Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Grab My Feed!Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Subscribe to Comments

Tribute To A Bar Buddy, Barry Wilkins

 

New Hockey Primetime: The many questions of an unrestricted free agent. ….Seriously, I go over like a thousand of them, it’s a long column.

New Puck Daddy: TJ Oshie signs a mere one year deal, so I discuss how players need to be disciplined (with the partying) to be successful. I mean, one year for this kid? They must be wary about something.

*****

When I first moved to Phoenix, I knew one human in the state, an old buddy from high school who just happened to move here too.

Unfortunately for me, he has a wife and two young kids and two businesses, so….we weren’t about to be hanging out a ton any time soon.

It’s no secret that Bri and I like to stop in to our favourite pub for a couple drinks here and there, so after we found our apartment, I made it a personal mission to find the closest, cheapest place, and establish a ”home.” At the end of my work day, sitting in silence and typing, the quest was a nice excuse to go have a pint and a little conversation. Twitter can only take a man so far.

I misfired at first, thinking I had found my home at Majerles (Dan Majerles’ bar, obviously). It’s a classy place with an awesome happy hour – $2 domestic pints, no tax – but it’s kind of got a corporatey feel to it. It’s one of three in the chain, the TVs have sports on but the sound is never on the action (music, boo), and it’s just a little….well….too nice. I mean, a granite bar? Do I look like I use a monocle?

We have a great little organic food store near our place that we discovered after a few months in our place that’s about a one song drive away. Tucked behind that, was Nate’s Third Base – “your last stop before home.”

Nate’s is owned by Nate, a 27 year old with a wife and three kids who bartends at his own place. It’s a “Boston bar” (irish pub, really) with a lot of TVs (with the sound on one), the NHL package, a projector screen for big games, an amazing happy hour, and it’s on a man-made lake. It’s even wheelchair accesible for my brother, whom they love. It was perfect (wood bar!), and it’s now my local haunt.

I was starting to make a few more friends thanks to playing on a rec hockey and softball teams, but still not that many. You don’t meet a lot of people working from home (let alone when you’re pushing 30), so Bri and I remained bar visitors.

The people from Nate’s make up the majority of people I know in town to this day. From the bartenders to patrons, that’s where my local friends have come from.

One of those guys was part of a crew of 60 year old gents who come in on Wednesdays and Fridays and stay for the entirety of happy “hour” (3-7pm), Barry Wilkins. Being that he was once a Boston Bruin, Pittsburgh Penguin and scored the first goal in Canucks history, we naturally hit it off well.

Barry pre-mustache. His cookie duster became the stuff of legends.

Barry was the life of the bar – the more he drank, the more he bought me drinks, so it was always a laugh to walk in and see he was well under way. And, the more he liked you, the more he called you a dork, big dummy, or piece of shit, which is something you become accustomed to in the hockey community.

About nine months ago he met my Dad, and they shared some laughs about hockey in the 70s, repeatedly making fun of themselves.

A month later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. This morning I attended his service.

It all happened so fast I’m not even really sure what to say about it.

He started missing the odd Wednesday and Friday, and when he came, he was quieter. More listening, less talking. When he got really weak, he stopped coming entirely. He was a proud man, and told his friends he didn’t want them to see him like that. They were pretty shook.

Probably everyone at his service today knew him better than I did, but at a time when it was just nice to have someone to BS with, let alone about hockey, he helped me adjust to my new life here. I’ll miss the big bear paw handshake when I walk in or out of Nate’s on a Wednesday or Friday. I’m just glad I moved here in time to meet him.

Barry Wilkins was 64. I’m guess that’s roughly the number of beers that will be consumed in his honor by his friends at Nate’s today.

First goal in Canucks history is a damn cool stat.

Path From Drafted to NHLer, Looking At Hall-of-Fame Voting

 

New USA Today: From drafted to training camp, how new prospects get to know their organization

New Puck Daddy: Hall of Fame voting, and why I’m a fan of looking beyond the numbers

*****



In the wake of a long season of writing, I won’t be blogging here until Thursday or Friday, when I want to write about free agency. I’m finalizing my agreement with Easton as well this week, so this summer I should be doing more stuff with them (and trying to hustle free swag to be won as giveaways on this site, woo).

I’ll keep you posted on what the program is going to be, but rest assured I won’t be abandoning the site this summer, I’ll still be writing. Check back at your leisure, and I’ll be back in a couple days!

(Oh, and I still have columns out, so I will post the links)

A Beginner’s Guide To Using Twitter Effectively

 

New Puck Daddy: what a bad dressing room is like, and the Philadelphia Flyers

*****

As Twitter becomes a bigger part of my life, both for entertainment and work, I find myself learning more about how to best use the site. I happen to think I’m pretty decent at using it, so today I’m going to share some opinions with you guys.

Hopefully those opinions help you use the site to it’s full potential so you get the most enjoyment and value possible out of the site.

The basics

I’ve written this quick note before, but twitter is a big conversation – just because you don’t have to say it to someone’s face, doesn’t mean you get to be an asshole. If you hate what someone tweets, DON’T FOLLOW THEM. Just move on.

THE RETWEET – If you’re going to retweet something someone said with comment, your comment goes first, followed by RT, followed by the original tweeter’s @name and comments. As in, a normal RT from me would read:

From @jtbourne

“The Islanders. RT @NHL Who do you think will win the Cup next year?”

Don’t make up your own —> to show your comment, or just add it willy-nilly. Don’t // don’t ….. don’t >>> …just do it the proper way. (And yes, if it’s from an iPhone it’ll look different or something, that’s fine.)

Content

If you’re someone with something to promote, as most people are, there needs to be a balance between promotional tweets and normal (preferably funny) ones. The Twitter account @OfficialGretzky is the perfect example – it’s Wayne Gretzky’s official twitter feed. I doubt Wayne knows his people even have one up in his name (I don’t really, but I am sure he’s never used it).

I had to unfollow the other day because the previous ten tweets were ALL pushing something – I think a gym, or workout product…whatever it was, nobody wants that. It’s like inviting advertisements into your feed, like requesting additional commercials in your TV show, like not filtering spam from your emails. It’s horrid, and for someone with a predictably large following, brutal.

I have a column up every day that I share with people (it gets the columns hits, which my bosses like), and sometimes I have two, if the thing I write on this site is worth it. I also AVERAGE 15 tweets a day (including responses to people), so somewhere around 10% or less of my daily tweets are pushing something for personal gain. Plus, I’m pushing something free that I hope people enjoy, so it’s different too. Because of that, when I do have stuff to sell (Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp, anyone?) I don’t feel remotely bad about throwing it out there.

{By the way, my numbers are low – even 20% of your tweets could be promos and nobody would flinch. Maybe more.}

What to tweet about?

People probably follow you for a reason. In my case, they follow for my insight in hockey (and because I’m HILARIOUS). Thus, you owe your followers to at least generally discuss the thing they follow you for (if it’s just your friends as followers, than you’re the topic, genius). I have many interests: golf, cats, every other sport ever, I have a personal life, all that stuff. I pepper those things in occasionally, and I think it helps show people you’re human (it’s why Bob McKenzie has more followers than Darren “The Robot” Dreger). But in the end, I think at least 60% of your total tweets need to be on the topic that has people interested in you.

I’m pulling numbers from my ass, but it sounds about right.

Once you’re on that topic, the discussion flows naturally – it’s likely you’re all into the same news as it comes into the cycle, so share. For me, Twitter was CHAOS when Philadelphia made all those trades yesterday. Tonight it’ll be on the draft. Wednesday it was on the Awards show. It’ll be trade rumours up to July 1st.

You just share your opinions and let people react, then interact.

@jtbourne: I still think Philly is gonna kill it next year. Solid three lines, good d, and they finally have the goalie they’ve needed.

Boom, there’s a tweet (albeit a bland, boring one, but whatever, it’s an example). Now Flyer fan will write to say they won’t be able to re-sign so-and-so, we’ll discuss cap room, etc.

What to re-tweet

Anything that actually made you LOL, anything that has information you think your followers would be interested in, NOT COMPLIMENTS OR INSULTS.

I stopped following a hockey media guy that I like because his RT’s were constantly different forms of this example: 

“Thanks! RT @Whoever444 Great column today! Love your work!”

Why the hell would you do that? To let people know others like you? You can write them back directly “@Whoever – Thanks!” Your followers don’t need to be involved.

And just is bad is when any of the professional contrarians who could not be any more excited to straight RT someone who calls him a moron. If it’s a funny insult or something, sure, but otherwise….why? Pity? Do they think they’re the only ones receiving dickish messages?

I’m not saying I’m all that great at using Twitter, I’m just saying I use it enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully you found this helpful, and hopefully it’ll inspire some of you who aren’t involved to try it. It’s the first place you hear news (Winnipeg Jets!), it provides a million great links to stories if you follow the right people (“who to add” is a column for another day), and it’s great for promoting your work.

Oh, and one more thing:

I delete a lot of tweets. Here’s why: I tend to spend my time before bed getting columns from twitter and reading them. I often feel like interacting with others around that time, so I tweet something that would generate opinions (great for crowd-sourcing before writing, BTW).

Once I’m tucking into bed, I’m done talking about that topic, so I delete, so I don’t have to respond to 50 new messages that people threw out while I slept. Especially when it’s an argument about something, like the legality of a hit, it’s no brainer to just have the replies stop when I’m done dealing with it. I deal with it then, then it’s over. You can do this too.

Anyway, I couldn’t love the site any more, I’ve even got Bri into it too – you can follow her at @briannagillies if you like cat pics and hearing about our lives. I’m @jtbourne as always.

Have a good weekend, and we’ll talk to you soon!

Columns: Getting Back In The Gym, Drafted vs. Undrafted Lifestyles

 

New Hockey Primetime: When players start to get back into workouts after the season

New Puck Daddy: The different lives of the drafted and undrafted players in the minor leagues (you know how it is – up soon)

Twitter and the Exposure to Extreme Fandom

 

New The Hockey News: Why I wish the great Nick Lidstrom had retired

New Puck Daddy: on the NHL Awards, and why it’s not just a “happy to be nominated” situation for players. They wanna win

*****

If you’re interested in my NHL Awards predictions, they’ll be running on Puck Daddy at some point tomorrow before the event starts. And yes, I changed my mind on a few of my picks from the end of the season.

*****

Okay! I’ve been meaning to write about this for quite some time: Hardcore Fandom. Keep in mind, this is only aimed at those select few who take it too far and too seriously.

I didn’t realize it existed until the birth of twitter, to be honest.

I mean, I knew there were folks who loved their team so much that they might paint their face and spend a bunch of money on a ticket to root for them. I knew there were folks who might name their baby after an old hero, or decorate their rec room in the colors of their favourite squad….but I guess I didn’t realize that they meant it.

Fun fact: every team dives but yours. No really, I just wikipedia'd it. FACT.

Apparently, for some, it’s not in fun. It’s important.

Now, most people are going to read this and go, “yeah man, those (Insert City) fans are the worst,” or at the very least think their fanbase is slightly more reasonable than whoevers, but I assure you, that’s not the case. None of them are without their crazies.

This isn’t a pity cry because some people yelled at me on Twitter, or me on my high horse judging people who genuinely care about a sports team, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned.

It’s not even close to everybody – the majority of fans are reasonable, but they’re not the ones who chime in and speak on forums like twitter and comment sections. When you agree with an argument, you just sort of think “sure, good point,” and move on. When ardent fans disagree, it becomes a seething tirade that generalizes another entire city.

I am a “fan” of the New York Islanders (I’d prefer to see them win over any other team). But I assure you, I’m aware that they’ve been very, very bad for a very long time now. I really don’t think I let my preference for that team get in the way about how I discuss them and their players. Some fans on twitter and comment sections and chat forums, for reasons beyond me, are not able to separate their rooting interests from reality.

I apologize in advance for the upcoming rant, but after a season of hearing this stuff, I need to address words that I hate that “Hardcore Fans” use to describe their opponents’ players – these terms, to me, make the accuser come off looking immature, oblivious, unreasonable and far too serious about a game. In fact, they make me uncomfortable:

Cry/cries/crierThis one is most often thrown at Sidney Crosby, a player more targeted than any other in the league, who’s involved in more offensive-plays-per-game than any other, who has the puck more often than anyone else in the danger areas, etc. It was the same with Gretzky – the guys who take the most abuse because they’re great and complain about it (like everyone else), get the label.

But beyond Sid, the accusation itself is so elementary school, so petty. To generalize a group of men with that word from home is just so feeble. ….Walk into their dressing room and drop that on them, I assure you we’ll find out who’s in tears before that day is over. (The following paragraphs also applies to the phrase “whines.”)

This stuff is funny, don't get me wrong - but if you really believe it, it gets sad.

Dives/diverThere are a very few players in the league who consistently dive, and we know who they are. Beyond that, everyone occasionally embellishes to get a call. There is no team in the league who has a collective plan to dive, I promise you that.

The reason I hate this one so, so much, is because it’s an out for fans. Some people seem to genuinely believe their guys NEVER actually deserve penalties. There are plenty of times on the bench as a teammate  where you go “oh fuck Smitty, you can’t hook him there,” and you go out and kill it. You understand that your guys, just like their guys, are fighting for inches.

So why can’t the hardcore at home understand that? And further, why should penalties always even out in a game? Sometimes one team took a lot more penalties than the other, legitimately. I’ve heard stuff like “of course they won, they had five powerplays to our one!”  ……YA. Because your team took more penalties which is bad.

Class/classy“Real classy Philadelphia.” “Show some class, Boston.” “Classy as always, Vancouver.”

I hate this shit.

Heyyy, lookit the pic I found on Google images...

The team-coloured glasses so many people view games through makes them oblivious to what goes on during the course of a hockey game. While we’re not here to discuss one incident (seriously, do not comment on this): Burrows biting Bergeron was not a classy move. Lapierre running with it was not classy. Recchi being a 43 year old vet and not being able to move on from it wasn’t classy. Lucic snapping out and dragging it out was not classy.

Yet each fanbase found cause to ding the other one on class-factor, and where they lose out, they find a “yeah but they….” I swear it’s like refereeing gym class with 12 year olds.

The deck of cards that is players and teams get shuffled, mixed and swapped every year, yet somehow one team constantly stays classy and the others maintain a reputation? Nahsomuch.

Let me end the rant on that stuff by reminding you – the sweeping majority of fans are reasonable folks, have been supportive of my work, and I appreciate each and every day I post an article and don’t fret about how it will be received. I have no problem with people reasonably disagreeing, as readers have been doing on this site, specifically, for years now.

Photo evidence that all the Washington Capitals are clearly whining classless divers. ...or something.

But the name-calling, dismissive bullshit really made me turn colour a few times this year.

I think we’re still learning how to interact with people online, and especially when it comes to writers - for years, they were just words in the paper, and if you disagreed, that was that. The columnist never had the opportunity to learn your take or discuss it. So, when readers finally did have that opportunity, they came out with flamethrowers to make their point.

It doesn’t have to be that way, for one, and two, you need to understand that hockey players don’t come to your team and change. There’s a draft, there are trades, and it’s mostly random chance. You likely have guys that complain, or embellish, or whatever it is you hate about City A as much as the next team.

Just enjoy the damn game. Root for your boys. Tell me why you disagree with my opinions.

This rant doesn’t mean don’t love sports, don’t love your team, don’t discuss them with passion. I’m just saying that just because I think Daniel Sedin should win the Hart and you think it should be Corey Perry doesn’t make me a drunk, oblivious moron who doesn’t know shit about hockey.

*****

Yayyyyy, that was fun, wasn’t it? I’ve been planning on writing that since about day one of playoffs, but there was always something a little more important to discuss.

Hope you enjoy the Awards show – I’ll be writing about it Thursday for Puck Daddy and over here.

Bruins Deserved to Win The Cup

 

New Puck Daddy: Why Boston was the best team in the Final and deserved to win the Cup

*****

Apologies if any of you received a spammy email from me about needing money to be shipped to London or whatever – I’ve been hacked. And, now shit is wonky here too now. Just had a whole post deleted here, somehow, and I’m going to effng snap.

Please enjoy my happy fun times column, if I don’t re-write the post, well, I’m sorry.

Tomorrow’s the start of my bachelor party! I will be writing for Puck Daddy as usual in the morning though, so be sure to stop by for that.

Tis The Morning Of Game 7 – Here’s My Column On It

 

New Hockey Primetime: a “Midweek Musing” on Game 7, and why tonight’s game will be low-risk, but exciting

A Few Thoughts On Bruins/Canucks

 

New Puck Daddy: Canucks give up 17 goals in Boston, and we’re all gonna solely beat on Luongo? What happened to the best d-corps EVAR?

*****

There seems to be a common misconception among hockey fans that flawed teams don’t win Stanley Cups.

Of course they do.

The Pittsburgh Penguins relied heavily on Crosby and Malkin, the Blackhawks didn’t have a top (well, this will cause controversy, but….) 10 goalie, and the list goes on and on. No team is without their issues to overcome, and winning the Stanley Cup validates those players struggles to overcome their team’s deficiencies.  It’s a nice metaphor for individuals in life, actually – we all have problems, you just have to fight through them.

The Canucks and Bruins are no different. They are awesome, messed up teams trying to win despite their weak spots.

Kind of a polarizing NHLer

Roberto Luongo is a one-man chaos magnet. Like Lebron James, he’s defensive, wants to be loved, and hasn’t yet won the big one (I feel like the second either of them do, they’ll become infinitely more affable. No need to explain themselves cause hey….”I’ve won before, that doesn’t bother me”). And hey – the Sedins are super-soft too, or whatever, right?

Boston’s top point getters racked up 62 points in the regular season (and one of them isn’t playing). SIXTY-TWO. I need a stat-geek….hold on while I tweet this question: has any team ever won a Stanley Cup with a top point getter lower than that? And their d-corps isn’t exactly the NHL’s best, correct?

{Update from twitter: Holik in ’03 (57), Dave Keon in ’67 (52), Bill Hay in ’61 (59). So three times thus far, and if the Bruins win, all four of those guys will have played in front of multiple Vezina-winning goalies – Thomas, Brodeur, Sawchuk/Bower, and Hall.}

While neither of those things are insurmountable, they’re facts that make winning more difficult.

That’s what makes winning the Stanley Cup so cool – it’s not that you necessarily rooted for the best pieces of a team, it’s that you rooted for guys who fought through difficulties to reach the summit of our sport. This series going seven games is perfect.

Neither team is without problems, but goddamn if one of them isn’t about to be validated. It can come down to any stupid bounce in a game like this, the teams are that close. The loser isn’t going to be exposed as a fraud, or overrated. They’ve both proven enough by getting to this point.

Game seven is going to decide who lives on in history, but in hockey, this year, next, and beyond, both teams deserve credit for giving their fans the very best they could hope for this season.

*****

By the way, this series is weird.

I usually gamble like mad (I failed in maintaining my gambling updates, as I stopped better for no other reason than I forgot to), and take any stupid bet.  I have none on game seven.

While fans of both sides are sure their team is going to win……they’re both wrong.

This one is a coin toss – but I can’t wait to see who comes out on top. See you tomorrow night for a Puck Daddy chat!

Column: Canucks Can’t Keep Playing Bruins Game

 

New Puck Daddy: Canucks Can’t Keep Playing Bruins Game (because, y’know….they’ll lose). Thanks for reading guys, I appreciate the support so much.

The Canucks Don’t Look Scared, They Look Tired

 

New Puck Daddy: It’s not that the Canucks are playing sans-cajones – their best players are tired

*****

Sidebar before I explain my column: my Dad’s in town this weekend which should be fun - the fact that there are a couple finals games to watch while he’s here makes it even better. Unfortunately, it may also keep with my trend of not having a ton of time to post on here during the finals, so sorry about that. Obviously it’s my busy season.

My take on the last night’s game is fully laid out in the column above.

This was a fun exchange.

I sat down this morning to write a totally different game story, though. I was going to explain the many different ways a guy can play without fear, and how it translates into effective play because that’s what I thought I saw out of the Bruins that I wasn’t seeing from Vancouver. But first, as I always do, I re-watched all the game highlights on NHL.com, and it just sort of hit me.

I suddenly didn’t think the Canucks played scared, or intimidated hockey….I thought they look tired. I went back and watch parts of the game on DVR, and became more certain of it.

And really, it makes sense – just check out the column. The top three forwards in minutes played in this series are three Canuck forwards that they need to be at their best.

And that’s not to take anything away from the Bruins, who’ve played near-perfect team hockey in front of very-near-perfect Tim Thomas over the past couple games. It’s been something to watch, and B’s fans are starting to sense hope.

It’s just been a lot of games with a lot of minutes with a lot of pressure, and while both teams are enduring that, the top forwards on Boston aren’t logging the same minutes as the guys on Vancouver. ….Nor are they facing Zdeno Chara, even if he hasn’t been quite himself either.

…..But I’m still callin’ Canucks in six. :)

*****

I’ll be tweeting my upcoming radio hits throughout the day, so stay with me on there as I blather on about whatever is asked of me. Off to tidy and hit the grocery store before Dad’s plane lands!

Column: Why The Extracurricular Activities Are Over

 

New Hockey Primetime: Things will get tidied up between the whistles

No More Horton or Rome in the Cup Final

 

 

New Puck Daddy: After a shellacking, it’s a lot easier to “flush it” than it is after losing a tight one

*****

So this kind of sucks: we’re in the middle of a great series between Vancouver and Boston.  After two skin-of-their-teeth wins by Vancouver, Boston came out and made a statement – they dropped an 8-1 beatdown on Chinatown (that’s Vancouver, for those of you not up on your population demographics/casual racism), with Luongo staying in the net for every goal.

But the game has been overshadowed by the Aaron Rome hit that left Nathan Horton with a severe concussion, knocking him out for the rest of playoffs.  Rome is gone too, as I’m sure you’ve heard – he got suspeded for four games – but that’s of little consequence to the Canucks who’ve already used and won with nine different defencemen in playoffs thus far.

And now, writing about that is more important than writing about the games played so far (not that there’s anything to analyze from last night), because it affects the series. My little reminder for everyone (that I tweeted) is this: between the bite and the fingers being offered up for biting and this hit, don’t lose track that of the hockey. Hits happen (legal or otherwise) in playoffs, people get hurt, and teams have to perservere. Part of winning the Cup is survival.  All the best to Nathan Horton and everything, but it’s certainly doesn’t need to be every storyline.

So here we go (don’t watch, Mom):

The hit, as I saw it, was flawlessly executed at the perfect spot on the ice…..but just way, way too late, which makes it interference and dangerous. Rome stopped backing up and planted the second Horton moved the puck, but the guy still had time to get into a third stride before getting pounded. Part of the reason I think it was so late was that Rome was backing up (as opposed to charging forward) and planting, so he has to wait for Horton to get to him. Whatever the reason, it was very late.

.....and that'll do it for your participation in the final, thanks.

From experience, I (and my broken nose) can tell you that no hit is more of a shock to the system than the one where you’re gathering speed (he was crossing over) and unaware it’s coming.  Happened to me in Bridgeport, and I was fortunate to avoid the concussion; Horton wasn’t so lucky.  Had it been Rome hitting me, I probably would’ve been in the same situation, which is part of the reason I have genuine sympathy for the guy today.

That said, I think the suspension might be a little long for a late north/south hit (that’s a lotta strides to not look up once), but given the severity of the injury and what a big part of Boston’s team Horton is, I guess it sort of makes sense. If we want more serious suspensions (and we do), it has to start somewhere. You would just think they’d wait for the start of the new season to begin doing that.

{Part of it feels like a PR-safe move for the league – if Rome got back into a game while Horton is still suffering, it doesn’t look good on their ruling.}

*****

As for the actual game last night…..there’s almost no point in evaluating that one. If there were a checklist with “Canucks need to improve their…” on it, I’d be clicking “select all.” Feel free to weigh in on the Horton hit for today, but after that, I’m going to try to stick to the action as much as possible.

Game Two Live Chat

 

Wanna talk puck?? Join in, friends.

Column: Fixing The Bruins Powerplay For Them, Cause I’m A Good Guy

 

New Puck Daddy: Fixing the Bruins powerplay by tailoring it to their personnel

Game One, Winnipeg/Atlanta, Campbell/Shannahan

New Puck Daddy: The Bruins can’t win if their bottom six forwards don’t own Vancouvers

*****

Good day, hockey fans!  Lotttts to talk about today, and I’m in a writin’ mood.  Coming up: Game one of the Stanley Cup Final, Winnipeg/Atlanta, and Brendan Shannahan taking over for Colin Campbell as the NHL’s disciplinarian for the 2011-2012 season. 

Sigh….that’s so far away and this season’s almost over.

*****

Game one, Vancouver vs. Boston

This was one of those fantastic low-scoring games that are so infrequent.  When I think about game one, I think about some of the spectacular individual performances.  My top five (yes, five) stars of the game, in order:

#1 – Tim Thomas – had you put the league’s most average goalie in net for Boston in that game, just your generic Craig Anderson or whoever, the final score is 5-0, minimum.  He made huge stops early (and late, and in the middle) that kept his team in the game, and I thought his save on the Jannik Hansen breakaway hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit.  That save was soccer goalie-esque, in that he literally would’ve had to have guessed a bit to be able to snap his pads together that quickly while sliding backwards.

#2 – Jannik Hansen – This guy was everywhere.  In a game where you know the other team is going to be focusing on the other two lines, you always have the opportunity to make them pay for that, and boy did he ever.  It’s like walking a batter to get another guy, in this case Hansen and his linemates, then having that guy belt a homerun to centerfield.  He was all-around terrific, and capped it off with a sick set-up on the game winner.

I done scorededweeeee!

#3 – Roberto Luongo – Just your average, run-of-the-mill 37 save shutout where he’s so positionally sound and ahead of the action that it looks like it’s easy.  Thomas probably makes those 37 saves if he’s in Van’s net too, only four of them become highlight-reel saves because of his chaotic style.

#4 – Raffi Torres - Scored the game-winner with 18.5 seconds left in game one of the Stanley Cup Final, after playing probably his best game of playoffs.  He created chances and played physical, which is more than he’s asked to do for the Nucks

#5A – Ryan Kesler – Makes a great play on the game-winner (including the toe-drag to stay onside) and just played his usual, horse-like Kesler game.  He looks unstoppable at times.

#5B – Zdeno Chara – Almost 30 minutes of ice and kept the Sedins to zero points.  Solid captain work there.

Read today’s column if you’re interested to hear what I think needs to happen for the B’s to win some games in this series.  The score was close, but I didn’t think the game was.

And for an update on the “Bourne proved he knows nothing about hockey” Seguin article (that was an actual comment), he’s now gone six straight games without so much as a point, and saw his ice time cut in half to six minutes.  I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t dress next game.  Not that I think he’s bad or anything, of course….he’s not.  That’s not why I keep dropping the updates.  I just didn’t feel like I deserved the shots I took from the PD commentariat (not here) after that piece.

Game two on Saturday, and I continue to be unable to see a way the Bruins can win, even after that close game (sorry Char).  They played the exact game they needed to yesterday and still couldn’t quite close.  We’ll see I guess!

*****

Winnipeg/Atlanta

So it’s official – the Atlanta Thrashers are taking their talents to Winterpeg.

First, as I’ve said before, I have muchos sympathy for Thrashers fans.  I know what it’s like to live in a city where hockey isn’t part of the collective identity, and other fans really crap on hockey fans who support the team despite that (it should be the opposite – you should get more credit if you’re a supporter from a non-hockey city).

I also done scorededweeee!

There are far too many folks who’ve never been to a game in the city that they’re making fun of, let alone to the cities themselves, yet they torch away without thinking.  On those nights when there’s only nine thousand fans at a game, consider how much those fans must love the team.  In Atlanta, think of the fans that go despite knowing the building won’t be packed.  They know their team isn’t star-laden.  They’ve never seen a single playoff game.

Yet there they are, on a Tuesday night, wearing their jersey to support their team.  But it’s HILARIOUS to refer to them as the Thrashers fan and leave off the “s” because there’s only one!HAHAHAHA!!!1!!

But enough of a rant.  With that said: 

Some very, very happy people in that city. And province. And country.

SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS to Winnipeg!  While it’s wrong to imply any one fan there will love the team more than the multi-year season ticket holder from Atlanta who writes a blog about the team, rest assured that MORE (way, way more) people will love the team there.

Hockey is a part of what makes us Canadian, like it or not, and this team was unfairly ripped out of that city’s hands fifteen years ago.  It feels right to have it back, so I’m happy for those good people from Manitoba.  You may not like their city, but you’ll damn sure like the people.

Here’s to hoping they call ‘em the Winnipeg Phoenix. The team has risen from the ashes once again!

*****

Brendan Shanahan, NHL Disciplinarian

Beginning in the 2011-2012, Brendan Shanahan is going to take over for Colin Campbell as league disciplinarian.  This is, as a general statement, awesome.

Before I explain why I think so, I just gotta say: that job has to be done by a committee (I know, I’ve said this before) of one ex-player, one ex-referee, and one ex-coach/GM/front-office guy.  It’d be like scoring a boxing match, only you know you’re getting people from different walks of the same world, meaning you’d probably reach some fairly appropriate consequence.  I have no idea why Gary Bettman is so opposed to that obvious strategy.

"Hmm. How many games would I suspend me if I just popped this guy right now..."

But if you’re going to pick one guy, they couldn’t have picked a better one to do it.  Shanahan, throughout his playing days, was a widely respected player.  On top of that, he was a nice mix of physical player and goal-scorer so I think he’ll have a better understanding than anyone about what’s across the line and what isn’t.  And, it’s great that he’s recently left the game, so he understands the “new” NHL better than someone else would.

The bottom line is, the game is evolving - speed and size are increasing while our awareness of safety is too, so it’s not an easy job.  It’s good that Shanahan is going into the job as a respected man, because hopefully that will help people respect his decisions more.  It’s a sad reality, but this job could (will?) hurt his reputation, as overly bias fans cry bias at him, until every fan base feels wronged at some point.

And that’s the bad part of him having recently played – now every suspension or fine he does or doesn’t give is going to come attached with “OF COURSE he didn’t suspend the guy that plays for his old team.” “OF COURSE he didn’t suspend his old teammate.” OF COURSE he suspended the guy on the team he always hated.” “OH SHOCKER, no suspension for the guy on Tampa because he’s friends with Yzerman.”

Shanahan won’t let those biases affect his rulings – he knows he’s under the spotlight, and more importantly, he’ll want to do a right and honest job to keep the game safe, but that won’t stop folks from lighting him up.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.  I’m thinking they got the perfect man for the job.

*****

Okay, that’s a lot of words for one day!  Thanks for stopping by.

Next Page »

Login