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Height and Concussions, BEP Hate, Egypt

 

New USA Today: Some thoughts on concussions

New Puck Daddy: In the wake of the Aguilera anthem, the players perspective on going through the anthem before the game

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Tomorrow I’ll be writing about being the coach’s whipping boy for Hockey Primetime, in honour of Phil Kessel in Toronto.  Keep in mind that I don’t mean the fans whipping boy – that’s clearly Brent Lebda.

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Diet update: tough weekend with Dad in town, Superbowl.  206.4.

Cat update:  Jiggsy’s limp is going away all on it’s own!  Huzzah!  Unfortunately, they love each other so much we never get to hang out with either one, sooo….. maybe this backfired.

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Head: low to ice. Teeth: almost touching ice.

So Sid the Kid is still on the shelf with that concussion, huh?  As sad as that is to see (and worrysome going forward), it’s nice to see them taking precautions with him.

I brought this up on Twitter earlier today: there has to be some concussion/height corellation, wouldn’t you think?  I realize I’m probably blinded by the recent attention-garnering cases of Marc Savard and Sidney Crosby, but I still think it’s just logical.

Your head is constantly at shoulder height, so casual rubouts and clips catch you right on the button instead of the shoulders or chest.

Dave Lozo of NHL.com said he spent a couple hours on the same thing yesterday and found similar results for guys over and under six feet.  I have no idea the depth of his research on that, but I think there has to be some connection somewhere.  Not that there’d be anything we could do about it, just sayin’.

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So, the Packers won the Superbowl (which I approve of), and the Black Eyed Peas won the ire of 90% of the people who watched the halftime show (which I approve of.  The ire, I mean).  Those people are just so, so horribly corny, and obviously manufactured it makes me ill.

I hate when the Superbowl caters to the largest possible population with music, if only because it makes me realize that the largest possible population likes this music.

Hey, I’m as guilty as the next guy to bopping out to something catchy and poppy (Ke$ha!), and she’s no better, it’s just….man.  Keep it classic at least for these shows.  More The Boss, less The Mess.

(Bruce Arthur’s column on the Superbowl being “decadent and depraved” was pretty darn good if you care to read it.)

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Here’s a terrific read on the situation in Egypt and the rest of the middle east today, as written by Kansas City Royals blogger Rany Jazayerli (and linked to by Bruce Arthur on twitter).  Sometimes I’m a hopeless case – I want to know more about what’s going on in the rest of the world, but OMG twitter and LOLcats and….. you get the point.  It’s a bit of a long read, but really, really great and should get you up to speed on things.

I haven’t read enough about it all to comment on it, but it feels like this is as good a place as any to start learning.

Does Goaltending Matter Less Than Ever? & Long Term Contracts

  

New Puck Daddy: On how practices change throughout the course of a season 

I’ve been slacking in the doing interviews/current events type posts, so expect to see a couple of those next week. 

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So, I’m not sure goaltending matters in the NHL these days. 

I mean, it matters if you have bad goalies (sorry Dan Ellis, Mike Smith).  But if you’re a good team, it seems like any sort-of-big guy who can do the butterfly and play his angles can become an all-star. 

Preds goalies are suddenly hailed as stars - are they just making the saves they're supposed to behind a good team?

Now, that may sound like lunacy, but let me finish my point - my case is not that goaltending is altogether umimportant, it’s that I think having a great forward or a great defenseman (compared to an average one) is more valuable than having a great goalie (compared to an average one). 

As in, most goaltenders VORP (value over replacement player) doesn’t seem to be all that high.  {Demonstrated by the relative success of guys like James Reimer, Kevin Poulin etc.  They aren’t bad goalies by any means, but they’re certainly not exceptional yet, though they may someday be.  Team plays well in front of them, they don’t give up any freebies….boom.  You’re the next big thing.}

And doesn’t it makes sense?  A lot of the goals we see are created so beautifully nobody could stop them.  Beyond those goals, we don’t see a lot of “oh, so-and-so would’ve stopped that” -type squeakers. 

No, with the development of goaltending style and technique, the growth of the men behind the pads, and the quickness that even the average goalie has, we’ve seen soft goals die a slow death

The “best” goalies in the league, more and more, seem to be behind the best teams.  

It’s why a guy like Niemi can win a Cup – no soft goals, play behind a great team. 

It’s not a knock on anybody, just an observation – basically, that whether you have Luongo in net or Cory Schneider, the way for a goalie to come out looking like roses is for the team to play well (which, incidentally, they tend to do more in front of a goalie they don’t trust).  Then suddenly you’re an all-star candidate (or a starter, right Corey Crawford?)

Thoughts? 

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If a player doesn’t display the obvious passion and crazy desire to be the best like Sidney Crosby, he should never get a contract longer than four or five years. 

Easy there, Stallone.

Teams are so eager these days to land a star player for a low cap hit that they’re making major mistakes.  

It becomes pretty easy to go to lunch instead of the gym when your future is so secure, I would think. 

Here’s my theory: if you manage to get a player for a low cap hit by giving him a billion year deal, you probably lower his worth to what his cap hit is. 

As in, Kovalchuk is playing like a 6 million dollar player (his ballpark cap hit) instead of a 10 million dollar player (his ballpark real salary the next few years) because they’ve given him enough years to show that cap hit. 

In trying to mess with salary cap loopholes, you create a less valuable player – it’s sort of karmic, in a way. 

The only guys you give it to are guys like Crosby or someone who you just KNOW takes being good seriously, like Rod Brind’Amour always did. 

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Y’all should fear my blog post on Monday: we pick up our 11 week old Ragdoll (name: Jiggs) and bring him home for the first time.  Stock up on canned goods, get in the bomb shelter, and be prepare for CUTE OVERLOAD.

Why Crosby Is Better Than You, Reason #8087 – Eagle Turns

 

I was watching the Pens/Sens game when this goal happened, and at the time, I was blown away by it.  Y’know, the goal where Crosby rags the puck down low, then works it up to Letang for a pretty lucky seeing-eye slapper.

Spezza’s job is to keep Crosby to the outside, to drive him up the wall if possible, and the goal-of-all-goals, to not let Crosby get inside position to the net.

I watched it again today when reading Stu Hackel’s SlapShot Blog  for the NY Times, and something else caught my eye.

An eagle turn.

An effective eagle turn, in actual game play, that actually worked.

Full disclosure: I can’t do one of these, so I’m boggled by them.  I always hated them.  My hips simply don’t allow my feet to go in opposite directions from one another.  Sid’s do.

An eagle turn (or whatever your part of the world calls it) is simply a move made by pointing your toes in opposite directions, so the skate blades are on the same plane, and turning.  It’s how he separates himself from Spezza so well on his first cut-back.  The rest of us cut-back like he chooses to do on the next two times.

To my knowledge, he’s the only guy who uses this in game play, and he does it pretty much every night.  Let me know if you see anyone else using this move.  It’s incredible that he does it with such great strength and balance.

Weekend Catch-Up: All Hockey, No Golf

 

This is going to blow your mind, and probably make you happy, but….. I’m gonna leave the Masters blogging alone for today (though I’m not quiiiite done with it).  I’ma do what I do best.  Nooo, not make fun of the WNBA.  I’m gonna write about hockey.

Sweet, glorious hockey.

It’s that time of year, people.

So let’s cover the exciting events of the weekend, starting with…..

He's, um, happy. Weee!

THE ROCKET RICHARD TROPHY

 GOALS

Crosby 51
Stamkos 51
Ovechkin 50

Though it’s sort of become what I do for a living, I hate “serious” sports arguments.

You know, some guy makes a point that’s supported by some random factoid he read somewhere, puts it in defense mode, and the conversation never advances.  This happens everytime you talk Richard Trophy.  Ice time!  Powerplays!  Games played!  Linemates!

Whatever.  They all had remarkable years.  Plus, this trophy shouldn’t leave much to talk about.  It’s black and white; based on totals. If we’re arguing about who the best goal scorer in the game is – that’s Ovechkin by a mile. 

But still, I feel inclined to make two points:

1)  Why isn’t there a tie breaker so someone can actually win it outright?  Give the trophy to the guy who had the least games played (Sid has one less), or to the guy who had less empty netters? (as has been mentioned a number of times, Puck Daddy included).  Orrr, am I just suggesting that because both stats favour Sid (only had one, to Stamkos’ three) and I was rooting for him “2 – 4 – 6 – 8″ style. (Who do we a-ppre-ci-ate!)

They're laughing at the play working.

2)  While on the empty-net / pro-Sid talk….. Let’s all admit it.  Stamkos getting his 51st on a set play from a d-zone faceoff was a little cheesy.  I seriously do like Stamkos (just wanted Sid to get at least one Rocket in his career), but come on.  Up 2-1, your centerman wouldn’t push the puck forward in a normal game, for fear of giving it to your opponents d-man, who’d bomb it back down your goalies throat.  So to call a play you wouldn’t normally call, strictly to get your linemate a goal – while I would have done THE EXACT SAME THING - is still corny.  We’re allowed to acknowledge that, while acknowledging the fact that Stamkos’ season was mind-blowing. 

Congrats to all.  Except Ovy, who’s a complete and total third-place failure.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t quickly mention the Evander Holyfield Kane punch on Matt Cooke (video), because nothing says “justice” like getting knocked the eff out by an 18 year old.  In the cartoon version of that fight, Cooke would’ve held up a “HELP’ sign just before the punch, and absolutely would’ve had little stars and birdies floating around his mini-ice-nap.

Saved to my computer as "Kablammo!"

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So, I sat down at my favourite pub after work on Friday, and Breezy joined me.  To my left, some chaps were chatting about hockey, so of course, I chimed it.  Turns out the gentleman beside me scored the first goal in Canucks history, and had a 15 year NHL career – Mr. Barry Wilkins.  Here’s our conversation:

- it's where you stop on your way home. Get it?

BarrySure I know you’re Dad!  He was on the Islanders team that beat us (Pittsburgh) when we were up 3-0 on them in the playoffs!

MeAh!  Oh.  Sorry bout that.

Barry: Not a week goes by without it bothering me.

MeMmm.  Um… probably doesn’t help that my father-in-law was on that team too, huh?  Clark Gillies.

BarryHe broke my shoulder/collar bone with a big hit.

MeThis isn’t going well.  ….I’ll text my Dad and see if he remembers playing you.

Barry:  He’ll probably remember me as a d-man with rock hands.

Dads Text: “BARRY WILKINS? LEFT-HANDED D-MAN, STONE HANDS?”

Me: Sorry, he’s not writing back for whatever reason….

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Flyers get in AND avoid Washington.

The Flyers/Rangers play-in game was exciting, but Rangers fans… if Henrik Lundqvist makes 43 saves, you’re shooting on Bobby Boucher, and you can’t win… you don’t deserve to.  NY should ship Torterella and Sather out, grab an experienced GM and the best AHL coach, and just start over. 

Although, I must admit: as an Islanders fan, I think you guys should keep the same personnel and keep plugging.  You’re good enough.  You can do it Rangers, I promise.  No changes.  Just grab that shovel and start digging towards next season….

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Of all the eight teams to make playoffs in the West, only one team isn’t a plus in the “goal differential” category (which matters) – that being Nashville.  Their failure to get it done down the stretch buried their playoff hopes - now they play Chicago, who’s goal differential looks like my two round score if they let me try to make the cut at the Masters: +62.  Here comes a beat down from Chi town.

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Though you may not have been following my fantasy hockey league (okay, you haven’t been.  Like, at all), I made a late season charge to grab the last playoff seed (8th in a 20 team head-to-head league).  Then I won round one.  Then I won the semi’s.  And last week was the finals, where I……

Got SMOKED.  Badly.  Congrats to Pat of “The Kindrachuckers”, to whom I know owe a bottle of Crown Royal.  Curses.  Thanks for playin’ everyone, that was a blast.  I’ll be doing it again next year (a pay league, so I can buy the winner something cool…. or just give him/her the cash), and mayyyy end up doing something for playoffs if I have time to set it up.

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 Henrik Sedin won the Art Ross this year, with 112 points.  I have nothing to say except congrats.  That, and I’d like to subtly imply he’s a cyborg by asking people if anybody has ever actually witnessed him bleed blood.  Just a question, that’s all.

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Number one of five. Count it!

Congratulations are also due to Boston College, who beat Wisconsin 5-0 to win the NCAA National Championship.  After watching Wisconsin play RIT, I was pretty sure they could handle the Maple Leafs with relative ease, so I was a surprised they got thumpled so bad.  But then I realized “is being better than the Maple Leafs that great of a measuring stick, at any level?”

 

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Okay, THAT’S ENOUGH.  Especially since playoff predictions are baking in the oven.  The deliciousness shall be ready soon!

 

Thoughts From A Hockey-Centric Mind

 

Hockey-centric, because “boob-centric” isn’t generally considered class “a” journalism.

I’ve decided to spare you my weekend golf tale of woe, because you have zero reason to care about my double bogey on the par 5 18th to shoot a +1 (73) after making seven birdies as a six handicap.  Oops, so you got the Coles Notes version.  I’m still rattled.

Hockey’s gettin’ good, and here’s what’s on my mind….

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Yesterday, I had a friend of the blog send me a gambling tip – as in, he’d found an extremely fair line to bet.  I misunderstood the bet at first, but now I’m wondering….

Gamblers of the world, unite!  Have you seen any great odds for the playoffs or rest of the regular season?  Let’s track ‘em down for each other.  I haven’t bet online since last season, but I’ve followed way too closely this year to not put a couple down before playoffs.

And if you haven’t seen good odds…. confident in your team?  Care to make a bet?  I’m sure it’s illegal, so we won’t bet money (wink), but chuck it out there and see if someone else’s team wants to take the other side of the bet.  For example, I bet the Islanders don’t lose a single game in playoffs this year.  Any takers?

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Mouthguards, you may know, are spit-out-able.  To be sure you always have one amongst all the travelling, misplacing and chewing on them, when you go get a custom mouthguard in professional hockey, they make you up a couple.  In the NHL, I’m sure they have stacks of them on backup.  And when they do come out of your mouth, you can pick them up.

So why was Sidney Crosby jawing at Jimmy Howard after the whistle with that stupid clumsy thing in?  Afraid he was gonna get suckered?  Or just prone to really awkward looking confrontations? 

You guessed it.  Angry-Faced Sid (AFS from here forth) is awkwaaaard (but not super awkward, like it must be every time Tiger’s phone vibrates for a text, and he and Elin look at it, then at each other, then back at it…. and he grabs it).

 

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Is it just me, or is “hockey is for everyone” the most obscure slogan ever coming from a sport played predominantly by upper-middle class largely white kids from cold-weather climates?

I like “history will be made” a lot though, because, frankly, (hockey) history will be (Max Talbot!).  Legends are built, as demonstrated by how nobody scoffs when you imply Ruslan Fedetenko is an effective player – because of all his game winners in playoffs with the Lightning (jokes, jokes, he’s a great person and good depth guy).

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I still think overtime should go to three-on-three before the shootout.  In that 3 on 3, penalties are penalty shots, it’s 2-on-1 after 2-on-1, and wins come by a more hockey-like and awesome fashion.  Haters be damned, if they saw it in action, they’d pee their old wooden Montreal Forum seats they bought off eBay and sit in to watch road games on their old bunny-eared no-def TV’s.

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I’d like to see a stat on which team has played the most back-up goalies in the league this year.  Gotta be Toronto or Edmonton, right?

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 In defense for some bad looking hits: it’s really hard, if you’re forechecking a defenseman going back on the puck with intent to finish your check like your coach wants (and get the puck), to pull up or recognize he’s put himself in an unsafe spot.  It just is.  Just ask my no-longer intact sternum & clavicle, sometimes you’re just gonna. get. hit. hard. in hockey.

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Recently added to the list of things I never knew existed but I now co-own by the rules of common-law living:  “Sconces.”

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Happy Tuesday – it’s pouring here, a perfect day for writing.  Expect a flood of articles in the near future.

Team Canada Finds Olympic Glory

 

First, a major thank-you to the Americans and all the other countries for being, from what I’ve read, great guests up in Vancouver, BC.  After starting the Olympics on such a horrible, sad note, it sounds to me like things pulled together nicely, save for a few not-so-serious gaffes. 

Apparently security did a wonderful job of keeping fans and participants safe, all while not showing so much as a single weapon.  The games were the most eco-friendly to date, had the least doping violations ever, and the events were thrilling the whole way through (so much so that I keep hearing Americans talk about CURLING).  And the best part is, you know the athletes were getting along just fine as well, cause the Olympic village ran out of their initial shipment of ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND CONDOMS.

Second, a holy-shit to the American team for playing the tournament they played over the past ten days.  What a frustrating, talented group of guys Brian Burke assembled, and with Ryan Miller in net, they limited the firepower-filled Canadian roster to three goals twice.  So congrats on that well-earned silver medal.

And third, TEAM CANADA and that damn hockey game:

You know when you’re about to play a big game, and you’re getting lined up for the draw, and there’s that little bit of fun/nervous anticipation?  Then the pace of play for the first minute is like, mach six, until everyone realizes, “holy crap, we can’t keep this up for 60″ and drops back into normal game mode?  Yesterday’s game never dropped into normal game mode.

As I tend write on loop, difference-makers are the key to having success in hockey.  It’s a team game, but if you don’t have “that guy” to make that big play and break the score open, it’s hard to win when it counts.

The US has plenty of difference-makers, of course, but very few make a difference like Sidney Crosby does, at anything.  The goal wasn’t exceptional, you may say, but it’s how he gets to that shot that is.  After almost losing the puck in the ref’s skates, he makes a one-handed stick poke to get the puck low to Iginla in the corner, then breaks to the net, and out-skates the same man who buried the Canadians in the round-robin game, Brian Rafalski.  The touch of the puck he makes before the quick release, to move it out away from his feet was special – he had that thing in a shooting position before Miller could even flinch.

I’m handing out a tournament report card to each one of Steve Yzerman’s picks, because I feel like it.  Settle in for the long haul folks, and lets pick the Canadian squad apart.

Goalies:

 

1 ROBERTO LUONGO  (Vancouver)

Grade:  A -

The goalie that wins you the gold medal has to get some variation of an “A”, at least, right?  He faced a career-defining opportunity, and answered the bell.  If Canada hadn’t got it done last night, he’s Mickelson before his first major.  Actually, more accurately, he’d probably be Sergio Garcia today (best to never win the big one).  His defenders have been leaning on “he’s never been on a good enough team to get it done” forever, and knew this was a no-excuses moment for Bobby Lu.  Well played sir.  Well played.

29 MARC-ANDRE FLEURY (Pittsburgh)

30 MARTIN BRODEUR (New Jersey)

Grade: C

The reality is, things didn’t go well for Marty – the only time he played well was in the shootout versus Switzerland, and that wasn’t exactly the moment we needed our goalie to rise up.  That moment was two days later, and he simply wasn’t on when we needed him the most.  No big deal.

Defense:

2  DUNCAN KEITH (Chicago)

Grade: A+

One of the few Canadians that earned the elusive “plus”.  Holy crap was he great – I thought he took a major step in the public understanding of just how reliable, fast and talented he is.  He’s the type of guy you put on Belarus, give the guy 40 minutes of ice time and suddenly Belarus is tough to beat.

6  SHEA WEBER (Nashville)

Grade: A+

Contrary to the impression Canadian fans probably got, he wasn’t paired with Niedermeyer to have some veteran experience with youthful skill.  He was there so Niedermeyer could have someone to pick him up when things melted down.  The guy slapped a puck through the net, put people through the boards, and confirmed that he’s probably in the top five NHL defenseman today.

7  BRENT SEABROOK  (Chicago)

Grade: B

He was fine.  Playing with the probable Norris Trophy favourite right now helps, but he looked good in his own right.  He did exactly what was asked of him – nothing crazy, play defense-first, and trust that we had forwards capable of getting us goals.

8  DREW DOUGHTY  (Los Angeles)

Grade:  A-

He wasn’t asked to be a member of the Canadian team to be a game breaker, he was asked because he’s one hell of a fine d-man today with an even brighter tomorrow ahead of him.  I thought he played physical and smart, and Babcock did a great job of using him in an effective way without ever heaping too much responsibility on him.

20 CHRIS PRONGER (Philadelphia)

Grade: C

He gets a “plus” because it’s impossible to look really bad when you play with the guys Chris was playing with on Team Canada, but Pronger fans, it’s over.  He’s still got the big shot, but when you’re a physical d-man, and you get slow, you start playing like Andy Sutton.  Which is to say, you get yourself out of position by trying to be physical instead of it coming naturally.  He’s forcin’ it, at this point.

22  DAN BOYLE  (San Jose)

Grade:  A

Boyle played a key part in the biggest moment of the tournament for Canada – coming out against Russia like a house-on-fire.  Even if Canada wins that game but struggles doing it, the confidence to do what their team did may never get built.  He played within himself (in a good way), and when we needed someone to step the f**k up, he came at Russia like angry pitbull.

27 SCOTT NIEDERMEYER (Anaheim)

Grade: C +

Over his career, Niedermeyer has proven again and again that he’s got the tools necessary to be a threat offensively, and sound defensively.  Earlier in the tournament, I even mentioned I felt comfortable with him out there.  By the end of the tournament, I was just thankful we got away without getting too badly burnt by him.  Jack Johnson skated around him like he was ankle deep in mud, and what’s worse, is he’s supposed to handle the puck so well, but turned the puck over far more often the “young gun” d-men he was supposed to be leading.  When he had time, he still made some good plays, and transitioned the Canadian forwards well, but as I mentioned earlier, I was just happy he had Weber to back him up when he needed it most.

Forwards:

10  BRENADN MORROW (Dallas)

Grade: B+

For me, Morrow was a “I just don’t see him making a big enough difference to justify his spot” pick.  It seemed like he was there out of obligation.  As the tournament wore on though, and the games got more serious, I was pumped to have him out there.  Difference-makers are doubly effective when they play with guys doing it the right way, and I though Morrow complimented the skill guys well.

11 PATRICK MARLEAU

Grade: B -

Marleau made a nice play on the Perry goal in the finals to make it 2-0 by driving the net, but beyond that, I hardly noticed the guy.  For a guy with his goal scoring history, to play with the studs he plays with and see powerplay time, I can honestly say I hardly ever noticed him, and was surprised when I did. 

12  JAROME IGINLA (Calgary)

Grade: A

Crazy, right?  But the fact of the matter is, over this tournament, he earned that A.  I know his goals were against the dog teams, but you felt good with Iggy out there knowing a few things:  One, he’s a work horse with the need to win, not the “want” to win that a guy like Thornton seems to have.  Two, if he gets it in a danger zone, he has one of the best shots in the world.  And three, he’s smart with the puck.  Limits tournovers, passes when he needs to, but thinks shot first.  I thought he was great, just like in 2002. (Oh, and the slick play on the OT winner helps)

15 DANY HEATLEY (San Jose)

Grade: B

Shark fans, you scared yet?  I thought Heatley was the most dangerous player on the Sharks line, getting a couple good opportunities every night, and scored a few nice goals for the boys in red and white.  That said, he’s a fairly one-dimensional player, and if he’s not scoring, his VORP (value over replacement player, baseball stat) is pretty low.

16  JONATHAN TOEWS  (Chicago)

Grade: A+

A few days ago, I made a joke about Toews not scoring a goal that was totally sarcastic, and I got a few questions about it – trust me, it was sarcastic.  He was the best forward on Team Canada throughout the tournament, bar none, and if Ryan Miller wasn’t the Second Coming I’d proclaim JT tourney MVP.  I don’t think he was on the ice once in the entire tournament for a goal against, he was a dishing machine, a work-horse, reliable, and scored the huge, huge first goal in the final game, from the exact same spot that Pavel Demitra hit iron from about 40 hours earlier.  Chicago is fahking scary right now.

18  MIKE RICHARDS  (Philadelphia)

Grade: A

Part of the fun of these events is cheering for guys you normally root for getting sent down to the SPHL (real league), and Richards is one of them.  He was the most pleasant surprise of the tournament, proving how his all-around game makes him one of the best linemates to have in the league.  He plays physical, but also pays unwavering attention to defense.  More than anything, he has all the offensive tools, and is by no means a grinder.  He was the reason Toews got the look he did on the first goal, and deserves much praise for his play in Vancouver.

19 JOE THORNTON  (San Jose)

Grade: C +

Same ‘ol, same ‘ol for Playoff Joe, huh?  It’s tough to describe where he goes at times like this, but I know one thing – you can’t fake “fire”, and deep inside Joe burns a firepit…. around which he’s strumming a guitar, drinking a corona, and roasting a pig. 

21  ERIC STAAL  (Carolina)

Grade: A -

The danger when you chuck together these national all-star teams is the fancy-pantsery goes overboard and effective play dwindles (see: the Russians).  Having a guy like Staal on your team takes care of that, by combining a talented finisher with an old-school Canadian mentality – drive the middle, finish your checks, take care of your own end first.  The promotion to the Crosby line was a great thing for Canada, cause it meant he’d get more ice time.

24  COREY PERRY  (Anaheim)

Grade: B

Probably the toughest guy to grade, because I literally don’t remember seeing him until he’d score.  I can’t think of any defensive meltdowns, and he scored a few big goals for Canada, so you have to give the guy a good grade, but in the end, I just can’t think of him controlling the play.  Whatever.  I’ll take a few snipes and a vanishing act from Corey this year.

37  PATRICE BERGERON  (Boston)

Grade:  C +

I always hated getting judged when I didn’t get the chance to prove myself (see: playing on the fourth line during an American League call up), but the facts are this, Patrice:  you weren’t in the lane 40 seconds into the round-robin game against the US, and Rafalski scored.  You’re a winger, the defensive part of your job isn’t that hard, and us Canadians were kind of taking that game seriously.  So sit down and wait for a penalty to go kill.

51  RYAN GETZLAF  (Anaheim)

Grade: B +

Getzlaf was plenty of effective plenty of times, but he also showed a disturbing penchant for making really shitty, what-the-f**k-was-that? type plays.  You expect, when you watch the best players in the world, not to see guys relying so heavily on talent over smarts.  You don’t expect to see plays that are so obviously guesses.  On the other hand, he was an offensive force who finished his checks and made a difference.  B +.

61  RICK NASH  (Columbus)

Grade: A

I’m a little disappointed, because I thought he could’ve been an A + guy early on in the tournament.  Maybe I just haven’t watched him enough, but he looked next to impossible to contain like 95% of the time.  His stat line and the fact that he wasn’t in on the biggest moments are the only thing stopping me from chucking out a +, but I was really wow’ed by the kind of player he is.  And actually, he was physical as all-hell too, something I didn’t know he had in ‘im.  I bet a trade and some linemates would do amazing things for the guy.

And last, but not least….

87  SIDNEY CROSBY  (Pittsburgh)

Grade: A

 Sid scored the game-winning overtime goal in the gold medal game, so for that he gets a plus in all our hearts.  He was a constant threat, made his linemates better, and controlled the play down low whenever he got his mitts on the puck.  I think he only had about seven points on his teams thirty-some goals, but he did what he needed to do, once again.  It was the perfect stage for sid to grow his legend, and grow he did.  Funny, I wonder if anybody saw the stage was set and knew he’d cash in on it….

jtbourne – First sip of Molson Canadian went down like smooth deliciousness. I predict a positive Crosby highlight from today that we’ll see for years. sent 22 hours ago via mobile web

Sidney Crosby, seen here played by Andy Samberg

 So congratulations to Steve Yzerman, Mike Babcock, the players, and the fans in Canada on  job well done.  Mission accomplished guys.

HOW FUN WAS THAT?!?

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!

More Tape Talk, Updated Thoughts on 8 vs. The Kid

 

Man – you see Eric Staal get a skate to the face?  Not long after getting a stick in the mouth?  Tough night.

So, there were a few questions that stemmed from yesterday’s blog about handle tape jobs.  Here’s my take on the blade:

Sticks today (composite blades specifically) are built to be taped.  If you’ve ever tried to handle a frozen puck with a tapeless blade, you might as well be using the other end of the stick.  It’s hopeless.

Worst stick set-up in NHL history

So, I don’t get the logic when I see some guys go for the few-strips look.  I don’t even understand it when their blade is wood.  Remember the Eric Lindros tape job?  I always wanted to ask him “Is it easier to handle the puck and shoot from the tape?  Yes?”

The follow with: ” Then tape your whole fucking blade.”

Guys today do so much work with the toe of their stick, from forehand/backhand toe pulls, deke’s, dangles, whatever, that they need tape on the entire blade.  So, there’s a half-dozen guys on every team that continues taping past the toe, pressing tape against tape, and then scissor-cutting around the end of the blade.

I also half-rip the tape (into a thinner strip) to get more ridges, which I think made it easier to get more spin on the puck.  At the very least, it feels cooler rolling off your stick.  Plus, you get to anger the three-quarters of your hockey team that doesn’t half-rip the tape, who have to unravel the huge portion you just wasted to get to their preferred wide part again.

Oh, and tape it heel to toe, because you’re a hockey player, and thats just what we do.

As for the black vs. white argument, do whatever makes you happy.  Whoever thinks it matters is weird.  I used to go black to “hide the puck”.  Then I went white so I could see the puck on my blade quicker.  Then I stayed with white CAUSE IT LOOKS AWESOME.  

300+ words about tape.  “Bourne’s Blog: complicating the simple for over 13 months.”

*****

Those of you who wrote to disagree with my take on the Sens were right.  My b.

*****

Theodore, mentally surrendering: "I'll let you score if you promise not to make it embarrassing"

In the on-going Sid vs. Ovi debate, I have to confess that I think Ovechkin is better.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for Sid over number eight every friggin’ time – I want him to end up with the better legacy, partially because he’s my fellow countrymen, and seemingly more humble than Alex. 

Crosby’s having a ridiculous year, even changing my opinion of just how good Sid is.  He’s got all the intangibles to go with the raw skills and personal drive.  But I mean… I don’t think he shoots it as hard as Ovi.  I don’t think he skates as fast.  And I know he doesn’t hit as hard.

He’s does have that Gretzky-like quality to see the game in slow motion while moving mach three, which must be nice.  And Ovi definitely has the advantage of playing on a line with Backstrom and Semin, but even with all that…. I can’t shake the feeling that Ovechkin is the best player in the league.  He’s just a constant, one-man hurricane.  He reminds me of when we’d “tornado” each other’s rooms in college, the way destruction and chaos follows him everywhere he goes.  Just gear all over the ice, hats from hattricks, guys trying to get up from hits, red lights spinning, fans yelling…. chaos. 

Plus there’s always this part of his game to love:

 

Nobody’s convincing anyone of anything here.  There’s no way to change someone’s mind in this never-ending debate.  Just pick your horse and ride it.  We’re lucky to get to watch them both.

*****

Did you see Chris Phillips run Miller over?  Ho-ly, lackluster response from the Sabres.  You could hear the running dialogue in the players heads “oh, we’re supposed to act angry now…?  Riiiight…. grrrr…. someone’s gonna fight him right…? nobody…? god don’t let it to be me…”  Weak sauce, Flubbalo.  Weak sauce.

*****

My big homie down in Houston plays a little goal for the Aeros, and has a bit of a following. His name is Barry Brust, check out the fan club tee’s:

IMAGE HAS BEEN REMOVED.  CAUSE, UM, Y’KNOW, IT WAS A CHEST-SHOT CLOSE-UP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sick.

That’ll do for now.  We’re nearing the Superbowl.  I’m betting the Ottawa Roughriders by a try.

Friday Free-For-All

 

So, Steven Seagal: Lawman is a real show, huh?  I’m getting a kick out of TV just mailing it in right now.

I long for natural selection.

I long for natural selection.

They’re like, eff it, people just want to stare at their TV and call other people idiots anyways (whether it’s CNN or MTV), so make “Jersey Shore” a show.  And yes, let’s do more seasons of The City and Hills.  MTV, you’re just so good at sucking, any new suggestions?  Bully Beatdown? Tough Love?  It all sounds great.  Get ‘em made.  People will hate it, then watch anyways.  Why?  Because there’s nothing but crap on any channel, dipshit.”

*****

 

soooothing....

soooothing....

Readers from earlier this year know I’m a sucker for golf majors.  Like, during The Masters, I have a no-leaving-the-house rule on the weekend. If Tiger somehow botched my weekend with his whole debacle, he’s got bigger problems than a shattered marriage and tarnished public image.  I’m flying to Windemere to finish the job his wife started with that nine-iron.

On another Tiger note – if you’re the girl, are you crazy to let that phone message out, knowing what it’ll do to his wife and family?  Or are you crazy to not accept the money?  Do you have zero obligation to not chuck him under the front wheels of the bus at that point?  I guess bangin’ a married guy sort of eliminates any chance you’re concerned about his wife, huh?

*****

Looking for reviews on Bud Lights “Golden Wheat”.

*****

Okay guys, it’s time to talk. 

Say something about it, I dare you...

Say something about it, I dare you...

Bad news….  Most of us are over the mustache thing. 

Sucks right?  They were such a gold mine of humour for so many years.  But too many people are in on the joke now.  And like mullets, some people still rock them despite our culture’s obvious penchant for verbally abusing the owner, so those people can still be the butt-end of a few cookie-duster barbs.  But for the most part… it’s over.  Someone tell George Parros (and I suggest you do it nicely).

(Sidebar – we all agree he rocks the ‘stache just so he can get somebody to talk shit, and thus give himself more chances to justify his role on the team as a fighter, right?)

*****

So I got thinking, in the wake of Tiger sleeping with more people than Ambien… who are our holy saints now?

Here’s the best of what we got left.  Top three.

Wanna see me comb my hair, really fast?

Wanna see me comb my hair, really fast?

Third Place: Albert Pujols (as Deadspin pointed out)

It’s amazing that his name hasn’t come up in any steroid allegations for two reasons.  One, he’s built like from-ten-years-ago never-that-popular cartoon character Johnny Bravo.  And two, during the steroid era, all he’s done is hit the stuffing out of the ball, every year, consistently and politely, while winning MVP awards.  But it’s baseball, so I’m less inclined to care (Go Mets!).

Second Place: Lebron James

The homie’s still only 25, but for a man with stature like his, the slate is pretty damn sparkly.

First Place: Sid “I’m taking over Tigers ‘most boring athlete’ title” Crosby

If you found out Sid was up to some dirt, you’d be floored, wouldn’t you?  Anything beyond a speeding ticket from the guy and I’d be completely befuddled.  The carefully cultivated image, the boring-but-proper interviews…. he’s Tiger, minus the mystique.  He really does seem straight up bland.  By the way, is he still living at Lemieux’s, does anyone know?  That’s officially well past acceptable if he is.  Hey, wait a second… maybe Brendan Burke will have some support soon!

[*Note - Blog has been up for two hours, and I've already been dominated by two reader suggestions.  Joe Mauer and Peyton Manning should definitely be on that list.  Or a longer one, at worst.]

*****

Frrrrrriiiiiiiiiidddddddaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy!  And I’m ready to admit it’s almost Christmas.  And almost my birthday.  And still 70 degrees here.  All of which, you may have noticed, are great things.  So have a wonderful weekend, peeps.  Lookin’ forward to the comments!

*****

{RANDOM LIST: TOP FIVE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

5. A Christmas Carol
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas
3. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
2. It’s a Wonderful Life
1. Christmas Vacation}

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).

Aimless, Arbitrary, and Awesome

 

On a daily basis, I scribble down random thoughts I have and dumb things I do.  Periodically I print a few. This, is a.d.d. at its finest:

 

A buddy came up with a great way to avoid misleading player stats in hockey, and now it seems so obvious.  Why is points-per-game a stat, when it should be points-per-minute?  Wouldn’t it be easier to dig up diamonds in the rough if you could prove that some kid who scores every tenth game is twice as productive as someone scoring every fourth game, simply because he gets a fraction of the playing time?  Seems like a practical stat, no? 

(Fact: using this simple theory, Sidney Crosby is still nine times as productive as Taylor Pyatt.  In other ground-breaking news, people like ice cream in the summer.)

*****

Today, I remembered to answer a business call in my most professional voice while driving.  Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that I was pumping “Hot Steppa” in the car.  There’s a chance it detracted from my credibility.

*****

An expression I recently heard and liked:  “If at first you dont succeed, try doing it the way your wife told you”. 

no she didn't.

no she didn't.

An expression I recently saw and loved: 

 

 

 

 

 

*****

 

I just hate Carlos Mencia so much.  I just watched six hour-long DVD’s on the history of comedy, the pioneers, the classics, the gems.  The fact that he gets mentioned at all on a DVD with so many great names rattles me.  Who does he think he is, acting like he’s doggedly fighting to raise minority awareness or something.  Ha! to that.  He exploits them for a living.  He makes Mexican jokes that appeal to the slower class, and aren’t that clever.  He’s basically Larry the Cable guy without the likability.

*****

An old joke from the “Make ‘em Laugh – The Business of Comedy” box set that I still love is about the trials and tribulations of Nelson Mandela, who endured 27 years of jail time and torture, to finally get freed to his home and his wife.  Six months later, divorce.  Chris Rock, fake-quoting Mandela:  “I can take beatings, abuse, torture and misery, but I just CAN’T. TAKE. ANY MORE OF THIS WOMAN!”. 

*****

How important is having a solid pillow?  To phrase it like Seinfeld, who arrre these people who want the squishy, supportless pillow?  They must exist, since hotels strictly cater to these people who clealy enjoy resting their head on a napkin and six feathers. I hope you’re comfortable, because you’re RUINING IT FOR THE REST OF US.

*****

Michael Vick got re-instated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, I assume because he believes that everyone deserves a second chance, except dogs that suck at fighting.  Those we drown permanently.

*****

What is it about awful pants that’s satisfying the jones for booze in John Daly?  Maybe just feeling like an extremist again?  I hope this new image overhaul is panning out for him, cause I know it’s been a huge pain having to adjust the contrast on my TV everytime him and his pants make a cameo.

*****

What was so immovable when they built the Houston Astros new stadium that they had to build an uphill slope in centerfield?  An indian burial ground?  Used PED needles from the 90′s?  Maybe hockey teams should look at designing some completely arbitrary features like this.  Maybe a random ramp at one of the blue-lines so guys can do freestyle skiing moves mid breakaway.  Canada would dominate that sport.

*****

Has anyone heard an interview with the classic band “Spinal Tap”?  Can we get them a radio show or something?

****

Jimmy Fallon is money in the late night spot, but it makes me not want to watch when he has to do those awful “commercials” where he holds a Sprint phone up and talks about how and why he loves it for a minute or two.  They have to realize this is a major turn off soon. Embarrassing for Fallon, no?

*****

I had no idea Hawerchuk was the first to jump on the Lemieux-Gretter ’87 Canada Cup goal pile until I saw a random clip yesterday.  I’m gonna ask him some question about that when he’s at our fantasy camp like “why were you an entire zone behind at the time”?

*****

There!

That cleans my idea locker out a bit.  What are your thoughts?

Penguins/Canes, Game One

 

I came away from last nights Peguins/Hurricanes game thinking three things:

One, how hard are guys shooting the puck on their backhand nowadays? (If you guessed “as hard as people shot it on their forehands in the 60′s”, you were right)  Malkin’s backhander last night – and Kane’s third of the night against the Canucks - were shot hard and flat.  I used a Sakic curve – that shots not even an option.

A buddy and I developed a theory on curves and the type of players who use them, which was right about 90% of the time. 

- Players using the Modano curve (very mild) were puck handlers, great on the backhand, and made plays – usually didn’t have a great shot though (Crosby is in this category – his custom curve is even straighter than the Modano… gross). 

- Users of the Lidstrom curve can usually bomb the puck.  Truly a shooters wedge, this thing was built to saucer pass pucks and one-time slapshots.  On the downside, trying to shoot the puck on the ice still involves cracking the goalies collar bone.

- Us Sakic-curvers liked to have a bit of both worlds if possible, but tended to take more wrist and snap shots then slappers.  I used to love hooks like the Coffey and Yzerman, but to have a banana like those makes taking passes on the backhand (and shooting on the backhand) harder than admitting Carolina isn’t awful.

I forget where I was going with that, but um, nice goal by Malkin.

***

Next, I took away more of the Sidney Crosby effect.

He gives his teammates endless chances to score.  I’m thinking Guerin will see a couple of those chances in his nightmares.

After the game, SportsCentre was explaining how Carolina kept Crosby to two shots, which was seen as a positive.  But they lost, right?  So if they “shut Sid down”, and still didn’t win, that’s a bad sign, isn’t it?

***

And last, if Carolina has two serious injuries, like it appeared they did, they can start waving the white flag.

This is a team that thrives on hard work and balls; when you take a couple of the main offensive cogs out of a team that doesn’t have many, it’s hopeless.  It won’t be fun for Pitt to play them because Carolina will stay physical, but the Pens will never be in any real danger of losing if Carolina is without Ruutu and Cole.  Now, if somebody can just get Ward to go swimming with cement skates, they could put it in neutral.  God he’s good.

 

The Truth Doesn't Always Hurt

 

The hypocrisy of honesty is an interesting mainstay in our society.

From telling kids “real beauty is on the inside” like Jim Carrey admits is garbage in Liar Liar, to our own personal relationships, where we agree it’s just easier to tell our large, pregnant wives that they look great, for fear of the backlash - we allow certain levels of untruth.

I just read the first chapter of Kevin Sites book “In The Hot Zone”, where he spends time alone in 20 war zones over the span of one year.  Sites had a crazy incident in Fallujah a couple years ago where he happened to videotape a Marine shooting an unarmed, wounded insurgent in the back of the head.

He faced a dilemma – release the tape to NBC, his employer (who was in a media pool, agreeing to release the tape to other news stations), and risk the backlash (losing trust from the Marines, backlash from the insurgents with suicide bombings, being labeled anti-American…), or act like it never happened and bury it.

Sites released a slightly cleaner version where the video pauses before the actual shooting, but the sound carries on.  Viewers aren’t confused about the outcome.

He was under a journalistic code of ethics – seek and report the truth (he adds that few outside the profession realize the disclaimer while minimizing harm).  Hate mail and death threats later, it’s obvious his life could have been easier without telling the truth, but he had the courage to relate it to the world.

So I got to thinking.

UnderScore on Sirius 98 asked me to interview partly to discuss maintaining a personality in sports, where the professionals are so often groomed in PR training (every team I ever played for gave a list of advice, safe answers, and things to avoid saying).

But in the context of Kevin Sites (and the other stories he tells, like the one about Eddie Adams, the award-winning photographer in Vietnam who says he “killed a General” by capturing him doing what he shouldn’t have done – leading to the Generals downfall), …is “bulletin board material” that big of a deal, hockey players?

Do we have to spend time training our athletes to watch what they say?  Would it be such a crisis to hear Sidney Crosby say “of course we’re going to beat Philly, Biron is awwwwful… you’ve seen the guy play!”

I loved the interview with Calvin Borel after he won the Kentucky Derby – tears and honesty everywhere.  Before the Preakness they asked him about his chances, and he straight faced told them he was going to win, and he was sure of it. 

It was so refreshing.  Clearly, jockeys don’t undergo the same type of media training, or scrutiny.  Bob Costas looked caught-off-guard by the actual honest answer, and could barely stammer out a response.

The truth here, is that we’re just. playing. sports.

Some things are better left unsaid, for sure.  But we need to stop over-hyping verbal miscues (24 hour sports and news networks are filling time for about 16 of those hours, I’d guess) and gives these guys some space.  I, for one, don’t enjoy the rantings of Jeremy Roenick, but I appreciate his candor.

So speak up puck-jockeys!  There are people in this world with real, important things going on, and you’re shooting vulcanized rubber into twine.  If I hear one more stagnant hockey interview I’m buying a Terrell Owens jersey and switching sports.

GET’CHA POPCORN READY!

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