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Conan, Crosby, Stat-lines and Some Links

 

New Puck Daddy: on Kovalchuk’s struggles, and what he needs to do to fix them

Yesterday’s USA Today: On taking a shootout shot, player’s perspective

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Anyone have any reviews of the new “Conan” for us?

I used to be a loyal fan, and DVR’ed it every night even when he was in his brief primetime role.  For some reason, I haven’t gotten around to doing the same for the TBS version of the show.  Is it any good?

(By the way, I love Fallon.  That show is awesome.)

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Okay, the Crosby slewfoot:

First off, there’s allowed to be grey area on stuff like this, he doesn’t have to be Stalin or Mother Theresa.

He certainly didn’t execute a classic slewy there.  It’s sort of a halfway, non-commital one.

Secondly, it’s a non-issue.  For all the abuse that guy takes, I’ll allow him the occasional cheap shot.  If I were focused on night-in night-out like it’s the playoffs, and guys went out of their way to get shots in on me, I’d have slew-footed somebody’s head through the ice years ago.

Interesting argument that one of the RLD radio show hosts made (tongue in cheek): it was a play of the year candidate.  It was an incredibly difficult play, to be skating at that speed in open ice, complete a slew-foot, and draw a penalty.  Point Sidney.

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Random thought:  Eric Staal is having a heckuva year, huh?  The top of the NHL leaderboard for points is classic – stars are having star-like years.  

I still think the most interesting stat-lines of the year to date are:

Henrik Sedin

2 goals, 25 assists, 27 points. Wow.

Dustin Byfuglien

9 goals, 16 assists, 25 points.  His career high is like, 36 or something, and he’s playing defense.  He also leads the NHL w/5 game winners.

Am I missing anyone?

The Leaderboard

  Player Team Pos GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW OT S S% TOI/G Sft/G FO%
1 Sidney Crosby PIT C 26 18 23 41 7 15 7 1 1   0 100 18.0 22:09 23.0 55.4
2 Steven Stamkos TBL C 24 21 18 39 6 20 10 0 4   0 91 23.1 20:50 24.4 45.7
3 Alex Ovechkin WSH L 25 10 22 32 8 18 2 0 3   1 109 9.2 21:22 21.0 40.0
4 Alexander Semin WSH L 25 18 12 30 8 24 6 1 1   0 90 20.0 18:37 22.0 25.0
5 Martin St Louis TBL R 24 8 21 29 1 8 1 0 2   0 90 8.9 21:38 25.1 37.5
6 Eric Staal CAR C 24 12 16 28 -2 18 4 1 3   0 94 12.8 21:27 27.3 43.0
7 Brad Richards DAL C 23 11 17 28 11 20 3 0 1   0 87 12.6 20:36 22.5 51.9
8 Patrick Sharp CHI L 25 15 12 27 -6 6 4 2 4   1 107 14.0 19:21 25.0 48.4
9 Daniel Sedin VAN L 22 13 14 27 3 6 6 0 1   0 59 22.0 18:36 23.7 0.0
10 Nicklas Backstrom WSH C 25 9 18 27 9 10 4 1 1   0 50 18.0 20:09 23.4 53.5
11 Henrik Sedin VAN C 22 2 25 27 3 12 1 0 1   0 43 4.7 19:33 24.2 54.7
12 Corey Perry ANA R 26 11 15 26 2 39 3 0 2   0 86 12.8 21:46 25.8 33.3
13 Milan Hejduk COL R 23 8 18 26 -3 4 5 0 0   0 63 12.7 17:19 21.9 0.0

 

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Maintenance guys are here trying to stop the knocking sound in our wall.  If it doesn’t stop, Bri and I WILL kill someone. 

Motivation, Engagement Photos, and the Miami Heat

 

Happy Why Can’t I Bear Down and Just Get Some Actual Work Done Day.  I just can’t get myself in gear.

It’s amazing what not working for a couple days does to my ability to work upon return – it feels like I  retired, then my 401k tanked, and now I have to return to work.

What?  I stillll have columns to write?  But I wrote LAST week!

But, as they say, that’s real life.  (I’m assuming most of you don’t consider my job “real life,” but whatever, staring at a blinking cursor on a blank screen has induced many hair-pulling moments.)  Fortunately for me, the blog is always fun, since it’s mostly just stream of consciousness writing and cat pictures.

Today’s column for USA Today is on taking a shootout shot, and what that’s like.  Wooo to the hoooo!

Let’s talk about some pressing issues of the day:

glug.

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For football Sunday yesterday I picked up a six-pack of Lagunitas Brown Shugga Ale, because it sounded fun and I was up for something new.  Plus, I was in the “Amber/Light” section of the Whole Foods beer thinger, and I assumed it wouldn’t be all that heavy.

Turns out it’s quite dark and strong.  How strong, you ask?  9.99 percent, it turned out.  For that type of percentage, it was actually pretty decent.  Most of that strong stuff tastes like molasses, so I was pleasantly surprised.

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Pats/Jets play a week from today, I’m stoked.

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Have you ever heard of such a thing called “engagement photos?” 

I’d be fully convinced Bri made it up had she not taken pains to show me alllllll of her girlfriends who’ve had them done and posted them on facebook.

Thus, we’re doing engagement photos.  My understanding is you give someone a fistful of money, and they take pictures, and then you just….sorta…. have them.

I think they go on “Save the Date” magnets too or something, I dunno.

Anyway, we’re getting ours done when we go to NY for Christmas – I’ll be sure to post some on here, so ya’ll can see my new, fatter self freezing near some landmarks (I’m being overly cynical of course, it’ll be fun to get a bunch of pics done in NYC).  I’m pretty sure we’ve selected the Brooklyn Bridge as our primary landmark, barely winning out over Nassau Coliseum.

Any stories on the whole engagement photos situation?  I KNOW it’s not a Canadian thing…..

(By the way, below is our “artsiest” photo to date, I personally love the contrast between my fancy new jeans/hat and the old warehouse.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How about the Miami Heat, eh?  9-8 record after 17 games isn’t quite what we were expecting to see outta them.

I heard something pretty interesting outta Bruce Arthur’s mouth on the Jonah Keri podcast this morning — if this is really that much of a debacle, at what point do you think about a trade?  If by mid-season the pieces still don’t fit, can they ever?  (FWIW, I think it still can, but I liked Arthur’s argument.)

Lebron "accidentally" bumping Spoelstra

The Heat with Wade and Bosh and players that equal the worth of Lebron are probably better than having him there.  And you can’t trade Bosh, because a)he’s overpaid as is and b) that’s not the problem – the problem is that you have two guys who essentially do the same thing, so you’re cutting their values in half.

You might as well maximize one, bring in a point guard, and if you can, a decent center.  Lord knows Wade ain’t go anywhere, so there ya go…..

If the Heat are still hopelessly underachieving in February…..do you trade Lebron? 

(A new coach isn’t going to be able to do sh**, by the way.)

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I’m excited for winter weather this year.

Last year was my first snowless Christmas of my life, and it was awesome.  I was out washing my car on Christmas day in the sun, very pleasant.  But now….. two years seems too long to be away from it.

It’s cool here – in the 60′s during the day, down to freezing at night – but that’s not winter weather.  I mean, I wanna shovel some snow, warm-up the car in advance and get all rosy-cheeked.

It’s what I grew up on, I miss it.

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More hockey stuff coming out soon – tomorrow’s Puck Daddy column is under way!

Let’s have a great week over here at Bourne’s Blog.  Thanks for your continued support – especially you, reader who made a generous donation over the weekend.  Bri and I greatly appreciate it.

One-Touch Passes and MY CAT

 

My blog rules.

Since I haven’t been writing as many of my traditional blogs, my TBAF has gotten over-stuffed.  Of course, most of the hockey stuff has to be saved for column fodder, but the other stuff needs to be discussed too.

Let’s touch on a few of the topics from there.

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Kobe Bryant recently claimed he learned how to be great from being mentored by Michael Jackson.

Great. 

I’m sure they talked on the phone and knew each other and whatever, but this is Kobe’s, what, 15th NBA season?  After five titles and all his success this is the first time he’s mentioned it, or publicly thanked him or anything?  It never came up in a previous interview on how he got to where he is?

Usually the whole “mentor” thing comes up.  Kinda like what my uncle Ken does for me with writing/business-y stuff.  There.  Now you know.

It just came up that they used to talk; once anyone becomes a celebrity they love for people to think they’re more weird/unique/different than they are. 

My hunch is, Kobe wasn’t “mentored” by MJ.  He knew him.

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Bri’s sister Brooke is 5’10 and was a volleyball player.  Her husband is almost 6’5″ and was a football player.  They just had a 9.4lb baby boy with Gillies blood named “Achillies,” (his family is greek) I’m in charge of making him a hockey player.  Beware, NHLers in 20 years or so.

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I need to write a column about being a good player on a bad team vs. a good player on a good team.  What’s the better situation for maximizing your stats?  More minutes or better linemates?  I’m 90% sure I’m going to argue good-on-good is always better unless someone changes my mind.

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Wheeled bags: adult men, just stop it.

I know that’s obvious and an easy target, but for fuck’s sake.  If you’re coming to the rink to get some exercise, let’s just go crazy and carry that thing.

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Few things in this world are less useful than voicemail unless you have information to leave.  If you leave a “Hey, looks like I missed you, give me a call” message, c’mon.  EVERYONE HAS CALLER ID NOW.  I hate checking messages.  Actually….I hate talking on the phone period.  Just text me.

I hear there’s a program that you can get you your v-mails in text form, but it costs a couple bucks a month.  Someday, people.  Someday it will be mine.

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A plug:  Hockey Primetime.com doesn’t get as much love as some of the other websites I write for, but they’re doing some good things these days with more in store.  They’re making a push at growing the radio and video parts of the business, so check out their site periodically.

Here’s my latest for them, on the etiquette of celebrating a goal.

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Bruno Gervais fought Colin White this morning. Or more accurately, he fought Colin’s fist with his face.  Noble act, sticking up for Parenteau, but man….. it didn’t look fun.

What’re you supposed to do though, when a big thug runs someone?  You know you aren’t going to win the fight, but you know you’re supposed to stick up for a guy….. just baseball swing him?  At least Gervais did the “honorable” (stupid?) thing.

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Hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!  I know we did over here – I’m a disgusting fat mess of human.  To make up for that, I’ll probably do 20 mins on the treadmill, then eat thanksgiving leftovers for the second time today and go out for drinks with the wife tonight.

Thaaaat’ll skinny me up.

Cat-heavy Black Friday post.  First, a video of Tyson’s discovery that water comes from the tap (followed by a good amount of lolcats speak and Tyson biting Bri).

 And second, him playing with the strap from Bri’s bathing suit and purring….

Column Day

 

Two new pieces up and ready to be read folks. 

New Puck Daddy: Five things that piss coaches off

New Hockey Primetime: Goal celebration expectations (up this afternoon)

On Greatness

 

New Puck Daddy: What it feels like to get absolutely rocked on the ice. (I rarely like my own stuff, but think this one’s kinda good.)

New USA Today: Full power rankings

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On Monday, Ryan Lambert wrote a few words on Sidney Crosby (“Cindy Crysby,” as his detractors like to call him), so some people started the standard PD commenting procedure of setting fire to their hair, mashing the keyboard, and hitting post. 

I get it, some people don’t like him.

But goddamn do I want that superstar to succeed, for the same reason I want Steven Stamkos to never stop his scoring rampage and the same reason I want Alex Ovechkin to bury so many pucks goalies start looking like the girl in The Exorcist from checking their net so much.

Better. Than. You.

That reason is greatness.

It’s the same reason I still root for Tiger Woods - I was never rooting for his fidelity or his parenting, I was rooting to be awed by the true mastery of a sport that regularly leaves me flummoxed. It’s an honor to feel the type of thrill like the one he provided with the chip in on 16 in the 2005 Masters.  In your LIFE have you ever seen anything like that?

It’s a gift to see greatness, and every time a superstar comes along I want to say I got to watch the best of all-time in his prime.  I want to see records come tumbling down.

How fun is it to sit on your couch with crumbs on your shirt and watch someone who has taken an inhuman amount of god-given talent and worked with a singular focus to become that much better than the rest of the best in the world at something?

To make the top ranks of a pro sport is impressive, let alone to own it.  It’s humbling knowing I could devote the rest of my existence to that same game and never get to that level.

It’s mind-blowing for me that someone can watch Sidney Crosby (or Stamkos, or Ovechkin) play and think “man, what a whiner.” 

You’re doing it wrong.  

Nobody’s perfect - Gretzky had the same rep, but I think it’s safe to say he’s become universally respected as one of the top few players to ever play the game.  His name is revered.  People who saw him in his prime were treated to watching one of the best at something in all of history, and I think we’re in those years with Crysby.

Better. Than. You.

When it comes to the best of the best of the best, I don’t need them to be flawless all over, I just want my jaw to drop in awe a couple times a game, pour a drink in my open mouth, close it manually, and wait for it to happen again.

You hope they’re good people, it’d be nice.  But I still love watching Michael Vick play football, despite his tattered soul.

From basically everything I’ve heard, Michael Jordan was a complete jackwagon.  But there’s nobody I’d rather watch play basketball to this day.  I could care less if he wants to funnel away shmillions on a bad double down in Vegas.

If Ovy wants to push the camera out of someone’s hands at the airport, do you not still want to watch him uncork a slapbomb on a 5-on-3?

People with a grasp of a sports’ big picture know that Crosby isn’t just competing with his opponents for scoring titles, he’s competing with history, the way Tiger makes Jack Nicklaus his primary opponent.

As I said before, we want them to be good people, to be honourable and noble and without weakness.

But they’re human.

Humans with flaws who make some very poor decisions, who just happen to be very very very good at something and work very hard at becoming better at it.  And it’s a treat to watch, the same way that someone can put in time writing a book and you can enjoy it; they’re getting paid to entertain, so hell yes, enjoy it.

I know I am.

HBO’s 24/7, NHL Power Rankings, Lidstrom’s OT Winner

 

 My piece for The Hockey News on being on the wrong side of a blowout will post shortly.

USA Today – Official Power Rankings…..also “will post shortly.”

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As I’m sure most of you know by now, HBO is doing a “Hard Knocks”-like documentary on the Penguins and Capitals leading up to the Winter Classic this year, which is awesome.  (You may remember I suggested something similar earlier in the year, so I’m taking full credit for this).

They’ve released a 12 minute preview of the show, which largely provides some context for the game to fans who aren’t all that up on things – y’know, Sid vs. Ovy, the rivalry, the history, most of that good stuff.  Basically “here’s why this is going to be worth watching,” in a nutshell.

I’m excited, I have no doubt it’s going to be absolutely tremendous.  The outdoor game thing is utterly incredible stuff that has made me cry more than once, somehow.  I dunno, just the whole….roots of the game thing always gets me, I love pond hockey. 

Combine that with the type of job HBO has done on other sports, and I have no doubt it’s going to heavily talked about right from the first episode, December 15th.  Bourne’s Blog will certainly be following it.  Here’s the preview, first seen on Puck Daddy:

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Okay, it’s Power Rankings time again!  My vote is just one in what I think is a twelve person panel, but since it’s MY blog, here’s where I see things so far:

TEAMS

1. Detroit Red Wings
2. Washington Capitals
3. Los Angeles Kings
4. Philadelphia Flyers
5. Boston Bruins
6. St. Louis Blues
7. Montreal Canadiens
8. Columbus Blue Jackets
9. Tampa Bay Lightning
10. Vancouver Canucks
11. Pittsburgh Penguins
12. San Jose Sharks
13. Phoenix Coyotes
14. Colorado Avalanche
15. Chicago Blackhawks
16. Nashville Predators
17. Dallas Stars
18. Minnesota Wild
19. New York Rangers
20. Carolina Hurricanes
21. Atlanta Thrashers
22. Anaheim Ducks
23. Florida Panthers
24. Calgary Flames
25. Ottawa Senators
26. Toronto Maple Leafs
27. Buffalo Sabres
28. New Jersey Devils
29. Edmonton Oilers
30. New York Islanders

I might institute an “adjust for sanity” clause, in which I further exaggerate my opinion and shuffle Columbus down and the Blackhawks up.  Right now, my opinion affects their spots a little, but is largely affected by stats.  Y’know, ones like: Columbus is 12-6-1 (.667 percent of possible points earned) and ones like: the Blackhawks are 11-10-2 (.522 percent of possible points earned).

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MVPS

 1. Steven Stamkos
2. Sidney Crosby
3. Tim Thomas
4. Nick Lidstrom
5. Carey Price

Regarding Carey Price’s inclusion on that list:  even if you avoid the context needed to describe his season – you know, all that stuff about trading away goaltending deity Jaroslav Halak, playing in Montreal, pre-season boos etc. – He’s 12-6-1 (good for 25 points, same as the Blue Jackets record), has a .932 save percentage, and a goals-against-average of 2.  Simply 2.  Not 2 shabby for a guy many people were ready to write off, including me, because HE SABOTAGED MY FANTASY TEAM LAST YEAR.

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GOALERS

 1. Tim Thomas
2. Carey Price
3. Jonathan Quick
4. Niklas Backstrom
5. Ondrej Pavelec

Not exactly my pre-season prediction of what this list would look like.

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DEFENSIVEMEN

 1. Nicklas Lidstrom
2. Dan Boyle
3. Duncan Keith
4. Dustin Byfuglien
5. Brent Burns

Most people use these lists to point out “hey look, I noticed that that semi-obscure guy is doing really well, so I pointed out my knowledge by putting him exceedingly high,” and I think I sorta did that.  You’d still rather have Chara and Weber over my bottom two, but whatever.  For now, those guys are having money seasons.  As is John Michael Liles, who I passed over as well.  Could be worse – someone voted for Steve Montador (who I just googled, turns out he plays for the Sabres).

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FIRST-TIMERS

 1. Jeff Skinner
2. P.K. Subban
3. Logan Couture
4. Sergei Bobrovsky
5. John Carlson

Honorable mention to Jordan Eberle and Michael Neuvirth.

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As always, I’ll link to the official rankings when they post.  Guide me, oh knowledgeable hockey friends…..where have I gone astray?

Ooo, one quick thought before I go – how about Lidstrom not shooting right away on this OT winner last night and pulling it to his backhand?  How many rec-leaguers would’ve gone vom-dot-com and puked the puck anywhere but in the net the second it touched their stick? (I would have.)  Crazy decision, but hey – he’s Nick Lidstrom.

 

Guest Blog: Comparing Soccer and Hockey, by Liviu Bird

 

Howdy folks – today’s column for Puck Daddy will be up at 1:30 EST, on “The Stamkos Spot.”  As in, it seems like a ton of players are drifting to that soft spot on the ice and bombing one-timers, teams might wanna start defending that better.

Today’s guest post is from Liviu Bird, a long-time friend of the blog.  Enjoy.

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Liviu Bird is a journalism student and soccer player at Seattle Pacific University. He grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska and has always supported Justin Bourne’s college’s nemesis, the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He currently writes for The Falcon (www.thefalcononline.com) and plans on giving the professional soccer scene a shot before settling into a full-time writing gig somewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @lbird90 (www.twitter.com/lbird90).

Growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska, liking hockey really wasn’t a choice. If you don’t like the sport there, they practically kick you out of the state. The hockey culture permeates all of our sports, including soccer, which has always been my game of choice.

Your esteemed author.

Before anybody yells at me, if I had learned to skate early enough and my uncle didn’t used to be a professional soccer player, I would probably be another BizNasty — a small-town player who somehow made it and watches from the press box on most nights.

Anyways, hockey players back home sometimes played competitive soccer in the summer to stay in shape. In fact, as a result of summer soccer, I met one of my best friends, who is currently playing club hockey in college.

Those of us who were serious about soccer also got caught up in the hockey mentality, by way of osmosis. I remember visiting the athletic trainer at one tournament in Phoenix and overhearing, “You got hurt playing against the Alaskans too? You’re the third player today who’s told me that.”

We weren’t thugs. We didn’t kick people for fun (I’m looking at you, Mexican national team) but we played a physical brand of soccer. We weren’t afraid to put a shoulder into somebody — which is also legal in soccer, I might add — to get him off the ball.

It wasn’t until recently I realized just how much I’ve learned from hockey over the years of playing soccer. As homage to my second-favorite sport, I took some time to write down a few of these gems of information.

First, and this goes with what I wrote above, don’t be afraid to hit and be hit. This doesn’t mean be a headhunter (Matt Cooke, Zinedine Zidane), but be willing to put a body — yours or an opponent’s — on the line for the sake of the team.

In soccer, we say those who don’t shy away from a tackle are good at “getting stuck in.” One guy on my college team would rather dance his way out of any physical altercation than get stuck in, and I just want to put my studs in his ankle once to show him it’s not really that bad after the initial sting goes away.

El Divo (C'mon, that's funny)

Getting stuck in segues nicely into the next point: Only pussies dive. Both hockey and soccer players are guilty of it, but everybody can agree it’s more deeply rooted in soccer culture. Even world champions do it (I’m looking at you, Italian national team of 2006), but nobody likes to see it. It makes players look like prima donnas and referees look like morons, either when they call a penalty or foul on a dive or when they miss a legitimate one because they suspect a dive.

Another thing I learned from hockey is a congested schedule is no reason to whine. Hockey teams of all levels routinely play back-to-back games, but most soccer teams complain about playing more than one game a week. God forbid you actually have to earn that paycheck, overpaid English Premier League superstars.

Lastly, my soccer-playing brethren need to learn to lighten up and get over their own inflated egos. Look at Alex Ovechkin. He knows when to be serious, but he never lets himself get to the point where he forgets he plays a game for a living. Wayne Rooney, on the other hand, is too concerned about his pocketbook to realize this.

Ooo, he purty.

Even at the college level, my teammates love to freak out when shit hits the proverbial fan. Mistakes are going to happen. Shouting and freaking out only exacerbate the problem. Drink some purple Gatorade the trainer put too much powder and not enough water into. All is well.

Dealing with players of both sports away from the rink or field, it’s easily apparent which group is in love with themselves (just look at Cristiano Ronaldo) and which group is in love with the game and the joys of playing it — for instance, I still haven’t figured out what soccer players should call puck bunnies, but we have them too.

I’m not trying to say soccer is a bad sport, played by untalented people. However, some things in our game are lacking and could easily be fixed by looking at how hockey players handle similar situations. The sports are similar enough.

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Liviu linked to this song in his post, but I decided to embed it because it needs to be heard so these kids can be shamed.  Haha.  Thanks Bird, hope everyone enjoyed his contribution!

Follow him on Twitter here.

Watch Liviu play goal below:

New Puck Daddy: Bar Buddies, Brent Sutter, Off-Ice Lifestyle

 

Quite the conversation on the Chris Botta stuff yesterday, that’ll be interesting to see how it plays out going forward. 

It’d be hard to imagine that even if he did get credentials back he could walk into the Coliseum all no-big-deal like nothing happened, so I’m sure something will have to change.

Here’s Greg Wyshynski’s more comprehensive look at the situation: Islanders pull popular blogger’s credentials, spark controversy

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And from me today, you get a piece on bar buddies, Brett Sutter, and the off-the-ice lifestyle that seems to very rarely end up in NHL news.

Okay, SOMETIMES it ends up in the news.

As I’ve mentioned before, the blog is a little harder to keep up with five columns a week to write – The pattern I’ve detected from myself is three full posts a week, one of these “here are my articles go read them” entries, and the odd guest blog.

We have two quality guest blogs in the hopper, in general I’ll try to run them every-other Friday.  Thanks!

An Inquiry – Any Details on Islanders Point Blank?

 

Anyone have any ideas what happened with the widely read blog “Islanders Point Blank” yesterday? 

For those of you who hadn’t heard, the last post was basically a (temporary?) farewell, for “reasons beyond his control.”

Chris Botta and I sent a couple texts back-and-forth yesterday and I didn’t want to pry, but I did get the impression that the site got shut down for negative reasons.

Botta hard at work

The only light I can shed on the whole thing is that Garth Snow is not a fan of Chris or his website’s honest take on a flailing team (come to think of it, he probably doesn’t like me either), but I fail to see how that strained relationship could equal the end of IPB. 

There’s nothing wrong with a little free speech, right?

I guess they could’ve just totally shut down his access if they wanted, but that would be utterly shameful.  Will we only get propaganda from Islanders-biased writers now?  It feels so….. I dunno, Bejing Olympics or something.  And I barely even know what I mean there. (I’m trying to say: It’s all about the front and presentation, don’t you worry how things get done behind the scenes)

Best of luck to Chris – that’s where my very first piece of writing (on my “love story”) outside of Bourne’s Blog ran, so hopefully it’s back in action here shortly.

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If you’re interested, I joined the boys on Puck Daddy Radio for a little chat yesterday – I chime in at 26:30.  Enjoy! 

My Hockey Primetime column is on what you can get away with in dealing with refs.

Firing Terminology, Columns, Recipe For Happy

 

You know what’s a hilarious phrase?

So-and-so has been “relieved” of their coaching duties.

Like “phew, thank god they took away my source of income, that was a major pain having the exact job I’ve always wanted for more money that I ever knew I could earn in this game.  Please, someone take this burden off my hands.”

Horrible terminology.

Today, I give you two columns:

New Puck Daddy: Putting myself in Gregory Campbell’s skates - I play the game “If I were Gregory Campbell,” using my own experience as a player with a hockey dad.

New USA Today:  I get to write a column no other writer is able to write – I discuss exactly what it’s like playing for Jack Capuano, the Islanders new interim head coach.  He’s a great guy, but I kinda had to be skeptical that he’s the right fit.

Read, comment, enjoy.

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One more quick thought on Colin Campbell – his job is insanely effing hard.  That’s fine, we all get that.

But that’s why you hire the best people available.  I feel like right now, we give him a pass because it IS  a hard job, and we couldn’t necessarily do it any better.

My point is simple – just because the job is hard doesn’t mean this guy should get a pass for doing it poorly.  Someone out there can do it better.

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What’s your ultimate Good Mood Recipe?

Like what are the EXACT pieces that have to fall into place for you to get to your “nice to everyone” place?  Here’s my formula:

Also a very happy time - post puck with a beer.

* A good sleep, maybe two in a row.

* A quality breakfast that involves some form of meat.

* A good, sweaty workout.  Like 45 minutes of hard work.

* No work due.

* Money in the bank.

* Happy spouse.

* Having a friend or two around.

* Two-Three beer on a patio.

I really think, in that moment, like, halfway down the third beer, I could see my worst enemy and be like “dude, sit down, let’s work this out.  What was all that trying-to-kill-me stuff about a few years back?  You seem like a really great guy with a bright future.”

Cute: Ty's "well what's that out there?" meerkat pose.

 Hope you enjoy the columns!

Campbell, Gordon, Avery

 

So much to talk about in the hockey world, goddamn.  This blog is about to write itself.

Here’s my take on today’s Big Three:

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Colin Campbell apparently loves his son; Marc Savard, not so much

I’m not sure what to make of all this, because, as PD radio discussed today, it’s not exactly a smoking gun in terms of “he said that, you can’t say that, he’s out.”

Unfair pic, but I'm lazy. Looks like Jean Chretien.

But for all the things it implies, it is a smoking gun.

I know it’s “innocent until proven guilty,” but we’re not all pretending we couldn’t glean anything from the tone of those emails, are we?  No one else felt like, if that was .01 percent of emails from his time in that role with the NHL, then there would be something much, much worse in the other ones?

Didn’t the NHL hand-pick those emails to demonstrate a case in court?  As in, the really bad ones would’ve been skipped over?

This guy has proven to not be all that great at his job before, and now we see he’s holding a bias against a player in the league who’s damn near a Lady Bing candidate?  Especially given the whole Cooke/Savard fiasco, isn’t it getting hard to believe that this guy isn’t ethically questionable?  Should I ask another rhetorical question?  Who am I, Rick Reilly?

Here’s one more: Shouldn’t a jury of three-or-so people do Campbells job, so it’s not just one man making the tough decisions and giving recommendations?  If boxing only had one judge, fight results could turn out totally different than how they do on some nights.  You can’t let one man’s opinion be worth so much, especially when he seems about as genuine as a purse sold outside the NHL offices by a street vendor.

I dunno…. the whole thing was just what we as NHL fans complaining about the “Wheel of Justice” needed to start the push for his removal, if you ask me.

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The Islanders fire Scott Gordon, promote Jack Capuano to interim head coach

I won’t talk too much about “Cappy,” as I will call him henceforth because literally everyone does, since I wrote about him for USA Today….today.  But as for the Gordon firing, I think it’s a shitty move.

Great fake pic, undoubtedly after some silly game.

The reality is, from everything I’ve heard, Scott Gordon is a tremendous coach.  Finding a good coach is no easy task, and to remove one from the bench because the team is failing to execute and has injured stars is absolutely bogus.

At what point is a team just too incomplete to win?  Like, if we put an ECHL team in there that lost 15 straight, does the coach have to go?  Is the attitude really “it doesn’t matter who the players are, you should win once in awhile?”  What about a CHL team?  SPHL?

Gordon and the Isles needed to ride this miserable fucking storm out together, get better, and be judged when they have a full roster (as in, add two of their arguable top three players and Andrew Macdonald).

As I mentioned, I wrote about Cappy today – the link will be up when it posts – but I just don’t think he’s the guy to make a difference on the Island.  And don’t misunderstand me, I GENUINELY like Jack.  He’s a great, likable guy.  He’s just not the AHL coach to right the ship.

As for whoever the next permanent coach is:  I heard Wysh on Puck Daddy radio today (good show today) saying that “they’ve already tried an AHL coach, they need to go in a different direction this time,” but I’m not sure that makes a whole ton of sense. 

You can’t lump 30 AHL coaches together and act like they’re the same product – even at that level level, everybody employs different styles with different personalities, and this team just needs to find it’s right fit now that Gordon has been ruled out, regardless of where the guy comes from.

Frankly, I’d prefer they give a second proven AHL coach a chance and spend the extra money on another player than overpay for the chance to recycle a guy who’s coached in the league before. 

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Avery’s cheap shot on Ladislav Smid

Really, is there anything anyone can say on this that isn’t obvious?

Refuse to tarnish my blog with another pic of Sean Avery.

If you’re going to fight the guy, you fight him.  You don’t wait, look around, act like you might not, then attack and land a bomb.

If you’re a “Smid should be paying attention if he asked him to fight” guy, get lost.  How long do you have to stare at a guy you just asked to fight who clearly isn’t dropping the mitts?  He asked, he asked, he glove shook……nothing? Okay, let me see where the play isBOOM.

Sean Avery plays with zero honor and continues to prove what a gutless waste of talent he is.  Plus, I think the guy has his wires crossed.

*****

Ha, wow Bourne, angry blog today.  Ah well, gotta take a stand on stuff like this I guess, and that’s where I’m at.  You?

Guest Blog: Patrick Hoffman

 

Hey Guys!

Happy Friday to all.  I’m feelin’ money today.

Today’s Puck Daddy topic is one I’ve touched on here before, but I did it up full-on today: Two-Touch Soccer and it’s role in pre-game warm-ups.  I think you’ll like it.

For third time this season, I present to you, a guest blog. 

Patrick Hoffman volunteered to contribute an NHL piece for us, and chose to write about the NHL’s Central Division.  I was actually supposed to post this sooner, but was feeling all write-y this week, so if any of the stats are dated, it’s by like, two days. 

Weigh-in as you see fit, I’ll be around in the comments.

Thanks again Patrick.

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Patrick Hoffman has covered the NHL since 2003. He can currently be found on Kukla’s Korner as the New York Rangers blogger penning The Goal Line Report while also blogging for RLD Hockey. 

Previously, Hoffman has worked for a variety of hockey media sources including: Stan Fischler, Spector’s Hockey, TheHockeyNews.com, HockeyBuzz.com, McKeen’s Hockey, Blueshirt Bulletin, XM Home Ice Channel Hockey Blog, HockeyPrimeTime.com, FantasyHockey.com. NY SportsDay, and HokejaVestnesis.com.

For questions, comments or to talk hockey, feel free to send him an e-mail at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com 

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The Central Division: Where it’s at in the NHL

 

When one thinks of the word central, they think of synonyms/phrases such as center, important, what really matters, focus, and many, many others.

In terms of hockey, however, it has to do with one thing: the Central Division in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference.

Monsieur Boyes

For several seasons throughout the 2000’s, it was one of the weaker divisions in the league. This was mainly due to the play of teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators (early 2000’s), and St. Louis Blues (mid-2000’s).

However, when it comes to this season, the Central Division is home to some of the league’s best and most surprising teams in the NHL such as the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, and the Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, if the playoffs were to start today, four out of the five teams in the division would be in the dance.

When it comes to the St. Louis Blues, they have been one of the league’s best this season. For starters, goaltender Jaroslav Halak, after being traded by the Montreal Canadiens, has been absolutely terrific in goal (8-1-1, 1.46 goals against average, .944 save percentage and three shutouts) and has given his team a chance to win hockey games every time he has been between the pipes.  

The club has also been getting balanced scoring up and down the lineup from the likes of TJ Oshie (1-9-10), Alexander Steen (3-6-9) and David Perron (5-2-7) while also getting strong play from their young defensive corps. Come April, if this team can put it all together, they could end up surprising many in the league.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have also been a nice surprise in the early going this season. They are currently 8-5-0, good enough for 16 points and the seventh spot in the Western Conference. Surprisingly, goaltender Steve Mason has not been the story for the Blue Jackets this season. Rather, it’s been back-up netminder Mathieu Garon who is 4-1 with a 1.28 goals against average, a .951 save percentage and two shutouts.

Yayyyyyy something good just happennnnned.

If you combine Garon’s solid goaltending with the play of Derick Brassard (5-4-9), Rick Nash (5-3-8), Jakub Voracek (1-6-7) and others, it turns out the team can win hockey games. You could also talk about new head coach Scott Arniel’s impact on the hockey club and again, it leads to a winning record.

Of course, the other two Central Division powers holding down playoff spots are the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. That’s really not a surprise considering the players/coaches that they have in the organization. More than likely, these two historic franchises will do everything in their power to slow down the Blues.

Lastly, you have the Nashville Predators. Prior to last week, this team was one of the best in the NHL. The team had not lost a game in regulation and were getting strong performances out of goaltenders Pekka Rinne, Anders Lindback, forwards Cal O’Reilly (2-9-11), Steve Sullivan (5-3-8) and others. However, the team has struggled of late but don’t worry, come April, they could have one of the playoff spots in the Western Conference.

I know that the Central Division has been written about a lot this season but it’s with good reason. This whole division, if each team continues their strong play or raises it to another level (Predators), they could end up taking five of the eight spots come playoff time.

It may be early in the season but when it comes to good teams in the NHL, it’s all about the Central Division.

Rembrance/Veteran’s Day, Writing Like Chris Jones

 

Before we get to my thoughts on writing, I just want take a moment for Remembrance Day/Veteran’s Day:

A sincere thank you to those brave men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. 

This video here comes with a MHK rating – Must Have Kleenex.

….and those were the lucky ones.  Heart-wrenching.

*****

Also, today is my brother Jeff’s 31st birthday, so a major Happy Birthday to him!

You can drop him a note on his Facebook page, his personal website, or Twitter

Love ya bro.

31. Damn, dude.

*****

Throughout the course of my day as a blogger, I do a lot of reading.

I have to, given that my career demands I be up on all things hockey, so I use that as an excuse to read the type of click-hungry blurbs that Deadspin chucks up, because frankly, they’re usually more-than-worthy of my clicks in sheer entertainment value.

In the process of “acquiring hockey knowledge,” and digging through Deadspin, I’ve stumbled onto a few non-hockey sites that are must reads.

Foremost of these is the ever-moving, thoughtful, descriptive blog written by Esquire writer Chris Jones.  It’s called My Second Empire (I’ve pushed it before, you may recall), and he literally just writes about gutting and fixing up (or more accurately so far, tearing down) an old place for his family, doing as much of it as possible using only two hands, two legs, and sweat.  And probably some torso and back and knees too.

I hate Chris Jones, because he writes like your favourite song sounds.

I swear, it’s like music, whatever it is he’s writing about.  If I found out one day that literally every column he wrote was in some form of poetic pattern that I’d never heard of, the way that Shakespeare knocked out all that iambic pentameter stuff, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised.  It just can’t sound that good without there being some musical bars or beat of some kind behind it.

Whatever it is, I haven’t been able to track it down. 

The most valuable thing I think I’ve picked up is that it’s okay to be serious when the time is right.  He seems to breathe in life on a daily basis, like he somehow never loses perspective.  He’s a big picture guy, it seems.

I don’t often get to write the type of thoughtful pieces that probe the human soul the way Chris does, and I’m jealous of that too.

When I have written about people – like my piece on Travis Rycroft - I think it comes off perfectly fine, but hockey?  It’s tough to make a dump-in sound like poetry, but you gotta think – he’s being pretty eloquent about remodelling so I’ve got zero excuse.

Jones’ work, to me, is beyond education.  Journalism school may make your writing more technically sound, but there’s no way it can teach the feel behind the words.  I hope in time, I can get there too.

I owe a number of people the type of pages-long singing scripts that I’ve yet to attempt – my mother, my uncle Ken, my fiancée, my Dad, Tim Hodgson, my brother, my college roomates and a million others – but I’m not ready to take that swing and miss doing those people proper justice just yet.

I’m tinkering, I’m learning, and as they say, if you wanna be the best, you should learn from the best, so I’ll keep reading.

Here’s Chris’ latest entry on My Second Empire.  Here’s my favourite bit of his so far, incidentally, on writing.  Poke around his archives and tell me you don’t love it. 

You can’t.

My Second Empire

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Hope your Thursday is going swell, friend. 

And please, this entry wasn’t meant in any way to be “fishing”, so please refrain from giving me any back pats, as much as they’re appreciated (especially when they’re on sites like Puck Daddy where my boss can see them!).  Any advice, however, will be happily taken here.

Lllllllater!

Morrrre Columns! All-Star Game Changes and Shorthanded Goals

 

I didn’t get the link up yesterday to my post on Claude Giroux and why teams should try to be more aggressive in their pursuit of shorthanded goals (for Puck Daddy).

And second, the NHL all-star game changed it’s format to having two players picked as captains (by the players), who then pick their teams like it’s the schoolyard or something.  Pretty awesome stuff, and I wrote why for Hockey Primetime.

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You know what was crazy?  Back when I played junior hockey, goals weren’t reviewed by video to find out who got the goals and assists, so the ref made his best guess, and if he got it wrong, you’d tell your captain “hey, I assisted on that, could you go straighten it out?”

Which sucked and was embarrassing, because you’re not supposed to care about personal stats.  After all, we, the team just scored a goal, so you’re supposed to be happy.  We achieved our goal.

But still, fucker…. could you please change that?

This led to the creation of “chiselers,” guys who were notorious for yelling the numbers of the point-getters at the ref in the post-goal hug, always being sure to include their own number as the second assist, regardless of if they got it or not.  (Or the more subtle move, constantly facing their back to the ref in hopes he’d tack it on.)

If there wasn’t a second assist, it usually stuck around and inflated these dishonest people’s stats.  There was always a guy or two whose stats you didn’t trust, so you called him a chiseler.  Funny stuff.

{Sidebar - Last game of the year in junior, we had a kid going for the league scoring title.  Him and I caught fire in the third period, and he ended up with the five points he needed to win.  Sad part was, he wasn’t in on one of the goals we got in the third, despite how often we looked for him.  Still, we told the ref he had the second assist, so the league title was his. 

After the game, our coach called him into his office and asked him if that’s how he wants to win the scoring title – he was just about to submit the game-sheet officially.  The guy – Curtis Fraser, I think he plays for the Wolves in Chicago now? – said no, coach erased the assist, and just like that, he settled for the more honorable second place finish.}

Now, go read those columns!

Gambling on Hockey, Favo(u)rites in Hockey Media

 

I often get my blog done before my columns post, so my apologies for occasionally bombarding you with my work, but….. HERE’S MORE COLUMN READ-EY FUN TIME:

USA Today: The panel’s complete power rankings, in which the Kings are grossly overvalued, but everything else is pretty much spot-on.

The Hockey News: An obscure topic – early contact when racing for a loose puck, and how TJ Oshie uses it to occasionally plow guys.

Puck Daddy: Claude Giroux and short-handed goals – why more teams should be pressing to score them.

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Gambling on hockey is hard.  Does anyone out there ever do it?

I rarely do because of our sports completely random, parity-filled nature, but frankly, I need to start watching more hockey (being that I have to comment on it often) so this seemed like a good convincer for me.

I had $34 left in my bodog account from god-knows-when, so I decided to turn it into a Scrooge McDuck-swimming-in-gold-coins-like fortune tonight.  Let me know what you think of my bets.

All three are three-team parlays, because it’s really the only way to get-rich-quick, and I have no interest in doing this every day.

I'm betting on this clown shoe? ...Twice?

  • Washington minus 1.5 goals over the New York Rangers (in NY)
  •  Tampa Bay minus 1.5 goals over the Toronto Maple Leafs (in TBay)
  • Calgary plus 1.5 goals over the Colorado Avalanche (in CO)

That one was my big swing at the fences – An 18 dollar bet will pay a little over $200 if I nail all three.

  • Montreal plus 1.5 over Vancouver (in Van) 
  • Calgary plus 1.5 over Colorado (In CO)
  •  Tampa Bay to beat Toronto straight up (in TBay)

Eight buck bet pays $17.47 on that one.

And then, as a random “if I lose the other two, maybe I’ll win this one and almost get back to square one,” I had:

  • Carolina to beat Edmonton (in Carolina)
  • The Capitals to beat the Rangers (in NY)
  • The Sens to beat the Thrashers (in Ottawa)

My remaining eight bucks here can win me back my $30.

…..I just pissed away 34 dollars didn’t I?  …..Damnit.

Ah well.  Easier to get rid of it this way then try to get it back from bodog.  I actually had to fax a pencil shading of my credit card last time I won money.  Jeez.

*****

Apparently Versus is getting a nightly hockey show (Greg Wyshynski tweeted about it earlier today) that’ll run Monday through Thursday, regardless of if hockey is being played or not.

If I correctly recall his tweet, it was to be called NHL Overtime ….or something or other.  Either way, that’s great news.

I was wondering…. who should they hire?  Who shouldn’t they hire?

That got me thinking about people from all walks of hockey media that do a great job.  So, instead of trying to fill those analyst jobs on “Overtime”, I thought I’d divulge a list of names that I enjoy from around the hockey world.  It’s a little exercise in being nice, feel free to join in.

Class act.

Ron Maclean is still my all-time fave.  He’s just so even-tempered and smart.

I grew up with Bob Cole and Harry Neale, can we find a way to hear from these guys more?  Or are they both like, 90?

Mike Johnson is just out of the NHL, young, and seems pretty damn reasonable.  He doesn’t set any shows on fire just yet, but I think he will as he gets more comfortable.  Seems like a pretty sharp guy.

I didn’t use to have any feeling for Bob McKenzie of TSN one way or the other when I was a kid, because he was a pretty serious on-air personality (as Dreger is now).  I think he’s done an awesome job of incorporating the new media (twitter) into his repetoire, and has loosened up in recent years.  Thus, I’ve become a fan.

Jiggs Macdonald was a classic back when my Dad played.

Rick Jeannerret has the best goal calls since that soccer guy.

Unless you count Randy Moller.  Lovin’ what that guy is doing with the movie references.

 Elliotte Friedmann and his 30 Thoughts column are a must read, and you can always trust his knowledge of the game.

I mean, really, I shouldn’t have started this.  I could go on and on and I’m going to forget a ton of names, so I’ll leave you with: Doc Emrick, Jim HughsonJohn Buccigross, James Duthie, Eddie Olczyk, Steve Kouleas, and Cabbie Richards.  I wish Al Michaels did more hockey too.

(BTW, I haven’t seen much Canadian hockey coverage lately, some of those names might be dated, and I’m sure I missed some of the newer, quality analysts.)

Then there’s the whole blogmunity, from the guys at Puck Daddy to the guys at AOL, to guys like Bruce Arthur and James Mirtle and it’s just not worth continuing.

Who’s on your list?

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