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Why I Wish Rick Nash Were On A Different Team, And That’s Allowed

 

I’ve been on the receiving end of a fairly decent twitter-drubbing from Columbus Blue Jackets fans about a few Rick Nash tweets I made yesterday, especially about the comment that he’s “drowning” in Columbus.  Which was a little much, maybe. 

The intent was to praise Nash, not take pot-shots at CBJ, but I can fully understand why fans didn’t appreciate the barbs.  For what it’s worth Jackets fans, if you follow me with any regularity, you’re well aware I’m consistent in my criticisms - my own favourite team (the Islanders) has been far from sarcasm-exempt on this blog and twitter.

Great style.

That should probably make it hurt more, because it points to the fact that I’m usually without bias with those comments, meaning I wasn’t just taking pot shots without a point.

Let me explain myself:

I hate that Rick Nash plays for the Blue Jackets, because the majority of North America doesn’t care about the Blue Jackets.  Ohio is a great hockey state, and there seems to be plenty of proud, smart fans of the team.  But outside of that region, the national interest isn’t there.  It’s in Original Six teams, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and so on.

Thus, when games are televised in primetime, or the Winter Classic teams are selected, Columbus is nowhere near to getting a second thought about being picked.  I know that hurts, and believe me, I can relate to that misery, but denying it is just silly fan bias thinking.  In turn, I never get (nobody ever gets, actually) to see Nash play unless they have the NHL package or they live in Ohio.

I do have the package, but again, I’m just not that interested in Columbus as a team, so it’s not worth watching the games all that often just to watch one player. (Unless Lebron is playing.  I’d tooootally tune in just to watch him. ….Oops, sorry Ohio :)

Woo-hoo, n stuff.

Beyond that, I’m frustrated for him because he should be one of the top few names mentioned when someone talks about the best players in the game.  If he played for the Maple Leafs or the Red Wings, best believe that would be the case.  He’s just out of the national spotlight there.

It’s even more endearing that he’s so loyal about staying there, given that he’s aware of all the things I’ve written above.  And better still, you know he believes they can win a Cup there in Columbus the way Carolina did in 2006.

And maybe they can.

But in playing for a team that doesn’t spend to bring in supporting talent, for one that instead shrewdly thrifts together a pretty good squad year after year, it greatly minimizes his Cup-winning odds.  Yes, the odd team in history has gotten it done without spending a ton, but it’s a rarity.  The playoffs are a long, tough grind that requires secondary scoring, tremendous defense and great goaltending.  While possible, it’s tough (and rare) to acquire the whole package on a budget.

Just a big, strong dude.

What that means then, is that a player who can do so much and be so great will swim upstream against the current until he’s forced to do the inevitable Ray Bourque-to-Colorado thing, and it may not work out.  A guy who could have a massive effect on a Stanley Cup Final may never get the chance to live out a defining moment.

Like I said, more power to the guy for being willing to battle for that city, but as a fan of the game, I think I’m allowed to wish he were on a different team. 

And something else to remember: just because I want him to go to a different team doesn’t mean that’s happening, like I’m the GM or something.  A lot of the responses I got from Blue Jackets supporters were along the lines of “just let us keep him,” or panicky-sounding, frenzied keyboard mashing, like when you take a baby’s favourite stuffy away. 

@akrygier —  @jtbourne is the sarah palin of hockey writing, who cares what he thinks.

Uh…..fair enough, I guess?

The moral of the story is this: I’m sure Columbus fans wish, say…. I dunno, Shea Weber or some other stud in a small market like that were on the Penguins.  He’s a great talent you’d like to see in primetime more, you’d like to see in the Winter Classic, you’d like to see in the late rounds of playoffs on a fully-funded team trying to win Cups, as opposed to a team that squeaks into playoffs and makes a first round exit.

I score in pictures with white jerseys! (But only skate when I'm in blue)

It’s not gonna happen, of course, but from a fan’s standpoint, and the standpoint of the history of hockey, I feel like Nash is a diamond, locked in a safety deposit box for no one to see. 

But Ohio, it’s your safety deposit box, and you get to see him plenty over the course of the season.  So, enjoy him, root for him, and hopefully he can bring you that Carolina-esque Cup your fans deserve.  But don’t hate on me because I want to have a peek at the stone once in awhile too.

Oh, and *ahem* …..sorry for the term “drowning.”  ‘Twas a bit much.

Happy humpday, folks.

Matt Cooke on Tyutin, Two Beauty Goals, Subban and Gill

 

New Hockey Primetime: On Phil Kessel and being the whipping boy.  Haven’t even submitted it yet, was antsy to blog today.  Should be up by noon MST. (link to Hockey Primetime.com)

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As I’m sure you’ve heard or seen by now, yesterday Matt Cooke ran Fedor Tyutin from behind – and I mean, numbers showing, no turning, from behind from behind - and will likely recieve a suspension for that today.  He damn well better.

Adam Proteau of The Hockey News and I got into it a little bit on twitter after he made comments that it’s the NHL to blame, not Cooke for his actions (although he did end up going with “both,”).  He started his case with this argument:

Pit bull owners say the dogs are docile but can have anger bred into them. Matt Cooke is hockey’s pit bull: reared & rewarded by his owners.

We took our disagreement to both private messages and public, largely discussing this issue itself in private ones, with my argument being that every player in the league plays under the same rules, so when one idiot continues to be a repeat offender, we can’t deflect the blame from him to the league the way we would rightfully deflect the blame from angry pitbulls to pitbull owners (we can assume by “owners,” he means those that raise them to fight).  It’s just not the same thing – we’re humans, and are responsible for our own decision-making a touch more than dogs.  We can’t let that (on-ice) animal off the hook for his actions, which is what I felt Proteau was doing.

In the end, Adam and I really did come to agree on the issue, we just needed to work our way to that common ground.  Bottom line is, the NHL needs to be tougher on him, and he needs to quit putting players’ bodies and lives in danger with his reckless play.  If he doesn’t, and the NHL doesn’t suspend him appropriately for this, Adam and I will agree: both parties will be implicit.

At least he didn't leave his skates. (Screenshot via D. Chesnokov)

Part of me wonders if the Cooke incidents are happening more (if they aren’t, it sure feels like they are.  But maybe that’s social media) because his game is in decline – not so much statistically this year, he’s just less effective as an Alex Burrows-esque agitator. 

In that role (if you’re enough of a clod to choose to play with such disrespect), you’re “supposed” to get away with cheap shots behind the play, outskate your opponent up the ice and make him catch you for a retalitory penalty in front of the ref.  I feel like he’s losing it a bit, and has to do the blatant stuff to remind us what his “role” is.  Otherwise teams would say take your 30 points and go home.

Whatever it is, it’s awful to watch, and scary to think about what could happen if the NHL doesn’t put him back in his cage for awhile.

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Such a hard shot, from that angle, that high, against Fleury, off the post…. Just, wow:

And I mean…. can you sell that slapper any harder, any better before leaving your teammate with an empty-net tap-in?  McDonald to Backes, wow:

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Really good story here by Arpon Basu, writing about some media members misinterpreting comments from Gill to Subban, and writing a post about Subban being bad in the room. (Bob McKenzie tweeted the story this a.m., PD may have linked it yesterday.)

I never understood reporters in the dressing room drawing their own conclusions on stuff like this (and clearly Basu doesn’t either).

I can tell you first hand, the relationship between older veterans and rookies is hilarious, because oftentimes, the old vets intentionally ride the younger guys to the point of absolute hilarity.  It’s always tongue-in-cheek, it’s always very paternal, and once in awhile old man winter will smile just so everybody remembers it’s all a joke.

There are, undeniably, generational differences that lead those older players to dislike, or not get, some of the young guys.  But as the article mentions, you almost always find a way to at least co-exist.

As for Subban throwing his jersey on the floor?  Learning not to do that isn’t “becoming a pro.”  You know not to do that in junior hockey.  Bad form, PK.

In the end, I like Subban and all his flair.  Always exciting to see what he’s gonna do next.

FJM’ing Lambert’s Links: Okay, I’m Actually FJM’ing His Predictions

 

Ryan Lambert is my colleague over at Puck Daddy, and as you well know by now, I often “FJM” (MST3K, whatever) his Monday column “What We Learned,” only not in a dickish way (still a decent helping of sarcasm, of course).  This week, he dropped a special treat on us all – 20 completely random predictions. 

I thought to mix it up and keep it fresh, I’d FJM those today.  Cool?  Cool.

20 Bold Predictions For the Upcoming Season:

 

1. There will be three 100-point scorers on the Capitals this year as Alex Semin plays big-time for a new contract.

I hope so, cause he’s on my fantasy team.  I predict at least one snipe from Semin this year that makes me obsessively rave over how hard he snaps the puck.  Scary.

2. Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) leads the league in power play goals and actually stays on the right wing for a considerable portion of the season. He and Zach Parise(notes) will also make Travis Zajac(notes) a fantasy hockey superstar.

Zajac a fantasy hockey superstar?  I hope so, cause he’s on my fantasy team. 

With the way they shoot, Kovalchuk and Semin remind me of each other.  There’s a similar look to it.  Also, I continue to be blown away that that little Russian goal scorer (Kovy) is 230 pounds of man.  I’ll call Kovy for 50.

3. The Rangers will make the playoffs this year.

Lundqvist would have to have one hell of a season for that to happen.  I think they rely too heavily on inconsistent players - that’s never a good equation for an 82 games season.  For them to get in, two of the following teams have to miss playoffs: Tampa Bay (no chance they miss), Ottawa (bubble), Buffalo (bubble) or Montreal (okay, they’re probably one of the two).

4. Olli Jokinen(notes) might actually not make any Flames fans cry this year. Not that he’ll score 60 points or anything like that to earn his contract, but he won’t be actively terrible.

Yeah, I see a resurgence coming too.  It’s one of the reasons (you’ll see in Wednesday’s PD predictions) I called Calgary to finish second in the Northwest, barrreeeely ahead of Minnesota.

5. Carey Price’s(notes) house won’t need to be under 24-hour surveillance because he’ll actually play well and no one will hate him.

Well, he can certainly be confident that the job is his.  Alex Auld?  Not like any good tenders were available or anything this summer, Montreal.  (Sorry for the cuts at your team, Habs fans – the team just seems so… slightly below average)

6. Taylor Hall(notes) will actually beat out Tyler Seguin(notes) for the Calder. But the Oilers will be last in the West again this year.

I really struggled doing my predictions, because frankly, I don’t the Oil are going to be awful this year.  At least not embarrassing, anyway.  Problem is, everybody else improved in the off-season too, so who could I put them ahead of?  I very nearly called the Avs to finish behind them in the Northwest, but just couldn’t quite bring myself to do it.

7. Brad Richards(notes) will go and put up yet another 90-plus point season and everyone will still act like he’s overpaid.

He’s one of those guys who’s had a great career, but I haven’t seen play much.  Apparently Tampa Bay and Dallas don’t get a lot of games on TV or something.  I also struggled with Dallas/Anaheim in the predictions, by the way.  Dallas is deeper, but that top line on Anaheim is insane.  I went with Anaheim, barely ahead.

8. The Blues will sneak into the last postseason spot out West this year, not entirely because of Jaroslav Halak(notes), but rather because all those kids will take a big step forward.

I almost made that prediction verbatim in a video blog last year.  Apparently it was a year early.  So yes, I whole-heartedly agree, their ceiling is 5th/6th in the West I think.

9. Rick Nash(notes) will continue to be awesome, with at least 40 goals, and no one in Columbus will care because the team is still going to stink.

Hey, I thought these were “bold” predictions.

10. Ryan Miller(notes) plays a one-man show in Buffalo for 70-something games and the Sabres still miss the playoffs.

Ah, that’s how you’ve got the Rangers getting in.  Makes sense, actually.  I thought they (along with Colorado) had an inexplicably good 2009-10.

11. The Tampa Bay Lightning power play will be the best in the East.

There’s a lot of great units with Pittsburgh, Philly, New Jersey etc, and I don’t think Tampa has the d-men you need to own that “best” honor.  It helps to have Pronger/Carle/Timonen and Martin/Goligoski/Letang type guys.  That said, Tampa’s top unit is insane, so the prediction makes sense. I just have to believe Stamkos is going to have someone in his shooting lane all year.  I watch from home and I’m on to where his missle launch site is.

12. Evgeni Malkin(notes) will round back into form this season. Something like 35 goals and 95 points.

Yeah, for sure.  He might be the toughest guy in the league to handle when he’s “on.” 

13. The Red Wings win the Central this year as heavy losses for the Blackhawks do more damage than people expected.

There, see, THAT’S bold. 

They were ten points behind Chicago in the regular season and lost in five to San Jose last year.  They basically added Mike Modano (Update: Oops, they added Hudler too, I’m an idiot).  So we have a pretty good idea where they’re at.  On the other hand, the Hawks dumped half their roster.  My prediction will be that people will be surprised that Chicago’s “fill-in guys” (Skille, Bickell etc) are actually really good players, and the team will win the Central again.

14. Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) will win the Vezina.

Sure, Buffalo will be worse (harder year for Miller), and Phoenix pays attention to team defense, which is more valuable than just having good defensemen.  Howard’s not there yet.  So sure.  Byz for Vez.

15. In a shocking bout of consistency, the Flyers will only dress six different goalies this season.

I mean, what the fuck is wrong with Bobby Clarke?    PATCH THE ONE HOLE IN YOUR DAM, DUDE.

16. Dustin Byfuglien(notes) will be a total disaster at the Atlanta blue line and get moved back to forward well before January.

Yep, a travesty.  Having him on the blueline voids most of his entire worth.  It’s like buying subs and an amp for your car and putting on pop music.  Or playing Bryzgalov at left wing.  Or using a sub sandwich as a pen.

17. The Florida Panthers will be the worst team in the league this year.

Co-sign.  Wish there was somewhere I could bet on that.  Really, they have better odds to win the Cup than the Isles, Bodog?  Eat me.

18. Jussi Jokinen(notes) will fall back to earth with a resounding thud. That 60-point season was a crazy fluke.

I couldn’t pick him out of a line-up of mascots.  Not to say he looks like a mascot, I just literally have no idea who that guy is beyond his name.  I’ll go do some research.

19. Anze Kopitar(notes) becomes widely recognized around the League as a superstar, as people tune into more Kings games to get an eyeful of Drew Doughty.

More people will tune into the Kings games in general, because they should be pretty darn good.  How intimidating will those all-black jerseys be if the team starts tearing up the ice?  That’s a great look on a good team.

20. Antti Niemi(notes) will do no better for the Sharks than Evgeni Nabokov(notes) ever did.

No, there’s no reason to believe he’s an upgrade, but if he’s on par and saves them four mill, that should make them better by allowing them to afford to keep an ever-improving guy like Joe Pavelski.

Ranking Sports, Ryder Cup Clothes, and a Nash/Malkin Fight

 

There’s no sport that I’d rather see a highlight package from than hockey.  It’s my number one. 

There’s so many different things that can happen – it’s not just different uniforms executing the diving catch, homerun, double play sequence on repeat.  The many different ways to score make it interesting, especially when you factor in huge saves, big hits, nice dishes, fights, and excitement.

That said, hockey isn’t my favourite sport to watch, when you’re talking about turning it on at the start of the event, and turning it off when it’s fully over.  (By the way, this whole thing is about TV viewing, not in-person viewing.)  Football’s my number one.  So I’m gonna go ahead and rank my six main viewing sports by fun-to-watchability, and then re-rank them for highlight packages.  Let me know where you stand.

Best Sports To Watch on TV, in Their Entirety

1.Football
2. Golf (during a major, otherwise bump it down one)
3. Hockey
4. Basketball
5. Soccer
6. Baseball

.

Best Sports To Watch, Highlight Package Edition

1. Hockey
2. Soccer
3. Football
4. Basketball
5. Baseball
6. Golf

And eff it, lets do a live-viewing rank too….

1. Hockey
2. Basketball
3. Baseball
4. Football
5. Golf
6. Soccer (Never been to a game, so it’s default last. I’m sure it’s great. Calm down, soccer weirdos)

 

And while we’re at it, favourite sports to play, in order…

(Note: I struggled with this, badly)

1. Hockey
2. Golf
3. Basketball
4. Baseball
5. Football (Never played an “organized” game in my life. Thx, Canada)
6. Soccer

For the record, that last category is impossible for me.  I’m a complete jock, and love all sports.  Racquet sports (tennis, badminton, squash, racquetball), volleyball, ultimate frisbee, whatever, I’m down for a game.  There’s very few things I’d rather do than chuck around a real baseball in a backyard with a beer (a football would suffice too).

Probem is, as you get older, everyone gets too busy to get enough people together for a game of anything.  Boo.

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Real quick here:  I had a lot of help from people who gave me and this whole writing thing a chance when I first started out, and I mean that beyond the obvious (family, Bri, friends, etc.).  Quick links-as-thank-yous to people who took a swing in the dark on my work:

Doyle Woody – Alaska Daily News
Chris Botta – Islanders Point Blank
Jason Kay – The Hockey News
Dan Friedell – Sports Journalist and Editor

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Here's the hat Woods found-er, wore.

The US Ryder Cup team regularly dresses like complete fucking morons.  Now, this year may be different.  But I saw Tiger Woods at a press conference yesterday wearing one of the most horrific ensembles mankind has ever dared leave the house in (minor exaggeration).

Some baggy red sweater vest (solid) over a blue and white striped shirt (thin, equal size stripes), on top of some navy trousers.  It really looked like Woods, who usually dresses to kill/sleep-with-cocktail-waitresses, hadn’t done laundry in like forever.

Rob Mixer described the shirts below (from the 1999 Ryder Cup) as “fumigated Mediterranean upholstery.”  ….FTW, I assume.

It was better than these shirts, fortunately...

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I’m not sure what it is about Sportcenter running tweets from athletes and pawning it off as news that’s so off-putting, but…. it is, isn’t it?  Like, I get that they could say something newsworthy there, and I understand why they’re covering it….

Something about it just doesn’t seem right, and I can’t place it.  What is it?

******

I CANNOT believe this didn’t get more love – I guess it’s a product of living in the US before the NHL Network resumes it’s “On The Fly” services, but….  My US friends, did you know Rick Nash and Evgeni Malkin fought the other day?  In a pre-season game?  What a bizarre sequence of humans and activities to plug into a sentence that is.  Nash.  Malkin.  Fight.  Here ya go: 

Coupla big boys that don’t know how to fight right there, I love it.  They’re like me, if I were bigger and good at hockey!

*****

Have a great Wednesday!  See you again tomorrow.

Summer Jobs For NHL Players

 

In the spirit of DownGoesBrown….

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Well, its that time of year again.  Playoffs.

And at this time of year, journalists, reporters and TV pundits are all focused on the boys who made the cut and still have a chance at Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail.

Fortunately for you, you read the blog of an ex-player, and I have the connections to give you a look at something different.  Truth is, even though NHL players make a ton of money, a lot of them still live paycheck to paycheck.  You know how that can be.  So, I thought it’d be entertaining for my readers if I made some calls and figured out what a few of the NHL guys that didn’t make playoffs are doing for work in the off-season. 

***

* It seems Dog the Bounty Hunter is getting too old to do his show, so they were doing interviews for someone to take over the lead role.  Nobody thought Evander Kane would actually get the part, let alone immediately after his interview, but apparently he knocked it out.

* Phil Kessel was told he could come in any time over a two week span for a job interview at some place called “Olympic” Pizza, but apparently he went missing the whole time.

* Rick Tocchet apparently hasn’t been able to find any summer work, but he somehow moved into a nicer home.  I’ll give you 3 to 1 odds he’s got something going under the table.  5 to 1?  Okay, 5 to 1.

* Steven Stamkos was already up for the salesman of the week bonus at the Nissan dealership that hired him - apparently he tied the lead guy in sales by selling a tricycle to a blind guy for $80 bucks at the last second, just to reach the numbers.

* Apparently Keith Ballard got a job coaching t-ball.  Not sure why.

* Rick Nash got a job doing landscaping, but was noticeably frustrated after seeing that, even though he was doing an amazing job, his co-workers sucked so bad things always turned out horribly.

* Amazingly, Daryl Sutter got a job running a major league baseball team.  Since then he’s been there he’s been desperately trying to get some Blue Jays on his roster, at one point reportedly saying “I know all they’ve done is lose, but trust me, I really like what’s going on with these Toronto guys.”

* The only other scoop I heard was that Dion Phaneuf has apparently sunk to being a bus boy at Earls.  It’s not about the money, I’m told.  The staff said he just likes taking care of the sloppy seconds.

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After learning about a few of the Maple Leafs summer jobs, I realized I hadn’t heard much from that organization lately.  I did a few quick Google searches to see what’s been going on:

 

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For your daily mix of (mostly hockey) insight and humour, follow JTBourne on Twitter.

Canada/Germany, America Cares, Easton Z Shock Helmet

 

Canada vs. Russia, the widely predicted gold medal game, has shown up wayyyy too early. 

But still, aren’t you kind of glad it’s happening?  If the Olympics are only every fourth year, you’d hate to go through the whole thing and not play the American and Russian squads, and sure enough, we’re getting that wish.  What’s that saying?  Watch what you wish for??  Seriously.

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Last nights rout versus Germany was just what the boys needed.  No mental stress, let everybody feel good about where their offensive game is at (Joe Thornton and Rick Nash scored!), and have Luongo get back into the swing of things (tough couple goals against, really).

Weee, I did good, right guys?

I’m sensing from blog reader reactions we’re all having fun scrutinizing each and every guy, especially the bubble ones, but it really wouldn’t be fair to say something like ”Niedermeyer really turned it around last night” when his brother could have played D in last nights game and been fine (but I will say that his breakaway goal was suspect, to say the least.  A no-move, on-the-ice five-hole shot.  Really, Greiss?  Those stopped going in around the late 80′s).

I have to think when Babcock was making the lines, he had Russia in mind, not Germany, and was giving the guys a day to gel.  Well, (I always wanna write “welp”, because that’s kinda how I say it, but I’m afraid people will think it’s a typo.  Lets try it again, no typo)….  Welp, it all comes down to this:  Lose and you’re out, and we’re playing a top three country in the world at the sport.

The bad news for them? 

WE’RE A TOP ONE COUNTRY, RUSKI’S, HERE WE COOOMMMMEEEE!

(Legitimate question:  Is “Ruski” derogatory?  I hope I didn’t just write some horrible slur.  If I did, my bad, it was ignorance not hate.)

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You know what the US win over Canada has done for all of us?  Made the rivalry better, for one simple reason:  the reaction to the win showed that American fans actually do care about hockey (or at least Canada vs. US hockey).

Two Americans who DEFINITELY care.

The common reaction to Canada’s 2002 gold in the US was “well, whatever, we win everything else and don’t care about hockey anyways”.

“We’re a football country” (or baseball, depending on who you ask). 

Whatever the response, it was usually some derivative of “meh”.  But the second the buzzer went that solidified the US win over their northern neighbors, the true colours came out.  Non-sports news shows, MTV, you name it, the Americans were right jazzed about that win.  It was great to see and hear, not only because Americans loving hockey is GREAT for the game, but you always want your opponent to care.

So now we know.  The next time a loss hurts the US, don’t turn to the other sports and not-caredom.  You clearly do.  So if your hearts get broken in the next week, just say so.  Say it hurt, and you’ll get ‘em next time.

You lost the tool of “meh”, and that’s fun for everyone.

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Easton has come out with their new “Z Shock” helmet that’s “lighter than a cup of coffee”, as the tag line goes.  They sent them out to a bunch of media people for reviews and a little publicity, and I happened to be included in that group.  I gave it a go at rec hockey last night (by the way, we’re one win away from league champ status, weeeee), so here’s a review:

First things first, it’s light.  Crazy light.  And I was thinking, well, I don’t get hit much in rec hockey, so I could definitely sacrifice a little protection for a lighter lid.  But as it turns out, the helmet has better protection statistics than every other current helmet out there.  So they got that goin’ for ‘em.

As for looks, it’s pretty sharp.  Nothing can compare to the low-pro look of the old Bauer 4000′s for my money, but style-wise, this one is as nice as the RBK’s most guys wear now.  I’m pretty sure Iginla is wearing it, actually.

The ear pieces snap out easy and quick, so you don’t have to look like Crosby for long, and like all new lids, is adjustable in size without needing a screwdriver.

Long story short, thanks to Easton for sending me the helmet.  I’m pretty sure it’s gonna take over the number one spot in my helmet rotation, based purely on being comfortable and really, really light.

They’re comparing it to being as revolutionary as when they came out with the Synergy sticks, which is hardly true, but they did make a good product here, as Easton always does.  If you happen to see one, at least pick it up and give it a look.  After all – it’s lighter than a cup of coffee.

WHAT DO YOU THINK TODAY’S BLOG IS ABOUT???

 

Sorry, was that title a little testy?

Well, it looks like our Canadian boys feel like taking the road NOBODY TRAVELS BECAUSE IT’S COVERED IN POISON AND THORNS AND SHARKS WITH LEGS, but hey, who can blame ‘em? 

Oh, I can?  Sweet.  I love writing.

Right from the Rafalski nightmare 41 seconds in, the game shaped up the exact way an underdog upsets an, um, …overdog:

*Weather the early storm (or in this case, quell it entirely).
*Have your goalie come up big while you rope-a-dope the shot chart.
*Get a couple breaks (you all know Rafalski fanned on his second goal, right?  Badly?)
*Keep the crowd out by answering any momentum turning plays (the US responded masterfully to Canada’s goals)
*And lean, lean, lean on team defense and goaltending.
(*also, make a pact with Satan promising any and all future children to his service)

And just like that, the Americans got it done, and wowee are they positioned nicely.  Not only did they get a quarterfinal bye and the one-seed, but Russia’s round-robin loss to Slovakia ensured that the US side of the pool is clearly the shallow end.

After beating Germany (a foregone conclusion …isn’t it?  Guys?), Canada will once again have to play Russia in the quarterfinals, just like in Torino.  And we all know how well that went (“We’re number seven!  We’re number seven!”).  If they did get by Russia, they’d probably see Sweden.  And then hopefully the US again in the finals.  Baru – tal.

It’s like a video game, where you can see the health meter of your character, and each hit he takes brings it down a notch.  Think there’ll be enough notches to get us to a US – Canada rematch?

OF COURSE BOURNE’S BLOGGERS DO, WE’RE ALL PRO-CANADA, REMEMBER!?

In all seriousness, congrats to the American team.  You can only chalk up so much to luck and our failure.  The US boys played a great game.

A few thoughts from the game:

*Great one-handed empty-netter by Kesler, a guy who, if he had Twitter, would’ve lost like 6,000 Canadian followers in the past two days.

*I dogged the Niedermeyer pick, but I gotta say, I’m pretty comfortable with him out there over a few other guys.

*Rick Nash, Rick Nash, Rick Nash.  The guy just looks unstoppable, man.  I love pairing him with Sid.  How many people have made the joke about them being unable to find their “Stills”?

*I watched the game at a bar with 17 TV’s, all on hockey, with dollar beers and only one other Canadian fan amongst the swarm of Americans - and we all had a blast.  Good, fun ribbing from the victorious Americans who played “Born in the USA” at the final buzzer.  Good times.

*Bri and I drove over the hills and through the woods around Phoenix to find a USA t-shirt for her. It didn’t even have to be hockey, but still nothing.  Not in the whole mall, Just Sports, Dicks Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, the Nike store, nothing.  Our last ditch effort to TARGET provided one.  What’s going on, US merchandisers?  THE OLYMPICS ARE ON!

A coupla mixed breeds on opposite sides of the fence. Chalk one up for the "nurture" category.

*****

Player I’d like to see more of:

 

Shea Weber

Everyone bounces off this guy like a bouncy-ball hit with a tennis racquet.  He’s got a booming slapper, but when they put him out on the powerplay, he plays with Doughty, also a right shot, and they have Doughty on the one-timer side.  I don’t think he saw nearly enough minutes (or proper usage) for a guy who could well be in the top few in the NHL.

Honorable mention:

Duncan Keith

Even in one of the fastest games I’ve seen since the ’09 playoffs (okay, the fastest), he looks like he’s in fast forward.  And like Scott Niedermeyer, he made a lot of great first passes to help transition Canada from defense to offense.  Also: Rick Nash and Jonathan Toews.

Player I’d like to see less of:

 

Sigh…. Marty Brodeur

Everyone likes to say that Luongo has “never won anything”, but he certainly hasn’t been given a lot of chances to (bad Florida teams, bad Canuck teams, and just recently a couple good ones).  If we’re going on history, didn’t MA Fleury win the most recent Stanley Cup, while Brodeur single-handedly puked an entire series to Carolina over the span of one minute?  I’m a Brodeur fan, but I think it’s time we look to one of the other two guys.  He made some big saves, but we expect that from the best in our country.

Dishonorable mention:

Corey Perry, holy crap, Corey Perry.  I shouldn’t call it dishonorable mention for the following guys, really, but I’d like to see more from Brent Seabrook, Drew Doughty, and Patrice Bergeron (not that he’ll see many minutes).

*****

What a great tournament.  Hope you guys enjoyed last night too, and for those of you who enjoy my writing, you can be thankful I chose to stay alive and see the tournament through.

GO CANADA!

Top Ten Canadians in the Game

 

NHL.com lists the ten best Canadians in the game today (in order) as:

1. Sidney Crosby   2. Martin Brodeur  3.  Jarome Iginla   4.  Marc-Andre Fleury   5. Chris Pronger   6. Ryan Getzlaf   7.  Rick Nash   8. Roberto Luongo   9. Joe Thornton   10. Vincent Lecavalier

Though not ridiculous, it’s a tad nostalgic.  Chris Pronger is the fifth best Canadian hockey player alive today?  Don’t take the following as not liking any of the above guys, I just thought I’d mix in my own thoughts, and hear some of yours (okay, you can take it as me not liking Pronger).

Oops, I'm really, really good.

Oops, I'm really, really good.

{First, I’m finally impressed with a US hockey team, which makes me a tad nervous for Canada.  It was a hassle when every country in Europe starting getting really good (go back to producing bums with eight “i’s” in their name, Finland), but now the US?  That’s annoying.

Names like Parise, Stastny, Kane, Kessel, Kessler, Ryan and Booth point to a pretty strong future.  Young, fast and a talented — all of ‘em.}

But back to our Canadian top ten.

1. Sidney is a given.

But I just can’t give Martin Brodeur the title of #2.  This is always a tough point to make, because folks can drag up stats (career GAA of amazing-point-five, save percentage is ninetywhatever-point-awesome), but come on.  I could drag up Bobby Orr’s amazing numbers too, but you wouldn’t want him (the 61 year old him) starting at defense in 2010, would you?  Brodeur’s great, but on the downslope of his career (and never exactly been known for his fitness).

Marty has become a staple of Canadian big game hockey and I love him to death for that.  But, Canada should probably move on.  Cam Ward didn’t crack the NHL.com top ten, but wouldn’t you like to see him wearing a Team Canada jersey at the Olympics?  It’s not like Carolina’s teams have been stacked, but he’s made them successful – this guy is a big game goalie too.

Oops, I'm really, really good.

Oops, I'm really, really good.

Our best Canadian goalies today are Luongo (what goalie would have won a cup backstopping the teams he has?  Don’t give me that argument), Cam Ward, and Marc-Andre Fleury (who I’ve always liked, despite the fact that everyone in Canada hated the disappointment he “was” before June of this year).

One – that’s right, ONE – defenseman made that list, and it was Pronger.  More than taking away from Chris, who admittedly is still in the upper echelon of defenseman (hanging on… losing… grip… must… hang on), I have to give credit to two other guys, Mike Green of Washington, and Shea Weber of Nashville.

I got more texts from hockey-playing friends watching NHL playoff games last year about Mike Green than anyone else.  He does some amazingly nifty little things that make a big difference.  To be a scorer in the NHL today is tough to do, but this guys’ stat-line from last year as a defenseman was 31 goals, 42 assists for 73 points… in 68 games.

Oh, and he’s 24.  His defensive game has gotten better every year, and will continue to.

As ridiculous as it seems now, I was Shea Weber’s instructor at Dave Roy’s “Edge of Excellence” hockey school.  I was 18, and Shea was 15.  He was probably bigger than me by three inches then and just under twice as fast.  I made a huge difference in his life. 

“Yep, you’re doing it right.  Yep.  That was good.  Uh-huh.”

At this point, he’s not even freaking human.  Punishingly physical, with a booming slapper and great foot speed, I bet there’s a lot of GM’s who’d take him over Green.  He’s Pronger 2.1 – the next edition.  Toting less lumbering largeness (a mere 6’3″ 210), he carries his size more like Duncan Keith than a Todd Bertuzzi, and is frighteningly better every time I see him play.

"Hi I'm Jon. I'm allowed to drink this year.  Neato."

"Hi I'm Jon. I'm allowed to drink this year. Neato."

Oh, and he’s 24.

I think a list of our top ten Canadian players today needs to pay closer attention to the way the game is being played now.  Vinnie Lecavalier is a great player, and plenty physical to boot.  But remember how it looked when the international teams were bombing around and we were trying to Eric Lindros/Keith Primeau them into the ground?  We couldn’t catch them.

Vinnie isn’t that big slug type of player; I just think the new type of goal scorer is more evasive than invasive.  Doesn’t Jonathan Toews strike you as a more effective guy in today’s game?  The guys scored 34 times as a 21 year old captain last year.  He’s following in Lecavaliers footsteps as the young captain, but is already trouncing the numbers Vinnie put up at that age.

So without further ado… My list:

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Ryan Getzlaf

3. Jarome Iginla

4. Roberto Luongo

5. Rick Nash

6. Mike Green

7. Jonathan Toews

8. Joe Thornton

9. Shea Weber

10. Cam Ward

I’d put those guys out against any country, any day.  (Wait, except Russia.  Not sure what they’re doing over there, but it’s starting to resemble cheating).

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