaint!  Fuck it.  I don’t have time to start over again”

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- I had a reader send me this ebay widget (which he should give me large portions of money for directing traffic to if he sells stuff), and I actually thought it was pretty cool.  It ranks the teams in the NHL by conference/division etc. based on how much of their gear sells on ebay.  I was surprised at a few of the results (for example, Buffalo sells more gear than Toronto?  What planet am I on?).  Worth a gander if you’re literally just looking for ways to kill internet time – http://www.terapeak.com/nhl

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Prospal - I literally have no idea if he's awesome or useless.

Prospal - I literally have no idea if he's awesome or useless.

- I know some reader is going to come back with the exact rule book answer for this comment, which is why I’m writing it.  The “intent to blow the whistle” call kills me.  It cost me goals as a player, then wasn’t called in the NHL last night.

Basically, when a puck is loose, and you’re trying to put it in, even if you dig it out and score before the whistle, the ref can (and often will) say he had “intent to blow the whistle” before the puck went in.  So, the real whistle you hear is just the slightly later, audible version of the whistle that actually counts, the one inside the referee’s head.

Last night, the Rangers jammed around the Kings net, and as the ref clearly goes to blow the whistle, Prospal gets lucky and angle-banks one off Quick’s pad for a goal.  They wave it off, then after review, come back to say “the puck went in before the whistle, goal”.  Well WTF’s the rule then??

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- Speaking of the Rangers, they look sick. If they have a good week, they could be in my top three for USA Today’s Power Ranking next week.  Lord knows I need to stop blowing the Caps if they don’t feel like winning games/trading for a goalie.

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- Coyotes sent Boedker down?  And Turris is already there?  I’m unfamiliar with the lineup here, but starting to get to know it better.  So what’s goin on here?

Don’t Tap Your Stick On The Ice. Ever.

 

Finally, FINALLY, I’m in a real, permanent home.  Or at least as close to permanent as possible without buying one.  My bags are (getting) unpacked, the intenet is fast, and watching a TV this big in a living room this small is like being at IMAX.  It’s amazing.  Oh, and as an aside, I got the NHL and NFL packages.  But that’s just as an aside.

A major side effect of playing sports for a living is travel.  As athletes, most people realize that the pro’s of the job so heavily outweigh the cons that it’s not even worth the breath to complain, but permanently living somewhere temporary does suck. 

After I moved out of the house in which I lived for nearly three years in college, I haven’t unpacked until today.  I lived in a small apartment with the Alaska Aces, then split my summer between Kelowna (BC) and New York with the family and GF, then New York for hockey, then Bridgeport, then Utah, then Bridgeport, then Utah, then Kelowna/New York, then Hershey, Reading, Boise, Kelowna/New York and most recently, my parents place in Arizona while Bri and I found this place.

I finally f**k**g unpacked.

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I’ll keep it mostly hockey today, because lets be honest, that’s probably why you check this site.

Drop it, I'm open!

Drop it, I'm open!

I saw something disturbing in a rec league game the other night, and it reminded me of something that I’d seen as a kid, and needs to be stopped before it can spread.

The guy on the other team triple tapped his stick on the ice to call for a pass… again, from the other team.  You know, the minor hockey move where the other team has the puck, and kids would just blindly pass it to anything they thought was a teammate - shadows, sounds, smells, whatever – so you could tap your stick and get a pass from just about anybody on the ice.

But this was a 30 year old adult male of the species.  You should have seen how hilarious it was, the guy hunched over his stick, doing those quick rabbit taps.  I blushed I was so embarrassed for him.  Yes, the move is that pathetic that I blushed.

In other sports, I’m a major fan of some things that people consider unethical, but I’d call gamesmanship.  If you can steal signs in baseball, why wouldn’t you?  They’re the ones who “need” to agree on a pitch, but don’t want to say it out loud – If you can figure out a “tell” in poker, you use it.  You’re trying to win.  So if you know what pitch is coming because their signs involve holding up ACTUAL SIGNS, sit on that fastball. 

Similarly, football is the perfect sample of the American rat race in general – anything to get ahead.  If that means renting a blimp and dangling into a stadium to get cellphone videos of the Jets 4-3 defense the day before you play them, then I say good on ya.

But the stick tap?  Grow up.

{Tangent brackets – don’t even call for passes from your own team with the stick tap.  Call for the damn puck like an adult so he/she can at least hear your voice.}

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Plus, a good coach could throw the flag AT the ref.

Plus, a good coach could throw the flag AT the ref.

Why can’t every sport institute football’s “challenge flag”?  It’s great that there’s some humanity involved in calling sporting matches.  That way refs can feel the momentum and energy, and adjust their calls accordingly.  But a missed call on a crucial play can unfairly penalize an undeserving team. 

It wouldn’t be used for calls like “hey, that was a foul” in basketball, but like “hey, that ball was actually fair” in baseball.  *flag*  or “hey, the puck hit their defenseman last before going over the glass, the draw should be inside.”  *flag* 

What’s so great about the challege flag, is that if you’re right, the game became more fair.  If you’re wrong, you lose your privileges, and we don’t have to put up with your petty grievences for the rest of the game, cause clearly, you’re frequently wrong.

Look how great its been for tennis.

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Despite the fact I had a tough first week in Fantasy Hockey (in my defense, the guy I played had not just a killer week, but also a shutout from CRAIG ANDERSON, and a short-handed assist… there’s two free “W’s”), I’ve agreed to be a weekly fantasy hockey “expert” on XM radio.  I’ll run my latest interview on my blog as soon as I get it.

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In other news, Glenn Beck narrowly edged out Gary Bettman for the person my readers would most like to punch.  I’ll be booking the flight to deliver that gift ASAP.

Mommy, Wow, I’m A Big-Boy Now

 

Well, that was stressful.

Last night, I was the NHL.com correspondent covering the Coyotes home opener.

It turns out “being a hockey reporter” doesn’t actually mean ”getting paid to watch the game”.  There’s a ton of work involved.  I have a new respect for those guys, honestly.  In fact (as I’ve so often suspected from reading game articles), the toughest thing to find time to do is watch the game.  There’s such a need for immediacy, that the writing ends up looking like upscale bullet points.

The gentleman editing my pieces, Mr. Kreiser at the NHL, deserves at least half of what I earned (which is just short of enough to retire on, of course).  It was fun reading the articles today to find out what I wrote.  Turns out I knew a whole buncha stuff about the facts.  Good for me.

Had I not had an editor, or anyone screening my thoughts, they’d have looked something closer to this:

- Hmm, Phoenix/Columbus.  This should be sufficiently disappointing for the fans.

- Wow, this atmosphere rules

- Upshall, big hit.  Mueller looks great.  Columbus wants to murder Fiddler.  Jovonovski wants to murder the powerplay.

- Just score a damn goal for the fans already

- I’m hungry

- Just score a damn goal for the fans already

- Oh god, they’re going to get shutout

- How much does Jovocop make again?

And then I missed the rest of the third trying to write something coherent.  Check out my main contribution here, and keep your eyes peeled for the follow-up piece I submitted this morning.  Thanks to Bob Condor at NHL.com for giving me the opportunity.  I learned more in one working Saturday night than I did over the hundreds in college where I was shown the complex inner workings of beer bongs, keg stands and “quarters”.  So now I’m well-rounded.

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Also, check out the Five Reason I Love Hockey, on Puck Daddy’s hockey blog for Yahoo! sports.  I’ll have the internet up and running at the new apartment Tuesday, so I’ll have a new post then!

The Process of Potential. And Beer.

 

I’m getting a lot of ideas tossed at me these days for different topics I should write about, which is great.  Keep ‘em coming.  I save them in a file on my CrackBerry, and intend to get to them all at some point.

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Beer of the Month:

Commentor JustJeff is Bourne’s Blog’s resident beer expert {tangent brackets, eight words in – in retrospect, I really wish I had given my blog a better name.  I started with a laptop, pain meds, and a stack of documentaries and stand-up comedies in the blu-ray. Didn’t think I’d end up using the name so much}, and we’ve tossed around this idea a couple weeks ago.  For now, I’m just looking for advice on what to try, so I can recommend one for November.  I’m a fan of Stella Artois, most hefeweizen-style beer, summer stuff like Corona/Pacifo, and a lot of nice British Columbia beers like Sleemans “twenty”, Okanagan Springs “1516″ and even the occasional Guinness.  Advise when ready.

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Apparently my recent piece for The Hockey News struck a chord with some old teammates of mine (about eight, actually).  Even some guys that are playing this year are struggling with that choice, and found they could relate to it.   And, not just teammates – apparently, at some point, a lot of us have had to face the difficult decision of practicality versus passion.  Hearing from them (and you) was pretty neat for me, because obviously it was one of my more personal pieces of writing.

Three of the funniest humans I know. And a cat. He's the nerdy looking engineer on the left.

Three of the funniest humans I know. And a cat. He's the nerdy looking engineer on the left.

The following is an excerpt from one of the messages I got that I thought would be a neat observation for hockey fans to hear, written by Kevin Croxton.  He excelled in college on and off the ice, spent time in Springfield and Peoria in the AHL, and played in the ECHL (Alaska) with me.  The paragraph before the one I’ve copy and pasted below emaphasized that these thoughts weren’t born out of bitterness – it’s just a general observation on how the game works.  And for what it’s worth, I agree with him.

“I always thought a new career would be better for me because in hockey you get to a point where it doesn’t matter who’s better than who. Once I realized that, it made the decision a little easier. You know the old story about “he’s drafted”, what contract people are on or “this guy has potential”.  Apparently only NHL teams run their business that way, as opposed to REAL businesses that reward results as opposed to potential.  If I sell more than everyone here on a consistent basis, my company doesn’t promote the younger guy that doesn’t know the business as much because he has ‘potential’.  They also don’t take a guy that’s been trained in sales (scoring) and put him in the marketing department (fourth line) and then six weeks later complain that he hasn’t sold anything (produced points). I understand the argument for grooming players and whatnot, but it’s a pretty expensive proposition and even more so if you’re wrong. You should write about ‘If NHL teams ran their businesses like businesses, what would be different?’”

For a player, getting drafted means more than a team saying ”dibs on him if he gets good”.  It means that every kid gets chucked in the water to see who can swim, but you’ve just picked up water wings, scuba gear, and flippers.

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And last, two things: One, props to Eric Nystrom, an LI boy, who had three goals, a fight, and was plus three last night, essentially mauling the game sheet with awesome. (note: he just text me – they took away the one they thought he tipped.  I always hated that video review)

And two, today I recorded a segment on XM’s Hardcore Sports Radio (I may or may not have capitalized on their leniency with cursing).  It’s running on Monday, so I’ll put a “check it out” reminder on here then.

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