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Notes From Game One

 

 It’s a holiday and I have a bunch of writing to do, so today I’m just going to jot down my thoughts on Game One and get the conversation started.

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When I set out to watch Game One with some friends, we tried to  pick a TV heavy bar that promotes hockey.  And we did.

But still, we were still relegated to the two 18″ low-def TV’s because of the Suns/Lakers game and UFC.  Soooo I watched it again yesterday, and here’s what I saw….

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 *Brian Campbell passing the puck into the trap on the first Flyers goal struck me as really odd.  Totally covered, the Flyers player is almost flat-footed, and he doesn’t put any sauce on it….. it honestly looked like he got the jersey colours inexplicably mixed up.

*On the Blackhawks first goal (Brouwer shot, Hossa pass), how useless did the four defenders look as that puck went in.  Not sure I’ve ever seen so many players look so confused at the same time.  Of the five Blackhawks on the ice, there wasn’t one that was covered.

 

*Five goals or not, Leighton looked absolutely horrible the whole night.  Just so shaky.

*Gotta be good to be lucky: Bolland’s “five-hole” short-handed goal actually rides up Leighton’s stick and goes under his arm.  I watched it like five time on slo-mo, because the announcers were raving about the “scouting report” on Leighton’s five-hole.  Bolland just missed getting it above Leighton’s blade and it STILL went in somehow…. not the Philly keeper’s night

*I wrote Toews looked BAD in the first – little did I know he’d look that way for three periods.  And hey, Im a fan of his.  But wow.

*Patrick Sharp wears an “A”?  Hmm.  Never woulda guessed that.

*On Sharp’s goal, Leighton didn’t commit to the shot.  Not only is he too deep in his crease, but he doesn’t trust his d-man to take the pass and stays ready to kick to the far post.  #Awkward goaltending moment. (BTW, I bet Pronger would like to thank Betts for covering for his pinch, then immediately making an attrocious pinch/guess decision to cause the 2 on 1).

 

*Okay, Flyers powerplay – if the high-to-low seam from Richards to Timonen is open on nearly every PP, and you’re going to try to make that play a few times a game, isn’t “it’s a hard shot to bury for a lefty” a shitty excuse, when you could just put a righty there?  PUT A RIGHTY THERE.

*Y’know what would be a fun stat to know?  How many times Keith and Seabrook have passed the puck to each other this year.  They’ve played a bajillion games (and practices) together, and use the d-to-d more than anyone.  It’d be like guessing the jelly beans in a car full.  6,000? 16,000?

*Puck-staring.  My Puck Daddy piece is on it today, and it was ebberywhere.

*Matt Carle, who I’m also a fan of, seemed to get beat wide an awful lot.  Not sure about his foot speed/quickness at his current linebacker looking size.  He was thinner/quicker in college I think.

*Briere’s pass on the Asham goal was just so awesome.  I love how he plays (when he’s on).

 

*Behind the play on the Asham goal (not on this video), you can see Sharp square up to Timonen and shake his mitts like “alright then, if you’re gonna be a tough guy, be a tough guy”, and Timonen pushed him and changed.  What’s with the odd moments of ‘roid rage from ol Kimmo?

*Kane/Hossa are settling for perimeter shots instead of taking it to the hoop like they do when they’re scoring.  We’ll see if that changes anytime soon.

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Okay, that’s it for now!  Agree?  Disagree?

You Know Me, I Ramble: Shoes, Playing Styles, Flyers

 

I made my picks for Puck Daddy today, and already changed my mind since yesterday.  I’m ramping my pick up to Chicago in Five, as opposed to yesterday’s prediction of “in six“.  So go me.

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I used to forget my dress shoes on road trips constantly. 

You’ve got a million things to remember to bring.  Running shoes, shower sandals, going out shoes, dress shoes…. skates….  it was too much for my tiny mind to remember, and I didn’t have a BlackBerry to function as my head then.  God I would’ve been a better student-athlete/hockey-player with a BlackBerry (and by “better student” I mean “would’ve read twitter all day and never listened”)

Anyways, I never remembered the dress shoes unless we travelled in suits, which was about 70% of the time.  In that case, I’d forget running shoes.

But it’s amazing how impossible it is to track down dress shoes once you’re on the road.  First, nobody brings extra ones.  Second, I’m a size 12, which rules out a fair number of shoes.  Third, shoes are effing expensive.  Fourth, you never have free time.  I could go on all day.

So basically, I was the tit walking around with what some people NOW MISTAKE FOR STYLE, and was wearing my New Balance’s with my discount suit I bought from a sponsor.  It was horribly embarrassing, and worse, was always a hefty fine.  The fun part is, it was always someone if not me, so I loved when the “shoe was on the other foot”. (Clever Bourne, real f***in’ clever)

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Some people are hockey players, and some people are built to play hockey (Travis Moen would be the latter). 

What I mean is, some people have a feel for the game, and instincts that let them move within the flow of the action (Jonathan Toews).  Some people, and there are a number of them in the NHL, are men that are effing huge and skate like the wind.  For them, the “game” of hockey is of secondary importance – and this isn’t a beak or a bad thing – it’s just a different type of human.

These man-beasts have such god-given gifts (I’m not talking about handsy guys here) that they couldn’t have missed the NHL if they tried (okay, Moen was a bad example).  If you’re a good skater and a huge body, you can always find a few effective things to do.  You’re immediately tough to play.

I NAILED it with Lucic. Thought of him after....

I’m trying to think of examples and could use a little help.  Do you know what I mean?  Guys that have value because they overpower the game instead of playing it?  Jason Arnott?  Could, say a Ryan Kesler have missed the NHL at that size and speed, even if he was offenseively useless?  David Backes?  It doesn’t have to be grinders – Dany Heatley is frickin’ huge with a bomb slapper and skates better than you think.  First time I skated with him I was bummed, because I thought “no matter how much I lift, eat, and skate, I’ll never have those tools to work with”.

I’m looking for names of a few guys that couldn’t have missed the NHL if they used the wrong end of their stick.

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I’m sure he’s a great guy and all, but I sports hate the shit out of Mark Messier.  Like, with all of my sports heart.  Oilers and Rangers?  Burn in a (sports) fire.

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From about seven weeks ago (before playoffs started) I have this note saved in my phone: “Philly has had to be in playoff mode for the  last couple weeks of the season to make playoffs.  This will benefit them early in ploffs, but kill them later”

Soooo, take that for what it’s worth.  How long can you keep that nose to the grindstone before you hit skull? (Annnd there’s your horrible imagery for the day.)

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Anytime you hype a guy up as being the edgy/cool guy on a show, it’s tough to actually be that.  I’m so weired out everytime The Daily Line hypes up Reese as the guy who “crosses the line”.  I can imagine that everyone says their piece on a topic, then looks to Reese for the big zinger.  God that must be awful.

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Let the record show that I love that my blog gets me involved in product/promotional emails from companies.  MLX is a new company that’s sending me skates to demo.  So I’ve got that goin’ for me.  I’ll follow up on that next week sometime. 

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It’s Follow Friday on Twitter.  Any good recommendations?

Yeah hi, I'm Justin's cat. What of it?

My Finals Picks – Best Goalie, D-Man, Forward and Team

 

Let’s get to it – here are my answers from yesterday’s poll questions:

Which goalie would you most like to have on your team in the Finals?

I’m 100% sold on Antti Niemi.

His situation in Chicago this year felt like one of those “let’s try and keep this kid down and give our other goalie every chance to be the starter so people don’t realize we’re paying the wrong guy” deals.  Just like Carey Price over Jaro Halak, and for awhile, Tim Thomas over Tukka Rask.  In the end, you want the best goalie in the net, and teams relent.

Just so solid.

I thought he was absolutely dynamite in the early games of the San Jose series, and he played great against Vancouver.  He’s not that awkward “how is he doing it?” style that I hate so much (*coughNabokovcough*).  He does it the right way.

In the game Philly lost to Montreal, Leighton let in a couple of those “oh god, is he gonna crumble?” goals, before regrouping nicely.  He’s had an exceptional year (for a guy who’s played around 30 games), and is certainly capable of succeeding.  For now though, he’s played in seven total playoff games, facing a Krejci/Sturm-less Bruins team and a fizzling, content-with-where-they-got Montreal offense.

Which Defenseman would you most like to have on your team in the Finals?

I hate this question because of the “in the Finals” part.

Just so annoying to play

I’d take Duncan Keith during the year, and probably even most of playoffs.  I’m completely torn on this one, but if I’m being honest, I think I’d prefer to have Chris Pronger.

My heart wouldn’t let me vote for him in the poll.  I picked Duncan Keith, thinking that Duncan creates offense from defense (uses quickness to intercept pucks, move them the other way) and creates defense from offense (makes such solid decisions his team often plays entire shifts in the offensive zone).

But I couldn’t lie to myself a second day in a row.  Pronger is impossible to play against.  He’s one of those guys that when you play him, your line is on the bench frustrated going “man, we just can’t seem to get anything going today.  Not getting the bounces”.

He uses his long stick like a scalpel to just hinder every f**king play you’re trying to make.  He gets his big body in the right spots, has a bomb from the point and moves the puck like guys a foot smaller than him. 

I hate him, but he’s one of the best.  I’d have to take Chris stupid Pronger.

Which forward would you most like to have on your team in the Finals?

This one inevitably boils down to the two leaders, Richards and Toews.

Just a staple of Flyers hockey.

My general thinking is this:  Toews is going to have a better career than Richards.  He’s 22 and already more of an offensive threat.  He steps up in big games, is crazy responsible for his talent-level (doesn’t have to be, but is), and is just an all-around star.

But Mike Richards wants this.  I’m sure Toews does too, but sometimes Richards’ passion scares the shit out of me.  He plays with a fire I never had.  I think he knows this may be one his last chances to compete for a Stanley Cup in a conference likely to be dominated by Washington and Pittsburgh for awhile.  After all, how often are both those teams going to get eliminated before Philly has to deal with one of them?

He has all the tools to succeed, and he’s in his prime.  Plus, I can’t help but remember that I’ve played Toews in college, and occasionally he gets his three points in such a quiet way that he’s rarely on your radar.  I felt comfortable enough to play my heart out, since I wasn’t looking over my shoulder for him.  I look over my shoulder for Mike Richards before typing (hey, that guy could be coming from any angle).

At the same time, if you read my column yesterday, Philly has that (negative) something that makes them just be so bad once in awhile, and a part of me can’t help but wonder if he’s the common thread.  Toews just smells like winning, so it’s a tough call.

I’ll stick with Richards for now, but ask me Sunday and I’ll probably change my mind.

What’s your Finals prediction?

Picking Chicago in six gets you no love.  It’s the safest thing on the planet, and a lose-lose.  The number of games, six, shows no balls, because you’re always “close”.  The team shows no balls because they’re the (significantly) higher seed.  And that’s why you see pundits go out on a limb, because they have the small chance to be “right” and the guy who “really saw things the right way”.

Just so few real teeth.

But at what point is picking like an idiot beneficial to your career?

Chicago is a little better at every position, which means they’re A LOT better team.

I can see Philly winning a game or two.  I mean, it’s the NHL, Edmonton can beat Washington and it’s not exactly the Detroit Lions beating the New Orleans Saints.  So I can’t pick that short of a series.

So I’ll give the Flyers their due (and play it safe) and go with Chicago in six.  Hey, it’s what I think is gonna happen, I can’t be blamed for that, can I?

Happy Thursday folks.  See ya back here tomorrow!

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Poll Questions and Reader Explanations

 

So, the Bourne guest room is ”booked” every weekend in the month of June.  I live in Phoenix.  Don’t you people know this place becomes the surface of the sun that month?  What is wrong with you?!  (Kidding, kidding, always excited to have guests).

As for me, I have zero intentions of staying in AZ very much this summer.  I’m booking a flight to Minneapolis (may have to do a “get Bourne to Minny” fundraiser first) for the July 4th weekend – my junior teammate, college opponent, fellow Kelowna boy and country music star buddy Chad Brownlee is getting married.

Check out his website at www.chadbrownlee.com

Then I’m heading to Kelowna in late July to put the final couple of weeks of prep work in for our Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp.  And by the time I get back in mid-August, it should be cool as a cucumber here…. right?  Guys?  Okay, probably not, but whatever, it’ll almost be over.

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Yesterday I wrote an article for Puck Daddy on what makes the Chicago Blackhawks so effective.  There’s like, 135 comments or something on it already (most of which assure me that I am, in fact, completely retarded), so it might be worth a peek at if you haven’t already read it.

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Atta kid, Nash.

The Phoenix Suns tied up their series with the Los Angeles Lakers last night, making it 2-2 heading back to LA.  You have to love that.  If you’re not from LA and you like the Lakers, congrats on your Yankees winning it all last year, and best of luck to your Cowboys this fall.

Phoenix was always my favourite basketball team, long before I ever moved here.  Can you imagine how sweet it would be for Steve “facial lacerations” Nash to win it all (PS, can we name the NBA title something cool yet?  Admit it, you barely remembered it was named the “Larry O’Brien Trophy”  And please, nothing involving the word “World”, since it’s just in North America…. yes I’m looking at you, baseball).

Either way, the NBA playoffs will be a nice fill-in this week while the NHL players take vacations in Tahiti or whatever it is those lazy bums are doing right now.

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Question and answer time.  Lets find out where our readers are at.  (Not sure why there’s an “other” option on the first one, since everyone would just pencil in “Ryan Miller”, so try to avoid that option).  I’m hoping to get some explanations in the comments section.



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“Teach me how to Dougie, teach me teach me how to Dougie.” 

I’m going insane.  One too many listens and I can’t beat this song out of my head (note: it’s hip hop, 90% of you WILL hate it):

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In tomorrow’s post I’ll explain why I picked who I picked, but for today, the forum is all yours.  Why’d you pick who you picked, Peter Piper?

Toews, The Itty-Bitty Slapshot Committee, and Scott Gomez

 

During my first full year in the ECHL, I had the privilege of playing with Travis Rycroft, our team captain in Utah (for one of my better pieces, on Travis and team chemistry click here.  I wrote it in my second month of blogging – you can tell because I don’t make every damn sentence it’s own paragraph like I do now – and it was good enough that I was inspired to keep doing this).

While I learned a lot about work ethic and character from the guy, I also picked up an infinitely valuable (and apparently common) trick from him that I’m sure many of you already use:  When you go to the bar on a work night, always get the stamp on the underside of your wrist.  That way, if it’s not washed off the next day, it still won’t be visible, and your boss/coach won’t get mad and make you start bag-skating/…collating?

"Everyone on the line" = pure dread.

Random bag skating tangent: Can we unify what we call doing the lines that go from goal line to blue to goal line to center to goal line… etc?  Lightnight lines, suicides, ladders, whatever…. can we get on the same page here, my international friends?  How about plain and simple “lines”?  Suicides are on a basketball court, and we hardly need to tack “lightning” on to something that, by the end, moves like a slow motion replay.

I’m wandering big time here, but we used to do the “Peter Zezel” – which was basically that same set of lines, but after you went all the way down and came back, you had to go all the way down around the net and back to the blue line, then go back around the net to get back to the goal line.  We had to the entire rink in that direction too before doing it all again on the way back.  Guh.

Maybe it’s time to start this blog.

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Hey look, it’s a random thoughts catch-up post!

How about Jonathan Toews wearing #16 for team Canada at the Olympics, out of respect for the more senior Joe Thornton?  In the Conference Finals, with the two going head to head, I couldn’t help feel like Toews finally surpassed Joe as the games current best #19.  What is it about that number that attracts talented, respectful, likable stars?  Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic… Toews could fit right in that conversation at the end of his career.

Coupla primo #19's right there.

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Best google image result ever.

Recently-wrong friend-of-the-blog Ms. Conduct (Ms. C: Richards beat two d-men and a goalie to the puck, laid out just as aggressively, while your poor-decision-making Halak got plowed by Hamrlik, and Richards emerged from the smoke unscathed) called MA Bergeron “The Itty Bitty Slapshot Committee”, and I couldn’t love that assessment more.  He’s like those toys that do a backflip when you wind ‘em up.  You’re like “hey, neat!”, and after the fourth backflip it’s…”soooo, what else ya got?”

When Mike McKenna tweeted about him being like a field goal kicker – wait on the bench until it’s time to do your one job – I didn’t realize how accurate it would be.  I mean, when Richards hit him he looked like a last-guy-back kicker trying to tackle Ed Reed or something.

{Random note: I should probably note he was one of the funniest, nicest guys at Islanders camp.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully mean the stuff in the two paragraphs above, I just feel obligated to note he’s an all-around nice guy.}

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Okay, so think about Scott Gomez skating up-ice with the puck, and the hilarity that is people trying to hit him.  Now imagine us in college watching him play on an Olympic sheet in the ECHL.  One game I went to, he was running a powerplay, and literally stopped with the puck at his feet, stood up, and pointed with his glove for where guys should move to.  One pass later, goal, Alaska Aces.  Okay, you’re good, we get it.  He only scored 13 times in the 61 games he played, but found time to get 73 assists.  Man he’s deadly.

Dancin around out there

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I’ve often wanted to put polls in my blog, but couldn’t figure out how.  And by “couldn’t figure out” I mean “didn’t try to figure it out”.  I’ve got some columns to bust out, and four guys are on my radar for a story.  Which would you most like to read?  Also, anyone know of a good free poll site?

Dustin Byfuglien
Mike Richards
Matt Carle
Patrick Kane

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I wrote a piece on the Chicago Blackhawks and the phrase “41 thunderfuck” today for Puck Daddy (though I called it 41 thundertruck for their sake).  When the article is up, I’ll put the link here.  Happy Tuesday, and thanks for all the comments on skate sharpening.  FBV apparently FTW, I guess, or something!

Skate Sharpening And You

 

My summer job for three years during my college career was at a hockey shop, sharpening skates.  We were one of those destination skate sharpening places – the best equipment, pride in the job we did, the whole package.  So I know this stuff pretty thoroughly.

Standard sharpening wheels

Here’s what you need to know:

Basically, your skate “hollow” is how deep the groove is between the edges of your blade.

If you hand your skates to someone for sharpening, and they don’t ask what hollow you get them done to, they’re probably doing them at what’s called a “1/2 inch” (which refers to the wheel they use to sharpen your blades).  And hey, don’t feel bad if you don’t know what you get yours sharpened to - Iginla came in one summer and said “I dunno, my trainer just does ‘em”.

The sharper your edges are (which comes from the deeper grooves), the deeper you sink into the ice.  So you can get more push and accelerate faster, but also, during coasting, you slow down quicker because of the increased friction/drag of your blades in the ice.

And of course, the heavier you are, the deeper you sink as well.  Thus, being heavy with sharp skates is a bad idea.

Good lookin' tools, right?

You can get your skates sharpened anywhere from 1/8th of an inch to one inch.  1/8th would be the sharpest, and one inch would be the least sharp.

I used a 5/8ths hollow, but as I got older and heavier, I switched to the less sharp 3/4ths.  Basically, I like to stay on top of the ice and maintain speed, since I wasn’t really a stop-and-start penalty kill guy, I was more of a coast-and-float breakaway hunting guy.  At my weight (185 then, 200 now), I’m still able to get plenty of push from that hollow.  Plus, we had trainers to sharpen our skates as often as we liked, so there was no “get them too sharp and let them dull down” logic that a lot of rec players use.

Most of you probably get your skates done too sharp. 

You want less of a hollow if you skate on soft ice, if you’re a heavier person, or if you want to better keep your speed during coasting.  I think you get less tired this way, but it may take you a second longer to get to top speed.

You want more of a hollow if you play on hard ice, if you’re a lighter person, or if you want to be able to accelerate quicker.  I think you need to consciously keep moving more, but you’re maxing out your potential quickness.

So next time you bring your skates in to get buzzed, I recommend 5/8ths.  Most of the guys I played with used that hollow, since it’s a nice compromise – a 1/2 inch is pretty damn sharp.  And if the place you take them too doesn’t know what you’re talking about, you need to take them somewhere else (preferably somewhere that they use a level to make sure your edges are  even.  That makes a huge difference, and the lazy places don’t do it).

In general, stuff like t-blades are too gimmicky for me.  I’ll stick with what everybody at the highest level uses, until something better comes along.  Unless it’s too weird, like Vern Fiddler and a few other guys testing the heated blade holder thingy’s.  I’m out on that, thanks.

As for “rockering”, that’s totally a preference thing.  People say that forwards need to be more on their toes, and d-men need to be more on their heels, but unless it totally bothers you, you’re probably over-thinking it.  I took mine out of the box, had them sharpened, and wore them.  Don’t make yourself nuts.

Let me know if you tinker with it and like them less sharp.  I bet you do.

Keith, Eager, Byfuglien… And Sand

 

Hey!  I’m back.

Thanks for your patience over the ten-days-or-so I was filling in over at Puck Daddy during Greg Wyshynski’s absence.  ‘Ol jtbourne.com was a little neglected, I know.

I do have some good news to start the day – my ten day gig was apparently good enough that they’d like to keep me around in some capacity, so I’ll be doing a daily post for them until they figure out what to do with me (I’ve got the post-game wrap-up again today).  ….So I’ve got that goin’ for me.

But let’s get to the major stories from the weekend.  I keep wanting to say “after the jump”, but I still can’t shake the feeling that there’s something douchey about it.  Sooo…. more info after that string of asterisks.

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DUNCAN TEITH

Here’s the story of Duncan Keith playing through the loss of SEVEN TEETH (including one that got LODGED IN THE BACK OF HIS THROAT that he had to cough up) at 12:30 of the second period, and how he came back a few minutes later and assisted on the game tying goal. 

Now he can get in deep-dish pizza just by smiling.

In a post-game interview with Scott Oake he said “my teeth weren’t that great to begin with, so hoepfully I can get some better ones”.  How positive is that?  Did he get novacane or morphine in those dental needles?  I broke half my front tooth during a game at 18 and was ready to quit the sport entirely.

I loved the casual nature of the play-by-play guy at the time too, especially during the replay – “Keith gets hit in the face and you can see his mouthpiece and teeth go flying, BUT LOOK AT MARLEAU!  Streaking to get up ice to join the rush….”

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Won't be penalized 'til someone gets hurt.

BEN EAGER

The guy continually runs out of position trying to line-up big hits, and along the way, puts himself in position for a charging penalty.  But until he’s punished (a goal by his guy, or a penalty from the refs), why stop?  It’s the way he’s most effective, and since they’re not calling it…. You almost can’t blame him for running around.

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DUSTIN BYFUAHHWHATEVER

He’s really done something special here.

No seriously, that's him with Twista. WTF?

I mean, I want to make fun of him – that’s why I have a blog after all: to be cruel to as many people as possible without any repercussions.  Whether I’ve been referencing his apparently mid-prostate exam team picture, his infuriatingly lame nickname, he’s been an easy target.

But if you score three of four game winners in a Conference Finals, you’ve earned yourself a healthy reprieve from the abuse.  Often, game-winners come when you score the fourth goal to make it 4-1, then the other team gets a couple and makes it a 4-3 final.  Not Byfuglien’s.  He was burying those in pressure situations.

I’m actually really impressed with his skating (and of course, his shot), to go with all his other attributes (being gi-mammoth).  There aren’t too many guys that have the body and skills to do what he does, and think how important having that net-presence beast has been to cup teams like Detroit (Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom) and Pittsburgh (Jordan Staal).

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SAND DEBACLE

The sand outside the Flyers dressing room that caused so many skate problems during game four in Montreal was no accident.  On the other hand, it also wasn’t a hired evil henchman intentionally spilling some substance in the middle of the night while wearing a balaclava.

The return of these two makes the finals more interesting.

Whoever is on the crew in charge of clean-up is obviously going to be a Habs fan.  And sometimes they just do an intentionally lazy job.  So it is a little on-purpose and evil, but in general, the road dressing room gets a shoddy sweep job, and tends to be a little beachy (because, y’know, eff the visiting team).  

I’m lazy, so the most I ever did was keep my eyes peeled to avoid stepping on something obvious, but some guys bring mats or wear those soft skate guards until it’s time to hit the ice. 

In typical Bournian pound-of-cure fashion, I’d just rather have the trainer re-buzz my skates than worry about everything all the time.  Apparently Mike Richards felt the same way – he had his skates re-done three times during that game.

(NOTE: Information on how you should be getting your skates sharpened in a second post today.)

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RANDOM PERSONAL FACT

My fiancee and I just discovered that the girl who lives in the apartment above us is Miss Arizona USA and was a Phoenix Suns cheerleader for four years.  That is all.

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I’ll be around all day – let me know if there’s a topic I need to discuss.  I literally made this blog so long I cut the skate sharpening stuff out to run as a second post, soo…. that’ll be up ASAP!

{UPDATE: Crap!  I forgot to mention – today’s the 30th anniversary of the Islanders first cup win.  Congrats to my Dad(s) and the good people of Long Island who are pretty close to paying off the happy debt they built with these years of hockey misery.}

The Habs Defensive Gaps, Burrish, and Cages

 

Coaches teach their defenseman to have good gaps.  And they don’t just advise it – they spend entire practices making the d-men make a play in their own zone, sprint to the far blue line, then pivot and take a rush coming back into their end, in order to emphasize tight gaps.  You have to be coming back with the play.  Leaving too much room allows the forwards to cross, be creative, and play patient, which would be more likely to happen if they pivoted at center instead of getting all the way up to the blue.

This is an awesome thing the Habs do.

And they should work on that. I loved when d-men had bad gap.  (There’s a good tip for you rec hockey d-men.  If you’re a sufficient backward skater, don’t back off so deep and give oncoming forwards any freedom.  If you keep your stick on the puck – just anywhere near it – most guys will find a way to lose it to you)

But is it just me, or is Montreal more effective when their gaps are worse?

I feel like no long shots are getting through Halak, so when they sag, they’re able to block shots and clear out rebounds better, without getting roasted wide.  It’s a horrible style of hockey, looks sloppy, and is playing with fire.  But when you’re team is, um, not all that good, you have to roll the dice on occassion.

Anyway, whatever, good on ‘em for getting back in the series.  I’m just spit-ballin’ here.

{Coming soon: BOURNE’S COLUMN ON SHOT-BLOCKING, AND OF COURSE, LES HABITANTS EFFECTIVE USE OF IT}

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This is late, and I tweeted about it the other day, but was having a laugh with a buddy I used to play with:

Adam Burrish calling Shane O’Brien a “spot-picker” in the paper last round was kinda funny, just cause…. Really, Burrish?  You’re a heavy now?  I mean, he’s tough(er than me), but really?

Big Bad Burrish

What’d he say again, something along the lines of “if he wants to fight someone, come find me or Benny (Eager)”?  Does he think he’s in Eager’s weight class?  I mean, I’m not one to care about this stuff all that much, we were just laughing, like, when did he get promoted from “physical and effective” to “NHL heavy”?  O’Brien would do just fine against him.

I should point out that I liked the guy in college, and I totally respect his game… it’s just… SayWhatNow?

{UPDATE: Found the interview, may have lost a leeeettle respect here.}

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Not sure if you read James Mirtle’s article on Tkachuk’s horrible, messy dental work he’s had to go through since breaking his upper jaw (amongst other things in his mouth), but it reminded me a bit of the lower jaw shattering party I held in my face last year.

It’s an interesting read, and led me to a column I’ll be taking on soon – basically, I think full cages are worse for concussions, so where do we go from here?  Somebody needs to create some new technology, because the game isn’t going to get any slower and the guys aren’t going to get smaller.  If you have any info that you think would be relevant to a column like that (or contrary to it), feel free to fire it my way at jtbourne@gmail.com.   Thanks!

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If you’re not following me on Twitter yet, hop on - I’ll be firing out links to more of my work on there today.  And as for tonight, Game Three, in the United Center….

I’m calling an overtime San Jose Sharks victory.  Joe Pavelski.  On the powerplay.  Off a rebound.  Nothin’ too specific.

ScatterShot

 

Yesterday I took my filled-out forms and old Canadian passport to UPS, and planned to ship it to renewal headquarters in Quebec to get a new one (please no riots, please no riots).  After a healthy wait in line, the guy had me filling out forms like I was filing for citizenship, not just sending documents for proof of it.  And then this:

Yeah, there’s a lot of paperwork, man.  The Canadian border people can be a little facetious.

Still struggling to imagine what he thinks “facetious” means.

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Aside from the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp that my Dad, brother and I run (which is partly for charity, partly for us to hemmorhage ungodly amounts of money into), I have another event to promote:

A great cause

For those of you in Kelowna, BC (my hometown), my brother is putting on a beer and burger charity event (100% of money is donated) for Spinal Cord Research, through the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Last year, Josh Gorges and his buddies were a part of it, and will be again this year.  It’s $20, which gets you a burger and two beers, there’s an auction with some sports memorabilia, and it’s at Sturgeon Hall Pub June 12th.  Last year Ryan Cuthbert bought a cherry pie for $150, just so you know what you’re getting into.  There’s already not many tickets left, so hit him up at jeff.bourne@gmail.com if you want some. 

 Tell him I sent you…. and you’ll get absolutely nothing free, cause it’s for charity, tightwad :)

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Today’s links: My column for Puck Daddy on what PLAYING IN A GAME SEVEN is like.  It’ll probably run around 4 EST.  There should be a second one later in the evening if you care to check back then,  I just need to create that one still.

My column for Hockey Primetime on WHY THE TIME A GAME STARTS AT MATTERS, which is an odd topic, but I just loved playing day games.

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I’ve decided Brian Burke is “Kenneth, the bad-ass mail clerk with the heart of gold” from Family Guy.  Not sure if you remember him (couldn’t find video), but here’s the transcript of his brief cameo:

Kenneth WILL cut you.

Peter: Yeah. The new owners gave everyone raises. Even Kenneth, the bad-ass mail clerk with the heart of gold.
[cut to mail room]
Peter: Hi, Kenneth. Hey, did I get any mail?
Kenneth: No! And if you come any closer, I’ll cut you!
Peter: Okay! Okay! Man, what a bad-ass!
Man: Yeah? Well that bad-ass just gave half his paycheck to orphans. Orphans with diseases!
[cue sentimental instrumental music]

Long story short - Burke is continuing on with what his son started.  Quite the family.
******
 
My thoughts on the status of the Conference Finals:

Philly is too deep to shut down (unless you remember the regular season)

They’re over.  They’re just so utterly over.

I hate being “that guy” before the fat lady sings, but what am I supposed to say?  I just can’t see either team – Montreal or San Jose – winning four of the next five games against their (more talented) opponents.  They could steal a game or two, sure, but I just can’t fathom a way in which they could climb all the way out of the well.

You know what’s an effed up, crazy, please-don’t-ever-let-this-happen possibilty? 

We see three straight sweeps, and never see a team push back in a series.  Both teams sweep their way to the finals, and Chicago sweeps Philly.  It would be pretty ridiculous, but too many upsets on one side throws things all outta whack. 

Here’s to hoping for Montreal and San Jose wins tonight.

Thanks for your patience!  Too many outlets, not enough time these days!

Go Thursday.

Links, and Reasons To Love Hockey

 

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Okay, so not all those columns I mentioned yesterday have run yet.  The Puck Preview did (and was bang-on, back-pat back-pat back-pat), but not til 6 EST.

Today, the links I’ll provide will be a JOE THORNTON COLUMN and a DUNCAN KEITH COLUMN.  But in the meantime….

After a comment on yesterday’s blog, I realized my readership has quadrupled over the course of the year, so many of you may have missed my “Five Reasons I Love Hockey” that I did for Puck Daddy.   Well, here they are – I’d love to hear yours in the comment section too.

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From a player’s perspective, we bring you Five Reasons Justin Bourne Loves Hockey.

1. Clean Ice.

If a stiff breeze hit that glass-like pre-period ice, it would advance the puck.  What that means is, an on-ice snapshot is gonna peel paint off the post.  Zero percent resistance, 100 percent awesome. It’s the only time that the canvas is predictable and true, without ruts and bumps, just pure, cold smoothness. 

A saucer pass will land with that flat “smack” sound, skating is easy, and it just looks like shiny, glossy, perfect, happiness.  I imagine heaven to be that sheet of ice, with a perfectly-taped brand-new blue and orange CCM Vector one piece (from six years ago), taped in white with light wax (oh, and a good goalie who loves taking breakaways). But that’s just me.  I used to love those Bauer commercials – “A clean sheet – what are you going to write?”

2. The Good Kind of “Ting!”

That miniscule, high-pitched “TING!” that’s barely audible when you score just inside the post and catch just the tiniest piece of it. Not the metallic “thud” of a puck hitting the post solid. Only those crazy goalies like that one.

It’s the perfect shot – as far to the outskirts of the net as possible without having the puck rejected like a basketball off the back of the rim. Ideally, the “ting!” would come from the top-corner, off the elbow, glove hand. That’s the good stuff right there, that good, crisp “ting!”. And if you’re lucky, the net is wound super-tight, so it spits the puck right back out, making you feel like you’re packin’ Ovechkin-style heat (you’re not).

Wait, the Leafs scored?

3.The Simultaneous Bench Pop-Up.

You just get to the bench. You spray yourself with water. Your team has the puck deep in the offensive zone, battling for it along the wall. It’s late in the third.  Someone gets a handle on it and moves it up the wall to the d-man, who walks it to the middle and loads up a slap-shot – a seeing-eye slapshot – that sparks the red light. At that exact second, every single guy bumps his head on the rafters, hugs six people at once and has a mini-seizure.  There’s just nothing as cool as that shared experience.  Only in hockey, man.

4. The Roller Coaster of “Oo’s” and “Aahs”.

Its one of my favourite hockey observations I’ve ever heard, from my friend Neil Corbett – “no game makes you think ‘oh, this is good, this is good, oh, this is bad, this is bad’ as much as hockey.”

As a player, in a back and forth game that doesn’t have many whistles, when it’s just rush – rush – rush – rush, you love the audible crowd gasps.  If there’s a big hit, or someone hits a post, or better – there’s a breakaway – it’s just too intense.  You know it’s going to be a huge reaction from the streaking opportunity either way, so you can almost feel everybody holding their breath as the player skates towards the opposing goal, with the quiet-but-growing energy about to explode. What other major sport is a breakaway not guaranteed to wield something? Football? Basketball? Please.

Pure adrenalin.

5. The Breakthrough.

Hockey games are frustrating. “Ooo just about” “I almost had it”  “I just missed you man, sorry”.  So there’s no feeling like that breakthrough where it all finally goes right for a play, after all the frustrating could-have-beens. 

 Tic-tac-toe, Gooooaaaallll! When everything clicks just right, it’s a completely serene sense of peace, with a dash of jubilation.  Stats padded, a moment of relief washes over you. For the first time that game, there was literally nothing better you could have done.  It was your ultimate goal, your best-case scenario, and you can go sit down on the bench and pretend that you don’t want to continue smiling until you tuck in for bed that night.  Cause you do.

I love this game.

All Over The Map

 

Guuuuuud morning.

It always feels nice to return to writing on Bourne’s Blog, because my own standards are far lower than the other sites I write for.  I was dying to call Halak “JaroChrist HaJesus” in today’s Puck Previews, but I figured that probably wouldn’t have gone over too hot.  My sincerest apologies to those of you who’re offended by my taking the lord’s name in vain, but I mean, c’mon, that’s a great nickname.

Let’s hit the links!

1) For those of you who missed it yesterday, here’s my column on the Hawks pulling the Bolland/Versteeg switcheroo, and how it was intentional.

2) Also, here’s yesterday’s Puck Daddy piece on matching lines, in which an inordinate amount of people went out of their way to point out that I’m not, in fact, the dumbest human alive.

To come:

3) When it posts, this will be a link to today’s Puck Previews I’ve written for Puck Daddy.  I’m starting to feel like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, but with “puck” as my “definitely”.

4) Also when it posts (today or tomorrow), this will be the link to my column “In Praise of Duncan Keith”, which wasn’t a hard one to write.

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Meandering Thoughts….

A Montreal Canadiens reporter had his tires slashed and beer cans crushed on his car in Philly.

What state of mind would you have to be in to trash the car of someone from the opposing city?  I mean, I get it, you’re drunk.  But drunk and hateful?  I don’t buy that you can get drunk and become hateful.  I think you eventually get drunk enough to act on being hateful.  It’s just so utterly ridiculous.

I’m not prone to generalize entire cities fan-bases (as so many fans love to do), but man, Philly…. pull it together. 

Nice work on the “ole” thing though.  Biting, clever… good stuff.

 

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Dale Tallon is the new GM of the Florida Panthers.  He sat with my Dad and I at a Yankee game a few years back and called his young defenseman Duncan Keith “the most underpaid player in the NHL”.  Turns out he was kinda right, since the guy’s up for (and should win) the Norris not long after saying that.

He’s the right guy to make responsible decisions (despite the qualifying offer debacle), while having a good grasp of the way today’s game is played, not the old style of hockey.  Florida could use his help.

*****

You know you’ve missed my cat:

Backflop

Zzzzz.... Hobbes pose.

The adolescent years are tough...

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Some NHL Playoff facts you may enjoy:

*Montreal is 0-4 when they outshoot their opponents.  Soooo, that’s weird.

*Michael Leighton has a 105:50 shutout streak going.

*Thornton, Marleau and Heatley have still combined for less goals than Joe Pavelski.

*After getting pulled, Halak hasn’t lost either of the two following games.

*Chicago is 6-1 on the road.

*Only four Canadiens have double digit points, and they’ve played 15 games (with, oddly, an 8-7 record.  Well placed wins, it seems)

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That’s all I’ve got for today folks.  Feel free to add your favourite stats in the comment section below.  Those are always fun tidbits.  Go Tuesday!

 

Marleau got straight robbed here...

Nine Hawk-Thoughts From Game One

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Friends!

My apologies for the absence on Friday – I hope you found your way over to Puck Daddy to get your fix.  (In fact, here’s today’s latest, on why matching lines sucks, and is distracting.)

So far at their great site, I’ve written about how the lopsided shot chart had helped Montreal winhow the Bruins pain isn’t exactly going to heal, and about how the Flyers dominating win hints at a not-so-shitty Stanley Cup final.

The majority of my topic-specific posts will be up over there for the next week, and I’ll be using Bourne’s Blog for my usual scattering of random thoughts and links.  More links than usual probably – in fact, here’s my column for USA Today, on the Bolland/Versteeg switcheroo.  Let’s talk puck.

*****

I gave the Sharks/Blackhawks game a good watching, and here’s what I jotted down in my phone along the way:

1) Patick Kane and Duncan Keith are just so dynamic.  They have an explosive sneakiness to their game you don’t see very often (especially on the same team), and I’m starting to think that the day they had the press conference announcing extensions for Keith, Kane and Toews might have been more valuable than I originally estimated.

Everyone (including me) rails about the difficulty they’ll have with cap issues coming up, but they’ll have those three guys and Hossa for a lot of years to come.  Quality parts like Burrish and Bolland are always interchangeable.

2) Kane doesn’t get hit very often, because not only is he crazy talented, he’s freaking smart.  He’s one of those kids that’s a c***bag because he’s been better than you at everything since he was a fetus, and he knows it.  And most people hate him for it.  Well, my respect for his game is growing.

3) One thing with Kanes game I don’t like - he doesn’t stop on the puck enough.  Just cruises around waiting for a chance.  I’m in no position to judge…. I mean, Hi kettle, I’m pot… you’re BLACK.  But it’s still the truth.

4) Hossa kind of has a bad rap, probably from switching teams to try to win a Cup, but think about the guy:  A), he had other long-term offers that year, but turned them down to try to win a Cup.  Sure, he was wrong, but his motives are better than a lot of players.  B) He’s not a floater.  So he gets all those points, but he kills PK’s (and scores shorties), plays defense, is strong on pucks, and has a good +/-.  So yeah…. booooo what a loser.

5) In keeping with the Chi-town praise thing, they rolled their lines, and gave ice time to the guys that help in other ways (Eager, Bolland, Burrish etc.).  A fastball is effective, but it’s sure harder to deal with when you mix in the odd curveball.

6) It’s not, technically, but…. I feel like the chin part of Niemi’s mask is a little… fuschia-ey.  It just doesn’t seem like a true, solid red.  Am I crazy?

7) Crap, a non-Hawk thought: of all the things guys say on the ice in a game, they can’t ever run a decent full sentence or two from a guy who’s mic’d up?  They had Clowe (I think) rigged up in this game, and all you could hear were half grunts and mutters.  Okay we get it, they swear…. get the complicated bleep machine out and lets hear the rest of those apparently-tainted sentences.

8} Byfuglien’s game winner (god I hate spelling his name) was the simple case of two guys caught between duties, with a lil extra blame for Blake.  Heatley is heading to the goal line/wall for a low rim they’ve clearly called, so he’s not in Byfuglien’s kitchen, and Blake is protecting the net front.  Unfortunately, the winger is his guy, so when they don’t have the puck, his gap has gotta be tight.  Granted, Byfuglien scoring from there is like Shaq hitting a three, so I wouldn’t exactly being d’ing up too tight either.

9) Bolland’s not going to the box when he was the guy who got the penalty was intentional.  Whenever the linesman isn’t sure who’s supposed to go, coaches constantly try to send a guy who doesn’t kill penalties as much.  But still, it was incredible that it went unnoticed at that point in the game, and then Bolland clears the zone and redirects a shot off the net with a half-block.   For more on that, again, here’s today’s USA Today column.

Okay!  Busy times here for me, churning out columns like it’s my…. crap.

Have a great Monday.

What I Would Have Written About Montreal Pre-Playoffs

 

This is the article I WOULD have written about the Canadiens before playoffs had I thought they were worth the digital ink and a morning of my life:

The following are the reasons the Canadiens aren’t good enough to do jack-s**t in playoffs.  I mean, no way they could ever be dangerous with that team of theirs, right?

1) The Goalie Carosel

The Canadiens have been unable to pin down their starting goalie all year, rotating between Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak.  They’ve repeatedly tried to let either guy win the job, but they both refuse to play good enough to permanently take it.  Interesting to see which one gets traded in the off-season.

2) Their Forwards Are Too Small to Handle The Abuse of Physical Playoff Hockey

This team struggled enough in the regular season, so when the physical, grinding style of playoff hockey takes over, their crew of tiny, overpaid forwards are going to wilt like orchids under fast food lamps.  They simply won’t be able to create offense.

3) Their D-Corps

Hal Gill is immobile, MA Bergeron can’t play defense, Gorges is a no-name depth guy, and their skilled d-men (Markov/Spacek) can’t defend.  It’s too much of a rag-tag group to hang with the big boys, and hold up when the pressure is on.

4) Washington/Pittsburgh

Frankly, for a team that backed into playoffs and looked somewhat pathetic doing it, they have no hope of getting through the toast of the league, the respective Presidents Trophy and Stanley Cup owners.  They shouldn’t even be on the same ice with names like Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom Green, Crosby and Malkin.  Who’s gonna stop them?  HAL GILL?  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

AND HERE’S WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE COMMENTED

Commenter X:

LOL, IMHO, it’s Crosby FTW.  BRB.

Commenter Y:

Great points.  You’re so right.  Montreal is stupid and Gainey sucks and they won’t even win a game and I hope Montreal dies because they booed the US anthem before the War of 1812.

Big Fan of Slandered Team Z:

The plus/minus differential for the Canadiens in that last quadrant of the final sector was substantially better than the Capitals and the Penguins.  If the Canadiens just don’t give up any powerplay, even strength or short handed goals, we can take them.  I think Halak will get hot, Hal Gill and Gorges will shut down Ovechkin and Crosby, and Cammalleri will be a Conn Smythe favourite.  It won’t be easy, but we’ll win the first two rounds in seven games.

Everyone Else’s Thoughts Z:

OMG you think Gill can shut down Ovy, and Halak will suddenly get good, and little Cammelleri will score in playoffs?  Respectfully, you’re dumb.

Bourne:

@Everyone Else’s Thoughts Z: +1 ZOMG, totally.

******

Couple quick thoughts on game seven:

a) Sergei Gonchar was just so bad, I feel like using more adjectives: disinterested, pathetic, unfocused, lacsidasical, lolly-gagger. 

b) Fleury, I mean, ulgh, he left a Luongo-hair-gel taste in my mouth

c) Cammalleri was just so good, I feel like using more adjectives: assassin-like, dangerous, locked-in, fully-automatic, slick.

d) Halak doesn’t look like a one-hit wonder.  He looks like all the good goaltenders I’ve played with or against, or more accurately, like guys who have success in the NHL.  Tall, positional and square with sharp reflexes.  I think he’d be a great pick up for someone next year, and deserves some surious cash.

******

So Montreal wins, Philly takes it to game seven, and suddenly the NHL playoffs are sabatoged.  No offense to fans of Montreal, and I mean that sincerely – your team is doing amazing things, and deserves all the praise in the world (starting with world-beater Halak…. that toe save on Malkin yesterday was ridiculous) – but really, the “series I’m excited to watch” chart just dwindled down to one: the Western Conference Finals.

Whether it’s Montreal/Boston or Montreal/Philly (and i’m calling Boston to pull one out of their you-know-where), it’s the third round of playoffs.  So these already not-so-deep teams will be playing with injuries after grinding through a combined 27 playoff games.  Basically, we’ll be watching (or not watching) a 7 vs. 8 seed series, who are playing tired and without some of their best players.  What’s that equal, a 12 vs. 13 series on the thrill-ometer?

I bet the games will be super close (maybe some overtimes), and it’ll be a sluggish, defensive war of attrition, but because the games are close, we’ll have to claim the games were well-played.  I desperately want to be wrong about this. Playoffs have been stunning.  I really don’t want to feel like saying “fine, I’d rather watch The Biggest Loser too, Bri….”, but it’s a real possibility in the later games of the series.

And assuming the two teams in the West don’t strip each other down to near-lifelessness, we’re looking at a five or six game final at most, any way you slice the matchups.

Ahhhh well.  At least we have more rioting to look forward to from Quebec.

*****

Two pieces of big news, folks:

One, while Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski is on paternity leave (which apparently exists, lucky for me), I’ll be taking over his spot.  First post will probably be tomorrow, and will increase in frequency over the next week or so.  Basically, my blog’s for this site will just be links to my blogs on that site.  For a lil bit here.

*Feel free to email or comment suggestions on topics from playoffs you’d like to see covered!

And two, SIDNEY CROSBY IS MOVING OUT OF LEMIEUX’S HOUSE.  It’s a big step for the filthy rich 23 year old, I know, so let’s all say a prayer for him!

 

The Canucks Don’t Suck, The Coyotes…. EXIST!

The Vancouver Canucks were eliminated in game six of the Western Conference semi-finals on May 11th.

That’s a sentence that literally could have been written last season and still been 100% factual.

Pictured: A frustrating relationship for 'Nucks fans.

On May 13th last year, I was headed to the airport in Vancouver to fly the 45 minutes back to my hometown of Kelowna, after a three day vacation with my college roommates.  The day before we had ran into a big number of the Canucks downtown, day-drinking just like us, but they were black, blue and looking depleted.  And here I was the very next day listening to sports-talk radio abuse them.

To make the Conference semi’s, you have to advance past 22 teams, yet their sports personalities were trying to figure out who to nail to the cross first.  Apparently Luongo was the easiest target at the time (as he probably is today).

The Canucks growing ever-growing fan base has been treated to some great hockey lately

But Canucks fans, relax.  You have a good team that’s a serious contender – so much so that legitimate hockey personalities picked your boys to win the Cup (just being healthy might be enough to see round three next year, then who knows).  Most fans (Oilers, Wild, Flames, Leafs, oh I dunno, ISLANDERS) would kill to have the type of year your boys had.  You’re getting spoiled with great hockey, and acting like you’re watching the Blue Jackets.

You ran into a Hawks team with too many weapons to stop while using a d-corps that was probably eating a pre-game meal of spaghetti and percaset.  Your boy Lu made enough big saves and your forwards scored enough goals to win… there was just nothing left in the back tank.  Let’s be honest – it didn’t look like Salo was exactly having a ball out there. (*recycling is good for the environment)

Kudos to the Hawks, who look pretty damn dangerous going forward.

*****

Moments after getting a text that implied (said?) the deal to Winnipeg was finalized, it turned out the deal to stay in Phoenix was just getting started.  I was on an emotional roller coaster last night.

Two things I want to say to the fans of both cities before I mention the latest happenings:

Nooope, nobody's to "blame" for this up north.

This doesn’t have to be so personal.  The people of Winnipeg want a team, and are not to be blamed for that.  And on the other side, Coyote fans are not to be blamed for wanting their team to stay.  There are crappy people and great people on both sides of the border, I promise.  Let’s try to minimize generalizations and keep it classy.

The rampant pot-shotery from people who’re otherwise smart folks is weird, and hopefully uncharacteristic of the majority of hockey fans.

Quick summary of my understandings: Glendale has agreed to bend over and take it up the tailpipe to make hockey work here, and by the end of June, we’ll know with who and by what terms.  I don’t suppose either of these owners care to airlift the arena somewhere closer to me in Chandler, do they?

As I’ve mentioned before, best I can tell, supporters should back the Ice Edge bid – they’ve provided no hint of “we might move”, they’ve realized the importance of the fan base (and realized it exists), and most importantly, the guys I listen to here that have dilligently followed this situation for years support them.  Soooo, that’s good enough for me.  Support Ice Edge!  (On Twitter, if you like: @IceEdgeDJ)

*****

Blackhawks vs. Sharks

Should be a doozy

 My prediction is coming in the next day or two….. San Jose / Chicago… who ya got?

*****

Shorter entry today, as there’s a second one for you to take in.  Hope your week is going smooth.  And hey, it’s May!  Smile for spring.

Hockey and Traumatic Brain Injuries

 

I was really tempted to make the title “Hockey and Traumatic Brian Injuries” to act like I’ve had a few myself, but figured it’d be a tough joke to get since you probably don’t check my spelling all that closely.  Anyways, let’s get on with it!

*****

My oft-mentioned brother is an ambassador for the Rick Hansen foundation (Rick Hansen is the Canadian dude with Spina Bifida that WHEELED AROUND THE WORLD), which provides funding for research on Spina Bifida and other spinal cord injuries. 

And, my oft-mentioned fiancee is an Occupational Therapist at St. Joseph’s Barrow Neurological Institute, a world renowned treatment facility that people from all over the country fly into when they need the best care (the one Bret Michaels was just at).  She works in the acute brain injury rehab unit, dealing with people who’ve had traumatic brain injuries (henceforth, TBI’s).

So, when I had someone reach out to me about raising awareness of brain injuries in hockey (Mark Savard, David Booth, whatever happened to Daniel Carcillo at some point in his life), I figured my site was a perfect fit.  Chelsea Travers of CareMeridian asked if she could run a piece she wrote on Bourne’s Blog, and we’re happy to have her contribution on the site.  The more we talk about it, the more we’ll do about it, I figure. 

Happy Humpday!

***** ***** *****

 

Author Bio:
Chelsea Travers is an outreach representative for CareMeridian, a subacute care facility located throughout the Western United States for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or medical complexities, such as neuromuscular or congenital anomalies.

Hockey and TBI

 

Hockey is arguably one of the most physical professional sports. Hockey players are constantly getting body checked, slammed into boards, falling to the ice, slapped by a stick, hit by a dense, speeding puck or getting punched during a fight. If that isn’t bad enough, hockey players take part in one of the longest regular seasons of any sport, effectively taking on harsher pain for a longer amount of time throughout the year. Risk of injury couldn’t be clearer as you all too commonly see hockey players missing their front two teeth. With all of the injuries that can occur, one of the most dangerous is a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

It was clean, though. Um, right?

TBI is a silent injury that can cause harm to the mind and body of an individual. An injury to the head or brain can alter someone’s life and can even require long-term rehabilitation and care from a skilled nursing facility. These injuries are often far too common in the sport of hockey and if not properly treated can permanently leave a hockey player’s life more challenging than the game they play.

TBI is an injury that Philadelphia Flyers player Ian Laperriere knows all too well. In game 5 of an NHL playoff game with the New Jersey Devils, Laperriere took a slap shot to the face that immediately caused him to bleed excessively from the wound above his eye and lose sight. Laperriere was diagnosed with a brain contusion after having a MRI a few days later. While Laperriere may have originally thought that losing sight in one of his eyes was the worst of the two injuries, in reality the bigger concern could wind up being the long-term effects of the brain injury.

Concussions have been dismissed as minor injuries as the physical nature of most sports cause them to occur regularly, but, frequently occurring or not, they are still head injuries where the brain is forced to move violently within the skull and the way it functions could change permanently. When the brain moves in such a manner, it can bruise, bleed, and even tear, which can cause irreversible damage to the victim. For a sport like hockey, this type of injury is very common and unfortunately at times ignored.

Meanwhile, this liney is knuckles deep... that can't help.

Many hockey players don’t take into account the possible effects of the injury and because it might not seem like a serious problem exists at first, they keep on skating as if nothing occurred. Being unaware of the injury makes it much more dangerous, as a mild brain injury can turn into a life threatening injury in a very short period of time without seeking immediate medical treatment.

Studies by the National Academy of Neuropsychology’s Sports Concussion Symposium in New York have shown that since 1997, 759 NHL players have been diagnosed with a concussion. Broken down, that averages out to 76 players per season and 31 concussions per 1,000 games of hockey. That is far too frequent of an occurrence for such a serious injury. It’s a frightening statistic that should send up a red flag to hockey officials that actions need to be taken to further prevent this type of injury from occurring.

The best, and sometimes only, treatment for TBI is prevention. For the National Hockey League new rules are being considered that preserve the game but also help protect the players. Rule changes concerning blindside hits, rink size (which effects players space from each other and their proximity to walls), and stronger helmet requirements all have been considered to help curb TBI and its effects. This demonstrates that the NHL is aware of the seriousness of the injury and is taking proactive steps to help prevent it from happening.

Hockey is one of the most popular sports in North America and has millions of people participating in it every year. Unfortunately, the sport comes with the risk of a TBI. With the right awareness of the injury and the necessary precautions in place, the game should be able to continue with players excited to lace up their skates and enjoy it.

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Okay, hi, it’s Bourne again.  Ten cents here:

We have to mandate soft(er)-cap shoulder/elbow pads.

We have to enforce the blind-side rule.

We have to accept the fact that playing hockey (or any sport) comes with some dangers, and if you really don’t want to get hurt, don’t play (that’s not being hardcore, or me saying “toughen up”, I mean seriously, choose not to play).  We can’t turn hockey into Scrabble because sometimes people get Scrambled.

Charging and elbowing should be called when people charge or elbow (crazy concept).  Everyone is pretty mutant-big at this point, so I’m not sure the extra decapi-stride is necessary.

And otherwise, I think the game is fine.  It’s fast, and there’s contact, so it’s dangerous.  Let’s enforce the rules as they are, but most of all, guy’s need to have some freakin’ respect for each other, and hopefully, by realizing just how serious these injuries are (MuhammedAli, MuhammedAli), hopefully guys will start taking less liberties on the ice.  It stops being a game when guys like Patrice Cormier makes opponents convulse for no apparent reason.

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