Saturday, June 30, 2007

Silly Season Starts


I'm not sure who coined the term "silly season" to describe the NHL free agency period, but I sure like it. How else to explain teams lining up to hand over enough cash to choke a mammoth to a player like Daniel Briere, who was such a gamebreaker a couple years ago that he was placed on waivers? Or a defenseman like Sheldon Souray, who can be handy in the offensive zone but has just a passing acquaintance with his own goalie?

Despite all the buzz, this year's crop of unrestricted free agents is a middling lot at best, headlined by Briere, Chris Drury, Ryan Smyth and Scott Gomez. Good players all, but hardly standard bearers. And while there are sure to be several eye-popping deals handed out, the truly smart money will lay off until next season, when legitimate superstars like Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa could be in play.
Yeah, right on! Next season will be even sillier. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cocoon Meets the Mighty Ducks

...meets the Bad News Bears meets Grumpy Old Men.

These guys actually don't look too bad out there playing. Hope I can bring it like they do when I'm 75. I have my doubts.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is Bigger Better?

Yeah, I think so. Some think the league does too.
The league admits that the game needs more scoring. As Bettman said in his press conference at the All-Star game, "The focus on offense remains the priority."

Furthermore, it's no secret that the league has given the matter of larger nets serious consideration.

Even though some great hockey thinkers — including Wayne Gretzky — are appalled by the concept, there's just too much of an undercurrent in the league at the moment to think that the larger nets are not the way of the future.

And really, what else can the league do? The players have accepted the new officiating standard and still, scoring hasn't increased. Blocked shots are a way of life and since the league insists that it can't think of a way to reduce the size of goaltenders' equipment to a sensible level, where else can they go?

The new nets will be eight inches wider than the standard six feet, and six inches higher than the current four feet.

When you sit in the stands and see these nets in place, they don't look any larger than the ones currently in use. But that small increase is significant in that it provides an extra six square feet for the snipers to shoot at.

It's those extra eight inches in width that will have the biggest effect on the game. The extra height will have some impact, but the extra width is a much bigger factor. It means that goalies will no longer be able to flop down into a butterfly position and cover the entire lower quarter of the net without exposing their five-hole.

Goalies have been getting taller and taller over the years and, like players at other positions, have become more proficient. But they've also learned how to make themselves more efficient with the minimum of work.

If they drop down, they don't need to see the puck or make any further moves. Their leg pads are the maximum the league allows and they can therefore leave no low opening even though their knees may be more than a foot apart.

This forces an attacking player to shoot high, but not too high. That's no easy feat if you're on the edge of the crease.

But with the wider nets, goalies will be forced to move. If they merely drop down and expose those extra inches inside the post, the shooters will soon learn to take advantage — as they did in the days before the size of goalie equipment reached its present ridiculous stage.

Goalies will have to move to the puck, and once they move to one post, they'll create a larger opening at the other post which the accurate shooters will exploit.

The larger nets will demand more from goalies but reward skilled offensive players. And that's what fans want.
Yep, I agree.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Off-Season Hockey

Like a lot of people the off-season for me is nearly unbearable. Especially these loooong months of summer. It seems like at times that I'm stranded in the middle of a desert, thirsting for and fantasizing about hockey. Staring at mirages. I get to the point where ANY hockey will do...

Well, only four more months to go.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hockey Gone Wild

Fan Participation Edition...

Crank it up

Sometimes the rink simply is not big enough to contain all the raging emotions and passions the game of hockey creates. It spills over the boards. That's when things really get wild.

Interestingly enough (for me anyways) a few shots, including the first one... and the one at 2:33... and 1:31 are all from my home rink here in ABQ, NM of one wild night involving Jacques Mailhot, the Central Texas Stampede and the New Mexico Scorpions. Aaaah, the good old daze.

More... Hockey Gone Wild.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On Vacation

See you in a while.

Congratulations to the Ducks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Puck Exodus

With apologises to poet Emma Lazarus...

"Give us your tired, your poor,
Your huddled NHL clubs yearning to skate free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed hockey teams, to me:
We light the scoring lamp beside the golden door
Canada beacons.
There are plenty of signs that the game simply doesn’t cut it as a mass-appeal American sport:

•A recent Associated Press story pointed out that many major American newspapers in NHL markets were declining to send reporters to cover the Stanley Cup final. The league is so desperate for coverage in the U.S. that it has been making players available for phone interviews and e-mailing players’ quotes to newspapers in American NHL markets that aren’t covering the games live. Meanwhile, Canadian NHL cities are all represented by newspapers at the league final.

•By now, everyone has heard the horror stories about NHL television ratings in the U.S. According to The Associated Press, for Game 2 of the series, only 446,000 U.S. television sets were tuned in. That’s 33 per cent less than for Game 2 of last year’s Stanley Cup final. Compare that to the ratings for the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball playoffs and it’s obvious why many Americans don’t regard the NHL as a true major sport.

•One of the hottest topics during these Stanley Cup playoffs has been what will happen with the Nashville Predators franchise, when will it move from what’s become a terrible market? Even with the new hockey economics, which have helped small-market teams, several U.S. franchises are hurting.

While the NHL continues to struggle in many American markets, in Canada the league is enjoying a resurgence under the NHL’s new deal. Attendance is solid and television ratings remain strong. The soaring Canadian dollar, the salary cap, revenue sharing and the general passion for the game and the NHL in Canada make these much better times for the league in this country than was the case only a few years ago.

Yet instead of capitalizing on better times in Canada, the league appears determined to forge ahead on shoving the game down the throats of American sports fans who don’t want or appreciate NHL hockey.

The motivation is obviously the money, or at least the dream of tapping into the big American spending machine. Though it’s clear the NHL’s U.S. appeal is confined to a few regions, and most of the new markets die off once the shine of a new franchise begins to fade, the NHL keeps pushing.

Instead of waiting for the improbable to happen, it would make more sense for the NHL to return to markets where it is supported and appreciated.

Look north! Winnipeg could be a wise destination. Southern Ontario could easily handle another team. And Quebec City remains a prime market.

Maybe the league needs a new test for judging the potential of new or even existing hockey homes. If the proponents aren’t familiar with Stompin’ Tom’s hockey anthem, don’t allow them to have a franchise.

(my emphasis)
Agreed, if you don't know the song, you don't get a team.

Bring those teams that are not loved and appreciated home to the hockey promised land.

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Americans and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey - the home of the Orr's, Howe's, Gretzky's, Sawchuk's, Lemieux's and Lafleur's. And now the cry of the Canadians has reached Me, and I have seen the way the Americans are oppressing them.
(Exodus 3:3-10)

Again, with much apologises.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Future of Hockey?

In their desperation to make the game more appealing to the score happy American masses, I wouldn't put something like this past Gary Bettman and company.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Class Guy

Mike Fisher of the Ottawa Senators is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the NHL. First, there was his involvement with this story that I posted about earlier in the week and now there's his classy performance in Saturdays game against the Ducks, where he could've completely annihilated Ryan Getzlaf... but didn't.

Yeah, he's a good hockey player, but better yet, he's a class guy.

I, on the other hand, probably would've smacked Getzlaf a time or two.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hockey at... Yankee Stadium?

Hey, don't laugh, I personally think it's a great idea.
The NHL is planning another outdoor game for the 2007-08 regular season, reported Friday. The date, site and clubs involved were not disclosed.

The game will likely include at least one American-based team and it will be televised in the U.S. by NBC as part of its regular-season schedule. Previous rumors had the New York Rangers and New York Islanders meeting in a game at Yankee Stadium.
The interest and resulting publicity surrounding a meeting between the Rangers and the Islanders at Yankee Stadium would be unbelievable for the league... and the sport. I hope this happens.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Cross Between Lawrence Welk....

and Salvador Dali.

Since we're talking Hockey here, that description could only fit one man. The man, the myth, the legend...

Yep, that's our guy. But I'd have to say that he leans more to the Salvador Dali side of the fashion spectrum than the Lawrence Welk side... a lot more.

I consider my style that of the men of the 1930s, where men had an elegant style, tight suits, tight collars, lots of jewellery, a clean sharp image. I must admit my style has been called foppish, but I like it.

Don Cherry