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Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp – The Itinerary

There's a reason a kabillion NHLers live here.

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Well, everything is all finalized for the Fantasy Camp.  For our guests that read my blog, you’ll enjoy the rest of this entry.  For the rest of you, hopefully you’ll find it appealing for next year!  Our itinerary!

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HOCKEY GREATS FANTASY CAMP

ITINERARY

 

Wednesday, August 4th – Check-in Day

Whenever-you-get-here-o’clock:  CHECK IN!

Grab a gift bag, get your room key, make yourself comfortable and grab a drink.

4:30 — We’ll have appetizers, beverages and introductions on the patio, and will use tonight as a casual get-to-know-each-other.  There will be an open bar until 8:00p.m, a cash bar after, and all the free beer (and other drinks) you can handle up in the hospitality suite (you’ve got keys and it’s loaded with wonderful Okanagan Spring 1516 and Pale Ale), but don’t feel pressured to keep up with the well-seasoned livers of our ex-NHLers.  (Disclaimer: The Bourne boys will be staying in the hospitality suite, and reserve the right to kick you the eff out when it gets too late.  Sincerely, one of the Bourne boys)

For our guests: we only invite NHLers that are fun, engaging people (with the exception of Clark Gillies who’s here out of family obligation), so introduce yourselves and sit wherever, it’s your camp.

Thursday, August 5th – Hockey & Golf Day

7:00a.m. – 9:00a.m. — At any point in that time-window, a nice Breakfast will be available in the Grand Reserve Room for all our guests (walk out the front door of the lobby and straight into the connected building).

9:00 — Bus leaves for Royal Lepage Place. *BRING HOCKEY GEAR AND GOLF CLUBS

10:00 – 10:45 — On-ice stuff: warm-up, a few drills, a few pulled groins, that sort of thing. If you want extra help or some tips, ask!  Otherwise we’ll assume you prefer to just do what you do.

Ice Clean

11:00 – 12:00 — Scrimmage. Celebrities have been divided into teams, and our guests have both black & white jerseys, so you’ll switch which group of pro’s you play with each day.

12:whenever — Hop on bus to Shannon Lake Golf Course.  Lunch will be provided courtesy Augustino’s Restaurant.  (Note: At this time a limousine will pick-up the wives and other family members for the Okanagan wine tour.)

2:00 shotgun start — A leisurely round of golf (as in, format non-specific. Just enjoy your round)

Free, social evening — Some may need naps, some may need drinks – do your thing, it’s been a long day.

Friday, August 6th – Hockey & Houseboat & Hotstove Day

7:00a.m. – 9:00a.m. — Breakfast

9:00 — Bus

10:00 – 10:45 — On-ice stuff: warm-up, a few drills, more pulled groins, etc.

Ice Clean

11:00 – 12:00 — Scrimmage

*We have a fairly quick transition here – the houseboat is 12:30 – 4:30, so shower up and hit the bus!

12:30 – 4:30 — Aforementioned houseboat, with a great lunch spread provided by Original Joe’s.

6:00p.m. — Down to the patio for the “Hot Stove”, sandwiches, and the open bar.  You’re welcome to ask any and all questions to our group of NHLers – a group that owns over 20 rings and boasts five Hall-of-Famers

Saturday, August 7th – The Big Game

9:00a.m. — 11:00a.m. – Breakfast

11:45 — Pro’s depart on bus for autograph signing with the public

12:45 — Guests depart on bus for arena

2:00 — The Big Game.  We play for the VT Cup (in honour Victor Thomas Bourne), and the right to have your name permanently etched on the side.  Bob Bourne? Two for two. Justin? Oh-fer.  There will be a small crowd, and all ticket sales will go to the Rick Hansen Foundation. (The foundation will have a presence at the camp all week via their ambassadors Jeff Bourne and Stef Barber)

5:30 — Wind-up Gala begins.  As per usual, open bar with wine and other drinks

6:00p.m. — Dinner is served (Carved roast beef & salmon), closing statements and thank you’s.

Mustaches for charity! ...after midnight.

 

Mind-Dump Extrordinaire. …Eh, Fairly Ordinaire, Actually

 

It’s sad that my own little piece of serenity has evolved to including a couch, a laptop and free time, but that’s where I’m at these days.  I’ll spare you any more updates on our fantasy camp, except to say I’ll be tweeting about it throughout next week, and if you want to know more, check out our poorly-updated, frustrating, soon-to-be-exploded website.

But for tonight, lets lighten my “to blog about” file.  My TBAF, if you will.  I cleaned out most of the junk on the plane, so I’m not even screening what’s left in there, I’m just gonna touch on everything still kickin’ around.  RANDOM TIME!

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Dude, this guy is for real. What a sideshow!

I watched the documentary “Bigger Stronger Faster” on steroids (wait, that sounds wrong – I wasn’t ON steroids, it was about them) the other night, and man is it something.  Refreshing, original and intensely interesting, it’s shot from the viewpoint of three brothers that either do them or have done them.  The film attempts to give a more fair and balanced look at a drug they think has an unnecessarily bad rap, with the host playing devil’s advocate in EVERY interview. 

I immediately tweeted something along the lines of “the NHL needs to get out ahead of steroids before some scandal makes them look silly”.  Basically, they need to be proactive before something comes along and makes whatever new policy they’ll inevitably adopt seem reactionary (put me on the record for one “I saw that coming” when “it” breaks). The league doesn’t test enough, some players surely use (“summer cycle!’), and it’s naive to think it’s only a problem in other sports.

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Sometimes if we’re out having drinks I think everything is “to blog about” worthy, so I’ll save crap in my phone, and the next day I’ll end up thinking ”what the eff was I talking about?”  Since I’m touching on everything in my list today, I have “Hotel CaliBournia” written down…. and no idea why.  Soooo, yeah, “Hotel CaliBournia” then.

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 I got ID’ed for “chicken lips” (fingers) the other day.  In BC, where the drinking age is 19.  I was as confused as you are.  Musta been a tough day for the server or something.

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Not sure if you remember, but when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, I FULLY sided with Bill Simmons and thought Tiger should’ve just 100% committed to “turning heel” like a WWE bad guy, left the wife and kids, terrorized any female who would have him (most), and kept killing the field in golf tournaments.  He should’ve started talking trash in interviews, and have given up the whole Sidney-Crosby-facade we all endured for so many years.

Mmmm, meatbread. With bacon!

Well, that’s what KFC has done.  Sure, they never had the greatest reputation to begin with, but they were at least trying to roll with the trends.  “Oh, people want to eat healthy now, well we sell grilled chicken.  We have more options for healthy sides“. 

Then they suddenly realized that nobody who cares about dying young eats at their grease huts anyway, and just decided to make the switch.  Now all the sudden they’re like, “F**K IT. EAT IT, IT’S A DOUBLE DOWN. THE BREAD IS MEAT. HERES THE “BOXMASTER”, EAT IT

Good on ‘em, I say.  Know your role.  You’re a grinder KFC, so get in those corners and make it happen so we can all BURY it.

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Hmm, my TBAF includes some unfinished joke about Luongo’s head and BP.  And a joke about Lundqvist getting a “too many (wo)men” penalty.”  Nice of me to build a joke-starter kit for myself.

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I'm okay with the fun (less-racist) kind of ref abuse...

This is also probably column-worthy, but….. this is my first year in the blog community, and thus, my first year really interacting with the average hockey fan.  Not that you, out there, are average, but you get my point.  In previous years all I experienced was fans yelling from the stands, shaking the hands of some nice people after games, that sorta stuff.

So here’s what I’ve discovered about myself from really being immersed in the NHL with other fans: nothing makes me lose more respect for one of them than ref blaming.  It’s by no means just in hockey, but I’m BOGGLED by how many people actually think their team got the raw end of the deal every night.  I don’t just mean Canucks and Red Wings fans either.  I mean there’s this CRAZY percentage of people who regularly blame losses on bad reffing.

My question is, if NO ONE in the world can do it well (in those people’s opinion), how hard must that job be?  Making split-second subjective calls that are subject to the scrutiny of millions of people with instant replay and slo-mo?  No sir, I don’t like hearing that crap. Can’t respect ref-blamers.

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 Not sure if you’ve ever heard the Propaghandi song “Coaches Corner” before, so there’s your link for an interesting listen.  I suggest listening to it with the lyrics pulled up.  Speaking of, I was recently told Ron MacLean is an occasional reader of the blog.  So hi Ron, feel free to chip in our comments one day!  You’ll be welcomed with open arms, I assure you.

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This note was written since I’ve been in Kelowna, so it has nothing to do with some spat at home or anything, rather a chat I had with another married fella: “With the wife, the goal is for her to be at least neutral (not mad not happy), and all can be well.  If she’s in a good mood, great, but at the very least, she’s gotta get to neutral or EVERYBODY is in a bad mood.” 

Married men:  concur?

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Okay, off to watch some TSN.  Love that channel, and by the way, I have no problem with them going “expletive deleted” on Talbot’s use of “douche” today.  They’re supposed to keep to some higher journalistic standard than Bourne’s Blog, aren’t they?  Also, good for Talbot for just saying how he really feels.  So, whatever, that topic’s in the past, AWESOME. 

See ya Thursday for a new post, probably about the recent free agent signings! 

(Talbot’s Car Commercial)

Quick Post From Kelowna

 

Goood morning, friends of the blog.  Comin atcha live from Kelowna, BC, home of yours truly.  This blog could be a little weird today.  I’m full of unnaturally nutritious food (+), but minus Bri and Tyson (-), TV has provided plenty of updates on hockey stories (+), but I haven’t had my usual fix of computer hours (-), so…. I might be a little “off” here.  Stream of consciousness this thing, go:

I landed in Kelowna Saturday morning, and waited in line at customs behind Kyle McLaren and immediately remembered what Kelowna in the summer is all about: Golf, wine, and playing hockey.  It’s frickin’ gorgeous here, and great to be back.

As I’ve mentioned before (and there’s no way to not sound name-droppyish), the summer shinny game here that I was a part of from 01-08, on any given day, can include Heatley, Keith, Getzlaf, Weber, Gorges, Kobasew, Hannan, Upshall, Fiddler, Comeau,  and well over a dozen others that I’m too lazy to sit here and try to remember.  Hell, Iginla lives here too.  THERE ARE EVEN WADE REDDEN SIGHTINGS.  So yes, it’s a hockey hotbed.

I’m gonna spend some time in the next few days trying to get a couple of those guys to come out for some shinny and free beers at our camp on the final day.  Not exactly a hard sell.

I met my brother and Dad in their natural habitat post-flight on Saturday (Sturgeon Hall, home of the Bob Bourne burger and the Josh Gorges burger) and heard some neat stories: basically, Gorges has been wonderful to my family.  Jeff (the bro) puts on a beer-and-burger event at Sturg for the Rick Hansen foundation, and Josh and his crew have come the last couple years – anytime you can get the type of people in who buy a cherry pie at auction for $150 dollars, you’ve upped the quality of your event.

Better still, was that he brought (the clean-cut version of) Mike Commodore to the event, who got in a bidding war with my Dad over some size 12 golf shoes, won them, didn’t like them, and gave them to Dad.  Which means I’ll end up with them at some point.  Weeee!

Our camp is starting to come together, and today is one of our last big meetings.  So here’s what we need: Richard “Shakey” Krouse (of NYI) can’t come be our equipment guy this year, which is a shame, cause he’s awesome.  Usually we fly him out, put him up in a hotel room, flip him some money, and he does the laundry, room set-up etc. that needs to get done.  We need a last minute suggestion in case we can’t find someone local to pay.  Write me at jtbourne@gmail.com if you know a Kelowna person who could help!

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I want to constantly tweet stuff when I’m not confined to the couch (as in, these next two weeks), but I know I should keep the Twitter feed from being tooooo personal (since it’s not facebook, and some of you actually think I have “information” that’s worth following me for).  I HATE when other people tweet “had a great time at Dad’s!” or something, so just know that I’m aware those tweets are BRUTAL.  But still, if I do it, it’s because I’m a raging narcissist satisfying his own selfish needs.

Short post for today, but I should have more time in the next few days to catch up - follow me on Twitter if you’d like to read the odd quote from Gillies/Semenko (Rodney Dangerfield-esque GOLD those two) next week, or if you just crawled out from under a rock and discovered this tweety rage.

Hatred From the AHL On Down

 

TGIF!

My apologies for not getting a blog up yesterday – the sad reality is, it could be happening a bit more often over the next month.  I expect to slow down to a Down Goes Brown posting rate (poor), minus his level of quality (amazing).

Tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM, I’m heading back to God’s Country (the Okanagan), which is at the front of a busy travel month for me, and um, I don’t own a laptop.  Seriously.  I use the one my fiancee got as a gift for getting through grad school, and I’ve almost run this thing into the ground.

Sooo, I’ll be on my parents computer in the mornings when I can, and if I can plunk out an entry or two during our fantasy camp from The Cove Resort, I will.  Just know that our event is sponsored by Okanagan Spring Brewery, and they donate 60 DOZEN beer (for four days & 35 guests), soooo, those entries may not be of the utmost quality.  Moving on.

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I refuse to discuss any more Ilya until something discussable happens.  Discuss.  Or wait, I mean, don’t discuss.

 

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Here’s something we can all enjoy: 

Justin Bourne’s (Non-NHL) ”I Hate That F**king Franchise” List

Hmm, this seems like a good way to ensure I never get hired by the following list of teams and lose a few fans.  Nice idea for a blog, a-hole.

DAMNIT! IS THAT GOAL REGULATION SIZE OR WHAT!?!

Basically, this idea came from some light-hearted Twitter banter, where I bashed a certain BCHL team and got some playful responses.  I mean no harm, loyal fans of stupid hockey teams, this is just in fun.  I probably hate your team because they were good and tough to play against *eye roll*.  Or maybe for actual reasons.  Anyway, whatever they are… each league, lets have it!

League: KIJHL

(For the unenlightened, that stands for “Kootney International Junior Hockey League”, Jr. B.  Yes, “International” because Spokane, Washington had a team.)

Bourne’s Highlight: I played for the Osoyoos Heat as a 17/18 year old, and led the conference in scoring, finishing second in the league behind Andrew Ebbett.

Team(s) I hate: Castlegar Rebels, Beaver Valley NiteHawks

I hated Beaver Valley for a number of reasons (they were good, had some 20 year old kid that had a wife/kids/killer-slapshot/beard/job/mortgage/bad-attitude, and OH, they spell their name “NITEHAWKS”), but they can’t TOUCH Castlegar in the hate department.

The year before, my Midget AA team played and beat Castlegar in the provincial finals (wwwwhat’s up), and the games against them had been crazy intense.  Of course, most of the kids from that team were good enough to make their local Jr. B team the next year, so it felt like I had compounded hate. 

And, it went downhill from there – I got jumped like Bertuzzi did Steve Moore the last game of the season, before we played them in playoffs.  Then in playoffs, they made it their mission to break either my hand or wrist, which they succeeded at (thumb).  I played the rest of the series with a thick aluminum stick so I couldn’t feel the puck. I HATE YOU CASTLEGAR, and it was a pleasure beating you AGAIN that season.

League: BCHL

(For the unenlightened, that’s the “British Columbia Hockey League” – the “J” is long gone in the name. Records are held there by Paul Kariya, Brett Hull and many other huge names.)

Bourne’s Highlight: BCHL Championship boyyyyy, 02-03 Vernon Vipers

Team(s) I hate:  Chilliwack Chiefs, Trail Smoke Eaters, Merritt Centennials

In reverse order:  I hate you, Chilliwack Chiefs, for meeting us in the finals two years straight.  I hate your lineup: three lines of studs (Tambellini, Van Der Gulik, Gauthier etc.) and one of thugs (who knows).  I hate your rink with the six-feet-high no-give concussion boards, the gladiator feel of the lowered ice surface, your fans, your logo, everything.  Chilliwack smells.

I hate you, Trail Smoke Eaters for oh-so many reasons – your stupid Flyers-colours, your “broadstreet bully” style of play, your atmosphere-less barn, and the six hour bus ride we would take to go play you ON THE SAME DAY.

But most of all, I HATE YOU, Merritt Centennials.  Honestly – this was originally going to be a top-five list of my hated teams from different leagues, and you had number one sewn up EASILY. 

Your f**king candle lit arena that you kept at zero degrees KELVIN. 
Your tiny arena. 
Your thuggish, useless teams. 
The gorgeous town of Merritt. 
Your raucus, garbage-throwing, fan-fighting, heckling fans. 
Luke Pierce. 
That time our coaches met in the hallway during the game to fight so both our teams ran back there and we had a WWF brawl-for-all in the hallway while 3500 fans stared at empty benches. 

The list is near-endless.  But there is one thing I liked:  I liked knocking you out of playoffs in the first round back-to-back years.  That was fun :)  

 League: WCHA

Bourne’s highlight: Making the Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center as a freshman, leading our team in goals one year, points another. 

Team(s) I hate: Wisconsin Badgers, Alaska Fairbanks

I have a love-hate with most WCHA teams.  I loved almost all of the college towns, I loved playing in front of big crowds, I loved the history, all of it.  And in fact, the team I hate the very most – even ahead of North Dakota, Duluth, whoever – would be one of my top places to be a student at.  No, not Minnesota.

Cheese-eating Wisconsin, man. 

Your stupid Mike Eaves attention to defense and detail.  Your support of Nick Licari’s knee wrecking “submarine” bullshit.  Our playoff battles.  Your commitment to the hack-and-whack.  Your good goaltending.  Your recruiting advantages.  I love your arena, fans, and of course, Madison – but everything about the actual hockey program can stuff it.

AMENDED: I initially left UAF (Alaska Fairbanks) off this list, probably because I’ve tried to kill the brain cells that ever documented the days of my life spent in that city (wait, Google Analytics just told me that’s not a smart joke to make.  Um, I just forgot). 

Point form reasons to hate UAF:  The name “Nanooks”, the city managing to be colder/darker than Anchorage, their insistence that placing 9th in the CCHA would have them anything other than last in the WCHA, that it took til my senior year to win a Governors Cup against them even though my shootout miss as a freshman probably cost us one, and a million other frustrating, stupid reason.  Y’know, like the sign in their arena that says ”Get ready for 60 minutes of GLACIAL PUNISHMENT!’  …..WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

League: ECHL

Bourne’s highlight:  Back-to-back conference finals, making the all-star team, triple-overtime winner in playoffs against Fresno.

Team(s) I hate: Most of them

First off, it doesn’t help that over parts of three seasons, I played on three of the teams in a five team division.  Sooo most of my hatred is centered around that.  I probably played about four teams from the other huge conference, so I’m not fit to speak on who’s hateable in the East.  But for me….

I hate a s**tload of teams.  Stockton, Bakersfield, Fresno when it existed, not-the-towns-but-the-teams in Las Vegas and Victoria (two great cities), and for my brief experiences against them, Elmira.

But here’s the tough part:

When I was just outta college, the Idaho Steelheads wanted me to finish the season with them.  I said no, and went with the Alaska Aces so I could finish school.  We promptly flew to Boise, and I watched Jeremy Yablonski and Matt Nickerson rack-up 23 games in suspensions against us.  Then we played them in round one in playoffs, and lost a vicious, physical series.  I HATED them.

Then I played in Utah, where Idaho was our direct rival.  So I HATED them more. 

I love Boise as a city (honestly).  I love the rink there.  I love their fans.  But naturally, I had reason to hate their team.  Then, at the start of season three, they traded for me.  I promptly tore my ACL and ate a slapshot, then spent three months on the couch healing as a fringe member of the team. 

So for all the things I like about Boise (people, place, arena etc.)…. I still harbor resentment against that franchise.

League: AHL

Bourne’s highlight: Playing my best game in Lowell on a night I actually needed tickets for family, scoring in Albany, playing with guys that are currently legit NHLers, everything that goes with being a taste away from the NHL.

Team(s) I hate: Albany River Rats

In my brief few months in the AHL, I managed to get stuck playing in Albany four times, against Trevor Gillies and the rest of their crew.  Combine that with the fact that I was trying to be a more physical ”role player” to stick, in that rink, with all the pleasantness of Albany in February, and I’m as attracted to that organization as I am to Al Roker.  Great name, River Rats, stay hot.  Who’s your affiliate, Carolina?  What a privilege.

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Ahhh, feels good to get all that hate out before the weekend!  That was fun (and all in fun, folks, all hockey communities have good things about them).  Hope you have a great weekend!

*Coming soon: List of franchises I love – here’s lookin’ at you, Gophers.  Wow, writing that just cost me friends.

Where Do You Draw The Line?

 

The same contracts are being trotted out by the mainstream media and blog community as examples of salary cap circumvention - basically, there’s the sketchy-factor in the deals of Zetterberg, Franzen, Hossa and yes, even Pronger.  There’s Marc Savard and to a lesser extent, Mikka Kiprusoff as well.

Those previous deals, combined with the rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s agreement with the New Jersey Devils has brought up two 100% valid arguments:

Yay, let it pass!

The Contract is Legit

In short form, if you let the aforementioned contracts slide by, you have to let this one go too.  It’s the exact same concept.  There’s next to zero footing for the NHL to stand on based on the precedent they’ve set for themselves, so sorry guys, but you’ll have to wait until the upcoming CBA negotiations to close the loophole we can only assume you just want to just go. a-vay.

You Have To Draw The Line Somewhere

Basically, you have to clot the wound eventually, or you’ll die.  These deals have bled toward ridiculous since the Kiprusoff camp made the cut, and the other deals were on the edge of feasible.  You could talk yourself into maybe there could possibly be a slight chance that the earlier deals would be played out.

YOU SHALL NOT PASS! (Hey, a double entendre for Kovy)

They won’t be, of course - the league was getting full-on screwed, but agents and General Managers fed the NHL Skittles and convinced them that they were 99% effective against pregnancy.  Now here they are dealing with this absolute abortion of a contract, realizing they probably shouldn’t have let somewhat dishonest men push them as far as they would go in the first place. 

While the others were ridiculous as all get-out too, you simply couldn’t muster any “maybe’s” about the Kovalchuk deal - it was written to circumvent a rule.  So the league has to stand up for itself somewhere, right?

(Is there a Webby for “most muddled analogies”?  I gotta be up for that one, right?)

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Admit it, those jersey's are SICK.

I think even supporters of camp “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” (group A) would agree that there has to be a line somewhere.  I mean, if Marc Recchi signed a fourteen-year deal tomorrow, both groups would be like “oooohhhkay, that’s just a tad TOO silly“.  If John Tavares signed a 30-year deal with the last ten years at league minimum, there’s no way any clear-thinking fan could tolerate it. 

So to the “The Contract is Legit” group: you agree, there is a line somewhere, right?  Or do I need to make a stupid 100 year contract example?

There is a line.

So then!  The league decided it had been crossed.  At least they’re paying attention.

I agree with the Wyshynski’s of the world coming out guns-a-blazing about other players contracts that do the “nah, I’m not really gunna play those years” dip.  They’re shady, they were a touch “too creative” at the time, and they were designed to circumvent the cap. 

But they just weren’t so insulting.

The first contract that should've been denied was his.

And I don’t think it goes much beyond that.  Lamoriello, as great as he’s been, just happened to overestimate how far he could push things. 

It’s fun that there’s some news to follow going forward, and will be interesting to see what happens next.  But the league was put in a tough position here, and I support them not getting rolled over for the umpteenth time, since they were already pretty much pancake-flat from the previous bulldozer-crushings they permitted.

Devils fans can complain that the alarm only went off when they broke in, but “other people already robbed this place” isn’t the best defense for your actions.

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I’m gonna leave it there for now, because I have a feeling there’ll be plenty of comment-discussion.  Great job yesterday, some readers had some nice insight on the deal.

If you REALLY love this topic and want some more information and discussion, I’ll be participating in a live chat with the boys over at Yahoo! today, so stop on by:

Puck Daddy Live Chat

Gut Feelings on the Kovalchuk Signing

 

Moneymoneymoneymoney! MUH-NAY!

Ilya Kovalchuk’s deal has been reported at 19 kabillion dollars over 106 years, or something like that.  Maybe it was $102 million over 17 years, I forget.

The point is, he got a truckload of money on a heavily front-loaded contract that includes him making the league minimum in years 2022-2027, or as its otherwise known, jamming the CBA directly up the league’s ass.  If he ever did play those years out, which he won’t, those years would have to be adjusted to the then-league-minimum.

Here’s the contract details from Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov:

“Kovalchuk agreed to a staggering 17-year, $102 million deal with the team. According to the AP, the high-scoring left wing will earn $6 million each of the next two seasons, $11.5 million for the following five seasons, $10.5 million in the 2017-18 season, $8.5 million for the 2018-19 season, $6.5 million in 2019-20, $3.5 million in 2020-21, $750,000 the following season, and $550,000 for the final five years of the unprecedented deal.” 

Mmmm, I bet that $8.5 and $6.5 when he’s 36 and 37 are gonna taste delicious.  Regardless, it still works out to an average cap hit of $6 million, which will be a bar-goon and a half for a guy who’s expected to score 40 or 50 again next year. 

$11.5 million for five straight years. Better see a lotta this.

So!  To my thoughts….

Even though something about if feels… I dunno… immature(?), it’s tough to argue with the whole “well they’re doing it, so why can’t we?”  Fair point.  The Wings did it with Zetterberg and Franzen.  The Flyers did it with Pronger.  The Hawks did it with Hossa and so on and so on.

I’m not gonna claim to be up on the CBA.  Really, there’s about a dozen people in the world who can make that claim uncontested, and half of them are probably lying.  That’s the tough part about analyzing contracts – half the time when they come out, some random, actually-informed guy writes something the rest of us idiots had know idea about like “well actually, in contracts that extend over nine years the cap hit in the fourth year is quintupled” (*PS, that’s not the case, duh) ….or some other valuable tidbit, and all the bloggers that have just been rehashing other people’s opinions look like fools.

So you get gut feelings from me:  My gut feeling is, New Jersey (and a few of the other long-ass-contract giving teams) will regret what they’ve done.  It’s partly a karma thing (for the whole “get as close to cheating without actually doing it” thing – I mean, you COULD cut across the net in NHL ’93 and get the goalie stuck on the post, but… c’mon), but it also seems like a show of gross disregard for the things we can’t control in life, and for the fact that humans just aren’t all that predictable.  I like gambling and all, but aren’t GM’s supposed to be the ones making safe bets?

We scored! Oh wait, that was the other red team again, Canada.

If Ilya is all about the money, as he’s demonstrated throughout this whole team-picking process, who’s to say he doesn’t just shut it down in the gym now that he’s PAID and slowly work his way down to “mediocre NHLer” status?  It’s unlikely, but for people writing things like “now he can show us that he really wants to win, really wants to help a team succeed in the post-season etc.” (Hi Wysh!)….what if he doesn’t want that?  It’s a real possibility.

He might.  I’m just sayin’, it’s pretty hard to label this decision great when it’s basically akin to playing blackjack, making your biggest bet of the night, and doubling down on your ten against the dealers four.  You could and should win big, but man, if this backfires, it REALLY backfires.

The sad insight I can give you as someone who played the game is that not everyone has the fans/journalists passion for that Cup.  Some guys are just straight up good, born with it, and unfortunately, don’t care as much as you’d like to think.  There were plenty of nights in my career where I couldn’t explain it, I just wasn’t feelin’ it – and that’s real talk man.  I wish I had that burning fire some people do (Crosby), but there are some people who just…. don’t (and Devils fans don’t want to someday see this bracket filled with “Kovalchuk”).

Christmas tree look not the "new jersey" Kovy wanted when he left ATL

And remember my Twitter rants? I like Ilya Kovalchuk as a player.  The guy is a star.

The point is, 17 years?  I mean, who the eff knows, right?  Anything could happen in that time.  He could help them succeed for years to come, absolutely.  He’ll be a great attribute for the Devils - I badly wanted to see the Islanders land him.  But that’s the selfish fan that wants entertainment in me talking, not the meticulous, responsible GM that lurks in me and realizes that at some point, you have to be responsible.

I have no idea if it’s a good signing.  None.  But who among us does?  I bet Lou Lamoriello is pooping his pants.  I just can’t fathom how much fans in NJ will bitch about this signing in like, 2019 if the Devils don’t win a cup before then.  If they do, you can tolerate a few years of not-being-worth-six-million (Elias).

It’s like the Hawks, Hossa and crew – most fans are sad to see some players leave, but they still think it was worth winning a Cup.  The real New Jersey “Situation” is that the Cup has become a need (to validate this), not a goal.  As with most deals, we’ll judge it when it’s all over, but as I’ve been implying…. it just feels icky.

So, there ya go Devils fans – the Stanley Cup has become your expectation.  And that’s never a bad thing.

As an Islander fan, frankly, I envy your new focus.

Car Colour, Dining Out, ESPN & MJ

 

Gooood (Monday) morning!  It’s 7:00 am here, and I’ve already had a bowl of Cheerios, a cup of coffee and a steam bath, so I’m at a rare level of awake for blogging.  How fun.

Before I really begin, I just gotta say – in the first 27 years of my life, I’ve cared exactly zero percent about hockey in the summer, save for my own personal fitness.  And even that was a battle.  I forced myself to the gym, and dragged my ass onto the ice as early as possible in the day so the rest of the afternoon and beyond could be free.  I didn’t follow the draft, free agency, nothin’.

I played baseball, I worked, and far more importantly, I golfed.

So now, in this new career has a “hockey guy” or whatever you want to label me as…. this is painful.  I realize most of you come to my blog to read about hockey.  But NOTHING HAPPENS IN JULY (UPDATE: Okay, Kovalchuk finally signed with the Devils. I’ll address that tomorrow).  Take a little break, like Bob McKenzie and his twitter account are.  I don’t really care to speculate on where so-and-so might get dealt, what the needs of the 11th place team in the East are (unless that happens to be the Isles), etcetera etcetera.  And that’s not going to change.

So until someone is paying me to discuss those things, I see no reason to start forcin’ it (the “forcin’ it” reference is six paragraphs down).  Besides, we have awesome things to discuss today: cars, restaurants, Michael Jordan, Twitter and Bri.  LETS DO THIS.

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This is the slightly-too-expensive one she wants. Balllerrrrr.

Right off the top (um, we’re 250 words in), the Mrs. asked me to poll my readers.  Bri’s lease is up on her white Mazda 3 in like six weeks, so we’re on the car hunt for her.  Okay, she’s on the car hunt, and I’m the blinders to her horse, keeping her eyes away from as many sparkling Beemers, Benz n Bentley’s as possible (anyone get that rap reference?).

So, the question she wants me to pose to you is…. does choosing a white or black car make that much of a difference for temperature?  I know your knee-jerk reaction to that question was yes, because it’s just one of those things that’s been beaten into us.  And I know MythBusters tested this “myth” and confirmed that YES, a black car does heat up more than a white car.  But to me, if it’s cookin’ hot outside, you get in your car and it sucks regardless, then you pump the AC and it’s fine.  So get the car you want.

(Part of me says that because I had that beaten into me when I got a car here, so I have a white Altima with tan interior and tinted windows, and every time a black one drives by I wanna sideswipe it so it doesn’t look so much prettier than mine…. which it does.)

So here’s the poll.  Vote or die! (Or whatever the expression is that marketers and P. Diddy use to get young, “hep” kids to vote)

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Instant ghettofication of a main course salad.

I can’t stand when restaurants – without special request – give you salad dressing on the side.  I can make my dinner at home, thanks.  Now I have to mix my own salad at a restaurant?  Do you have a big bowl and some tongs I could use, at least?  No?  Okay, I’ll just push it around then (y’know, since it’s a full bowl/plate) and end up with half the salad on the table.

For those of you who like light or heavy dressing you’re the ones who are particular, so you’re the one who should have to request something special or different, like I dunno, dressing on the side.  Quit making restaurants be frustrating for the rest of us.

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While I’m beating up on the food industry…. If someone pays for food at your establishment (now matter how low-grade it may be), they shouldn’t have to clean up like they’re doing dishes when they’re done.  How are yearly profits for the fast-food industry?  They can’t hire some minimum wage kid to clean up after their patrons?

Thanks for your $6.75, here’s your (delicious) chemical-packed processed food, be sure to tidy up on your way out. 

I TOOK MORE KETCHUP THEN I NEEDED, SUCK ON THAT.

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twitter.com/briannagillies

As I’ve mentioned before, I get mixed reviews on running/tweeting cat pictures.  The solution?  Brianna Gillies Twitter account.  She tweets infrequently at best, and usually only because we’ve had a couple cocktails, but I expect that to change after I gave her a good Twitter lesson yesterday.

Follow Justin on Twitter here

She claims she’ll be stepping up her tweet game (she’s actually pretty funny, even though she’s a girl  /Bissonnette’d), so hop on board for some more Bourne-based fun.  The real secret is that when I want to tweet a cat pic, I’ve got her twitpic address saved in my phone so I can use her account too.  Heh heh heh.  Sneaky.

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I loved me some MJ in the day.

If the year’s sportsgasm happens in April, this is the year’s moment of regret and self-loathing.  ESPN is currently dragging itself through the desert in search of water – AKA sports news – in a bad way right now.  Thus, we get Michael Jordan all over ESPN’s Uno through Ocho, making pretty dull remarks about an over-covered topic.

Therefore, I shall dig the hole deeper by commenting on those comments, just like ESPN.

He said he’d have never called up Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to be teammates the way Lebron did with Wade and Bosh (BTW, is Bosh Magic or Bird?  How much credit are we giving that guy?).  My only question on those comments are….

Okay, you wouldn’t have done that – but had you gone seven years and consecutive MVP titles without winning a title, looked ahead and didn’t see Pippen, Kerr and the chance to contend on your team, and had the opportunity to join “Bird and Magic”…. you wouldn’t have then?

I think that’s an easy, predictable statement for MJ to make from where he (and his legacy) are sitting.

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Thassit thassall today folks.  UPDATED: Kovalchuk has resigned with the Devils!  A hockey blog tomorrow, yyayyyyyy!

Table Scraps, At Best

 

Gooood morning hockey fans, and everyone else (is there an “everyone else” out there that reads my blog?  I hope so, for today’s sake).  Let’s get rambling:

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Has there ever been a white guy in the NBA’s dunk contest?  I mean, 3/4 of a black guy won the thing in 1986 (Spud Webb, 5’8″), and Nate Robinson is the three-time champ (5’9″), but there hasn’t even been one white contestant?  Why is my race so bad at dunking?  I mean, Eminem got us in the rap game (his new CD is badass, BTW), but we’re still stuck heaving threes on the court?  C’mon guys, pull it together.

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Jeff -->

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You’ve all heard me rave about Bruce Arthur’s writing lately, and for good reason.  If you’re not reading his stuff, get on it.  His recent take on Lance Armstrong is the perfect example of how good writing can make you read about a topic you’re barely interested in.  (See: Bill Simmons, the NBA. Okay, I like the NBA, but not enough to read 4,000 word columns on it, normally)

Also on my Great Reads List is Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts“.  I only recently discovered it, and I’m at the point now where I get all prepared to read it.  That’s how you know I like something – I make a ritual out of it.  A snack, a drink, TV off, get comfortable, maybe a stress ball to fidget with…. GREAT.  Also, I like it because it’s basically the same concept as my blog – just noteworthy things that stuck in his head during the week like “man, I don’t think there’s ever been a white guy in the dunk contest”.

What about you?  What’s on your must-read list? 

Honorable mention: Ryan Lambert’s “What We Learned”

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I think I want to see Inception.  I love DiCaprio, and the reviews have been ridiculously good.  Roeper went straight A+ on it.

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 I’ve been pro-Kovalchuking all over my shoes for the past couple weeks, but WTF, man? 

Ilya, if you really are holding out for a number around ten shmill a year, go eff yourself.  That’s great that you’re “the most unique free agent to ever hit the market”, but in this market, no player that isn’t named Crosby or Ovechkin is worth that much money.  This isn’t baseball, this isn’t basketball.  Hockey players make “good enough to never work again money” not “good enough to never work again on your own island” money.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Conway Twitty…

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The British Open was suspended due to high winds today.  Which, as most of you probably know, is what makes links golf links golf.  Some of the best tweets:

While not his most elegantly phrased… @shanebacon Next up, the Phoenix Open will be suspended because of too hot and the Masters will be suspended because of too green.

@Bruce_arthur They’re suspending the British Open because of wind? What’s next, suspending the Masters because of white guys?

And the winner, as always…. @danjenkinsgd The R&A said it suspended play because the golf balls are “oscillating” on the greens. And Old Tom Morris is oscillating in his grave.

Actual British Open Scoreboard

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HHHHHHHH…”

“AHHHH….”

“HHHHHHHHHHH..”

“AHHHH….”

“HHHHHHHHHHHHHHH..”

“AHHHH…..”

“HHHHHHHHHHHHHH..”

“AHHHH…..”

“HHHHHHHHHHHHH..”

AHHHH…….”

“HHHHHHHHHHHHH..”

“AHHHH…….”

“HHHHHHHHHHHHHHH..”

“AHHHH……..”

(Gag pilfered from www.progressiveboink.com)

…..Don’t worry, it’ll be hockey season again soon.  Wake me when Kovalchuk signs.

The ESPY’s, and Breakaways by Floating vs. Timing

 

I watched the majority of the ESPY’s last night before losing out to Bri and her DVR’ed Hills finale… whatever, shut up.  Anyway, I made a few notes on it.  So, without any ado, really, let’s launch into them!  (Oh, and some good news for you puckheads: there is a hockey blurb in today’s entry – the last segment.)

Makes SportsNation tolerable

THE ESPYS

Michelle Beadle bails Colin Cowherd out on a regular basis, and it was never more obvious than during the pre-show lead-up.  I get that Colin’s thing is being a bit ”unfiltered” who’s (A) not afraid to say anything and (B) will say anything contradictory to get a rise out of people, partially because he knows it’s not that hard to argue any viewpoint in sports.

But everytime he spoke it was like someone threw honey in the show’s cogs, and she kept having to swoop in and clean it up to get things flowing normal again.  She’s good at what she does.  For the record, I feel like Cowherd is someone I might like in person, but he greatly benefits from Beadle being around.

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This morning I tweeted: Marisa Miller was so smokin’ hot at the ESPY’s last night I almost didn’t notice Chris Bosh’s shirt/tie combo. …almost.”  She’s a freak of nature, that woman.  But on the other side of things – who the eff is letting Bosh wear a red-and-white plaid shirt with a solid olive-green tie?  Individually they were nice, but c’mon, man you can’t do that.

Staff Sargeant Dignam thinks your family is dug into the Southie projects like ticks.

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Mark Wahlberg’s movie characters are consistently ten times better than his real life personality, which, from what I can tell, full-on sucks.  He seems bland, over-confident and humourless.  Which KILLS me since I love him in so many movies, specifically The Departed.  And Marky, stick to your lines at awards shows.  “Tie Domi” at the NHL Awards was a massive swing-and-a-miss.

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Ummm, randomly handing out unimportant ESPY’s during interviews?  That’s awkward, ESPN.  “And we’re here with Shaun White - one sec here lemme get this outta my pocket here ya go take that – who just won an ESPY!  How does it feel Shaun?”  Glamorous?

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I’m a biased fan, but I thought Seth Meyers killed during his opening monologue, especially the Tiger bits (who, by the way, is five under after the opening round at the British Open.  Nice).  My question though – what’s with so many Grumpy Gus’s refusing to smile for jokes, even if they miss?  Half the “stars” seemed like empty shells. 

Stuart Scott, whatchu thinkin, boo-ya man?  What’s up in your head, Favre?  There would be some joke getting great laughs, and they’d cut to people who weren’t flinching til they realized the camera was on them.  Ohhh, you’re too cool, I get it.

Isn’t that kind of an insight into someone’s real personality?  Like, if I go to the Tempe Improv and the guy sucks, I can usually tolerate the jokes enough to humour the guy with odd laugh.  Even the bad jokes usually make me smile, at the very least.  But nope, not for half the ESPY audience.  Stone walls.  Like a King and his jester – MAKE ME LAUGH, BUFFOON!

Orbitz. Mmm, smooth. ...and chunky.

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{HOLY TOTALLY RANDOM THOUGHT:  This just struck me – remember All Sport?  The carbonated sports drink?  Man, wasn’t that the worst idea EVER?  Oh god I’m so thirsty after that long run, just let me take this out of the fridge and crush OW! OW. Ow that hurts. 

Can’t believe that idea didn’t survive.  Or Orbitz, it disappeared too.  Geez, I guess not every great idea can make it.}

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Right, the ESPY’s: I’ve got a real problem with advertising worked into my programming.  At least commercials don’t put on glasses with a fake nose and ask you to try Chex brand cereal.  Real commercials just go with: BUY CHEX BRAND CEREAL.

I could’ve done without plugs for Outback Steakhouse (while a funny-ish parody, it annoyed me), and even using Pete Twinkle and Greg Stink for telling people how to vote rubbed me the wrong way.  It probably shouldn’t, I dunno.

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Soooo, we’re just gonna use some weird/mediocre musician for every song?  Thank you DVR, FF.

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Eh, that’s about as far as I got on the ESPY’s.  One hockey thing before I go….

For you rec leaguers (I think I just discovered that’s Canadian speak – beer leaguers?) that want breakaways, there’s a huge difference between floating/cherry picking and anticipating a turnover and flying the zone early.

All about the timing.

A lot of teams will have one or four players that are always “open” in rec hockey.  But you learn, after awhile, that when you move the puck up to that guy, he either has to stop to not go offside, stop to wait for help, or start from a stop because he’s been waiting for a pass.

This is exactly why coaches at higher levels preach that everyone come back low into their own zone and come up the ice together, and with speed.  Otherwise you get all discombobulated, with some guys not moving and some flying up the ice.  It usually ends up that the guy with the puck has to beat someone one-on-one for the rush to have any hope.

So then, the solution for those of you that still want breakaways, is to be in a responsible position in your own zone, but SEE that their guy is about to make a risky play, and f**king take off.  If your team doesn’t get possession, you can always turn around.  If they do come up with the puck, you’re moving while their d-men are flat-footed.

Don’t worry about looking stupid if you’re wrong.  Just go dude, take off.  Just don’t head out there and stop (or worse, not come back in the first place).  It’s all about timing, and you just have to guess when your team is about to take over before your opponent does.

I run this pic a lot, I know - it's my favourite on-ice one.

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And last but not least…. sorry about eating up the next ten minutes of your day.  Try to stop watching this, it’s mesmerizing:

Via @bruce_arthur, via @ToureX

One-Touch Passes, Zero Theme

 

Y’know what I don’t need when asking for directions?  Options.  “Well, you can either take the 40 to the 105, or you can just stay on 3rd street and take it up to -” NO.  I obviously don’t know WTF I’m doing, which is why I’m asking.  Narrow it down to one route for me and go with that set.  THANKS.

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Y’know what else is stupid?  When a bunch of people go out for dinner, the bill comes, and one or a few of the people don’t address it immediately.  It’s not that they don’t want to pay, they’re just not in any rush to deal with it.  The no-rush comes with a hint of “I’m so rich I could care less what the final number even is.” 

I sit there and stress out about the server coming back and looking to run cards or cash, and we haven’t addressed the situation.  WHY ARE YOU ALL SO CASUAL ABOUT THIS, THE BILL IS HERE!  {Also, don’t call it “the cheque”.  You pay bills, you get paid with a cheque.} *nothing to do with this past weekend Char, it’s a saved note in my phone

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I recently met Fred Couples ex-girlfriend (who had apparently just installed FJ’s, by the way.  …As in, fake jammers).  Freddy’s been my favourite golfer for as long as I can remember, but I’m a little weirded out by how he was living – at her house, with her roommates.  Hardly the palatial situation I saw for Freddy, his money, his smooth swing and his flowing hair.

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I busted out a column for USA Today on how being a free agent is like a choose your own adventure novel.  Spoiler: I didn’t finish the novel without failing the first time.

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I like that baseball’s All-Star Game means something.  All fans of other sports (hi, hockey fans) do is complain about their sport’s ASG, so it’s nice that there’s some relevance in one sport.  I don’t necessarily want to take away from the team with the best record, but surely there’s some reward we can give the NHL conference that wins.  Last change in game one?  A designated hitter that gets to roam the ice?  Extra ice girls?  Just something.

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Puck Daddy Live Chat at 1 PM EST, lets do dis like Brutus.  Puck Daddy

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It’s almost time for the British Open!  I’m pumped – I’ll actually be around the place this weekend, and my good ‘ol DVR machine is gonna let me watch Tiger’s triumphant return to glory (yes, I just predicted he’ll win).  It’s too bad golf’s majors get less interesting as the year goes on (okay, the first two are probably tied), but at least there’s always the, um… Fedex Cup?  Boo.

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So far in the “easier to get a passport in Canada or the US” debate, the US is wayyyy out in front.  Chill, Canada, it’s just me, Justin.

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Okay, I’ve gotta go chat with the boys at PD!  What’s up in the hockey world that we can discuss today?

I’m Back-Back, From-From, Cali-Cali

 

Well, I’m famous.  The transition just happened, did you catch it?  The next ad going on the building beside Madison Square Garden is going to be just me, flexing, intimidating the employees at MSG even more than the Jay-Z one did.

That, or I’ll continue blogging and maybe possibly someday achieve an ever-so-slightly higher profile than I have right  now.  Whichever.

So the Cali trip was a success.

Not only did Bri and I have a blast with Charlie Kronsch, but the day of filming went great.

I’ll admit, I was a little slow on the uptake – as in, the first stuff we shot was awkward as all get-out, but I got more comfortable as the day went on.  It’s crazy talking into the camera having a one-sided conversation.  But, we figured some stuff out about what works best for me (stop f**king saying “uhh” you hockey-beaten moron), and by the time we do the second and final shoot, I oughtta be rockin’ the party that rocks the party.

Oh, also, we did a video podcasty thing with Charlie.  We turned on the camera for the first time, I woke Chuck up from a near-nap, got us both a beer, and we just started talking about life after hockey.  No idea if that’ll be entertaining to anyone but me.

{Charlie’s first comment after we cut it off: “Edit that.  You can’t just make fun of Kip Brennan on camera and expect to live.”

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Everyone in that neck of the woods is up to something strange, different and interesting.  My producer guy is working on “Cats and Dogs 2″ (fitting, for my blog).  At one point he realized our camera had leftover clips of Topher Grace on it.  We went out with a stunt-man-turned-behind-the-scenes guy on Saturday who worked on Jackass 3.  Where are the financial advisors?  Where’s the unnecessary rush?  THIS ISN’T THE EAST COAST AT ALL.

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I talked with Ethan Moreau a bit (who (A) looks like Keanu Reeves and (B) is pumped to be heading to Columbus).  His great line: when referring to his golf clubs and how customed out he needs them: “15 years in the NHL and I never got a custom stick until this summer, but my golf clubs? Nono, this is too upright, take it back to the truck and adjust it.”

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Charlie’s agent Nick James (who is excellent, by the way – anyone who can convince an NHL team that Kronsch deserves a tryout is GOOD), who also happens to be his brother-in-law, spent some time with us this weekend.  And, he happens to work for NRG Marketing, which is the company promoting NHL 2K11.

We were gonna head over to Nick’s place to check out the new promotional RV/bus, but um, just didn’t.  Still, he fired over some pictures of it, and hopefully, I’ll get my hands on a game or two before it comes out to give it a test drive.  Check out the bus:

{By the way, one of the best lines of the weekend came when asking Nick about Charlie, and how seeing him have a couple beer in past summers must have felt like it was costing him money.  He’s line was “Well sure, look at the guy, he’s a depreciating asset for me”, thus earning Charlie the nickname “The D.A.”}

The outside of the RV/Bus thingy.

The other side of the ginormo RV/bus thingy.

The um, third side of the RV/bus thingy?

More info on the game tomorrow - did you know you can pick the puck up on your stick?  COUNT IT!

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Okay – I’ll work on getting those pictures to show up here in a little bit (and might add some more writing), but first I have to put the finishing touches on a column that’s due. 

One more thing – check out Islanders Point Blank for some news on the Islanders hope for a new arena in the near future.

I’m Going Going, Back Back, to Cali Cali

 

Thanks a million for all the tips yesterday, that was a SUPER productive comment section for me.  As it stands right now, I’m in no rush to charge for any content, so until further notice, relax and enjoy, and I’ll try to find ways to make this site more attractive for you and your hockey brethren.

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Well I’m using the collective power of your genius minds….

One of the segments in my show is going to be a “beer league tips” section, that, without being condescending, tries to give little tips that can help rec guys and gals out.  Stuff like we’ve discussed on the blog – gap control, stick-on-puck for defenders, etc. 

So, I ask you – is there anything in particular you feel like you’d like me to cover?  Episode one while have a slapshots and shot-blockers segment, if all goes according to plan, so don’t pick that one.

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Okay, let me bust out some thoughts quick before I take off on my trip:

The Lebron thing – the guy was an unrestricted (key word) free agent, wanted to win a ring, and chose a team he knew was going to be stacked.  If it wasn’t for his stupid management and dumb ESPN special, I’d find it hard to be remotely upset with the guy for leaving Cleveland.  Of course, those things did happen.  So focusing on the actual signing….

Dick.

What more did he owe his home town?  He gave them SEVEN YEARS of his career and they failed to surround him with a cast of players you could call anything better than okay.  As has been well covered, it was the way he went about the free agency period that made this so miserable for everyone.  Lord knows he lost a lot of everyone’s respect, but I just don’t think we can hate on the decision.

For those people who say “you don’t see Kobe acting like this” (and there’s not many of them, since most people are informed), lets not forget that when things got rough for Kobe, he demanded that he or Shaq be traded immediately.  And he was under contract when he drove O’Neal out, unlike Lebron who just picked a better team in free agency.  As I saw someone tweet yesterday, we love our superstars until they act like superstars.

I don’t want to come off as a Lebron defender, cause he’s been a horrible, insufferable douche, I’m just saying – had he just picked Miami without the hoopla, people in Cleveland would still be pissed, and I don’t think he owes the city anything more.  It’s like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life – can the guy just get outta Bedford for a few years?  Most kids at least move cities for college.

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"'Yes.' We'd 'like' to 'sign' Ilya Kovalchuk."

Garth?

I feel like free agency is like moving into a new place – you put all this time, effort and money into it until you sort of get comfortable, then you hit a wall and never finish the job.  My apartment is MONEY, like fully moved into, only we never got around to making the guest room all decorated.  And, since we’re comfortable now, we just leave it.  Garth has stopped decorating the guest room.  Finish the job my good man…. frankly, the living room’s not looking so hot either.

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Cali-for-ni-a.

Doing my first podcast with my college roommate of yore, Charlie Kronschnabel, and a few hours of shooting each day (including a midnight on-ice shoot Sunday), so I won’t be blogging til Tuesday.  However, I am a tweet machine, as you know, so you can follow me that was at www.twitter.com/jtbourne

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It’s the weekend!  Hope it’s a good one folks.  Let me know if you have any ideas for the show!

Bonus Content, Lebron, and CUTE ANIMALS

 

For those of you who haven’t been with me since day one of the blog (you bandwagoners): here’s the truth: I’m a hockey writer by default.  I started out just…. blogging.  Stand-up comedy, animal pictures, football rants, and the occassional mention of a sport I sometimes followed, hockey.

Glenn, Bri, Mom and Jeff, hangin' out in AZ

Blogger Bourne was like Hockey Bourne - I loved me some stats.  I had thirty “views” my first day, and wanted the number to head up.  I checked progress religiously throughout the day as A) it was super-easy when I had a wordpress.com account and didn’t have to go through the whole Google Analytics rigamaroll and B) I was confined to the couch for a couple months thanks to my shattered face, and was f**king bored.

What I noticed was, every time I wrote about hockey, things kaboomed.  Ahhh– since I actually knew what the hell I was talking about on that topic, people were more inclined to care.  Noted.

And here we are today.  It’s just me, jumping around waving hockey sticks, wearing a helmet and visor, yelling “HockeyHockeyHockey!  HOCKEY!  HHOOCCKKEEEEEEY!”

On that note, it’s summertime, and you’re going to have to periodically deal with the fact that the roots of this blog are not fully planted in ice.  But don’t fret too much – if something puckportant comes up, I’ll still be here to jump on it.

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A question:

Would you pay for bonus content?  As in, if I did a weekly video blog and a bi-weekly podcast, would you pay 3/4/5 dollars a month to listen/watch something like that?  (Potential podcast guests: Greg Wyshynski, Cabbie Richards from “Cabbie on the Street”, some player friends like Eric Nystrom, Charlie Kronschnabel, um… Clark Gillies and Bob Bourne?)

I personally know I refuse to pay for anything online.  Like, I followed the Islanders beat writer Katie Strang on Twitter this year, and refused to pay the $5 a month Newsday asks to read her blogs.  I figured if it was important news, I’d find out about it one way or the other.  So I understand if the answer is no. 

Please click this link and answer the poll so I can figure out if I should do that stuff for next season.  The “donate” button has helped (thanks to you generous readers), but doesn’t wield anything consistent.

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LEBRON. 

Let’s talk Lebron.

Lebronathan

First off, check out Bill Simmons great column for some context - Lebron has spurned three things for what Simmons thinks appears to be a cry for basketball help:  Home (Cleveland), “Global Icon” status (New York Knicks), and the best chance at winning (Chicago, in BS’s opinion).

So go ahead and read that if you feel like reading about his free agency decision from a more serious sports standpoint. 

But how about the human side of it?  What the f**k is this guy doing?  He’s letting some new agent DESTROY him… and he can’t see it?  His new agent’s name, by the way, is Maverick.  Neato. 

After the launch of his new website, the announcement of his ESPN show ”The Decision”, and the start-up of his twitter account, I thought I couldn’t take anymore.  Then he’s tweeting stuff like “submit a question to #lebrondecision for me to answer tonight”?  Now I KNOW I can’t take anymore. 

I really did like this guy before, but the whole transforming into a brand thing is nauseating.  Corporate-advised tweets?  I mean, c’mon, man…. 

Everything his camp has done has made it so Lebron HAS to win a title.  Anything less is Space-Shuttle-Challenger-level failure.  I don’t care what league you’re in, or what team you’re on, titles are NEVER a given.  Yes, basketball is the sport where the best team usually wins, for sure more than the other three big leagues, but with nine minimum-salary players, winning it all is no gimme.  Why pile onto your own pressure like this?

“KidCanada” tweeted a question for Lebron today: “Have you crossed over from regular villainy to cartoon super-villainy? #lebrondecision“  Fair question. 

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If I were a gambler, I’d – wait, I am. ….. If I had the money to gamble, I’d put it all on Ilya signing today.  Don’t you think?  More than enough time has passed for him to figure out his choices.  Now that you know your options, pick one buddy.  We’re tiring of this. 

I recently lost a lot of weight, turned green, and grew spikes.

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Tomorrow I head out to LA to meet with my producer/friend, first and foremost to get the Justin Bourne Hockey Show underway so we can get the pilot out, and try to have it on TV for next season.  I figure mentioning it on the blog and twitter is a great way to generate some buzz, and “groupthink” some ideas. 

What were your favourite things I’ve discussed in column/blog form over the past year?  What new ideas would you like to see me break down in a segment?  Basically it’ll be me, some highlights, some conversations, some demonstrations and possibly some beer tasting.  …In every segment.  And before the show.  Admit it, you’d watch that 1000% more often than ”frozen in time” games. 

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And, while I’m reaching back to my blog roots, here’s one for all of you that write “stop with the animal pictures”.  

EAT IT. 

haha-omg2 

 

ilikekittens2 

helllo 

tiny-homp 

 

 

Hey look, it’s Chubbyguts Tyson!
<—–

Caps Goaltending, Modano, and Quality Sportswriting

 

It’s that time of year – NHL news is at a minimum, and summer fun is at a maximum.  Although, I live in Phoenix, so it’s “winter” here (you don’t go outside for very long if you can avoid it).  I will say this about the heat though – it’s not as bad as people say. 

It was supposedly 115 here last Saturday, and we spent four middle-of-the-day hours floating on tubes down Salt River.  We still sit by the pool periodically.  Basically, if water is involved, you can make it work.

Anyway, the point is that there isn’t much to discuss around the NHL.  I, for one, care zero percent about prospect camps.  I mean, literally, zero.  So, until something relevant comes up (Kovy signing!), lets BS about random, puck-based stuff.

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It's not that he's bad, it's that you're too close to a Cup to accept anything but great.

So, the Flyers Capitals are really going through with the whole “nah, we’re good on a goalie” thing?  To those fans who keep saying Varlamov will get better and will be able to get it done, I ask you – why are you okay with rebuilding at one position?  Do it everywhere or nowhere.  The rest of your team is ready now.  Actually, it’s been ready for two years, both of which you’ve squandered by accepting mediocrity in net. 

Fine, Varlamov is going to be great some day.  So let him back up til that day.  Or trade the potential he (or Neuvirth) has for a decent defender, and sign one of the million quality goaltenders looking for work.  Y’know, so you can try and win that Cup thingy.  This team is ready, if they’d just adresss their very few weaknesses.  If you don’t, you risk becoming the Flyers.

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Do you want Mike Modano to come to your team?  As in, a guy playing the role of third line checker with a goal scorer’s body and a good amount of gray in his beard?  Probably not right?  Yet for some reason, I can see it working under Babcock in Detroit.  And only there.

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Follow this link to read borderline NHLer Paul Bissonette’s hilarious (though somewhat offensive) tweet-binge about how women aren’t as funny as men.  Or as smart.

The tweets remind me of being in a locker room, so you may enjoy them.  Raw stuff.  Feel free to poke around that site too, it belongs to friend of the blog, Callum McCarthy.

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He's got a pretty good life goin...

SPORTS WRITING: As many of you are aware, my favourite sportswriter is Bill Simmons (though, oddly, that’s been waning a bit of late – undoubtedly something to do with him just making podcasts and retro-diaries, AKA lazy stuff).  It’s hard to write 5,000-8,000 words coherently, and this guy composes clear arguments that seem to span the length of entire books.  Unfortunately, Bill rarely covers hockey.

Between Simmons and my favourite hockey writer is a guy who acts as a nice segueway for me here, Bruce Arthur.  I’m a new reader and twitter follower, but from what I’ve taken in thus far, he’s kinda half-hockey half-basketball.  There’s some clever bite in his writing, and the guy seems like a good thinker.

And, as I’ve also mentioned before, my colleague (and general superior) Greg Wyshynski makes the grade as my favourite hockey writer.  Of course, I’m far too involved in hockey to agree with everything anyone says (like I do with Simmons on basketball), but 96.75% of the time, I can get on Greg’s page.  He’s fair, funny, knows WAY too much about players, teams and history, and writes well.  Best of all, he doesn’t take the sport too seriously, like, say, every single writer from the Toronto area.

Today’s post on free agency is great, and includes a line from agents (about their players) that Islanders fans can choke on: “The money was pretty much the same everywhere. Guys were just deciding on where they wanted to play the most,” said one agent.  Hey Isles, nobody’s choosing you for your low house prices and Cup-winning potential.  Might have to go a bit above and beyond matching offers these days.

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I’m convinced Steve Yzerman is gonna be a rockin’ GM.  The Teddy Purcell signing was a nice way to get a good player in on a low salary, something he’s going to have to do since three of his players make something like a combined $25 million.

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The Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp is almost full.  We’re down to about a half-dozen available spots – email me at jtbourne@gmail.com if you’d like to inquire… it’s a once-in-a-lifetime summer vacation.  And when I say that, I don’t just do it as a pitch – I never try to sell my readers a damn thing, am I right?  My name is on this camp, and I’m proud of it.  We see more tears and hugs on the final day than I ever thought possible.  I’d love to have some more readers there (we already have two!)

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Happy Humpday.  Hope it’s a doozy!

Ilya Kovalchuk…. is NOT an Islander

 

Nope, no he’s not. 

This makes some fans happy.  This makes some fans sad.  Either way, it’s like talking about global warming, or Pierre Mcguire.  The topic is polarizing, and people are waaaayyy too intense about it. 

….Okay, they’re allowed to be intense about the whole melting planet thing.  Let’s stick to talking puck.

For the Isles fans who’re excited that they’re not attempting to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract (no formal offer was ever made) because he wouldn’t be worth it down the road, or it sticks to the widely-consumed Koolaid of the rebuild , let me ask you a couple questions.  These questions, by the way, should give some insight into my stance on the team not pushing to land the Russian star (and no, they didn’t push).

Personally, I'm very excited about Okposo/Tavares this year.

First off, fans of the slow rebuild:  Let’s just say, hypothetically, the Islanders managed to keep together the core of kids they have (Okposo, Bailey, Tavares) for a dozen years, or whatever arbitrary length of time you want to use.  Do you think that, without adding a few more high-quality pieces, they make a Stanley Cup winning team? 

I think you’d agree that no, those kids aren’t good enough to become a premier team if you filled the roster in with average players (think Horton, Weiss and Booth in Florida).  Unless you DO think that core group could win a Cup on it’s own, in which case I’d say you drank WAY too much on the fourth.

So then you realize they’d need to add a few supporting pieces to get over the hump.  How long should they wait before they do that?  And why wait?  Isn’t it better for the team to grow together, and to get some post-season experience while they’re young?

I’m under the impression that some Islanders fans think that the missing puzzle pieces have been drafted and are in the minors, slowly working their way up to the day when all the picks pan out and make the team a Cup contender.  To certain people, our “get over the hump” players are already Islanders property, and are still maturing.

Headed back to New Jersey?

So, reality check time: You DO realize that every single team in the NHL has those kids too, right?  Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, those kids?  They’re wonderful players, and could be dynamite NHL contributors someday.  Probably will be.  But they exist, not just in Bridgeport, but in Grand Rapids, Albany, Hartford, Norfolk, Winnipeg and every other city that houses AHL and ECHL teams.  Having them isn’t some secret ace up our sleeves that’s gonna put us ahead of the competition if we just wait.

Everyone knows an overly practical person – the one who sacrifices love, a social life and fun for money and saving.  This person has a house before you, retires before you, and drives a fancy car.  But at some point that person is alone on Christmas going “what was I saving all that money for, again?”

That’s the Isles right now.  They’ve stockpiled prospects and kept themselves miles below the salary cap for years now.  But for what?  There has to be an end-goal, a purpose.  Until they turn some of those picks and prospects into a sincere attempt at winning – which, um, should be the goal for every franchise - what’re we saving for?

Vancouver's chips: hometown, Cup hopes. Isles HAVE to over-pay to get guys right now.

I know Charles Wang wants, nay, needs a new building on the Island.  But the team is under contract to play at Nassau Coliseum until 2015.  We can’t just roll over until then.  And doing so has turned us into Edmonton, one of those “well, I guess it’s nice to at least play in the NHL” type of teams.

When players turned down going to the Island during the FRENZY, it wasn’t because of the building, it was the team’s recent history of being a bottom-feeder, and showing no signs of trying to be anything but. 

New York lost free agents Hamhuis, Martin and Volchenkov to teams that have sincere chances to win the Cup next year.  Or at least compete for it.  It has nothing to do with the available snack food on the concourse, and everything to do with avoiding a team that won’t spend to succeed.

Free agency isn’t over.   The Isles will get someone to satiate the fans desire for some new blood.  At least for another NHL-calibre player or two.

For me, it would have been worth a few years where Kovalchuk is overpaid at the end of a deal to have a player that makes the team better and entertains the fans. 

Scoff if you want at deals like “Phil Kessel for picks”, but all the sudden the Maple Leafs roster looks a whole ton shinier than the Isles because they’ve been aggressive.  If you were predicting which team would finish higher in the standings by looking at the rosters halfway through last season, there’s no WAY you would’ve picked Toronto.  Now?

Needless to say, I’m disappointed.

Gotta get more of these jerseys to the Island!

 

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