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Sleeping After Hockey, Is Winnipeg Viable?

 

Y’know, it’s incredible: I figured once I stopped playing competitive hockey in favour of rec hockey, the whole “not being able to sleep after a game thing” wasn’t going to be a problem anymore.  Combine the lower amount of adrenaline with the post-game beer, and I figured I’d be night-night by the time I got home.

Nope.

I still just sit there, staring at the ceiling.  Only instead of hating myself for missed opportunities in the game, I think about like, adult stuff.  Bills and deadlines and annoying things like that.  Which is wayyyy less fun.  I’m just gonna start popping Tylenol PM or something.  Forget that madness, I’m over it.

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So, teams that suck for extended periods of time get less fans, in general (save for Toronto).  I don’t remember if that’s why the Winnipeg Jets ended up struggling in the first place, but it’s worth discussing:

It’s near-blashphemy to question the viability of a team in Winnipeg since there’s an extremely passionate fan base and people willing to buy the team there.

Jets logo. Good effort today, Bourne.

But Winnipeg has what, between 600,000-700,000 people, right?  What if they suck for another prolonged period?  I mean, I guess they could always get the lottery picks the way the Oilers are rebuilding, but here’s the facts for teams in places like Winnipeg and Edmonton:

Nobody wants to play there.  No offense, or anything, but those places are fucking crazy crazy ass cold.  Even you folks from the ‘Peg wouldn’t deny that.  Same with those of you from Edmonton.  Take the Oilers: they’ve struggled for a number of reasons, but among them include that they can’t convince anyone to go live in Edmonton for a winter when they have warmer city choices, even if the Oil over-pay. 

So the team starts doing bad - can’t get anyone, but also can’t keep anyone.  So now it becomes ”go play on a bad team in a cold climate”, or “go take less money to be on a better team somewhere warmer, probably with less travel”.  I guess it could be cyclical with the Oilers - bottom out, get picks, and rise up, but can Winnipeg survive the bottom out with almost a half-million less people?

The same thing is happening in Long Island, but not because of the weather.  They have a crappy arena and an owner that won’t spend, which turns players off, which makes the team bad, which drives the fans away.  So no, Long Island, I won’t come play in your crappy situation, I’ll go play somewhere else.

So won’t Winnipeg just head down the same road to Crappytown as those other examples?  Struggle to get free agents and lose the ones you have, start to lose games, become a bad team in a cold place, and have to rely on drafting guys and not losing them after their entry level deal?  I mean, honestly, correct me if I’m way off base in asking this, but…. in a place with such a small population base, could Winnipeg sustain a team if they were to go through a decade of being brutal?

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That’s my short entry for today folks!  If you want to read more, go check out my piece called “Ode to a Drill-Wrecker” over at Hockey Primetime.  I think its a fun one.

One more thing: any one have a Coyotes ownership update for us all?

Banana Bread, Jay Mariotti, and a Bullet From Mark Rypien

 

If you haven’t headed over to Puck Daddy yet to read my first column of season, you can do so here: It’s called At Contract Time, Players Roll Dice on Hockey Future.

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So, here’s a weird thing that regularly happens in my relationship with Bri, due to the fact that our parents are quite literally best friends:

Bri is all stoked to make banana bread.  I’m excited about it too, but my Mom makes banana bread so badass it’s tough to compete with.  And yum-face-faking to Bri that “mmm, that was just as good” was going to be hard.

She fires it up, lets it cool, butters up a slab for me, and goddamn if it isn’t just as good.  In fact…. it’s….. the same.  Bri, of course, got the recipe from her Mom, who (in whatever “who had it first” order), got it from my Mom.  It was the same bread I grew up on.  NOM.  This stuff happens all the time, it’s bizarre.

That’s my Mom on the right, hers on the left, Clark in the background.  And, um, my Mom’s kitchen everywhere else.  And peach pies being made.  And me reaching for Clark’s wine glass to refill it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Never been the most compassionate man.

I have a theory: MSM extrordinaire and recent girlfriend-beater Jay Mariotti has been fired from just about every job he ever had.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they retroactively found a way to fire him from jobs he quit as a teenager.  Dude doesn’t seem to have an employed scrap left after the arrest.

He was always at the forefront of the dismissive ”basement-dwelling blogger” haters.  And now he has no outlet for his voice to be heard.  The only obvious option:

Start a blog, fucker.  People will read it, you can state your side of the story, you’ll get readers (as most controversial-but-coherent blowhards tend to do), and you’ll provide yourself the opportunity to write while time heals a few wounds.  That is, of course, unless you re-open those wounds by continuing to be a bar-dwelling lurker with a bad temper.

Point is, I’d love to see him have to resort to a medium he trashed to make his car payments.

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Miss Arizona made her return to the apartment above us last night (had been gone for months “working”), and already, I had to march upstairs and ask her to turn her thumping music down.  I really thought living near a beauty queen was going to be a better situation.

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Here’s a fun nugget:

So, we’re at the Clark Gillies Charity Classic two years ago, and one of the guests is a Superbowl Champion quarterback from the Washington Redskins, Mark Rypien.

Zzzzzzziiing!

Rypien’s an awesome guy.  Incidentally, he’s a huge hockey fan, and Rick Rypien of the Canucks is his…. nephew I think?  Mark might even come to our Fantasy Camp next year (wait’ll you see the size of this guy), but that’s neither here nor there.  Moving on.

He donates some signed paraphenalia for a charity auction of ours, so when a Rypien autographed football came up at Clark’s event, my Dad bought it for like a thousand bucks or something as a thank you.  Hey, it’s all for charity, right?

Anyway, it’s a fancy event.  After the golf the guys chuck on collars and slacks (some go with suits), ladies are in dresses, the tables are all white linen’ed out, the whole deal.  Also, everyone is a bit sloppy from the days festivities.

Seeing my Dad had won the bid, Rypien goes up front to give the ball to my Dad in style.  “Run a route!”, he says.

My Dad pops up from his table, weaves between a table or two and Rypien throws him a bullet.  I mean, a bullet.

It goes right through my Dad’s hands at just under the speed of sound, and heads square for a table that about seven ladies had gathered at for a chat.  And they’re all drinking big ‘ol goblets of red wine. 

If it was bowling for wine glasses, Ryp threw a strike.  There wasn’t a glass left standing, there wasn’t a dress left clean at the table. 

Also, there wasn’t a lady at the table who didn’t want to kill my father.  A few of them went straight home.

Oopsie.

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And last, I find the whole “Lou Holtz on ESPN” thing weird.  The man is at the point where he’s too old to be coherent, isn’t he?  He seems lovable and all, but boy… it’s getting hard to understand him.

Happy humpday, see you again tomorrow!

Dan Ellis on Twitter, BizNasty on Life

 

Goooood morning folks!

Today begins the five-columns-a-week schedule I’ll be keeping up over the course of this NHL season, which means a change in protocol for Bourne’s Blog.

Posts will now go up close to 3:00 p.m. MST (it was usually between 9-10 a.m. before), as the mornings will be spent researching, writing, etc.  Just thought I’d keep you informed.

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Wearing his specialist clothing.

Dan Ellis’ soon-to-be-deleted Twitter Account

The twitter feed of Dan Ellis (@33dellis) has become the topic of conversation in the last day or two because A) there’s not much else going on in the NHL and B) he had the audacity to complain about money while making $3 shmill over the next two seasons, while having summers off.  (And yes, those summers are off.  You can lift, do cardio and be done skating by noon.)

To be clear, I like two things about his mistake: one, he broke away from the cliche-spewers, earning him a spot on my two-day old Top Seven NHL Quote-Givers list, which is in the right sidebar of this page below the ad.  And two, his complaint about escrow isn’t all that silly.  That’s a lot of money to give up.  That said….

WTF, man?  You don’t complain about having to share your massive Thanksgiving dinner to a starving family. 

There are certain things that’re hard about being a professional hockey player.  I’m fairly certain it’s harder to be an ECHLer than an NHLer (buses and minimum wage puts it over the top), and I can attest that the ECHL lifestyle is actually pretty damn good.

He seems to imply college was a tough financial time, and this is just as bad.  I’d bet a month of my life he was on college scholarship as I was (he started every game at University of Nebraska-Omaha, of course he was). I had tuition/books/room and board and stipend, all provided.  I had no extra money, but I also had zero debt from college, as I’m sure was his case.  Which means it’s never been all that hard (cash-wise) for the guy.

Has since moved on to Tampa Bay

Taking his current money stresses to the public - some whom are dealing with foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc. and saying “my money situation is no easier than those tough college days” makes it smell like he simply doesn’t get it, and takes him out of the “he’s just a normal guy” status so many fans enjoy.  Did he expect a bunch of “boy, that does seem tough, Dan” style responses?

I’ve written plenty of columns that bitched about certain aspects of playing pro hockey.  But at the same time, I’ve done my best to stop short of saying “people don’t get how tough athletes have it”, because frankly…. c’mon, Bourne.  It was never that hard.

I think back to how much guys complained about certain promotional events (the worst part of being a minor leaguer), and compare it to the worst parts of other people’s jobs…. and holy shit, you can’t even compare the two.

Anyway, before this gets away from me, just thought I’d say: I’m okay with him being open and honest – in fact, I really enjoy it, even when guys say stupid things.  But with their right to say those things, comes my right to point out the idiocy in them.  …There just has to be a bit of a filter there, a little social grace, some tact.

Predicted next Ellis problem: “Man, I hate how all these girls in Florida want me for being a millionaire in the spotlight. Can’t a guy get a little down time?”

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BizNasty Thoughts:

So, for the Quote-Standings on the right, we contemplated taking Biz out of the running, the way Gretzky used to get taken out of scoring pools cause it was so obvious he was going to win.  But I have a theory why he might not….

Biz Nasty and his lady friend.

That twitter feed of his, at some point, is going to bite him in the ass.  Who knows if he’ll be able to maintain having it all year long.  So let’s say he loses it:

He plays in Phoenix, which doesn’t get the most coverage in the league.  Also, he’s a fourth line guy who gets in about half the games.  So he’s not exactly the first guy reporters look to for an interview in the dressing room (though he’s definitely moving himself up the queue).

So if he loses twitter, we lose the majority of quotes from Biz.  And then what?  He could be beaten!

My other Biz thought:  Could his spiel get tiring?  He reminds of a certain breed of guy in the locker room that’s a blast 90% of the time, but to be avoided the other ten.  As Crushasaurus was the first to say…. we’ll see if the Biz-love last the whole season and beyond.  For now: lovin’ it.

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Here’s a fun one to bat around.  From a reader email, Hobbit says:

Here it is:  IF the NHLPA had a strong leader and Bettman and Co. offered the 40 year old cut-off date, what should the response have been?

Answer:  No problem Mr. Commissioner, in return we only ask that each team be allowed one players salary be exempt from the cap hit.”

Whaddya think?  I think I kinda like it.

I Just… It, um… This Gets Its Own Entry

 

This is it for today, just a couple minute video that’s puuure smiling time.  I had planned on a second post, but realized I’ve got my first USA Today Power Rankings to get started.  Soooo, hockey research day!  Hope you have a great long weekend.  Just think, after that, it’s the sports season!  So without further ado….

I present to you, courtesy my cousin’s girlfriend Jocelyn on twitter, MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON.

“Hmmp, uhh. N-I can’t, I can’t I can’t lift anything up at all.”

Why The NHL Can’t Void Earlier Contracts, and Some Other Stuff

 

The NHL won’t de-register the frontloaded contracts that teams assumed were kosher.  They just can’t.  The consequences would be vastly damaging, like going back in time and killing a butterfly.  It’s just simply too late to make that move.

"Thanks for throwing me under the bus by taking the scam too far, Kovy."

They have to know they can’t tell the Canucks that Luongo’s contract is no good, or the Blackhawks that Hossa’s is void.  Chicago already traded a half dozen players to make room for that contract.  The Canucks have made some moves themselves, but more importantly, having this come up at this point in summer leaves a major question: what would those teams have done differently in the off-season had they known their big deals were void?  Would either team have taken a run at other free agents? 

Point is, who knows what would be different now had teams been made aware that certain contracts they wrote up were no good – de-registering them now would fully eff with everyone’s roster and cap plans.  If the cap is designed to encourage parity (as in, fairness), it’s not exactly fair to penalize a team a whole summer simply because you changed your mind.

So if the NHL wants to say those contracts are “grandfathered in” when they change the clause that allows for these deals, fine.  Whatever you have to say to let them pass while you plug the hole.

But vaguely implying that you might still overturn them is annoying.  It’s the exact same thing as the Sochi Olympics bargaining chip – They want the PA to make a concession to protect those contracts, even though, really, the PA shouldn’t have to concede shit.  The CBA is what it is til 2012, and technically, those contracts are legal, sooo….. why are we doing you a favour again?  It’s the NHL who needs to make a concession to get the PA to agree to fix the loophole early.

For the record, I’m glad they seem to be willing to work with the NHL on making a fix.  I’m glad they’re talking CBA early.  It just bugs me that the NHL is creating bargaining chips out of nothing, especially with the PA as beleaguered as they are.

Could you imagine if the league told those teams that those contracts were void?  CHAOS.  Pure chaos.  It’d be a painful, tiring circle of arbitration court battles, appeals, fan revolt and misery.  They’re not going to void those deals.  They can’t.  They need to let that butterfly live.

"Note to self, Gary, add that reporter to the list I have written in lipstick at home."

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I bet Guerin ABUSED Sid.

I like when my boy Wyshynski gets fired up about something, and this morning he made a nice twitter take-down of the “Crosby’s a drunken sex addict” email (And SB’s coverage of it).  I never really saw what the whole kerfuffle was all about, nor did I see the email, sooo - care to explain, anyone?

By the way, I spent ten straight minutes watching Penguins practice footage yesterday, with Guerin mic’d up (from playoffs two years ago).  What really stood out to me from watching, was that Crosby’s a massive geek (in a likable way), and that Guerin spent half his time trying to rein The Kid in from trying too hard.  Yeahhh, probably best to let Sid play with people who are pushing him, as opposed to the opposite.

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Antti Niemi to the Sharks, huh?  That’s pretty cool.  Personally, if I’d just won a Cup and had to be traded, I’d be hard-pressed to get too upset about taking my talents to a good team in San Jose.  Ummm…. can the Isles have one of your three goalies, SJ?  We’ll give you Brendan Witt’s rights.

Yeah that's deterring criminals. I'm sure.

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Also on the docket, Nikolai Khabibulin is going to jail in Phoenix, eh?  The prison down here is famous - tent city, as it’s known.  Apparently you just bake outside under huge tents in what’s essentially a massive parking lot, or something.  And ‘ol Sheriff Joe Arpaio makes the prisoners wear pink because…. um, because… wow that’s really stupid now that I think about it.

Anyway, here’s to hopin’ he can get himself outta there early for good behaviour or whatever it is he has to do to get himself outta the clink.

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My Wednesday column ran on Hockey Primetime yesterday because, y’know, it was Wednesday.  It’s on getting past the star-struck factor to play hard against names you’ve watched on TV, and you can read it here.

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Sooo, still waiting on the Kovalchuk thing.  It’s a shame that this whole saga has become the most news-worthy thing from the guy’s NHL career to date.  I mean, not like he hasn’t been spectacular and scored a ton of goals, just sayin’, if he has a Wikipedia page, this fiasco should be the lead paragraph.

And on that note, I’m out for the day!  Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll be back.

Bissonnette, Mirasty, Gagne, Nielsen and Staal

 

White rabbits!  September’s going to be an AWESOME month.  And, for your reading pleasure, I start up at Puck Daddy in a week – Tuesday, September 7th.  Neat. O.

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It’s “one-touch passes” time:

As it’s been mentioned on Deadspin, probably Puck Daddy, and most definitely noticed on twitter…. Twuperstar Paul Bissonnette is back in action: @biznasty2poiont0 .  Soooo, we all got that goin’ for us.  Crushasaurus, where you at, brotha?

BTW, I’m a big fan of the “BizNasty” nickname – right up there with another (minor leauge) hockey fighter, John “Nasty” Mirasty. 

I mean… Nasty Mirasty?  Sounds like a bad-guy character you’d create for your hockey movie.  (I just googled “Nasty Mirasty” to see how to spell his last name, and the guy has his own website, complete with a “store” that’s not yet running). 

I found the four-pic combo of Mirasty below on Google Image, no idea whose it is, soooo thanks to them.  It’s also worth noting that I’d still rather fight this guy than Yablonski.

Yep, that's what arms normally look like. Yes-sirrr.

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Dude was STOLEN from Philly.

I got some good responses on twitter the other day to this idea: Basically, is there any reason to believe Tampa Bay will finish any lower than the 5-6-7 seed in the East?  Their top six are insane, maybe the best in the leauge:  Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Gagne, Malone and Downie.  Deaaaammnnn.

If Ellis or Smith can put together a good year – and there’s a strong possibility that one of those two quality tenders will – they’re a scary group.  And with the pick-up of Kubina and a year under Hedman’s belt….  Again – deaaammmnnn.

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Not the league's thickest dude.

Frans Nielsen of the Isles has been coming up more often in coversations as a guy could have a good year, which got me thinking…. is he strong enough to ever be considered someone who gets mentioned as one of the ”best third line centers in the NHL?”  That quote is from Brian Compton of NHL.com, a guy who thinks he it’s possible.  (By the way, just because Jordan Staal is a third line center doesn’t mean he’s a third line center ….if you get what I’m saying)

He certainly has the ability, but he’s just so slight… you can be as talented and smart as all hell, but if you lose the majority of your puck battles, it kills your line and hurts your team.

I’ll have to check out his ”corsi” stats to see if we can get some  indication of his ability to control the direction of the game, but I’m honestly asking, Isles fans: Is he strong enough to make the jump from capable to premier?  I don’t watch enough Isles games to judge.

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Dude's intense.

There’s not a whole lot of players in the NHL I’d rather have on my team than Jordan Staal.  Yet still, people insist that the Pens should trade away one of their three dominant centers for some support on the wings.  And to that I say, “no, no they shouldn’t.”

They have something no team can match with their 1-2-3 punch (major threat on three lines), which is a huge advantage.  You keep the option of having the toughest-to-stop final-minute three-man unit in the league.  Plus, a dozen teams are trying the “two stars and and a bunch of B-minus players” thing – making that trade puts you right back to where everyone else is.

With the additions of Martin and Michalek on D, to go with a couple other solid d-men, that team will be dangerous again this year.  In fact, they’ll contend every year – as long as they don’t do anything crazy.  Keep the three big centers, Pittsburgh.  Far more important to have those than great wingers.

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Did you check out my first piece of the season for The Hockey News Monday?  Good.  I’ll have another one on Hockey Primetime later tonight.

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