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One-Touch Passes – June 30th Edition

 

Judging by the rare lack of commenting yesterday (Over 1,000 readers, under 10 comments), I’m starting to think FJM’ing Lambert’s Links (“What We Learned”) might be a little lengthy for most people (pushing 4,000 words vs. the usual 800-1,000).  But maybe not, maybe it just wasn’t comment worthy.  So, I’m taking the reader’s pulse today.  Please vote on if I should keeping running those posts via this link, because THE STUPID THING WON’T EMBED.  No hard feelings if “no” is your vote.

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Alright folks, time for a bunch of quick hit, random thoughts from yours truly.  First and foremost – I think I’m going to call these entries “One-Touch Passes”, since I basically just touch on a topic for a second, then hand it over to you to deal with.  And y’know, it’s mandatory it be some shitty hockey-related play on words, so yeah.  One-Touch Passes – June 30th Edition.

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Would you rather have a good, competitive team every year and get to enjoy lots of wins and playoff rounds (but never win a cup), or be crappy for like, 15 years, then win a Cup?  On the one hand you could be Carolina – horrible most years, but they injected a Stanley Cup into the misery.  On the other hand, you could be San Jose, who’ve won everything but the Cup.  As a yearly fan, wouldn’t the San Jose thing be more fun?  What would you prefer? (St. Louis might be a better example than San Jose – until a few years back, they made playoffs 23 straight years without grabbing the big prize).

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Two guys I played with that are rising through the ranks (one faster than the other) smoke “a little bit” of weed before going to the gym.  Admit it, you’re mind is blown by that.  I know mine was.

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I heard a story the other day about Zenon Konopka – I guess he’s already buddies with other athletes down in Tampa.  He threw out the first pitch at a Rays game, and at the urging’s of who he calls “Longo” (Evan Longoria), he threw a knuckleball.  Kinda ballsy, no?

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As you know, guys give each other shit on the ice nearly every time some other guy messes up, with “handle it” being the go-to expression for a guy who didn’t catch a pass that was near-impossible to corral (neck-high, grenade, whatever).  After all ”you can’t give a good player a bad pass” (you can’t).  I had forgotten until seeing Darrell Hay last week that every time a teammate does anything off the ice that he “should” have been able to do, he gets a “handle that” too.

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Every time I see it, I get chills from the Landon Donovan goal against Algeria, and I don’t even follow soccer.  Can’t imagine what that does for diehards.  By the way, if you haven’t seen the headline from after the Ghana loss…. you HAVE to click this link.

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Y’know what’s amazing about old Gretzky highlights?  The slapshot.  With his dainty looking frame, and those old ten pound sticks (even his silver aluminums sucked. He gave my bro and I one – neat at the time, now it feels like I should slide weights on each end and do curls with it), he still managed a quick, aerodynamic bomb that boggled “goalies” of the day.  Impressive stuff.

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“Louie” debuted on FX last night, Louie CK’s new show.  That guy…. that guy is the funniest human alive today.  The show will be great even if it isn’t, because he’s just that priceless.

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Not sure if you saw my article on the pros and cons of getting drafted (through the eyes of the undrafted) for USA Today yesterday.  If you didn’t, check it out (and click “recommend”) here.

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 I’m gonna be doing a live chat with the boys over at Hockey Primetime tomorrow, so be sure to stop by and tell me what a good fer nuthin d-bag I am.

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Since we’re a day away from free agency, we might as well get a conversation going….. who’s going to be the surprise signing?  Kovalchuk to the Islanders?  Lebron to the Mavericks?  The guy-you’d-rather-have-on-your-team-than-Ilya-Kovalchuk, Patrick Kaleta to the Blue Jackets??  (Don’t worry, Behind The Net and I kissed and made up yesterday.  Minus the kissing part)

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Will the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs next year?  They have a (very) solid d-corps.  They have more-than good enough goaltending.  If Burke makes a couple deals for forwards…. could they get in the mix?

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I’m planning on a second post – a video blog – for later in the day if I get enough of my work done.  And I probably will, because damnit, I work hard (….from my couch).  So stay tuned!

FJM’ing Lambert’s Links – What We Learned

 

In this weeks edition of “What We Learned“, Ryan Lambert went black and white on us – he looked at each team’s performance at the NHL Draft, and declared them either a winner, or a loser.  Let’s weigh in with our thoughts:

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What We Learned  

Anaheim Ducks: Winners, no question. How happy was Bob Murray to get Cam Fowler at No. 12 and then pull a native Californian at No. 29? Have a look at the smile on his face. Tells you all you need to know. Now maybe he’ll think about giving Bobby Ryan(notes) a call.

Man it must take the pressure off when some highly touted prospect drops to your spot.  You’re completely off the hook for your pick.  Even if the guy’s a bust you have the “Right, but who wouldn’t have picked him, everyone had him as a top five prospect…. when he drops to 12 you have to take him” card.

Atlanta Thrashers: Winners. The Thrashers wanted Alex Burmistrov for a while. “We targeted this player from Day One,” Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said. See? Plus, Dudley did not make any completely insane, terrible trades, so you gotta figure that’s a positive as well.

My guess is, the 2010-11 Thrashers would beat the 09-10 Thrashers in a best of seven series.  Unfortunately, I don’t see the 10-11 Thrashers finishing higher in the standings than the 09-10 ones did.  The whole league gets better every year, and I just don’t think they’ve improved more than the next team.  Yet.

Boston Bruins: Winners. Settling for Tyler Seguin is pretty OK, especially since they didn’t need to finish 29th in the league to get him. I also really like the Vladimir Sobotka-for-David Warsofsky swap. Warsofsky’s an undersized defenseman, but he’s also pretty much the definition of a big-game player.

I couldn’t pick Sobotka or Warsofsky out of a police line-up. 

The B’s are lookin’ scary, but so is this Savard rumour.  How did their cap situation get so befuddled so quickly?  I feel like I never heard a peep about it til it was about to explode.

Mark Pysyk

 Buffalo Sabres: Losers for now. The Sabres took a project in Mark Pysyk, who even they admit is at least three years away from playing in the NHL and there were draft-day questions about his bladder. Pysyk was highly ranked by Central Scouting but dropped into the mid-20s, and the Sabres clearly wanted Riley Sheahan.

He tried to explain his “growing problem” to the Sabres before, but Buffalo was insistent that, as in the Tyler Myers case, they liked big d-men. 

…Yep, that’s a Flomax joke, people.

Calgary Flames: Losers. “The only splash I would have made is off the surfboard,” Darryl Sutter said Saturday as the seventh round drew to a close. “There’s not much happening here.” That’s what happens when you trade your first- and second-round picks for Olli Jokinen(notes) and Rene Bourque(notes), you dope.

This has nothing to do with his draft performance, but I’m continually boggled by franchises that hire GM’s/Coaches that clearly couldn’t pass the SAT’s.  These jobs have to require some level of social skill and intellect, don’t they?  You can’t just hire “hockey people”.  And if you insist on hiring a “hockey person”, you couldn’t find someone a little more cerebral, like a Joe Nieuwendyk type?  Also, the Sutter’s are family friends, so I apologize for my previous remarks.

Carolina Hurricanes: Winners, at least over all. You can easily criticize them for passing on Fowler and Brandon Gormley, but they targeted Jeff Skinner and got him. Plus they traded for Bobby Sanguinetti(notes), who is instantly one of their better D-men (though what that says about the state of the ‘Canes blue line is obviously not so good).

Wait, so if you target the wrong player and get him, it’s a win? 

I don’t know what to make of Carolina these days, but if Bobby Sanguinetti really is one of their better d-men as Lambert pointed out, that’s some cause for concern. 

Chicago Blackhawks: Winners, clearly. They won the Stanley Cup, got a first-round pick for a mediocre forward that overachieved in the playoffs thanks to a never-ending series of favorable zone starts, and had five picks in the first two rounds. Plus drafting a guy named Ludvig is gonna be an easy W every time.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. 

It’s a shame that the Hawks pressing cap concerns have made everyone chuck some footnote on how good they are and how great their Cup win was.  For months its been, “yeah, but next year, they are in truh-ble!”  Yeah, here comes the cellar, Hossa-Toews-Kane-Keith-Campbell-Seabrook-Sharp-Versteeg and crew!  Even if they lose one of those guys…. they’re fine, ebberyone.  Calm down.

Colorado Avalanche: Losers. The Joey Hishon pick was high comedy. Ranked as the 55th-best North American skater, he went No. 17 overall. Even he couldn’t believe the Avs picked him, and not in that whole “I never thought this day would come,” way, but rather that whole “I literally could not believe I went that high,” way. The Calvin Pickard selection, though, almost made up for it.

The Avs aren’t lacking for young talent, but I have the same question about them that I do the Isles – GM careers aren’t exactly all that long.  Why build for another GM’s success? 

Turn a couple of your assets, your “maybe’s” (picks and prospects that aren’t obvious future stars) into support for your young gunners and try to win today.  You’re laughing if you just get off your wallet and get in the mix!  I’m all for the Brian Burke theory of “building?  Patience?  Nnnno.”  (For every Chicago/Pittsburgh that went through years of futility to build through the draft and win, there’s three Pathers/Isles/Columbus etc. that are perpetually trying the “success through prolonged failure” method. Win when you can, fellas.)

Columbus Blue Jackets: Losers for now. I dunno, maybe the Ryan Johansen pick works out big-time and Rick Nash(notes) finally has someone that can get him the puck forever. But it’s more likely that leaving Fowler waiting until No. 12 will prove to be one of those “How did they pass on THAT guy?” picks in about five years.

I agree with Lambert.  Columbus is one of those teams that needs actual NHL talent, not a guy who could possibly/maybe work out as a pretty good player.  If I’m them, I’d have done one of two things:

1) Take Brandon Gormley, who’s widely recognized as a cerebral, definite NHLer.  Not a “he could be good”, but a “he’ll definite be a regular on an NHL roster ASAP.” Columbus needs another cornerstone to build on.

2) Or, fuck it, take Kirill Kabanov, who’s thick with problems, but LOADED with talent, something that team desperately needs.  Maybe he’s so moved by them taking a chance on him with a high pick he pulls it together.  At the very least, he shakes up a team that’s just so…. Ohio.  Isn’t it?

Dallas Stars: Winners, I guess. I wasn’t alone in thinking they had a more pressing need at the blue line than they did in goal, but Jack Campbell is a proven winner — unlike noted American loser Mike Lee — and they loaded up on D with three of their four other picks. I’d say they did the best they could have.

Nieuwendyk’s comments on not extending a contract to Modano were insanely understanding, logical, calculating and professional.  He’s one of my new favourite GM’s.

Detroit Red Wings: Winners. I like the Riley Sheahan pick, but Kenny Holland better hope his history-bucking works out. It’s the first forward the Wings have taken in the first round since 1992 when they drafted some fellow called Curtis Bowen, who played exactly zero NHL games and never scored more goals or points in a season at any level than he did in his draft year.

I mean, most people have their highest stat years when they get drafted - it’s junior hockey.  But that’s beside the point.  The point is, I’ve learned to trust Ken Holland.  He’s too young to start going Belichick on us (resting on his rep).

Derek Forbort

Edmonton Oilers: Winners. Taylor Hall may be odd-looking and boring and probably dumb as a bag of pucks, but that has very little effect on his game, which is obviously outstanding.

Good for Edmonton, honestly.  They deserve a good team there.  Passionate fans, and not much else to focus on. 

Also, I really, really hate the Oilers.  Not just that they’re “the Oilers”, but their entire roster too.

Florida Panthers: Winners. You can’t say Dale Tallon doesn’t know how to rebuild a hockey club. Three first-round picks, another two in the second, 13 overall. They’re going to be terrible for several more years, but they could, in theory, become the 2017 version of this year’s Blackhawks. They had the best weekend of anyone, no question.

Yup, if I were a fan of that franchise, I’d be thrilled to know that “best weekend of anyone” equates to a potentially decent team in like a half-dozen years.  Excuse me while I stop following the team until then.

My theory on “rebuilding” teams like NYI and Florida is that the GM’s want some job security.  By playing the “I’m not trying to win now” card, and developing some prospects, it’s real easy to make it look like you’re headed in the right direction…. while you keep collecting those paychecks and years of experience.

Los Angeles Kings: Losers. Love the Derek Forbort pick (think of that blue line in about four years! Doughty, Hickey, Teubert, Forbort!). But this is a Kings team that’s not really in a position to sit back and take safer, project picks just yet, and that was their stated goal coming in. They hosted the draft and needed to make a splash, and I’m sorry but they just didn’t.

The Kings are another team that could be good enough to get in the mix if they just drop the hammer on some trades or free agents.  Move one of those two goalies and add a puzzle piece!

Minnesota Wild: Winners. The Wild loved Mikael Granlund. Had him ranked third overall in the draft, in fact. Then they had three second-round picks. They had four picks in the first two rounds in the last THREE drafts.

I’m not so sure “quantity” is the goal when it comes to prospects, but that’s great that they got a guy they wanted.  A lot of my readers are Wild fans, and I love LOVE Minnesota (I’ve only been to the WCHA cities, but enjoyed them all).  So, I want to discuss them more.  But they’re f**king BORING right now.  I could just run Russo’s bit on their mediocrity everytime in this spot and most of their fans would go “yep, that’s about right.”

Montreal Canadiens: Losers. The Habs liked Jarred Tinordi so much they moved up five spots to get him and so did the Canucks (he was the condition on that conditional 25th they sent to Florida), but he was also their only pick in the first three rounds. Maybe they just figured that at 6-foot-6, he was equal to picking two normal Canadiens forwards.

Hey look, an entire sports franchise has small-man’s-syndrome.  Never seen that before.  They traded for the little speedy guys, got made fun of (a lot) and immediately took on this odd, Napoleon complex of a personality (could be the whole French thing too, I guess).  Now they’re like “look!  We’ve got big guys!  There’s Hal Gill!  He’ll crush you!  Ahhh forget it, eff you all.”

Nashville Predators: Losers for a few years. Austin Watson was a nice if unspectacular pick; but not unlike the Habs, they only had two picks in the first three rounds. This is a team that drafts well, though, so maybe a couple of those late-round picks will turn out to be the next Patric Hornqvist(notes). Till then, I’m unimpressed.

I’m with Lambert.  They did a crappy job at this year’s draft, unless it turns out that they didn’t. Smiley :) face.

New Jersey Devils: Losers unless Jon Merrill gets his act together. Merrill may well be a talented, very smart hockey player, but he’s also a thug who has been suspended by USA Hockey for off-ice incidents stemming from the harassment of some high school girls, and his Combine interviews were notably poor. Maybe he puts it all behind him, but until then, you have to question this pick a little bit.

New Jersey is another team that annoys me.  I feel like they could play the most open, European style game in the world, win like 7-6 tens times in a row, and I’d still be screaming about their stupid slogging trap and boring play and dumb logo.  Kovalchuk doesn’t want to live in New Jersey, there’s no way!

New York Islanders: Winners. Third-best draft of any team behind the Panthers and Ducks, and I thought they had the best draft last year too. Because of Nino Niederreiter and all their current forwards, they could gamble on taking a huge question mark like Kirill Kabanov in the third round. That might work out fantastically for them.

As I mentioned yesterday, I loved their draft performance.  Niederreiter was nasty at World Juniors, Nelson’s been killing Minnesota high school hockey and is big (two awesome things), and Kabanov is exactly the injection of excitment and high-end talent that this team needs.

As I mentioned before the “building process” is a nice way to keep a GM’s job.  But in our case, I feel like Snow has validated fans patience.  The key is making the switch from “give those young kids ice time for experience” to ”okay, play time’s over.”  And you do that by adding, say, Ilya Kovalchuk. 

The Isles need to commit to winning and their fans again.  Personally, I’m over waiting, we have a FORTUNE in cap room to spend, and I expect playoffs this year.  That’s the “experience” you want your young kids to have (see: Penguins 07-08, Blackhawks 08-09), so spend some money to get it for them.

New York Rangers: Losers. Any time I literally laugh out loud at a pick, as I did when they took Dylan McIlrath at No. 10, you’re having a bad go of things. “A special player doesn’t have to be a top-end scorer or goaltender,” said player personnel director Gordie Clark. “He’s a special player. With the size, toughness and grit we project, he’s that player.” Know who else was a big, tough player the Rangers picked high? Hugh Jessiman(notes).

You’d be AMAZED at how talented some NHL tough guys are.  That’s why you end up with absolute heavyweights in the AHL – they’d be in the NHL if they could make the “hockey” part happen as well.  My point is, this pick only makes sense if McIlrath can play too.

Ottawa Senators: Losers. Maybe you’re the kinda guy that really really loves David Rundblad, but the Blues aren’t exactly overflowing with forward talent, so why would they deal him? Otherwise, the Sens had just four picks, none in the first two rounds, and then they take a big body with little to no evident skill in Jakub Culek. The kid had 13 goals and was eighth on his team in scoring last year. In the QMJHL!

Wow, that’s really, really horrible if that’s true (and I doubt Lambert’s lying).  13 goals.  QMJHL.   Drafted.  Hmm… he must do everything else REALLY well.

Philadelphia Flyers: Losers. OK, so things crashed out with Dan Hamhuis(notes) and they’re right up against the cap, but they have an agreement in place with noted playoff warrior Evgeni Nabokov(notes) and.. oh what’s that? He might still hit the open market? Well at least you had those two seventh-round picks.

I’m entertained by the idea that the Flyers know they need a few more pieces.  They want a few more pieces.  But they don’t have money for a few more pieces.  Yet they keep moving forward.  It’s like if I went into the Sunglass Hut with enough money to buy gas stations glasses, but tried to buy Ray-Bans. 

JB: “I recognize the sun is super-bright in Arizona, so I need polarized lenses.  Thus, I’m going to try to buy them.” 

EMPLOYEE: “But sir, you don’t have enough money to buy those.” 

JB: “Well, right. But I really need them.”

Phoenix Coyotes: Winners? Brandon Gormley at No. 13 was an unexpected, great treat (thanks Darryl!) but the Mark Visentin pick was a bit off-the-board and the Phil Lane choice was just befuddling.

You need top-end guys to win (have I mentioned that before?), so I’m stoked for Phoenix to get a highly touted d-man at 13.  I’d rather have a first round pick become a star than make good picks later for guys that just become fillers.  A stud per year would be a nice draft pace.

Brett Connolly

Pittsburgh Penguins: Winners. I don’t care about anything besides the fact that they took four Americans. Beau Bennett will turn into the next Mark Messier, just you watch.

Lot of American pride getting tossed around hockey circles lately.  I’m gonna go ahead and say the US has lost the right to play the ”we don’t care” card about puck.  And actually, the shouldn’t have any left after how many times it was played after the Ghana loss.

San Jose Sharks: Losers, prohibitively. The Sharks apparently had almost no interest in Major Junior players. Top pick Charlie Coyle (TONY AMONTE’S COUSIN!!!) is one of six future or current college players they drafted this year. Some odd picks, but they’re almost all going to programs with histories of developing pro players (BU, BC, Michigan, Ohio State and MSU Mankato).

Are the Sharks going with Greiss as their starter?  Craziness.  I know it can be done (the Hawks), but that doesn’t mean starting a back-up is the new great idea.  And yes, I know, Greiss is actually pretty good.

St. Louis Blues: Winners, but just barely. I did not love the Jaden Schwartz pick (I found it a bit sentimental), but I quite liked the Tarasenko pick. I also think the Vladimir Sobotka deal was one they’ll like just fine this year.

The “winner or loser” method doesn’t offer much wiggle room.  The Blues still have money to spend… I expect they’ll field an annoyingly good team next year.  Annoying for team’s like Dallas, who need SOMEBODY to get worse if they hope to move up the standings.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Losers. In terms of the on-ice product I think the Brett Connolly pick is a winner even if it is a bit risky (the kid basically lost a year of development), but the rest of it? Meh. Brock Beukeboom? I mean, really? He’s not his father, and his father wasn’t very good either.

I like it, Lambo (I’m calling Lambert “Lambo” from now on) – breaking the for-some-reason-unwritten-rule of “never say an old player was bad”.  We keep having to pretend that all past players were good.  No sir, they weren’t.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Losers. Brian Burke got his requisite tough guy/truculence in Brad Ross. Even PPP thinks it’s merely an “interesting pick.” As for the other selections, well, one of them is named Greg McKegg (with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg). So they’ve got that in their favor.

Meh, what could you expect from Toronto in this year’s draft?  Making Burke even be there was akin to Chinese water torture.  His splash will be made in the next week, when he gets real players to help the Leafs now, not a bunch of maybes for later.

Vancouver Canucks: Losers. The Canucks needed a top-pairing defenseman. They got a defenseman that is not one of those. Then they didn’t pick until the fourth round. Not good, Gillis. Not good at all.

Check out friend-of-the-blog Jeff’s comment on yesterday’s entry about the Ballard situation.  He feels like the Canucks were winners (or will be).  If they field the starting six d-men he thinks they might, they’ll be laughin’.

Washington Capitals: Winners. They drafted a Russian with their first pick and another in the third round. They’re both going to turn into superstars almost by default.

And like Lambo, I’m mailing in my last comment.

Savard to Toronto Rumors, Niederreiter’s Sick Junior Line

 

Too much going on to FJM Lambert’s Links today, so I’ll do that tomorrow.  Let’s dive right in:

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The Islanders top pick, Nino Niederreiter, saw his entire line get drafted in the first two rounds of the 2010 NHL Draft.  I’m pumped about the pick for the Isles.  Still, I wanted to get down my thoughts on being part of a deadly trio like that:

Playing on a stacked line inflates your stats like whoa. 

Really excited about this pick.

If you’re on a dominant line where all three guys are capable of creating, right off the bat you grab a disgusting amount of second assists that you can’t get if you’re Rick Nash-ing it all year.  Puck possession time goes through the roof, and thus, so do chances.  Your linemates can create opportunities for you where other players wouldn’t normally get them.

In reality, it’s the top guys on the line that are helping our the lesser one, and Nino is clearly one of the top dogs (Jonathan Cheechoo wasn’t driving up Joe Thornton’s assist total, Joe Thornton wasw driving up Cheechoo’s goal total). 

My point is that it’s worth asking about the third linemate that got drafted – what would his VORP be? (I love the term VORP, baseball’s “value over replacement player” – as in, if you put the most average player in the league in that spot, with that ice time, etc, how much better is this kid than that average one?  All that much?). 

Keep in mind, I know nothing about the line, any of their names, or who the third guy picked is, I’m just saying – it’s always worth looking into where good numbers come from.  Could that kid that got drafted last (still first round) carry his own line?  Maybe the Isles’ Nino is a Thornton-esque star-maker.

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The recent rumours, as I’m sure you’ve heard, have Marc Savard waiving his no-trade clause and heading to Toronto.  Which is so f**king bizarre I don’t even know where to start.

A budding Leaf?

First, the guy just took a bit of a pay cut so he could retire as a Bruin.  On his long-term deal, this 80-90 point center is only a $4 million cap hit (less than Keith Ballard, apparently).  Why would they trade him?

If it’s to dump salary, the story goes that they’d want a pick or two and a young prospect.  As in, someone they’d have to pay at least a little bit.  So maybe after they give that guy (Kulemin, Bozak?) a couple million a year, they’ve saved a mere two million to stab a guy in the back, get a worse player, bum out the fans…. and keep paying Tim Thomas $5 mill.  There’s no other way to save that money?

If it’s concussion risk, it’s not really a risk to your payroll.  If he gets another one, he goes on long-term IR, insurance pays him and he comes off the cap (as noted by @downgoesbrown).  You can re-spend that money if that’s a bridge that needs to be crossed. 

And hey – the guy took less money to play for your team.  That has to be worth some level of loyalty, no?

Here’s my somewhat-relatable story:  My rookie year in the ECHL, I made the all-star team and spent three months in the AHL.  At the time, I made a pro-rated $45,000 when I was in the AHL, $650 a week in the ECHL.

The next season, the Isles offered me another NHL tryout, and the same contract.  I figured I was worth at least a few pennies more after proving myself in year one, so I had a decision to make.  I decided to sign a one-way ECHL contract for the team with the highest number of AHL call-ups, the Reading Royals, and go to whichever A team needed me the most (instead of limiting myself to four RW spots in Bridgeport, this let me have a crack at 120 around the league).

Problem was, Reading was packed with kids like me who knew they were a hotbed for call-ups.  Thus, they said they really wanted me to be a part of their team, but that I’d have to accept less money because of all the talented kids they’ve signed who’re trying to move up as well.  Could I work with them on that? 

Of course, the goal is to move up, not get rich immediately (bllllllogging!), so I accepted $600 a week, hoping it wouldn’t be for long.  They also got me an AHL tryout in Hershey.

On day two of the AHL tryout, I was protecting the puck, got hit, and my skate caught a rut – my leg planted while I moved, and my MCL tore.  I went to Reading to rehab it and tried to be ready for opening night in the ECHL.  I literally didn’t skate for a month, and got “cleared” (“no, it doesn’t hurt”) to get on the ice the day before the first game.

I played sparingly and poorly in that first game (hadn’t skated/run in a month).  We lost.  The Maple Leafs signed guys and sent others down.  A trickle down happened.  So Reading traded me to Idaho, one game into the season.  After I signed for far, far less to be there (I had declined two $800 a week offers during the summer, as well as some decent European options).

Suddenly, after comprimising for them, I was making less than I was worth, in a city I didn’t choose, and one that rarely saw kids called up to anywhere but their AHL affiliate…. who I wasn’t under contract with. 

Not sure how I got stuck in #17, but man does that number suck.

This is Mark Savard.  Compromise to play where you want to, and to help a team out, and have it backfire. 

And, coincidentally, this is why you can’t be mad when players make money-first decisions - you gotta get that money.  Teams don’t owe you anything; it really is a business.  When I shattered my jaw in Idaho, I didn’t hear from their coach for over a month, until I showed up at the rink one day.  If I couldn’t play, I was of no use to them.

So make that money when you can, man, make that money.  Toronto could be the real winner here.  I feel like Savard is in a “if she doesn’t realize how great a guy you are, you don’t need her anyway” relationship.

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I don’t have enough time to address Kirill Kabanov, the rest of the Islanders draft, or Keith Ballard today, so here are my thoughts: Love Crazinov, NYI draft was awesome, need more details on the Ballard to Vancouver thing (as in, what else are the Canucks doing on the blueline?).

Lets have a good week team.  Goooo free agency/Canada Day Thursday!

You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

 

One year ago today, I proposed to my fiance.  Then that inconsiderate a-hole Michael Jackson went and died and stole our thunder.  Bastard!

Anyway, it’s been a great year, nice to have ya’ll along for the ride.  Love ya Breezy B.

*****

It’s draft day.  Ohmigod ohmigod.  A lot of us who need stuff to write about have been looking forward to this for a long time.  Taylor Hall to the Blue Jackets! Jason Spezza to the Yankees!  WONT SOMEBODY TRADE FOR TOMAS KABERLE?

So, for today’s special draft day installment of BB, I’m gonna do what I do best – get unnecessarily judgemental on undeserving teenagers.  The following are my initial thoughts on the personalities and public appearances of Team Tyler and Team Taylor, based on nothing but the cummulative 10 minutes of interviews (combined) that I’ve actually taken the time to watch.

***

(Team) Tyler Seguin

Oooooh boy.

Okay, so the picture is a bad start.  Let’s start on the right foot before we address that.

Of all the prospects being put through this weird guantlet of media misery, Tyler Seguin seems to be (by far) the most personable, intelligent, and comfortable.  I’d even say sharp and smart.  Annnnd somewhat aware that he’s those things.

As a guy who spends the majority of his columns begging guys to show the personalities I know exist from being in the dressing room, far be it from me to ask him to be anything but his engaging, outgoing, awesome self. 

What worries me, is when he reaches ”I’m finally good enough at the NHL level to stop saying all the right things” status.  You get the impression that, given an injection of truth serum and a shot of whiskey (redundant?), he’d be saying “For eff’s sake, how can you pick this Hall kid over me!  Look at his dumb face!  Look at my awesome one!  I got this!  SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

Of course, those aren’t his words, and he may be a very nice guy.  May be.

On the other hand, he may have his own last name tattooed on his triceps.  Oh, he does?  Oh my.  Let’s check the scoreboard:

Players I’ve played with that have their own names tattooed on them: Let’s say, three per team since junior, 10 years of teams, let’s say 30 guys.

Players I’ve liked that have their own names tattooed on them:  Let’s see, Ciocco, Tassone…. um…. Hart, don’t you have one?  Let’s leave it at three.

So, according to my math, that arm tattoo leaves a meager 10% chance that he’s a guy I’d like.  And if you enjoy my blog, in turn, like a 10% chance he’d be the type of guy you’d like.

This is some scientific shit right here.

{Note: I want to be wrong about this.  I’m gonna have to cover this guy for years, and like I said, he seems sharp.  Maybe he’s in that 10%!}

***

(Team) Taylor Hall

Front left

Good ol’ Taylor Hall is front left in that picture. 

And while I’ve made cracks about the guy before (I believe something about him endorsing oat bags, there was a “one-horse race for #1 overall” comment I approved, and as of this morning, I laughed at a ”Hall & Oats” reference), he really looks nothing like a horse.  Aside from being huge and powerful.  And looking like a horse.  There’s that.

In his interviews, he appears to pick up on jokes about as well as Duncan Keith picks up on “your speech is too long” music.  He seems slightly more interesting than white rice, but not in a “Benihana fried rice with a stick of butter, eggs, chicken and peas” kind of way, and more in a “this soy sauce makes this tolerable” kind of way.

That said, he also seems like a harmless, farm boyish Canadian with no desire to end up in the tabloids for dating other celebrites (like Seguin does here), as in, he’s the perfect fit for the city of Edmonton.  As a GM, you can be sure he’ll show up confident but humble, and put in a sincere effort everyday.  Yes, I gleaned that from like eight minutes of interviews.

Having seen Hall and Seguin play a combined zero shifts that weren’t highlights of goals, I’ve formed this opinion: he doesn’t look like someone I’d want to play.  He skates like an, um, Clydesdale.

*****

In other,  far less judgemental news, trades talks are like me as Kevin Johnson in NBA Jam – “theyy’re, HEATING UP!” (Too much coffee today).

So today’s the big day – picks, trades, chaos.

We’ll use the comment section to discuss trades as they happen.  In the meantime, you can join me on a day-long chat for Puck Daddy, held at Yahoo!’s “Buzzing the Net” (junior hockey blog).  I’ll be there, y’know, being judgemental again (9 am PST start).

*****

Have the greatest weekend ever!

For another Bri/JB picture, click here.

Crazy Busy Off-Season Week in NHL News

 

The hockey world is aflame this week, with trades, hirings, firings, awards, HOF inductions, drafts and free agency providing us with more news that we’d get during a regular season week.  And like you, I’m quite enjoying it.

Speaking of enjoying, if you haven’t seen the Bobby Ryan/Ryan Getzlaf  (a potentially great Wheel of Fortune “before and after” question) skit, give it a gander.  It’s the perfect example of how the NHL can show it’s fans what it’s players are really like. 

As opposed to NFL players, who are like “CHECK OUT MY PERSONALITY ISN’T IT AWESOME” *beating a fan over the head with bowling pin*, NHL players tend to be more ”Nono, that suit looks great man, nice pocket square” *laced with evil*.

Okay, the major topics.

*****

This, apparently, is Dino Ciccarelli. Only two career arrests? How noble.

HALL OF FAME INDUCTIONS 

What, you mean you don’t put Dino Ciccarelli above Pavel Bure, Doug Gilmour or Joe Nieuwendyk?

Okay, me neither.  Full disclosure: I thought Ciccarelli was a tough guy.  As in, had NO IDEA he was ever an offensive presence.  So that might be a bit of a red flag on his HOF selection (or a red flag on my knowledge of NHL history, I dunno).

I will say this – in the “Builders” category, the only times I’ve heard the name “Jimmy Devellano” from my Dad and his cohorts is to say amazing, amazing things about how he doesn’t get enough recognition.  So there ya go, that convo is over.

TRADES

Nathan Horton apparently wanted out of Florida, who obliged him by bending over and taking it up the tailpipe, as Jim Carrey put it in Liar Liar.  Boston is suddenly, um, scary.

Between Wheeler, Lucic and Horton, they've got big boys that can play.

By the time they get through the draft with Seguin and some other potential-packed young bucks, AND maybe make another move or two for help right now…. Look out, the East is starting to look deep like the West.  Who are you gonna pick to finish first next year: Washington? Pittsburgh? Philly?  Boston?  New Jersey?  Buffa….no.

Dustin Byfuglien got moved somewhere that’ll please his detractors, Atlanta.  It’ll please them, you see, because they’ll rarely have to watch him play.  Probably no playoffs, not much coverage; he just evaporated into Atlanta’s mainstream obscurity, where he’ll work alongside Kane and Toews Peverly and Antropov, and try to build a playoff team in the next few years.  Y’know, after winning a Cup.  Two words: ouch.  ….ouch.

What a great. trade. by Chicago.  They addressed the cap situation, got some picks to ensure that their success is sustainable, and frankly, only moved one important piece.  And for Atlanta, they get help now, which they desperately need. 

But for Hawks fans, you’re not out of the woods yet (and you’re already down  the guy you obsessed over this past season).  There’s still at least one more shocker coming, and we’re allll pumped to see who it’s gonna be.  If the rumours are any indication, Ladd could be the next to go.

The ollll switcheroo.

HIRING/FIRING

Pat Quinn has politely been asked to step to the side to make way for Tom Renney in Edmonton, who’s officially been given the keys to the Yugo that is the Oilers.  It’s the right move, unfortunately.  Quinn is a great guy, and was a great coach, but the times, they are a-changin’.

The “new” NHL involves far more pandering to personalities and offense than it did at Quinn’s peak, where the focus was on bear-hugging your opponent and and using the 1-0-4 neutral zone defense (also, some of the focus was on convincing your goaltender that it’s acceptable to go down).  For a young team like the Oil who’ll be drafting a young star tomorrow, they needed a younger coach.

NHL AWARDS

I’m upset at ZERO of the selections, wonderfully done this year.

Canucks fans have Hall-of-Famers on their hands.

Henrik Sedin scored 112 points.  When his brother was down, he picked his team up.  He made plays with such vision and speed that I completely forgot to make fun of his zombie-like appearance.  He was just a terror and neither Sid nor Ovy – who both had great years – could claim that they were better than  him in the 09-10 season.  I’m happy for Henrik.

Datsyuk owns the Selke, for this stat alone: he went 30 games without a penalty, and led the league in takeaways.  How. is that. possible?  You can only trick a guy with the stick-lift so many times…. or so I thought.

Could've taken it easy on the impressions though...

Keith took home the Norris, because, um, he was the best defenseman this year.  Doughty may be a lock to win a couple in his career, and he may have been spectacular this year, but he didn’t get “there” yet.  Oh, and Duncan?  Your speech was a trainwreck.

All in all, I thought the awards show was great.  People encouraged me to watch just to see how awful they are, but…. they weren’t.  Then again, I usually like Jay Mohr (I like somewhat corny stuff), and I like any forced attempt at comedy, funny or not (hence my LOVE of stand-up comedy).  If it wasn’t for the effing awful bands that played, it would’ve been entirely entertaining.

I mean holy shit, the Goo Goo Dolls?  What the eff.  (Bad music makes me swear)

NHL DRAFT

The reality of trying to play professional hockey is, there’s always some young kid on the come-up about to take your spot.  The only solution, for me anyway, was to tune it all out.  Like, seriously – I never watched or listened to any story that pertained to young guns.  Now that I’m a writer, that has to change I suppose.

For me, the draft will be fun to watch for two reasons: trades, and to mock super-young nervous kids.  I still didn’t pay much attention to the young guys this past year.  Thus, like most of you, I know next to nothing about junior hockey/European/college players except for what I’ve read, soooo, whatever. 

But I will be live-chatting about it from like, 1pm to 7:30pm tomorrow with Yahoo’s Puck Daddy.  Expect awesome insight on players suits and their nervous ticks.

FREE AGENCY

The Isles are about to shock the world by signing Kovalchuk, Gonchar, and James.  As in, Lebron.  I’m sticking to my guns on that, and it’s going to be epic.  And we’re trading DiPietro to Vancouver to back up Luongo, and getting the Sedins and Kesler in return.  Awesome.

*****

ENTOURAGE is back with some new episodes soon.  Yes, and also, yesss.  I’ve missed Ari.

UPDATE: Ohmigod – as one of the nine fans serious enough to own box sets of the show, I can’t believe I didn’t mention the return of FUTURAMA tonight!  Weeeee!

*****

Let’s talk puck.  What’s on your mind?

Booooo Skankees!

 SEE YOU IN THE WORLD SERIES, BEAR.

 Oh, and BTW – how about Isner/Mahut?  Damn.

FJM’ing Lamberts Links – Again.

 

Well, as promised last week (mentioned?), I’m sticking with the FJM’ing of Ryan Lambert’s Links.  Ryan writes a Monday column “What We Learned” for Puck Daddy that mentions every team in the NHL and provides a link.  So, being the geniuses we are over here at BB, we’re going to use his research and comment on the stories.  Woohoo!  Round two, here we go.

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What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: Apparently the Ducks have done about as much talking to Bobby Ryan’s agents regarding a new contract as you or I have. Which is to say none at all. He said he still wants to play in Anaheim though, so there’s that.

So that’s the most confusing piece of information ever.  Not contacting your team’s burgeoning young star when he’s a few days away from being able to negotiate with every team on the planet can’t help keep the price low, can it?  Just give him all that money Giguere was getting.

Having multiple suitors helps get you more, so maybe Ryan’s agent is just dodging phone calls until July 1st?

Atlanta Thrashers: Atlanta doesn’t just base everything on hockey skill when it comes to player evaluation. Said GM Rick Dudley: “I think they say ‘Well, he scored 46 goals, he’s got to be a pretty good player.’ [I might] look at him and say ‘He’s a big guy that scored 46 goals but he’s dumber than a sack of hammers.’ If that’s the case, he’s going to have a tough time playing in the National Hockey League.” I’ll give Phil Kessel(notes) the bad news.

Hey, Dudley’s got a point here.  You can only be so good while being dumb.  And while plenty of NHL stars have tested those limits, the brightest shining stars can usually string together a coherent sentence.

Boston Bruins: Bruins fans won’t have to wait long to see whoever the team take with the second pick (fun fact: it’s going to be Tyler Seguin). The B’s are holding their annual prospect camp July 6-10.

I mean, my god, look at that picture on the left.  Wouldn’t you take Seguin first just so you could use him in marketing campaigns?  Hall looks about a week away from getting an endorsement deal selling bags of oats.

Buffalo Sabres: After years of taking European losers, the Sabres are leaning toward North Americans in this draft. Puck Daddy has been unable to confirm what must have been the appointment of new assistant GM Don Cherry.

Well yeah, when was the last time a European helped win a Stanley Cup?  I mean, really.  .

…Oh, Malkin won the Conn Smythe last year?  It was Zetterberg the year before that?  Huh.  Well there goes that theory.

Calgary Flames: Calgary, says this article, shaped Taylor Hall’s career indelibly. That will make Flames fans feel better when he’s spinning Cory Sarich(notes) like a top six games a year.

Could you imagine if you were going to be told, in an instant, that you have to spend the next three years of your life (minimum)    A) In Edmonton, on a losing team, in a division with lots of travel, and with not a lot of support to make you look good.  OR   B) In Boston, on a winning team, within five hours of a quarter of the league, and with a quality team around you to help you look good. 

Seguin’s agent is probably just sooooo bummed his client looks like he’s going number two.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes will play in St. Petersburg, Russia this coming preseason. SKA St. Petersburg was the second-best team in the KHL regular season last year, which means the Hurricanes are going to get creamed by a team featuring Alexei Yashin(notes) and Sergei Zubov(notes).

I really, really, really, don’t want a KHL team beating an NHL team.  I’m already hearing more player-friends (it’s like being a student-athlete) drop KHL bombs, I don’t need those guys to have any more incentive to go over there.

Chicago Blackhawks: Team president John McDonough used his one day with the Stanley Cup to go to his boyhood home in suburban Chicago. Several hundred people showed up to see it. I mean him. Yes, they were all there to see him. John McDonough. And not an inanimate piece of metal.

Ron Artest’s post-game championship interview included a mention of his new single ”Champions” (only single?).  Well, it’s here m*****f****rs.  He proves the Cup is a big celebrity by saying “takin’ shots a vodka out The Stanley’s Cup.  Yep, that’s right, THE STANLEY’S.  Can I critique grammar in a rap song?

Colorado Avalanche: Goaltending coach Jocelyn Thibault(notes) has quit the Avs to be closer to his family in Quebec, or, perhaps more accurately, be farther away from Petr Budaj. (Linked article is in French. Deal with it.)

Not much Avs news, huh?

Columbus Blue Jackets: Sorry to all Columbus fans hoping Erik Gudbrandson would drop to the fourth spot. Everyone on the planet has him going to Florida at No. 3 instead.

What about Isles fans hoping he slips to 5th?  He’ll probably be there, right?  No?  Oh god, the Isles are gonna take Gormley aren’t they…. (he’s fine, he’s fine, kidding)

Dallas Stars: Mindblowing fact — The Stars have only drafted two defensemen with their last 18 picks. They didn’t take any last year. The last time they drafted a defenseman that developed into a regular NHLer, you ask? Matt Niskanen(notes) five years ago.

Even crazier Dallas Stars news?  Mike Modano is batting around playing with a different franchise next year.  Please, please say it ain’t so, Mikey.  Why do players do this to themselves?  Don’t they see how sad it is when other players do it?  As Wyshynski said, Yzerman did it right.

Detroit Red Wings: Here’s an understatement for a headline — Detroit area native Cam Fowler is “a likely first-round pick.” If he’s still around when the Wings draft at 21, every GM drafting after, like, No. 4 needs their head examined.

Yep, we’re getting Gormley.

Edmonton Oilers: Tyler Seguin got the grand tour of Rexall Place on Thursday. And unless the Bruins play there he will probably never be forced to go back, the lucky devil.

His tour itinerary: West Edmonton Mall, Rexall Place, West Edmonton Mall, get blindingly drunk at Hooters in West Edmonton Mall.  There!  Did you enjoy Edmonton?

Florida Panthers: The Bruins are apparently close to trading for Nathan Horton(notes). I’ll believe it when I see it.

Makes sense.  They have a kabillion picks and would, ideally, like to be “actually good” not “have a decent post-season and trick people into thinking they didn’t suck last year-good”.  I guess there was that matter of a 3-0 collapse to address….

Los Angeles Kings: The Kings are apparently about to hire John Stevens as their new assistant coach. The only thing holding up the deal is Dean Lombardi’s probably-pending contract extension.

aejakjhfrhrnrgohpaenhfjhjakdwhatever.

Minnesota Wild: As the Wild continue their efforts to bring back every player to play for the franchise that one time it went to the Western Conference Final, it has offered Brad Bombardir the new job of director of player development, which he may not take.

They’ve also offered the job of “worst jersey’s in the NHL” to themselves for the millionth year in a row, and have accepted the position once again.  Save for their thirds.  I like those.

Montreal Canadiens: Pierre Gauthier thinks Lars Eller(notes) has a very good chance to play for the big club this year. What that says about the Habs’ depth down the middle is for you to interpret.

Hear that Habs fans?  You traded Jaroslav Halak for a guy who probably could maybe play in the NHL next year.  Phew… I take back the bad-mouthing of that trade.

Nashville Predators: Long story short, the Predators are going to score 43 goals this year.

I’m confused by what Nashville is trying to accomplish this month.  The old “save money in the short term, get worse, and make none down the road” idea has never ever panned out.

New Jersey Devils: You’ve never seen someone so pumped to move to Newark as Jason Arnott(notes). I guarantee he’s been jamming Glory Days on his car stereo all weekend.

I’ve recently discovered that Devils fans actually exist.  From what I can tell, they have no idea how to react to this trade.  Their thoughts: “But…Kovalchuk?  Martin?  Is Arnott still good?  Is he old?  Are we paying him too much?  He was here for the Cup, and scored that big goal…. are we happy? Mad?  WTF JUST HAPPENED?”

New York Islanders: Alex Burmistrov, who will probably go in the top 5 next weekend, is confused, I think. Said he of his visit to Uniondale, “Beautiful place, that Long Island.” I don’t know how sarcasm works in Russia, buddy, but that can’t be right.

Weirdest part of the dig is…. Long Island is fahkin’ gorgeous, and I’ve lived some pretty places (BC, Alaska, Salt Lake City, for example).  It’s lush and surrounded by ocean, while Burmistrov is FROM RUSSIA.  Can’t blame the kid for likin’ it.  Well, except for Nassau Coliseum.  That place SUCKS.

New York Rangers: Wondering why the Rangers’ divisional opponents are making moves while Sather just sits in his office? It’s because his M.O. is to wait until after the draft to make his stunningly bad personnel moves.

His M.O. is failing.  How much longer can Rangers fans STAND this guy?

Ottawa Senators: Both Andy Sutton(notes) and Matt Cullen(notes) would like to stay in Ottawa but have basically been told they’re not a priority while the team tries to ink Anton Volchenkov(notes). Did you know Sutton was second in the league in blocked shots and eighth in hits last year? They should sign him.

Blocked shots, hits, and leads the league in including the word “expert” per sentence.  Because he wants to know: are you one?

Philadelphia Flyers: Danny Briere(notes) cost the Flyers $112,172 per point per game last season. Claude Giroux’s(notes) cost: $17,482. You knew that guy was a bargain.

I always love those breakdowns, like when Griffey gets hurt, and it works out to two million an at-bat or something.  Seriously I do – it’s fun to pretend the guy was like, at home all day, drove to the park, took an at-bat and his paycheck, and left.  It’s silly, but fun to be indignant about their whopping salaries.

Phoenix Coyotes: Much of the roster for the Coyotes is undecided for next year. Brilliant analysis: “The picture will become clearer after the draft Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles and the start of free agency July 1.” You don’t say?

Phoenix’s roster is a little more variable than other teams, but sure, that July 1st stuff kinda goes without saying.  Still waiting for my offer, Desert Dogs.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Alex Ponikarovsky is unlikely to return to the Penguins, not that you didn’t know that. Between the regular season and playoffs, Poni had 3-11-14 in 27 games, and it only cost the Pens Luca Caputi(notes).

I never saw PonikaBOOOOOOOO play until he got traded to Pittsburgh, and when I diBOOOOOOOOOO.  Man, was he bad in PittsBOOOOOOOOOOOO!  BOOOOOOPONIKAROVSKYBOOOOOOO!

San Jose Sharks: Fear the Fin believes that one way to increase scoring is to make the teams start on the opposite benches, meaning home teams have a long change twice a game instead of once. This is a colossally stupid idea.

My uncle who interned for Stan Fischler told me that Stan has had more than his share of ideas like this, and for the most part, they BOOOOOPONIKAROVSKYBOOOOOO!  (But seriously, there are plenty of fun ideas to bat around, but lets keep it simple.  College hockey is talking about calling icing on team’s that are short-handed.  Lets rein it in here.)

St. Louis Blues: Jaroslav Halak on why he works so hard: “I was born in May, and I am a (Taurus) so I’m really stubborn.” Oh Christ.

Hmm, interesting insight.  Maybe they traded him cause he’s completely braindead.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Count Vinny Lecavalier among those excited to have Steve Yzerman around. He mentions that Stevie Y is “an honest person,” a description he probably would not give some of the other people that have come through the Lightning organization of late.

Vinny’s gonna have a good season, I’m calling it now (he should for 10 million dollars).  So is Tampa.  They’ll be in the playoff hunt WITH THE ISLES.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Here’s one hell of a spin — The Halak trade was good for the Maple Leafs. Really softens the blow of not having Tuukka Rask(notes), I’m sure.

What softens the blow of paying JS Giguere seven million dollars?

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks might trade their first-round pick. They do need several more mediocre defensemen.

Right, their d-corps is a stable of ”yep, he’s a good player” guys, without a single Keith/Seabrook/Campbell/Pronger/Carle/Hamuis/Timonen.

Washington Capitals: Sorry Shaone Morrisonn(notes), you’re out.

Based entirely on the fact that your parents did a stupid job of spelling your name.

Arnott, Horton and Graeme McDowell

 

June 21st.  The longest day of the year, and more importantly, my Dad’s birthday.  So happy birthday, Dad! 

That’s the downside of living away from the family – birthdays (and events like Fathers Day) are never quite the same.  Lookin’ forward to getting back to Kelowna in a month.

*****

Soooo, stuff’s going down in the offices of hockey GM’s all over the country huh?  I’m excited to see who does what with who when.  Or something like that.

You sir, Arnott my favourite player.

The Devils just picked up Jason Arnott, a player I’ve taken great pleasure in hating over his NHL career.  (For absolutely no reason.  Just don’t enjoy his style of play).  Despite my lack of love for him, he’s a quality player to have in your locker room and lineup – big bodies with the ability to finish are a TRUCKFUL of dimes a dozen, so that’s great that the Devs are willing to put up that truckful.

At first glance, it seems odd that they’re interested in taking on a 4.5 million dollar cap hit before finding out if they can re-sign Kovalchuk and Paul Martin, but hey, what do we know?  If anything, maybe we can infer that they’ll be trading somebody away to make cap space soon.  Lou’s always got a plan.

So here’s my question of the day….

Why is Dale Tallon (supposedly) interested in trading away his team’s best assets?  When you hear of a GM going to a team and wanting to shake things up, it boggles my mind when a name like Nathan Horton comes up.

Easy on the celly buddy, it's the Rangers... not THAT much of a feat.

Wouldn’t you expect that he’d be one of the core pieces you’d build around?  What are the odds of any prospect developing into a player as good as him?

He’s 25 years old, 6’2, 230, has goal totals of 28,31, 27, 22, 20 (injuries the past two season limited him to 60ish games), and only makes $4 million a year.  What more do you want from a player?  He’s what you hope your draft picks develop into. 

Do you want a younger guy that has a 15 year career ahead of him with a few year learning curve, or a guy who’s through the adjustment period and into his best years?

The problem is with the rest of the team, and every good team needs a nucleus to build around.  He’s your nucleus.  Don’t trade this guy away, Dale, and if you do, trade him to the Islanders.

*****

The best of the US Open this year, by A MILE was the reaction by Graeme McDowell’s Dad after he won with a two-putt on 18.  I could cry just thinking about it. 

For the already likable McDowell, that moment pushed him over the top…. I’m a fan.  (Incidentally, I’ve become a fan of Dustin Johnson too, but that … what’d he shoot, 83? on Sunday, for a guy they called an emotional ”flat-liner” was just a nightmare.  US Open pressure must be fierce.  I guess it’s like that at all majors, really.)

Jump to 3:45 to catch a quick glimpse of the moment… it was pretty special. 

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Short and sweet today.  Hope everyone’s enjoying the summer heat, and hopefully the Leafs trade Kaberle so I can stop hearing his name ASAP.

Jaroslav Halak, Ron Artest, and Easton Gear

 As my friend Neil put it…. Snookie punch.

*****

Bri read yesterday’s post, and instead of giving me shit for implying I was holding out for Marisa Miller (yes, I will continue linking to Google Image pages of her, thanks), she gave me shit for implying she was holding out for Brad Pitt.  Apparently, I’ve learned, she’s much more of a Matthew Mcconaughey (there you go ladies) fan.  So now you know, too.

Okay, BIG STUFF goin’ on in the sports world.  Today’s a pretty long blog, so grab your coffee, tea, whiskey, or whatever it is you drink when you read my blog, and let’s dive in.

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The Montreal Canadiens traded Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for Lars Eller and Ian Shultz.

Headed to STL

To clarify who the two guys you’ve never heard of before are, Eller is a 21 year old quality prospect that played in the AHL last year (seven NHL games) and Shultz is a 20 year old WHL tough guy.  Woo hoo.

So, thoughts:

I’m not completely opposed to trading Halak instead of Price.

Halak definitely would’ve cost the Habs more, and they already have cap problems thanks to giving Scott Gomez eight billion dollars a shift.  Price is 22, and already has 150 NHL games played under his belt.  And, in a league where Niemi and Leighton were your Finals goalies, it suddenly seems possible to succeed with a guy who’s only “good”, not “great” (again, he could get to “great”, he’s young).

But after the Halak playoff run, where your city of goalie-lovers found their new Roy, Montreal owed their fans some effort in keeping him (they never even contacted Halak’s agent to hear what he wanted, saying “they knew what his value was”).  That’s ludicrous, considering there was as many Halak jerseys as any other player in the stands by the conference finals.

Still haunting Washington and Pittsburgh fans.

So if you were going to trade your fans newest deity, didn’t you at least owe them a player in return that they could be pumped about getting, not just talked into, the way we’re all being talked into Eller? 

What was the rush on this move?

I understand, as James Mirtle and Pierre Lebrun wrote, that there’s a sackful of available goalies (something like 10 quality guys…. and Jose Theodore), and only so many starting positions (like, four).  But since Halak is better than pretty much every goalie on that list at only age 25, it shouldn’t matter.  There could be 1000 available goalies, and if you’re the best, teams want you first.

For Montreal, with the draft coming up and the whole summer of free agency ahead, taking a quality roster piece out of your lineup and replacing it with a “maybe” isn’t good enough.

For St. Louis, applause all around.  They took their “maybe” in Eller, and parlayed it into quality in the crease.  They’ve got what they were going to pay Mason free to help cover the cost of Halak, and as Greg Wyshynski put it, they’re now a “ team that’s making the turn from building to contend to contending this season.”

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The LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in game seven of the NBA Finals last night, but there’s only one thing I want to talk about.  Ron Artest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met my uncle Ken, a St. John’s alum (as is Artest – Ken’s love of the school is how I came to acknowledge them as my preferred college basketball team) in New York City this past summer to take in a show, have some dinner, and just poke around because it’s fun.  We spent the afternoon walking around with our better halves, and talking sports.  And while we’re usually on the same page, when I suggested RonRon would find a way to mess things up for the Lakers (and that they should’ve kept Ariza), I didn’t realize the can of worms I opened.

I get weekly emails about the wonderment that is Ron Artest, a stance I didn’t think any sane human could take.  But I’ve slowly been persuaded….

Aaactually, should be a pic of him play D....

Artest is – and this is fair to say, even he would – unstable.  But, he recognizes that, and works with a psychologist to tone the crazy down.  He’s also loyal, a hard worker, and… god, he’s just so freaking unstable.

In his post-game interview, he promoted his new single “champion”.  When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he said “ghetto”.  When asked about flopping to draw a charge, he said “if you flop and call a charge in my neighborhood, somebody might get stabbed”.  There’s just too many Artest moments to explain the guy.

Whether he’s renting porn on a rookie’s bill one moment, then taking a little girl who just lost her Dad to a parents event the next, or going missing before the Lakers first game of the year, but only because winning a title meant so much to him, or disobeying Houston Rockets staff, but to play with little kids, there’s just nobody like him in sports. 

Because who else could combine literally being on the verge of mental insanity, with having a heart of gold?  He’s simply one of the most interesting, polarizing, controversial people in sports.  RonRon.  Gotta love him…. I guess?

UPDATE: Yup, he wore his jersey to the club last night, and eff does that club look fun.

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I’m fortunate enough to be in Easton’s loop of people who receive their promotional materials and demo stuff, so in turn, let me sell you some Easton gear:

The hoodies and hat

Here’s the deal – I get the odd package from other companies trying blow up their new products too, and when the stuff isn’t good, I just don’t write about it.  This stuff is.

The hoodies are badass.  Simple, one of them is that stretchier, thinner material, and the other is warm as hell (thanks, by the way Easton – tooootally need that in AZ in June).  They understand something that other companies don’t – hockey fans don’t want NASCAR clothes.  The hat is understated and flexfit, with Easton on the brim, and “hockey” on the back.  Most of the stuff is good material, minimal logos (well, the red one has minimal logos).  Well played.  Even the toque is money, but again… hot.

And, I’ll definitely be rocking the dry-fit golf shirt.  Because y’know, I sweat eating cereal here these days.

Anyway, if you want some of that gear, here’s the link to their clothes stuffs.  And hey, you can trust me… I have sick taste.

Go Seawolves.

…..Okay, don’t judge me on that.

Follow me on Twitter

Follow Easton Hockey on Twitter.

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Update: Artest press conference video:

The Death of My Phone = Rambling Post

 

So, I woke up yesterday (phew), and reached for my phone to turn off my alarm.  In the process, I knocked over the world’s largest glass of water.  Onto my phone.

And, no luck on a “please work please work” miracle.  It’s now fully unusable (you know they could make these things waterproof in nine seconds).  Of course, it had my “to blog about” file that’s oh-so-crucial to running this blog on it, so it looks like I’m starting from scratch on ideas.

So, today we’re gonna get random.  Hold on tight.

Oh, and one more thing - your punishment for me wrecking my phone is that we’re all going to stare at a picture of my cat for a few seconds……..

Awww, nappin' while daddy types.

We call him Tyson for that badass face tattoo. 

Okay, you’re free to go now.

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 As I multi-tweeted yesterday (and lost multi-followers for the personal life stuff), Bri and I finally have an official wedding date, September 17th 2011, in Huntington, NY. 

I’ll now commence the self-lobotomy that’ll be necessary to a) plan a wedding without fighting and b) be a married man in general.

The wedding is so far away because Bri and I figured it would give Brad Pitt and Marisa Miller time to realize that they’re our respective soulmates.

And, for those of you who still don’t know how “we” came to be an “us”, here’s the story as written for Chris Botta’s Islanders Point Blank, interestingly, the first piece of writing I ever did off this website.

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Bri and I hit up Sedona, Arizona on the weekend, and decided to take a picture to replace the one at the top of this page (the picture we took for that isn’t the one below.  The other one is identical in look to the current header, only I’m gazing out at AZ).  It’ll be symbollic of change, both in location and lifestyle.  Not sure when I’ll have it up, so for now, check out this bad boy:

Ooo, so purrty.

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Okay, “hockeyier” stuff:  I’ve started talking to two media outlets about next season so far.  Not sure exactly where or what I’ll be doing, but I think it’s safe to say you’ll be seeing/reading a lottttt more jb.  So thanks for making that possible.

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The NHL Draft: 

Ahh, the yearly hopes-up-a-thon, where every scout, coach, manager and fan goes from being completely unsure about which kid has more potential, to suddenly 100% that THIS kid is going to be so much better than THAT kid.

I, for one, don’t watch/care about junior hockey, which makes me a horrible source for evaluating who had a good draft day and who didn’t.  Like you, I’ll listen to Pierre McGuire and that scouting guy with the mustache, and decide if the Islanders KILLED IT or TOTALLY SUCKED with their 10 picks (second most!).

If I were the GM – and I’m not – I’d trade about a half-dozen of them away for help today.  Having “prospects” costs money while they try to hit their stride, so lets let our top few picked players stay in the system, and trade the bottom bunch for a guy that doesn’t frustrate John Tavares.  We’re sucking the life out of JT without help.

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I’m pumped about Kyle Okposo this year.  He’s about to become a name player in the NHL.

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Jay Mohr was hired to host the NHL Awards.  Here’s a Puck Daddy compilation of the times he’s made it clear he hates hockey. 

Honestly, I’m okay with this hiring.  At least it’s someone relatively recognizable, which is a plus for our teensy little niche sport.  What, Vince Vaughn didn’t wanna do it?

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Phoenix’s own Jimmy Eat World finished their latest album (though I have no idea when it’ll be out), and I’m pumped.  No band has a more undeserved reputation than them, and it’s based on the one crappy single that got popular, “The Middle”.  Give them a good listen to if you’re a music afficianado.  While most of it is “on the bus calm down music”, here’s a great warm-up worthy tune from them (that I’ve played on here before, but whatever), “Pain”:

 Oh, and I’m around all day.  What’s on your hockey-soaked mind?

 

And for those of you that like chill music, heres one of my go-to bus songs…. 23

The Most Interesting Men In The NHL

 

First things first:  My latest USA Today bit – basically, media members complain about cliches, but go holier-than-thou when Burrish says he hates Pronger, or Kane says he loves cabbies. Don’t beat the fun out of guys (or cabbies).

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Good morning!  Let’s start by talking about an imaginary trade.  Yay!

The rumour that was mentioned yesterday was Spezza to Columbus for their fourth overall pick and Brassard, which I hadn’t heard. 

I like grinning. Yep, I "grin", not smile. Grin grin grin.

If that were to be true (and there’s already an “it’s not” comment following it up, but lets bat it around because it’s June), I could understand it. 

The fourth overall pick is probably going to be a good one, but picks are never a lock to pan out.  There’s plenty of stories about NHL busts.  So if you can turn that pick and a good player into one of the top forwards in the league, Columbus could justify getting that aggressive.  Especially since they’d like to be good sooner than later.

And, it would make sense for Ottawa.  You’re not going to get a better return on the goofy-faced Spezza than that, and while it’s a gamble, you never know – there’s plenty of successful 4th overall picks, too.  That’s part of the fun of trading for draft picks.

So who knows.  The best part of debating that imaginary (and unlikely) trade, is it brings me to this point I wanted to make:

Individual players sell more tickets than teams. 

Scary good.

If you’re Columbus, having two heavyweight stars for your fans to enjoy night in, night out takes the pressure off the usual ”if we’re not winning this isn’t fun to watch” mindset.  At least it buys you some time and shows you care about the fans.  I know it’s part of the reason I didn’t wanna go to Coyotes games (like, at all) when I first moved here.  Who was I going to watch?  Hate to break it to you Coyote loyalists, but Doaner isn’t exactly a thrill-a-shift.

Aw, man, you see that?  He just totally worked hard, finished his check and kept his stick in passing lanes!  How fundamentally sound CAN YOU BE?!?

Of all the teams I saw here this year (seven or eight?), Pavel Datsyuk stood out the most – can’t wait to watch him the next time he’s back in town.  I WILL be in the building.

I don’t want to watch the Buffalo Sabres, a team that wins without a star (Vanek is slo-mo ’til he gets a chance). 

I’m just not entertained by quality team play.

Are you?

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Like, I wanna know what he's saying right now.

I tweeted this last night, but it’s an awesome question: Who are the most interesting people in the NHL?  Who is it that, when they talk, you listen?  Who’s got personality, who do you always want to know what they’re up to?

So far I’ve got: Brian Burke, Patrick Kane, Chris Pronger, Adam Burrish (yes, he’s that good of a quote machine already), Sean Avery, and Alex Ovechkin.

Twitter responses included Ilya “what is love” Bryzgalov, Alex Kovalev, Ryan Kesler, and actually, Avery.  I missed him at first, but he’s a must-include.

To quote PTI…. who ya got?

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Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs unveiled their old new jerseys, and announced Dion Phaneuf as their captain.  And I liked it all.

Pic by Pension Plan Puppets (Also Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

First off, you can’t EVER change the Leafs jersey, or folks in Toronto would revolt.  Fans of that franchise have a crazy sense of grandeur and history, which is somewhat insane, since they haven’t won a Cup in well over four decades.  And don’t get me wrong, I’ll say it with pride - I like the Toronto Maple Leafs.  But god help us all if they ever win another cup.  That city will become insufferable. 

Ahem, anyway.  They jersey’s are nice, in that they look like all their older, also nice ones.

As for Phaneuf, you can’t deny he’s the right choice for captain, and that team needs one.  I thought his “speech” was HORRRRRRIBLE though.  It reminded me so much of the Tiger Woods “prepared statement”, only Phaneuf looked far more guilty than Tiger.  It looked like he didn’t think he deserved to be captain or something.  C’mon Dion, embrace it! 

You’re officially Captain Maple Leaf.

 

Around The NHL – FJM’ing Lambert’s Links

 

Ahhhh, Monday.  It’s 7:13 here, and I’ve already gone for a run, been to the bank, and had breakfast.  I’m far too inspired to write something decent today.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for the good stuff - that’ll go in my USA Today column.  On Bourne’s Blog today, we’re gonna try something new:

Fire Joe Morgan” was a long-running blog that took other pieces of writing and shredded them, line by line.  Thanks to that site, “FJM’ing” a piece of work has become fairly commonplace.  (Check out Drew Magary’s FJM’ing of Peter King‘s Monday morning article every week, for a slightly chaotic good example).

So what I want to do, is use Ryan Lambert’s “What We Learned” column from Puck Daddy (which touches on a piece of info from every NHL team), and comment on each of those team-based items, as opposed to commenting on the writing.  It’s an easy way for us to discuss what’s up around the NHL on Mondays, while making Lambert do the research for us.  Thanks Ryan! 

(PS, I have no idea if this is legal or not.)

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What We Learned

 Anaheim Ducks: Ducks GM Bob Murray on those rumors that his team would trade Bobby Ryan for Tomas Kaberle(notes): “Ridiculous.” This, by the way, is the correct response to rumors of this type.

If I were Anaheim, I wouldn’t trade Bobby Ryan for the entire Toronto Maple Leafs team.  He’s 23 years old, 6’3, 220 and coming off BACK-TO-BACK 30 goals seasons.  “Wait, we can get KABERLE?  Pack Ryan’s bag!” probably won’t be said anytime in Anaheim soon.

Atlanta Thrashers: A comprehensive study by Birdwatchers Anonymous confirms what you probably already knew: The Thrashers were really bad at drafting from 1999 to 2005.

Oops, Lambert mispelled “hockey” d-r-a-f-t-i-n-g.

Boston Bruins: Both sides in the negotiations between the Bruins and Johnny Boychuk(notes) are optimistic they’ll get a deal done. Joe Haggerty thinks the negotiations probably start around Matt Hunwick’s(notes) current salary $2.8 million.

 Hey, anytime you can lock up a guy for millions of dollars after one good season, you HAVE to do it.  Like Tim Thomas, or Milan Lucic! 

….Juuuust kidding, Bruins fans.  Boychuk was unreal in playoffs for the B’s, and he does have a 65 point AHL season under his belt (20 goals, 45 assists).  Combine that with the fact he’s physical and only 26, and he becomes a must-sign for the Bruins.

Buffalo Sabres: The lede from this column in the Buffalo News says Sabres fans asked themselves one question while watching Chicago win the Cup Finals: “Why couldn’t this be our team, our style, our Cup?” The shortest answer I can give is the Sabres didn’t miss the playoffs in nine of 10 years starting in the late 90s.

Another efficient route to finding the answer would be to print both rosters out, and lay them side by side and LOOK AT THEM.

Calgary Flames: Long story short: Ian White(notes) is going to get a bunch of money in arbitration from the Flames this summer.

Long story short: The Calgary Maple Leafs Flames are going to struggle again next year.

Carolina Hurricanes: Buried deep inside a post about how Ray Whitney(notes) has not completely given up on returning to the Hurricanes, there is this terrifying fact: “The (Canes’) self-imposed budget this year could be no higher than $44 million.” Hoo boy are they going to be BAD next year.

Last year when I did my pre-season predictions on which teams would make playoffs, I got a lot of heat for leaving the Canes out.  After a couple great points by readers, I was questioning myself.  Yeah.  They actually are pretty good. 

But since the puck dropped on game one last year, it’s felt like they’ve seriously committed themselves to failure.  Suddenly, just a year later, I think that fanbase is in for an Islanders-esque few years of misery.

Chicago Blackhawks: Many of the Blackhawks already have plans for their day with the Stanley Cup, and most involve taking it to their hometown. Hint: Don’t let Kris Draper’s(notes) baby sit in it.

Guys used to get a lot more than a day with the Cup before everybody remotely affiliated with the team got to take a turn with it.  By the end of my Dad and Clark’s Cup time, there may or may not have been words like “tools” and “reinforcement rods” thrown around.

Colorado Avalanche: Not surprisingly, the Avalanche have every intention of constructing their team in much the same way the Blackhawks have. The difference being Colorado has vast tracts of cap space. And won’t use much of it.

The Avs have the biggest range of any team in the NHL next year.  They could finish anywhere from 3rd to 13th and I wouldn’t flinch.

Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have already begun planning their prospect camp, which will take place later this month. Among the invitees is Cam Atkinson, who you might remember as 5-foot-6 kid that embarrassed Wisconsin in the NCAA title game and led the NCAA in goals last season. A shocking omission: Nikita Filatov(notes).

I’m scared Rick Nash is gonna have one of those jail-cell careers, where he just does the best he can with what he has, works hard,  never demands a trade, and never gets the chance to win a Cup.  He’s one of my favourite NHLers, and I’d LOVE to see him find some success. 

Is that success possible in Columbus?  I don’t think any time soon.

Dallas Stars: Who should the Stars try to poach from the Blackhawks? Joel Quenneville says, “Cristobal Huet.”

Ha! I liked that joke. 

Detroit Red Wings: Chris Chelios(notes) says he plans to spend more time with his kids now that he’s retired. His kids will probably be unavailable, however, since they have to work to pay their mortgages.

“Spend more time with my kids” is an immediate “ohhh boy” for me.  It’s the same as saying you’re a year away from submitting your name for the first available coaching vacancy.  You played til you were 40-whatever for a reason, Chris.  Hanging out with your kids just isn’t that fun when it’s everyday.

Edmonton Oilers: At least someone out there is advocating that Tambellini consider trading down and getting something out of Boston. I think it’s an excellent idea. Oh, wait, it’s saying Tambellini should be trying to acquire BOTH picks? Yeah that’ll never happen.

I’ve written about my theory on rebuilding through the draft before - I hate it.  I’m all for hanging on to immediate impact guys that can develop while contributing, Tavares-style (as in, I’m not a complete idiot). 

However, I’m NOT for “developing” a guy for three years before he’s half-useful if you can get someone for him who can play today.  This point has nothing to do with that blurb on Edmonton, but whatever, I like beating this dead horse.

Florida Panthers: Earlier this week the Panthers offered season tickets for $5.60 a game (that’s $229.60 a season). And had a free cookout. Now don’t you wish you lived in a market where no one cared about hockey?

No.  No I don’t.

Wait, what?  I live in Phoenix?  Well this is awkward.

Los Angeles Kings: Mark Hardy, the… um, embattled Kings assistant coach resigned from his job. And by “resigned,” I mean was he was fired but allowed to tell people he resigned.

Crap, and Yzerman JUST filled that coaching vacancy.  You’ll get the next job, Mark.  …Future’s bright, buddy.

Minnesota Wild: The Minnesota Wild are having a draft party, as most teams do these days. So if you’re a Wild fan, swing on by Aperitif Restaurant & Bar in Woodbury and watch your team draft another overrated Minnesotan ahead of several demonstrably better players.

Ooo, daggers.  The best thing I’ve read about the Wild in awhile came from the their beloved beat writer Michael Russo, who talked about the perpetual cycle of mediocrity the team is caught in.  Great point, but as an Isles fan, that doesn’t sound so horrible.

Montreal Canadiens: They caught the Philly scumbag that vandalized Montreal reporter Pat Hickey’s car.

Man, you can’t even damage someone car, steal their license plate and post pictures of it on facebook anymore.  What’s this world coming to?

Nashville Predators: Hobey Baker winner Blake Geoffrion recently tweeted that he would sign his contract with the Predators at his Nashville-area elementary school tomorrow. The Predators, meanwhile, say no deal is in place.

I saw an interview where someone asked Blake if his Grandfather “Boom-Boom” taught him tricks to the slapshot.  What does that even mean?  What could the guy say?  “Well, you really try to hit it hard.  Ideally with a stick made of light wood with no curve.”  There’s not exactly a secret formula you can pass down through generations like a cookie recipe.

New Jersey Devils: The agent that represents Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) in Russia — as opposed to the one that represents him here in North America — says that Kovy wants to sign in the KHL. His incentive for saying this is, I’m sure, not financial.

He’s been in Atlanta and New Jersey so far.  I’m hoping Carolina or Columbus gets him next so I officially never get to watch a whole game that showcases one of the most electrifying players of the past decade.  That’d be awesome.

New York Islanders: Islanders prospects Calvin de Haan(notes) and Casey Cizikas(notes) will attend Canada’s World Junior camp in August, but de Haan will be too injured to participate. That’s a helluva shoulder injury.

Maybe when those kids reach their potential, we can trade them for some draft picks with potential.  /holds finger to temple, pulls imaginary trigger.

New York Rangers: Want to ask Brandon Dubinsky(notes) a question? Sure you do. As of this writing, a whopping 14 people have asked him a question, so you can see the public is really clamoring to hear his thoughts.

My thoughts: God I hate the Rangers.

Ottawa Senators: Jason Spezza(notes) and his wife had a baby girl over the weekend. The Senators are considering flipping the newborn to the Rangers for a second-round pick in 2012 and an infant to be named later.

Like Nash, I’m a big Spezza fan, and I think he’s worth what he’s being paid.  I’ll now sit back down while everyone laughs at me.

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers wanted to sign Peter Forsberg(notes) for the stretch run. I assume it’s because he was pretty good for them last time and they feel that his not playing in the NHL for two seasons would only help matters.

Stop with the Forsberg and Jagr stuff, NHL.  What, you’re trying to sell jerseys now?  Those ships have sailed. (Yes, for effs sake, I did watch the Olympics, where those guys totalled one NHL playoff series worth of games without sucking or getting hurt).

Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes say they will use more kids next season in an effort to basically do what the Blackhawks did, much like every other relatively young team in the league. Kyle Turris(notes) is expected to be one of the players they use at the NHL level, but I feel like I said that last year too and look how that worked out.

The Coyotes have some decent talent waiting in the wings.  Here’s something I never imagined I’d say 12 months ago: I’m excited about the Coyotes roster.  Wolski FTW!

Pittsburgh Penguins: Brooks Orpik(notes) underwent surgery for a sports hernia. It all worked out okay. This is major news in the offseason.

Whereas Alexi Ponikarovsky IS a sports hernia, and the Penguins are hoping they can have him removed sometime too.

San Jose Sharks: Because Rob Blake(notes) is retiring, Jim Matheson thinks they should consider trading for Sheldon Souray(notes). Because they’d only have to pay him $4.5 million despite his $5.4 million cap hit. ‘Course that’s $4.5 million and a gigantic cap hit for him to miss like 50 games.

The worst part about being a Sharks fan is how much everyone dismisses this team during the regular season.  I don’t envy their GM this off-season either - wayyy too many people (like me) who “know” wayyy more than him.  Gut the team! Leave it alone! PUT THORNTON IN NET!

St. Louis Blues: The Blues raised $60,000 to fight breast cancer. That was nice of them.

Similar topic:  My brother raised $3,880 for Spinal Cord Research Saturday.  Congrats buddy.

Tampa Bay Lightning: If you want to be an assistant coach for the Lightning, it’s time to get your resume in order. Guy Boucher hasn’t picked anyone to do the job yet.

Sigh, just like being 15 again - can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Dion Phaneuf(notes) will be named captain of the Maple Leafs today. Subhead says, “Will follow Mats Sundin(notes) as wearer of the C.” Sometimes the jokes write themselves.

I like making Phaneuf the Leafs captain.  I think it could finally give them some personality again.  One you may not like, fine, but it’s not one you’d enjoy playing.  And don’t forget how young that guy is….  That’s right – I chose not to bag on him.

Vancouver Canucks: Nucks Misconduct asked readers to put together their speculative 2010-11 Canucks teams. The results were hilariously stupid.

Not sure when the Canucks skyrocketed up the “most hated teams in the league” charts, but man is there some venom towards that team out there.

Washington Capitals: Tonight, the Hershey Bears could win their second Calder Cup in three years, and third in the last five. To summarize: They are good.

And man has it translated to playoff success for the Caps!  Wooooooohooo :)

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There ya have it guys!  Jam packed with links if you care to poke around the NHL today.

I’ll see ya tomorrow, hope you enjoyed JTB’s first FJMing!

World Cup, Toews Signing Bonus

 

Finally, the good part of the sports year can get started – World Cup baby! 

…..Yeah that was saracastic.

If only the WHOLE GAME was that fun

I watched the entirety of this morning’s South Africa/Mexico match as a preemptive strike for ”you haven’t even watched a game” comments.  I’m well aware they’re coming, since I plan on telling people I don’t like watching it. 

I feel like when people say they don’t like watching a sport, it’s because they don’t understand it (in my experience this is especially true with US football), but I understand soccer just fine.  And I LOVE playing it.  But like baseball, it’s just not that fun for me to sit down and soak in.

I respect the game enough, and I can see why it might be fun to be a fan of (other fans, plus soccer highlights are awesome), but without any personal connection to it, it’s just not for me. 

Thoughts?

Is he skating away with next year's Cup hopes? (No, but still)

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So, I thought the biggest post-Stanley Cup story to come out was that Jonathan Toews gets a 1.3 million dollar signing bonus for winning the Conn Smythe, which counts against the Hawks salary cap next year (yes, bigger than the “Pronger is gay” story).  As Joe Biden might put it: that extra cap hit is a big f**kin deal.

I wonder how Toews feels knowing that his good play somehow managed to hurt his team for next year.  Gotta be mixed feelings, right?  I’d be rattled that I’d have to feel bad for earning a bonus.  Turns out that offering that incentive in the first place wasn’t very well thought out.

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I watched some of an old hockey game last night (an Oilers/Blackhawks fiasco) and I refuse to believe players have less respect now.  I saw a large number of humans get crosschecked in the head, and goalies getting slashed.

I did have to chuckle at the evolution of goaltending though.  The topic is well discussed, but when Roenick scored ON THE ICE glove side and the commentator called it “the perfect shot”, I enjoyed my giggles.  YOU’RE ALLOWED TO GO DOWN, RANFORD!

We'll sweat out our hangovers together.

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As we wrap up a few of the final tidbits from the NHL season (the Blackhawks had a parade, yay!), I’m turning my focus to our yearly Fantasy Camp.  The thing is, frankly, awesome.  We get more than our share of “best week of my life’s” and are trying to fill the last available spots.

You can register at www.bournevents.com, contact me at jtbourne@gmail.com, or just send me a signed, blank check and I promise I’ll totally call you when I get it.  I go by “Director of Operations”, because it’s our company and I get to pick my name, so there.

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Should a guy ever drink out of the straw in his mixed drink at the bar?  Strictly for stirring, right?

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Today kind of marks the first day of my free agency as a writer.  While still employed by hockeyprimetime.com, who I contribute to next season is completely up in the air.  I’m hoping by the time our fantasy camp is over in mid-August, I’ll have something solid locked down for the 2010-2011 NHL season.  Ideally something that gets me out of the house more, and comes with health insurance.

Have a great summer weekend!  Think the ‘Hawks are?

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS – 2010 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS

 

Lotsa work for a hockey writer today friends, so I’ll be keepin’ it brief here on the one day I hate to.  I’ll make it up to you tomorrow.  For now, I’ll bomb through my thoughts to get the coversation up and running.

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Kane’s ninety-headfake goal four minutes into overtime may not have been what people wanted, but I loved it. 

We’ll love the awkward “is it in” moment as time passes (has anyone named the moment yet?  I’m now taking proposals), and frankly, I thought he made a great play.  Leighton has to stop that, but Kane shot it before the angle got too bad with a quick release, and made Leighton make a save.  Which he didn’t do.

The goal was just like Crosby’s OT Olympic winner, right?  Quick lefty release five hole from that side…. it’s not an easy save to make.

Homie chewed the mouthguard allll the way down the ice.

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This is CBC’s montage year-end video thing from the playoffs, and despite the choice of song (meh), it gives hockey fans all over the place chills.  Soak it in.

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Why?  Why can’t more players say things like Burrish did here?  What’s the worst that can happen (minus getting assaulted in the street)?

 

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No more questions about Duncan Keith’s teeth, please.  He’s being civil by not killing all you reporters.  That’s enough.

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I almost tweeted some cheap sexual joke asking if Patrick Kane would hear “was it in?” more total times this summer or last night after he scored, but I dunno…. I couldn’t get it under 140 characters :)

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My rec team last night was chucking around the Patrick Kane as Theo Fleury (off-ice) questions a bit last night.  He’s way to level headed to end up writing a book…. isn’t he?

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What I DID tweet that I want to elaborate on is…. what, the winners get drunk on champagne, but the losers have to deal with that loss sober?  They should absolutely have kegs of some ghetto beer (PBR?) in the loser’s room when the game ends to help them numb the pain.

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In college, Jonathan Toews came back from World Juniors to play us the next weekend.  He had the Vapor 40′s on, and that morning my trainer had told me that my 30′s were “on order” (still in 20′s at the time).  The kid winning a Cup was inevitiable, he’s been on the fast-track for that thing since birth.

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Another tweet – has Jeff Carter admitted he played the Finals on a prosthetic leg while using a Nerf stick yet?  If I were his agent, I’d be producing some fake broken leg x-rays reeeaaalllll soon.  Give us something, somebody!

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I loved Roenick crying at the end of the game.  My column for Puck Daddy today is on what the Cup means to us all.  There’s another testament to it.  (It was kind of weird that he made the “they’re the Blackhawks” comment.  It was so… watching an ex with another guy-ish.)

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Matt Carle played more minutes than Chris Pronger last night.  For those of you not tuned into this yet, Matt Carle is really, really good.

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How BAD were Pierre McGuires on-ice questions?  To me, the job of the reporter there is to let the guy get started and just talk about his emotions, what’s happening, etc. 

He asked Quenneville, minutes after the game ended “You won one as an assistant coach, which one was better”  IT’S BEEN THREE MINUTES PIERRE.  He asked Hossa “Did you make the right choice coming to Chicago?  HE JUST WON THE CUP, PIERRE. 

I feel like the questions are usually too abrasive and not organic enough.  You know, too forced.  But, what do I know.

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That’s all I got for now!  Hope you enjoyed the NHL season, and don’t forget, the blog doesn’t stop.  We’ll be here every (week)day, friends, including tomorrow.

The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to win Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals.

Chrissy Pronger, Ice Edge Approved, Picking A Favourite Team

 

Great news for blog loyalists – today’s column for Puck Daddy is the Game Six wrap-up, so I can spend my morning couple hours on my own site.  It’s been awhile. 

Just a head’s up - it’s a long one.

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It's a fun (sorta sexist?) gag.

ESPN ran the Chrissy Pronger story this morning, which, by the way, I think is hilarious (the story, not them running it).

I was triple-time pumped about the media member who wasn’t intimidated by Pronger’s dismissive “next question” attempts and made him address it.  No, Chris, answer the question.  This is funny, and you apparently think you’re Captain LaughyPants.

AOL Fanhouse’s Chris Botta (who I read daily, BTW, check him out) wrote a bit on the Chicago Tribune forgoing their dignity in running the picture, and how embarrassed guys on the team probably are. 

I dunno about that.

Two thoughts:

1)  It’s just a playful swipe at a playful guy, no?  This whole series has been a give-and-take between Chicago and Philly fans, Pronger and the media.  Can’t it just be funny?

2)  Guys are already trying as hard as they can on the ice.  A silly gag doesn’t provide any extra motivation to work harder or do better.  They’re AT MAX CAPACITY.  Maybe now he’d enjoy beating Chicago more, but it certainly isn’t going to hurt the Blackhawks in Game Six by being a motivator (being  minus five the night before might take care of any extra motivation anyway).

What did you think?

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Home of the ARIZONA Coytes...

(Appropriately) Lost in the playoff shuffle yesterday, was the Phoenix Coyotes Ice Edge Holdings getting unanimous approval on a Memorandum of Understanding from Glendale.  All they need to do now is prove that can scrape together the money to buy the team, and they could be locked in here for 25 years!

I couldn’t be more excited about that (just like locals like, TimmyHate, Jordan and zyllyx), and glad I get to ask a hockey question like this:

They’ve mentioned they want to win.  So have they mentioned what they’re willing to spend yearly on players?  That’s kinda key to success here, so are they going to be a team who spends closer to the salary cap or the floor?  I’m worried about that answer….

{Sidebar – I do like “Arizona” Coyotes over “Phoenix”.  Not sure why, but the (symbollic) fresh start will be good.}

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Okay, so yesterday’s “off-ice ref” idea didn’t go over so hot with readers, and I like that, you gotta let me know on this stuff.  I’m just spitballin’ here people…

There was an idea I did like – Dave Cunning mentioned using something electronic for offsides calls (more spitballing), but really, I think that idea would be better served at the goal line.  Isn’t there some laser set-up (attached to shark’s heads?) we could put under the goal line to tell when a puck has breached it’s barrier?  I bet we’d see a lot more goals where the puck is lost in the goalie’s gear, but we just can’t see it.  DAMN YOU CHEATING GOALTENDERS.

{I hate when you know the puck is in because the goalie is, but he (wisely) pushes off the back of the net before trying to locate it in his gear.  I get so fired up, like, I just wanna stuff the guy back in there and make him find it before he crawls out.}

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If you don’t have a favourite team in a sport, how do you go about picking one?

Oh, and Nicholson.

I have “my team” in three sports – NY Islanders, NY Jets, NY Mets (and the Toronto Blue Jays, actually), but never had much of a preference in a basketball team.  I always liked Phoenix’s offense-first style, and now that I moved here, I figure hey, I’m declaring that my basketball team.

The debate came from this: 

My buddy Charlie has spent the last three or four summers in LA, and never had a basketball team either.  But becoming an out-of-state Lakers fan seems shitty, since it’s like (as I’ve railed on before) being a Dallas Cowboys or New York Yankees fan and being from like, Kansas City.  You look like a front-runner.

But the team suits his personality better than any other club - their team is all about being in the action, being a part of the scene.  They used to be in Minnesota, his home state, and he does call LA home now.  He’s allowed to be a Lakers fan, right?  That’s not being bandwagonny, is it?  Or does he have to be a Timberwolves fan even though they don’t suit his style?

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What’s your favourite place to go get your hockey reading?  And don’t say my site, since I say shit like “my cat is already 13 pounds, and he’s not even nine months old!” (which is true, by the way).  I always read Puck Daddy, but was wondering if there’s anything even close to comparable to it somewhere else that I’m missing.  I’ve been poking around looking for new, interesting hockey reading (interesting taking precedence over informative – I learn enough from watching the games), and can’t seem to find much.  Where do you browse?

"I fell off the jetway again."

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A hilarious thing about Puck Daddy – if you write about Pronger, people respond.  It doesn’t matter in what fashion, this guy is so polarizing it’s insane.  Yesterday’s Chrissy Pronger bit has like 450 comments.  Not even Pierre McGuire inspires that much hate.

(I want to propose to Wyshynski that all the writers commit one article a month to trying to generate the highest comments.  Like, write something about how great Pronger interviews are, especially when done by Pierre McGuire.  That’d blow the internet up.)

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Stephen Strasburg made his MLB debut last night (Merry Strasmas), striking out 14 including seven straight and getting the win.  It’s amazing to come into that much hype and perform, and reminds me so much of Crosby.  I was boggled that he could rise to those levels of expectations and meet them right away, the same as I was with Lebron.  That’s true greatness.

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Last but not least, I forgot to include this ages ago, and was asked to by the NHL’s marketing people:

Have you been voting on the NHL’s goal-of-the-year playoffs? 

It’s actually (and I’m not paid to say this) a really neat idea – a bracket style playoff to decide the NHL’s best goal of the 09-10 season.  I’ve been voting, and you should too.  Which was your favourite this year?

Here’s a hint about which one I voted for today:

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Alrighty kids, happy Humpday. 

TONIGHT, THE STANLEY CUP COULD BE HANDED OUT.

To honor it, here’s a picture of something my Dad gave me as a graduation gift:

Go NYI

 Hmm, cell phone picture sucks, I’ll try to get a real one soon.

The Most Randomly Random Entry In Awhile

 

In a few weeks, it’ll be my ten year high school reunion.  Crazy, crazy stuff.

The only thing more crazy than that is I’ve reverted back to making the same amount of money now as I did then.  And then I delivered pizza and bused tables. 

Glad I could be around for this whole “death of journalism” thing.

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Very. Very. Few likable players in the Finals.

I give the NHL my share of little jabs for not making the best decisions, but I had this brought to my attention yesterday: the NBA Finals are a 2-3-2 home-away-home format.

As in, if you win one of the first two games on the road, you get three straight cracks at home after that.  That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  Sooo, the next three games of a 1-1 series are in Boston?

Doesn’t that seem insanely unfair, given that home court advantage in the NBA is like playing the entire  game on the powerplay?

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What are your thoughts on playing hockey tipsy?

This an entirely new experience to me, since, y’know, I’ve never been a rec player before.  But when the game is at 10 o’clock and you have a couple beforehand, it’s an odd experience.  Can’t say I love it.

But, it seems a lot of guys do…. doesn’t it just make the game seem like it’s happening too fast?

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I has waterwings.

Alright, my buddy and I batted this idea around the other day.  Nothing gets tainted or changed by doing this I don’t think, so….

Shouldn’t the NHL have some guy that sit in a booth somewhere and reviews every single play?  They could have just as much power as the on-ice refs. 

They would review every important play between whistles (like how we get to see the replays at home), and if the on-ice refs miss something, they can turn on a light at the scorers booth before the puck is dropped, or communicate it directly to the on-ice official.  So when we go ”oh, wow, penalty”, someone actually gets one.

Refs aren’t trying to miss calls, but you can’t look everywhere.  Take last game: our new booth guy would turn on a light and the ref would turn on his headset or whatever, and the guy says “yep, Briere was high-sticked by Keith off the draw, it’s a double-minor”, and the call could get made. 

We’d still need the on-ice guys because so much happens quickly that’s irreversible (offsides calls, for instance), so the refs would do the exact same job, they’d just have a safety valve for obvious calls that they miss.

We’ll never catch everything, but wouldn’t it be good to catch more?  Whaddya think?

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I’m pumped “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” is on Comedy Central now.  Give it a chance.  I could watch like ten episodes in a row.

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Flyers4TheCup: "No, I always though Chicago would win."

Comment sections on internet articles should have some way to lock down commenter picks, so they can’t flip flop.

As a writer, I’m held to my predictions pretty firmly.  At least you can look up what I said and call me on it.  I want a thing on Puck Daddy and here where the person’s comments on the series come from say “Jim Smith, Philly in Six”. 

It’d be awesome for me to be able to filter what everyone is saying through their own bias, the way EVERYTHING I WRITE gets filtered.

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Yesterday I walked out of Costco and a guy with knee high black socks, black running shoes and a vicious side-part looked at the contents of my cart and said “good choices”.

So now I’m worried I bought stupid-looking stuff.

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Yes, that panda has a mustache.

Guy Fieri host “Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins” or something like that.  Turns out one of the spots is a minute from my front door, called Chino Bandido. 

It’s “Asian-Mexican Fusion” (apparently a Chinese guy married a Mexican girl), and it’s awesome.  If you’re ever in Phoenix, look it up.  Ginger chicken burrito.  Orange chicken quesadilla.  I’m so goddamn full.  Still. (Maybe because I ate the leftovers for breakfast?) 

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Okay, today’s Puck Daddy entry is on the Struggles of the Top Dogs in the Finals.  Here’s the link to yesterday’s Keith for Conn bit.  Happy Tuesday!

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