Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hockey Podcasting


Is Podcasting for Hockey an idea whose time has come??? Especially now that the NHL has a media/tech partner like Comcast that has a HEAVY involvement in broadband. It seems like a great 21st century way to reach the fans that has a lot of creative cutting-edge potential. Downloadable customized Hockey packets of video, sound and text for playback at your leisure on various digital devices. Imagine the possibility of podcasts of your favorite hockey team, players or fighters delivered via the net or wireless to your Tivo, DVD-R, computer, laptop, iPod, PSP, or even cell phone in the near future. Already in Sweden hockey fans can have their mobile phones programmed to ring when their team scores and then can watch a 20-second video clip of the goal being made.

Hmmm, let me think about that... my cell programmed to announce the arrival of a video highlight file of my favorite team scoring.

Sweet, sign me up.
for those who are interested in following the matches of their favourite team can do it easily, right on their mobile phone. Team photos, analyses and inside information can also be downloaded. In addition, Telia subscribers can download the music that is usually played at arenas and use it as ringtones
The Swede's can also view the highlights of evening matches after the games have ended. I'm sure we'll be able to do all of this here soon too. If that's not the case already.

Anyways, getting back to Podcasting there's a great deal of potential in this new media that the NHL and we as Bloggers could and should definitely explore.

Can podcasting save hockey?:
... we're most of the way there: a sports league and a television network both with a vested interest in reaching people more people than they currently have access to. This is a great situation for podcasting, and even better for video in RSS enclosures. I don't think we're quite ready for full-game feeds, and we may never need them, given the real-time nature of sporting events. But OLN will be creating hockey-related content around their coverage, and that's no good to them if nobody is watching it at 11pm. They will already be offering it on demand. Why not serve an MPEG for download on their own broadband network?

... what if there were a daily podcast of, say, five to ten minutes, for each home team? Many of these shows could be hosted by Comcast's regional sports network personalities -- who, naturally, would have access to the players themselves via the OLN deal. And finding podcasters to cover each of the Canadian teams would be like trying to find a cat who likes to watch mice. These are low-cost activities that would bring real fans in, wherever they may live. Fans who buy tickets, gear, and Internet access.

While the other major sports in the US are all still swirling their toes in the online water with monthly subscription charges for streaming content, the NHL has a real chance to rebuild by letting more people in. There are millions of monthly impressions to be had. Even OLN and Comcast stand to benefit in this arrangement by increasing their own profile. It would be fascinating for everyone involved to see the league and the network take such a bold step.
I think the NHL/Comcast/OLN should really explore the possibilities of this emerging podcasting media movement since they already have the content, delivery and demand elements in place to take full advantage of it. Plus, it's the wave of the future so I'd love to see them catch and ride that wave now.

If your interested in what the near future world of digital sports media will look like check out this WIRED article on the subject.
...the idea that you'll only watch television by plunking yourself in front of a 60-inch plasma screen is growing quaint. Home networks will put TV on your desktop; a proliferation of wireless technologies, from 3G to WiMax, will let you take it anywhere. And in a few years, when the cable companies finally dump their bandwidth-hogging analog channels and go all-digital, they'll be able to offer broadband at speeds that will put TV-quality video on the Net.

In Other Nooz:
Penguins beat Stars for Stanley Cup
At least that's the outcome of a season simulation by the developers of the PC hockey management game, NHL Eastside Hockey Manager 2005. The simulation sees Pittsburgh winning the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best regular season record. The Penguins then cut a swath through the playoffs before sweeping the Dallas Stars in the final.
Rookie defenceman Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh's first-round pick in the 2002 draft, scored the winning goal in the Penguins' 3-2 win in Game 4 of the final.

...The hockey game, released this week in North America, features more than 32,000 players and staff from the NHL and 20 other leagues. It also draws on some 500 researchers around the world who follow the leagues and grade players and teams.
Read all about it >>> here.

(as always all emphasis found in this post is mine)

The wife and I are heading for the hills for a couple of days, catch you again sometime over the weekend. Everyone have a good one, ya hear?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pucks Unlimited

Just one week to go fans until the start of the season and there's a lot things going on out there in Puck World.


Sports Illustrated has come out with their 2005/06 NHL predictions and they pick Calgary Flames to win it all. SI is also picking Nashville to be this season's Calgary, the surprise team that makes some noise in the playoffs.

However, Oddsmakers at the world's
leading online gaming company, say the return of the Stanley Cup to Canada will not happen this year thus it would extend Canada's
drought to twelve seasons without a Cup-winning team, by far the
longest in NHL history going back to 1926. Bummer. They're also giving odds on such things as will Crosby win Rookie of the Year, etc. Oh, and by the way they're picking Philly to win it all.

Besides isn't there some sort of curse associated with Sports Illustrated. (link courtsey of Battle of Alberta)


There are a number of NHL newcomers who have been busy making names for themselves and making runs at making the big clubs this preseason... by making Big Impressions. (just wanted to see how many times I could use the word making)

Also there's this piece on the rookies who are making a impact.
The race to be the NHL's top rookie at the end of the 2005-06 season is shaping up to be the most intriguing in years. There are talented players who would have been freshmen last season, only to have their entry postponed by the lockout

Last week we took a look at Roarke's TOP 5 current NHL rivalries.

This week ESPN has come out with their all-time great NHL rivalries.
The recipe for a great rivalry includes a measure of time, a healthy dose of hatred and more than a little blood. If you can throw in some politics, slights (real or perceived), and some shared geography, so much the better.

The two hot Hockey Video Games that have just hit the market NHL2K6 and NHL06 go head-to-head in this virtual pucks match up .

My game wins.


Speaking of hockey computer games Mike W. at Covered in Oil gives us this link to Eastside Hockey's insanely deep hockey sim. as part of some lynx he's passing along.

Over at Hockey Rants Jes Golbez takes Sean Avery to task for some incredibly stupid remarks. Which is becoming more and more typical of Avery.

Tom Benjamin the master of the eloquent argument all of a sudden becomes a puck pundit of few words... one to be exact.

In a word... amazing.

HOMER ( 8(|)

That's me, a Homer and since it is my blog I'll throw in a preview of my team.

There, I think I've thrown everything in here that I wanted to including... The Kitchen Sink.

Ooops, I knew I left something out... 10 games you cannot miss this season in the NHL

There, that's it, I'm done.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Blue Jackets vs Bug Brawl

Columbus loses one-sided fight... badly

The Blue Jackets this past week were savagely blind-sided by a unprovoked attack that emptied the benches... and the locker room. Players literally had the s#@t kicked out of them during this vicious assault.
About three-quarters of the 39-man roster complained of fever, aches and pains, headache, dizziness and upset stomachs last weekend. Because of the number of sick players, the dressing room was closed Monday.
It was ugly for awhile but the Blue Jackets brought in enforcers with disinfectants and order was soon restored. All the injured are expected to recover.

Bug Vows Revenge.

Hey, if your in need of a little chuckle to pick yourself up try this one out. It worked for me. Remember, a chuckle or two a day keeps the doctor away.

Just another public service I try to provide around here.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Habitat for Hockey

Hockey-Friendliest U.S. Cities
1. New York, NY (51) Home of the New York Rangers
2. Denver, CO (42) Home of the Colorado Avalanche
3. St. Louis, MO (32) Home of the St. Louis Blues
4. (tie) Pittsburgh, PA (30) Home of the Pittsburgh Penguins
St. Paul, MN (30) Home of the Minnesota Wild
6. Philadelphia, PA (26) Home of the Philadelphia Flyers
7. (tie) Nashville, TN (21) Home of the Nashville Predators
Columbus, OH (21) Home of the Columbus Blue Jackets
9. (tie) Anaheim, CA (20) Home of the Mighty Ducks
Buffalo, NY (20) Home of the Buffalo Sabres
Huh, Nashville 7th friendliest city for hockey in America. Gee, who knew?

Nice to see Colorado up there near the top, that figures. Funny, I don't see Hockeytown anywhere on there. They must be way down on the list somewhere, that figures too.

Meanwhile in other news:

This just in, another sign that the apocalypse is almost upon us has been spotted >>> X

I hope we get this Hockey season in before it really hits. I'd hate to miss another one. Cancelled due to apocalypse. Man, that would be a bummer.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Joy Puck Club

Some of this weeks action from the Wide World of Hockey Blogs

It was another active week for hockey bloggers out there as we near the start of the season. Exactly 9 days 22 hours and 39 minutes as of when I'm writing this according to James Mirtle's handy little countdown meter on his site. (underneath his About Me)

Here's just a few of the many highlights from this past week.

- Mike Chen had server issues earlier in the week but he was back up with his take on the Ad flap.

- [so.very.obsessed]
hit their 700th post... Congratulations!

- Over at Hockey Rants Jes Golbez gives us some "Sleeper Picks" for the upcoming season, oops I mean pics.

- The aforementioned James Mirtle also has a mini roundup of the week worth checking out.

- Steven Ovadia at Puck Update chipped in with some advertising slogans the NHL should've used.

- Matt (south) at Battle of Alberta challenged anyone to comment on his parenting skills. No one has except to praise. His partner sacamano (north) posted a interesting link of the ferocious beat down administered by Georges Laraque on Brantt Myhres.

- Mike W. over at Covered in Oil was busy this week releasing his latest cartoon installment of "Gone but not forgotten" and telling Vancouver fans what they could do to his posterior.

- The Puck Stops Here came out with their 2005/06 predictions and analysis of the Atlantic Division.

- Andy over at Sports Matter (I couldn't agree more) has a interesting post called Hockey: Canada's Conservative Religion worth checking out.

- Finally and certainly not least the great Tom Benjamin celebrated 2 years of blogging this week. Tom is the King of Hockey Blogdom as far as I'm concerned and I encourage everyone to stop by and congratulate him. While your there check out any of Tom's excellent posts. You can't go wrong. Tell him omr sent you.

Well that's just a brief recap, things should continue to heat up in the coming weeks as the season gets closer and closer. See you next Sunday with The Joy Puck Club. Till then, Happy Hockey and remember... Support your Hockey Bloggers.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Off Roading

Occasionally I'll take this blog off the hockey internet super highway it usually travels and head for the hills, sort of speak. I promise it won't happen too often, it's just that sometimes something catches my eye and I just have to go check it out, you know how it goes. Since I'm the one who has control of the steering wheel please bear with me and hang on. I'll be back on the hockey highway here in a second.

I love a good conspiracy theory just as much as the next person, maybe more. It's one of my many guilty pleasures. Don't get me wrong, I don't put much stock in them (well, maybe a couple) it's just that every now and then I REALLY enjoy finding a new one that entertains my brain with it's bizarreness and crazed characters. All of which brings me to this one here which is a duzzie that I just couldn't pass up passing along. Especially with whats been going on down in the gulf.
"There's a chess game going on in the sky," Stevens said. "It affects each and every one of us. It is the one common thread that binds us all together."

Like I said it's a duzzie of a conspiracy theory, it's even got the Japanese Mafia in it and I'm a sucker for anything involving the Japanese Mafia... another guilty pleasure.

As far as other conspiracy theories I'm following at the moment, the NHL Advertising Campaign Controversy is one that I'm watching being played out before us (I told you we'd end up back on the hockey highway). I tend to follow Tom Benjamin's thought that the whole thing could well have been designed into the whole campaign on purpose.
The question I have is whether the ad was deliberately designed to offend the likes of Martha Burk. Ms. Burk is probably doing the NHL a favour in the United States given that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.
The #1 one thing the league wanted to accomplish during this reintroduction phase of the game was to get people talking about hockey again. This whole dust up starts the process moving. Just like the ABC Monday Night Football/Desperate Housewives locker room sex flap of a year ago which as a result of the uproar did nothing but boost the profiles of both shows, I think that same exact play is being tried again this year, this time by the NHL. I guess it doesn't matter how many times advertising agencies dip into that playbook and use that particular play, it works like a charm every time. Now that they have everyone's attention it'll be interesting seeing how they handle the next phases of the campaign.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Cold Wars

Feuds are front and center in the new NHL

With the new scheduling emphasis on division rivals playing each other more this upcoming season there's going to be a number of very interesting and entertaining series for fans to keep their eyes on.

Shawn P. Roarke writing for Foxsports has put together a look at the NHL rivalries for 2005-06.
While new divisional rivalries will surely be formed through the implementation of the NHL's new unbalanced schedule, the league already has a number of can't-miss rivalries.

Those blood feuds will be the drawing card for many fans as they straddle the fence deciding whether or not to accept the return of hockey with open arms and, more importantly for the league, open wallets
He has the Calgary vs. Edmonton rivalry listed 4th best for the upcoming season (I would've had it higher).
The Battle of Alberta has it all. Not surprisingly its annual installments are always the highlights of the province's winter calendar. No matter the respective fortunes of the two teams, these games are always do-or-die affairs conducted at a frenetic pace that is absent from more than 90 percent of regular-season games. Not even the fact that these two teams have not met in the playoffs since 1991 has quelled the passion the residents of these two cities hold for the rivalry.
Edmonton, on the strength of its dynastic team led by Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, holds a 4-1 advantage in the five playoff series between the two teams. With both teams making serious additions this summer, the next installment of the Battle of Alberta will apparently be as exciting as past editions
If your interested in totally immersing yourself in the Flames/Oilers feud... like I am ...the blogs Battle of Alberta and Covered in Oil are the places to go. We're talking total immersion here folks. The sites are run by a variety of contributors who each bring their own uniquely entertaining perspective and style to the back and forth debates that take place on and between these two blogs.

Check them out. It's the best one-two combination coverage of a NHL rivalry out there.

For a complete listing and analysis of Roarke's Top 5 best and most heated feuds for fans to savor this season >>> X <<< marks the spot.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Screen Shots

Mike Ricci Movie Star

Aaaah, well, not quite a star... but kind of.

Ricci and fellow NHL'ers Ian Laperriere, Sean Avery, Vincent Lecavalier and Stephane Quintal were all player/actors in a movie recently shot about the life of Rocket Richard.

No, unfortunately Mike didn't play the "Rocket".
"...I was Elmer Lach, Rocket's centreman," Ricci said. "This was during the summer. I did a couple of days in early July and 10 days at the end of July."
The first filming was done in Montreal, then the crew moved to Quebec City to do the hockey scenes.

The movie, which chronicles the life of Maurice "Rocket" Richard, is scheduled to open in theatres in Quebec this winter.
I hope it's a good one because there hasn't been a lot of great hockey films made over the years like there has been with other sports. Which brings me to:

Oddmanrush's All-time Favorite Hockey Movies.

Slap Shot

Les Chiefs


Mystery, Alaska

The Rhino Brothers

Have I left any of your favorites out ???

Then there's these Lost Hockey Movie Classics that can be real hard to come by but are worth the effort.

There's also a new Hockey movie coming out that will be screened at the Calgary International Film Festival next week called "When Hockey Comes To Belfast".
The film portrays hockey in Belfast as a forum that is "bringing Northern Irish youth together in a shared love of the game, the rink gives boys and girls a haven from the turf warfare that pervades their lives."

The film documents the secret friendship of Paul and Andrew, one a Catholic the other a Protestant, and their love for the local team: the Belfast Giants. It also highlights how the Belfast Giants team stands as a symbol of hope in the community and the hockey arena as a freindly and religion-free zone for everyone.
The Belfast Giants incidentally is the team Theo Fleury is playing for this year.

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Winger

Great line to describe Tkachuk don't you think? I wish I had come up with it but I didn't. Glen Trainor writing for Beer League Hockey used it in his piece on the suspension of Tkachuk or as he calls him...

(he) showed up out of shape and 30 lbs heavier than last season's weight. Par for the course if you're talking about men's rec hockey, a couple of guys on my team showed up heavier than last year too. But in the NHL you don't strut around the dressing room rubbing your belly bragging about the beer-filled summer you just had.

...the issue here isn't with the team as Murray would lead you to believe. The issue is with the attitude of a professional.

He showed up to training camp at 260. He weighed 231 pounds in 2003-04.
260. Thats not the weight of a winger. Thats the weight of a defensive end.
You'd think someone making as much money as Keith Tkachuk would take the start of this newly revamped and very important NHL season just a little bit more seriously... wouldn't you?

I would.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hockey Love Child

He's the son of a former puck bunny living in Toronto who today finds himself wrestling with the dilemma of coming forward and facing a Canadian sports icon now that he's realized...

"I should have figured it out sooner. It certainly explained my love for the Boston Bruins and my appreciation for high-collared shirts and grandiloquent suits. I had always thought it was a desperate cry for attention. I never had a real father-figure in my life."
"So what do you say, dad? Do you think we could play catch someday, or maybe just pass a puck around?"
I think everyone will join me in wishing Don and his boy all the best.

.... HA!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

New Hockey vs Classic Hockey

Count me as a fan who's pretty optimistic and excited about the NEW NHL that's beginning play again after that looooooong dismal lockout winter of our discontent. Well the sun's finally coming up and I for one really like the new financial setup, the new rules to open up the game and the new scheduling that has rivals playing each other more than ever before. I know there's many that strongly disagree but I get the sense that most fans are cautiously optimistic and like myself are willing to at least give the NEW NHL a chance with these changes.

However there is a fairly large segment of fans out there that want no part of this New NHL and already are pining for the old days and the old style of play that was the league just before the lockout.
" I survey the new NHL, with its newfangled rules and wacky schedule, I have a great amount of skepticism. Is this still the sport I grew up loving? Or is it something much different and not as good?
Just having the skates back on isn’t enough; the NHL still has to convince us traditionalists that the lost time and bickering have been for the better.

Kris Draper said. “Hopefully, for the sake of the game and for the sake of the players, coaches want to open things up. Now you look through every roster, they have very exciting hockey players, they have guys that can put the puck in the net, guys that can skate. Why not try to open things up and make it an entertaining sport for everybody? I think that’s going to have to be the case.”

"All of which leaves those of us who liked defensive-minded, goaltender-driven battles out in the cold."

"... Some of us enjoyed fight-filled games with forechecking and left-wing locks. Some of us liked a good St. Louis-Boston match, something that won’t happen this season. Some of us are skeptical we’ll ever see our beloved sport again".
So it looks like we might have a New Coke vs Classic Coke kind of situation shaping up here with fans of the sport. The difference this time I think as it pertains to Hockey is that the NEW version is going to kick butt over the so-called CLASSIC version.

The early reports have been very encouraging. There's this >>> one on the recent Philly vs Atlanta game.
Those who don't believe the changes being made in hockey won't be better for the game didn't see the exhibition game between the Atlanta Thrashers and Philadelphia Flyers.

...Forget the 14 goals. The game provided a glimpse into how the game is supposed to look. Quick-paced with plenty of skating and skill, there were long passes, quick breaks.

It had enough hitting to satisfy those who crave physical contact but it lacked the clutching and grabbing that slowed the game down. And for those who believe you can't teach an old dog new tricks, they would have been surprised to see players about to revert to the old hook-'em-and-hold-'em routine pull back when they realized they'd be slapped with a penalty.
...and then there's this other >>> one out of Toronto.
The basics of a much, much improved NHL game were on display for the first time in T.O. last night, and there was an awful lot to like and very few people prepared to complain.

There was none of that lazy hooking and tugging, and a surprising amount of hitting for a pre-season tilt, won 5-2 by the Ottawa Senators over the Maple Leafs.
Everybody seems pretty happy so far except >>> this guy <<< but hey if I was him I'd be bummed too.

Initial taste tests seem to confirm it's NEW NHL over Classic NHL... but it's still early in the contest.

Stay tuned.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Crosby to Miss Start of Season

Virtual Sid forced to sit out

That's right folks, you heard it here first. Odd Man Rush with hard breaking nooz.

Sidney Crosby the most heralded young player to enter the NHL in years will miss the beginning of the Video Game Hockey season. Sid's virtual self won't be allowed to play... initially.

Due to licensing restrictions of the NHL Players Association, players can only appear in NHL-licensed video games after having played in a regular season NHL game. Gamers hoping to take control of Crosby to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins back to the promised land will have to be a bit more patient, as 2K Games is planning another roster update with Crosby and the rest of the rookie class after the start of the NHL regular season on October 5.
The ever burgeoning on-line community of hockey players won't have any problem putting Sid into their games once the update is available but for those not on-line this could be a bummer. Sid might have to sit out the whole season.

Anyone interested in a comprehensive breakdown of the 2K6 and NHL06 games just released go >>> here.

Meanwhile back here in the so-called real world... Sid has been dazzling.
Crosby finished the Penguins' exhibition tournament with two goals and four assists in four games. That was hardly indicative. He was the best player on the ice during several junctures.

He might be the best skater on the team. Several times he stunned linemates with passes they could have used but for their shock. True to his reputation, he was tough to get off the puck and he won nearly all his faceoffs. There have been sporadic periods of ineffectiveness, but the bottom line is everything you have heard about Sidney Crosby has been on display this week.
Unlike Virtual Sid, Real Sid will suit up for the start of the season.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

In Other Hockey News... Out There.

Mr. Hockey still dishing out assists
...and living life large.

Famous Game Show Host "Loves" Hockey
...and the answer is ?

The Long Lost Captain
...some grudges just NEVER end.

The Battle in Pitt. to be Sidney's Bodyguard appears to be a wide open 3 way "fight".

NHL Imposter Nabbed
...they should hand this guy over to the guys battling in Pitt.
UPDATE: Real NHLer's come to the rescue.

Coed Hockey Locker rooms
...what is the world coming to?

aaah, don't bother answering that, I think I already know.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Battle of Alberta

Round 1 of this 12 round bout that will take place between the Flames and Oilers this year went to the Oilers in a 2-1 shootout before 16,839 at a sold-out Rexall Place in Edmonton.

After no scoring in the five-minute overtime period, Ryan Smyth tucked a backhand shot past Brent Krahn as Edmonton's fourth shooter in the NHL's newly implemented shootout format. Jarret Stoll also scored for the Oilers, while Matthew Lombardi had the lone goal for the Flames.

Calgary GM and coach Darryl Sutter elected to sit a host of veterans including all-star right winger and captain Jarome Iginla, goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff and trio of signees - veteran winger Tony Amonte, centre Daymond Lankow and defenceman Roman Hamrlik.
Only new Flames winger Darren McCarty, an unrestricted free agent signed from Detroit, played in the game.
Well so much far... for the new rules opening up the scoring flood gates. However the leagues' crackdown on obstruction was fully evident as 22 penalties were called on the teams, including 7 minors in the first period. The Flames also had a pair of unsuccessful two-man advantages. The Oilers killed off a minute-long two-man advantage in the third period.

The PK play of most teams this time of year will be more successful than the PP but that will change as the preseason progresses especially if the number of penalties called remains this high.

Anyone interested in diving deep into this Flames vs Oilers rivalry which many (including me) feel is the most intense and fascinating one in the NHL at the moment really should check out BATTLE OF ALBERTA run by Matt (in the south) and sacamano (up north), it's an excellent blog completely devoted to this ongoing war.

In other action...

Caps get Crushed

Gretzky's Coyotes Win... but lose Bourcher... in a shootout exhibition...
Each exhibition game is followed by a one-on-one shootout to show fans what will be done in tie games under the new system. On the first attempt by the Wild, Boucher injured his right groin moving to block Peter Olvecky's shot and had to be helped from the ice. The severity of the injury wasn't known, but it didn't look good.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The D'Amico Cup

Cup play recently wrapped up in Fort Erie, Ontario for this annual event and it may have been the most important one played in years... maybe ever. The results from this years week-long series of contests will strongly impact the upcoming NHL season and maybe even the leagues' future.

What? You say you've never heard of the D'Amico Cup?

No problem, if you'd like to know more go >>>>>> here.

The Icemen Cometh

Let The Games Begin

Well... the preseason ones anyways. 16 on tap this weekend alone including the Battle of Alberta. WOOHOO! Hey, these games are important, more important than most years (stop your snickering). There's A TON of new stuff to be worked out by everybody and not much time to do it. This preseason the officials, the teams, the players even the fans all have a unprecedented amount of change to deal with before the pucks drop for real Oct. 5th.
With three games Friday, six Saturday and seven Sunday, fans will receive their first opportunity to view a game that has been redesigned through reduction of the size of goalie equipment, an overtime shootout and aggressive rules enforcement. In theory, the league will no longer allow players without the puck to be impeded as they gain speed in the neutral zone, and there are even restrictions on how defenders deal with a puck carrier.

"It's not just the players' culture and coaches' culture that needs to change," said Stephen Walkom, the league's director of officiating. "It's the officiating culture as well because accepted practices in the past will no longer be accepted."
So with all these hockey "cultural" changes needing to take place quickly these preseason games will be very important. Maybe even entertaining. Definetly worth keeping your eye on.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Best Game You Can Name: The People's Story of Hockey

A Book about Music and Hockey

This past looooooooog off-season I spent a lot of my free time reading hockey books and one of the best I came across was The Tropic of Hockey by Dave Bidini. It's a fascinating account of Dave's Hockey experiences in the far corners of the world and I highly recommend it. Well, it turns out that Dave is also an accomplished musician who plays guitar with the almost famous Canadian rock band the Rheostatics, who according to noted hockey writer and internet columnist Jamie Fitzpatrick wrote the 6th best Hockey Song ever, " The Ballad of Wendel Clark, Parts I and II".

Anyways, Dave has written another book this time combining his (and my) two favorite pursuits... hockey and music.

The Best Game You Can Name: The People's Story of Hockey.

In it Bidini writes about his life on and off the ice with his art/rock hockey team the Morningstars and their pursuit of a league championship. Mixed throughout the narrative are stories and commentary from old-time NHL players and other hockey veterans.

Dave recently talked about his new book at a reading held at the Paddock Pub in Toronto.
Bidini describes the characters that he shares Saturday evenings with throughout the winter, while letting the other characters comment on various inside aspects of the game, all the while showing the connection between guitar gear and hockey gear. One wonders how Bidini came up with the notion to write a book about music and hockey?

"Those two worlds have always been parallel for me, so it wasn't a stretch or anything," he explains. "The part that is the most intriguing is the music — there is one chapter where there are a lot of players talking about their experiences in music as it relates to their lives as hockey players. For me, that's the fascinating thing. I think musicians can wax poetic all we want about the relationship between the two, but it's almost more staggering when you hear someone like Jim Schonfeld or Frank Mahovlich talk about the importance of music in their lives because you never figure that."

According to Bidini the biggest similarity between music and hockey is weird rituals associated with these two activities.
"I think Canadians are slightly bent," he concludes. "I never feel that that side of Canada gets its proper due.But, I do think that hockey subculture does represent that northern weirdness that we embody. That's reflected in the films that come out of Canada and the literature that comes out of Canada and the comedy that is whacked. For some reason we have a perception of ourselves as being white conservative and very up the middle, but there's one side of us that's totally bizarre and hockey reflects that."
I couldn't agree more.

Dave Bidini, check him out, he's real good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Man, what can you say about the guy except...what a player... what a career... what memories.

He may have won 5 Cups with Edmonton but for me it's that 1 Cup he captained New York to in 1994 that I and I think history will always remember him for. Kind of the same way Curt Schilling now will always be indelibly linked to Boston's World Series victory that ended their infamous drought.

Here's EJ Hradek's Top 3 Messier Moments
He could have come back for another season. He could have come back to break Gordie Howe's record for most games played. He only needed to skate in 11 more games to equal the mark. But Messier has never really been about individual records. He said as much on his retirement conference call. Instead, No. 11 exits a symbolic 11 games behind Mr. Hockey. That's probably how it should be.
That was a class move on Mark's part.

Fans may disagree on the Top 3 Messier moments but I think we can all agree that >>> this <<< is one of the stranger Mark Messier post-game locker room celebration photos that you'll ever find. Hmmm, he's got one hand on a beer that's easy to see but I can't tell where his other hand is... and I'm not sure I want to know.


In one of the oddest pickups by a NHL team this off-season the Colorado Avalanche acquired Brad May formerly of Vancouver. May you might remember was a central figure in the ugly Bertuzzi - Moore incident, he's the one who called for a bounty on Moore's head following his hard but legal check on Naslund. We all know what transpired next. May and Bertuzzi are now defendants in a lawsuit Moore has filed in Denver seeking damages for his injuries. May will now wear a Avalanche uniform on the ice at the Pepsi Center and we'll find out if he's accepted or rejected by the Colorado fans (I'm guessing accepted).
"I played for a lot of years in this league with integrity and honor,'' said May, who has spent most of his 13 years as an enforcer for the Sabres, Canucks and Coyotes. "I'm proud to be who I am. I don't feel bad. But I feel the whole situation is regrettable."
Captain Joe Sakic had this to say about his new teammate:
"I've said it before, I feel bad for what happened to Steve but Brad's not the one who did it. I'm sure he feels bad for what happened.''
Many in Denver have questioned the signing of May and quite a few view it as a slap in the face to Moore and to the fans. However it ends up being received it sure is a odd twist to one of the nastiest events in NHL history.

One Denver newspaper columnist has focused his ire quite a bit on this whole Brad May/Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore situation and you can find his latest take on it >>> here.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver things seem to be going pretty well for Todd.
Bertuzzi has returned to an environment where he feels safe and supported. For him, being back in a dressing room with his teammates is like a wolf returning to the safety of the pack.

"It's nice to be back in that atmosphere," said Bertuzzi, who wore a Philadelphia Eagles jersey with Terrell Owens name and number on it
Hmmm, I wonder how things are going in Steve Moore's World?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Big Snake

I just couldn't pass up a story on a player with one of the coolest names in all of Hockey... Robin Big Snake... who like many other young men this time of the year is following his dream and trying to make it in the NHL.
The Canadian native is half-Cree, half-Blackfoot, but all hockey player.

Big Snake hails from the Siksika Nation, a small band an hour east of Calgary of about 4,200 people.

"There's a lot of talent up there that hasn't been looked at, really. I think in a few years, you'll see more Native players coming into the leagues."
Being a 21st century kind of guy he even has his own Web site - - that includes a bio, stats, a chronology of all 74 of his fights in the WHL and OHL, video of selected fights, interviews and photos.
Big Snakes' usual role is one that the Wings have been lacking in the recent years - an enforcer and physical presence to dissuade opponents from taking too many shots at their forwards.

"I'm not afraid to stick up to anybody," he said.

"I used to skate on the ponds as a little kid and visualize and pretend I was scoring an overtime goal," Big Snake said. "Now it's a reality and I just have to make it come true."

Good Luck Big Snake.

NHL gets Radioactive

The NHL on Monday announced an exclusive 10-year, $100 million agreement with XM Satellite Radio.
"We're delighted to have XM as our newest satellite radio partner," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "At this exciting time in the league's history, a new partnership with XM allows us to offer hockey fans unprecedented NHL coverage on the nation's largest satellite radio service."

"We are thrilled about the National Hockey League's decision to partner with XM Satellite Radio," XM president and CEO Hugh Panero said. "The clear winners of this partnership are the millions of hockey fans in the U.S. and in Canada who are incredibly passionate about their favorite NHL team and who will now be able to follow them regardless of where they call home."
XM Satellite Radio plans to cover over 1,000 games next season, including the All-Star Game, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Stanley Cup Final. The XM service is available anywhere in the US and in Canada through its partner Canadian Satellite Radio.

XM will also develope a dedicated NHL radio channel.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Odds

A Recommended Post from the Hockey Blogosphere...

Over at Hockey Rants Jes Golbez has a look at the early betting lines coming out of Vegas for the upcoming NHL season. Jes also gives his own take on the odds and what teams you might want to look at and which ones you might want to avoid. Check out his excellent post >>>> here.

Remember, support the Hockey Blogs.


Well, the big news this week for hockey fans everywhere is that after two looooong years NHL training camps finally will be opening up.
Most of the league's 30 teams, 21 to be exact, officially open camp Monday while the rest will follow suit Tuesday or Wednesday.

There's a buzz around the league about the return of hockey, a stark contrast to a year ago Wednesday when commissioner Gary Bettman triggered the lockout, a labour fight that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season
These camps are going to be busier and more important for the teams than normal with a lot of ground to cover on a variety of things. Not only will teams have to jell with new roster acquisitions but there's brand new rules and whole new offensive/defensive strategies that have to be learned and implemented.
Players who have been working out in independent groups all summer have tried to incorporate some of the new rules and ice dimensions so not to be overwhelmed next week.
"Here at the Joe, guys are getting used to the speed and the body positioning," Draper said. "Teams that can skate and have a good defence will be a step ahead. You won't have any choice to open up. But this is going to be a huge adjustment and it won't happen overnight."
Let the fun and games begin.
The NHL's pre-season gets underway Friday night with three games, including the Battle of Alberta in Edmonton.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hockey World News Roundup

U.S. Olympic Hockey Orientation Camp Ends

Kovalchuk could play year in Russia

NAHL begins 30th season this weekend

Pond hockey players can register for first Canadian Nationals

Indian Ice Hockey Jrs finish 2nd

The Man, The Myth, The Mullet

I'm a big fan of Barry Melrose. He reminds me of the Canadian guys I went to college with. Big, Good natured, fun loving, slightly goofy hoseheads that loved hockey, beer and a good time. I think Barry's hockey work at ESPN has been excellent, I know he hasn't been everyone's cup of tea but he's been mine and I was really hoping that he would end up over at OLN as part of their hockey coverage. That however will not be the case because Melrose has decided to stay with ESPN.
OLN and the NHL recently agreed to a two-year, $135-million contract that includes 58 games this season, mostly on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Melrose, though, decided to stay with ESPN and be an NHL analyst on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio.
"It's the greatest sports company in the world and it's the place I want to be,'' he said. "Hopefully, down the road, the NHL will return to ESPN

I really love the fashion disasters that he comes up with. It seems like he could care less about what people think and he just goes for it. It's that classic over-the-top sportscaster style that Don Cherry and others have traditionally gone for over the years. Barry simply brings his own little wacky twist to it. I would've loved to see it continued on the OLN... along with his great hockey analysis.

Plus, the guy hates the trap and I love anyone who hates the trap. How can you not?
Melrose, ESPN hockey analyst, criticizes the trap for watering down an NHL product that has seen its goals-per-game average plummet from eight in 1981 to just more than five in 2003-04. He says smart coaches can break the trap and make it obsolete.
"The last seven or eight years of our league, the games on TV have been terrible to watch," Melrose said. "People want to see goals, speed and excitement. Everyone has to open up on offense

Us fans of the Mystic Mullet Man (trust me, he is the King of the Hockey Mullet) will simply have to continue watching for his sporadic appearances on ESPN. In addition to whatever NHL analysis they'll have him do he also will be part of ESPN's College Hockey coverage which I believe will be 15 games this season.

Goalies Learning to Cope.

The poor guys have been the target of a lot of rule changes since the NHL last played and there's plenty of adjustments they'll have to learn about and make before the season starts on Oct. 5th. However in typical goalie fashionthe boys are feeling pretty confident about dealing successfully with everything that's being thrown at them.
''I guess the shooters will see a little more,'' St. Louis Blues goalie Patrick Lalime said this week. ''It's been a bit of an adjustment, but I don't think it will be that much of a factor.
''I'm glad they didn't go for the bigger nets, which would have been a really big adjustment for us,'' he added.
All together, the changes sound like a nightmare for goalies, but Marty Brodeur is not worried.
''We'll get more shots, but I don't know if we'll get more quality shots,'' he said. ''Making the offensive zone bigger, with less space behind the net, is going to create a lot of space on the outside.
''A good defensive team will play the house system, as they call it, and you'll get more shots - offensive players will get more time to make plays - but it will be hard to get good shots on net.
''We have to give it a chance,'' he added. ''I'm excited about all the changes the NHL made to make the game more exciting.''
Well, we shall see, we'll just have to see. Personally I think it's going to be a bigger and rockier adjustment for a lot of these goaltenders to make than they're admitting to now. But heck, like typical goalies they don't want shooters to know that.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Movers and Shakers

With many players still out there to be signed a lot could still happen to change rosters but that doesn't stop Kevin Allen at USA TODAY from ranking the TOP 10 teams of Hockeys' nearly completed pre-pre-season.
"The Calgary Flames today have about the same payroll as the Detroit Red Wings. The Edmonton Oilers traded for a $7 million player. With plenty of options, Paul Kariya decided Nashville was the place he wanted to play. The Pittsburgh Penguins, a team operated with a miser's touch for the past couple of seasons, suddenly became a free spender.

This was a summer of change in the National Hockey League"
Boy, you sure can say that again.

As far as his Top 10 list goes I think I would've ranked Calgary a bit higher.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Training camp hasn't even begun and Forsberg's injured. He's had trouble with his ankles in the past, actually LOTS of trouble and unfortunately he's got problems there again.
Forsberg has an infected bursa in his right ankle and will have surgery on Monday, September 12, and will miss at least two weeks...
GM Bobby Clarke said...
If everything goes well with Forsberg the way the doctors have told us, he will get back in before training is over and be ready by the start of the season. Even though it is a little bit disappointing, it is something we can live with.”
Peter's left so much of himself and his body on the ice over the years that now sadly there's not much left to give. I think Philly will be fortunate to get more than half a season out of Foppa. That's really too bad because WHEN HEALTHY he really is in my not so humble opinion the best player in the world.

Bad Blood Rising

When the NHL begins play in LESS than a month fans will see a number of changes including more games against divisional rivals. The hope is to generate more interest in the contests and also to reduce travel costs for the teams. With more head-to-head banging going on between teams all fighting for the limited playoff spots within the division the feeling is things could get pretty heated.
"It's going to be tough keeping our composure," Briere said Tuesday on a conference call with players from each Northeast Division club. "Playing the same team over and over, there's a lot of emotion that's going to be flying.
"It's not going to be easy, but it's great for the fans. We get to see the Leafs, Canadiens, Bruins and Senators more often. It's better for traveling as well. There's a lot of positives, but emotion will be a big factor
Of the many changes we'll be seeing this season I think this is one that will be a guaranteed hit. If you get my drift.

With the intense divisional conflicts on the horizon teams continue to SUPERSIZE in preparation... and not only in Philly. The thinking continues to be BIG is better.
"All things being equal, a guy who has size and ability is going to win out over a smaller guy," GM Kevin Lowe said after yesterday's session in Fort Saskatchewan.

"Certainly, within our division, there's going to be battles, no question. With eight (games), that's inevitable. You want to have some toughness in the lineup
It remains to be seen if the new rules will alter the big is better equation. I think they will.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The New Cold War

The Russians are going, the Russians are going.

Rumors are circulating that Ilya Kovalchuk has signed with a Russian team, which follows on the heals of Detroit losing one of their top young players Pavel Datsyuk , also to a Russian team. So, as you can see not all players are finding the lure of the NHL irresistible. Mostly because of the new CBA and resulting salary cap close to 100 players or top prospects have decided to forgo the NHL and stay in Europe for the big bucks. Germany and Russia are where most of these players will be playing this year.
Last season's NHL lockout drove many players overseas, and not all are coming back.

..."You're seeing it more and more with the Russian players," Kings general manager Dave Taylor said. "There are a handful of teams that will pay huge amounts of dollars to get top players."
Is a new labor war on the horizon with competing leagues able to trump limited NHL $$$ with the unlimited $$$ of free spending Russian billionaires? I think this is a trend we could very well see continue as NHL salary cap limitations make playing in Europe very attractive especially for the Euro-players.


I'm sure in the coming days, weeks and months we'll be seeing more and more stories like this one.
Hockey organizations in the Toronto area are mobilizing to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
..."We are supposed to be in hockey to help children and there are thousands of children in the U.S.A. Gulf coast who need our help."
Yes, indeed there are thousands and thousands that need our help. As the years go by the words of my Grandmother echo in my mind more and more, particularly during times like these.
When you die the only things you can take with you are those things that you gave away.
Which brings us to...
Charity: It's the sporting thing to do
At the roots, sports reach down into our childhoods and into the best of what makes us all tick, what draws us together at playing fields and in arenas.
It's a long way from the suburban rinks of Toronto to the devastation on the Gulf Coast of the United States. But when the leaders of kids' hockey organizations here pledge support for the survivors of Katrina, ...the world seems a little smaller, a touch kinder.
So it was good to see the NHL and NHLPA step up to the plate and donate $1M for diaster relief. They also have plans for some other innovative fund raising plans.
...the League and the Players' Association will participate in a unique auction of game-worn Opening Night jerseys to further support the fund-raising endeavour.
For the first period of each team’s home opener, players will wear a jersey bearing a special patch confirming the Clubs' and players' commitment to the people and communities impacted. The jerseys will be collected and then auctioned by League auction partner Truition Inc., on, all NHL member Club websites, and
Even the Stanley Cup is going to be doing it's part.
...the NHL has committed the Stanley Cup to a fund-raising tour of ECHL cities. Details of the tour, which will be coordinated with the ECHL to maximize opportunities in such franchise cities as Biloxi, Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves), still are being formalized.
So now it's time that we the fans step up and do our part in these efforts. Remember, when you give your not only helping others... your helping yourself.

NHL Video Game Season Begins

Not only is the NHL season almost upon us... the NHL video game season already has arrived.
While the puck won't drop on the first regular season NHL games in 18 months until October 5, the first video games of the year are already facing off.

2K Sports' NHL 2K6 and EA Sports' NHL 06 arrive in stores today complete with the new rules changes and the annual batch of tweaks and revamps. To this end, EA's introducing the skill stick feature, which lets marquee players pull off trick shots and dekes, while 2K Games adds an icon-based passing system and on-the-fly play calling to its game.

I'm amazed at the continued evolution of these Hockey games. Last year I just couldn't pass up the chance to check out the 2K series and I was blown away by how much fun and realism they've been able to incorporate into the game. At less than $20.00 I'll be sure to try out the latest installment.

Here's a early review of NHL2K6 and here's a look at EA's NHL 06.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NHL's Pregnant Pause

The Lockout might've killed the action on the ice this past year but there's some evidence that it contributed to more action off the ice:

The most important story in the NHL in recent weeks - other than this business about a labor settlement being reached - concerns a population explosion in a pocket of British Columbia. Seems the maternity ward at Prince George Regional Hospital has been overflowing since late April, and a hospital spokesperson wonders whether the locals might not have replaced "Hockey Night in Canada" last season with "Hokey-Pokey Night in Canada."
The hospital usually has "60 to 80" births a month, the ward's patient manager, Val Stewart, told Canadian Press, but lately the figure has been hovering around 100. "There's no way to prove it," she said, "but ... when you think about it and start counting, it's been about nine months since [the players were locked out]."
So there's one good thing about the NHL's Lost Season - while the sport was on sabbatical, more fans were created. There's a flip side to it, though. With another mouth to feed, Mr. and Mrs. Hockey Nut might have to give up their season tickets, opt for 10-game plans. Fortunately for them, teams are talking about cutting their prices as a conciliatory gesture to the forsaken masses
So now that the labor mess (on-ice) has passed it looks like we'll be seeing a lot less Hokey-Pokey Nights and more Hockey Nights. At least until the season ends.

Hockey Reality Show

It's a Canadian TV show called "Making the Cut". It's kind of like American Idol... only in this case it's for aspiring Hockey stars.

Reality TV Show Is All About Making The Cut
The premise around Making The Cut is simple: You get players who never made it to the NHL to compete for one of six invitations to attend a training camp for one of Canada’s six NHL teams.
...That happened last summer when 4,000 NHL wannabes attended seven tryout camps scattered across Canada. The players came in all ages, all sizes and all walks of life. There was a man from Manitoba who used to have Ed Belfour as his back-up goalie in junior hockey. Another participant quit major junior hockey in his draft year to care for his dying mother and Making The Cut was his way of finding out whether he has the right stuff to play pro hockey.

From the 4,000 who tried out originally these 6 emerged with a chance to now realize their NHL dreams.
On Dec. 14, 2004, with 18 finalists remaining, the six Canadian NHL teams each awarded one player a training camp invitation.
Jordan Little (Edmonton Oilers), Michael Mole (Ottawa Senators), Dominic Noel (Toronto Maple Leafs), James Demone (Vancouver Canucks), Matt Hubbauer (Calgary Flames) and Kevin Lavallee (Montreal Canadiens).
Good Luck boys!

How come Canada has all the cool TV shows?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Most NHLers From Small Towns

This I believe has long been suspected but now it's confirmed. If you want to make it to the NHL it turns out your odds of accomplishing that are MUCH HIGHER if you come from a small town.
a new study shows that those born in smaller cities have a better chance of becoming professional athletes.
Nearly 85 per cent of Canadian hockey players are from cities with populations under 500,000, according to research by Jean Cote, a professor of physical and health education at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont.

..."We have this stereotypical image of hockey players as these big boys who come from small towns," Cote said in an interview from Ireland. "It turns out, the odds of making it are much better for those living in smaller populations."

...Cote said the numbers are surprising because, in 1976, only 40 per cent of males under the age of 14 lived in cities between 1,000 and 500,000, but they grew up to dominate the NHL.
"You have to ask yourself how 40 per cent of the population produced 80 per cent of the players."

Coming from a small town I always knew there were a lot of advantages associated with that kind of environment BUT having a better chance of making it to the NHL wasn't one that I was aware of.

"Hands Off" the RFA's?

The new CBA was expected to bring a flurry of signings of Restricted Free Agents because unlike past years teams couldn't simply spend whatever it took to keep them due to the new salary cap structure. However despite the predictions of many puck pundits that has not happened in the least. Jamie Fitzpatrick takes a look at the issue particularly as it pertains to Detroits' RFAs Datsyuk and Zetterberg
...why won't a team take a run at the pair? With several roster spots to fill and little cap room, the Red Wings can't match two offer sheets. So you would get one or two excellent young players and all you give up are draft picks. Depending on the exact salaries, the cost might be a first and second-round pick for Zetterberg, two first-round picks and maybe a second rounder for Datsyuk.
Teams sacrificing draft choices are often said to be "mortgaging the future." But draft picks are an infinite resource - you get one in every round every year, and you can always trade for more. Besides, the draft is a crapshoot. If you're the Buffalo Sabres, whose recent first-round selections include names like Artem Kriukov and Barrett Heisten, what would you rather have? Another iffy prospect or Pavel Datsyuk just entering his prime?
So the question remains, WHERE are the offer sheets???

Monday, September 05, 2005

Canadian Women Rule!

Well at least until the next international hockey tournament comes along. As far as the recently completed Four Nations Cup women's hockey tournament held in Hameenlinna, Finland is concerned, the Canadian women defeated the Americans for a second time in the tournament to clinch the title.
Dana Antal scored in the third period to lift Canada past the United States 2-1 Sunday in the final of the Four Nations Cup women's hockey tournament.
Antal's game-winner came at 11:39, sliding the puck past American goalie Shari Vogt on a goalmouth scramble
Just for the record, I always think Canadian Women Rule!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Playing the Hockey Futures Market

I still can't quite figure out what the whole deal is with this thing but I don't think your actually buying stock in a NHL team. I think it's a wall street simulation that works with the real money fans contribute to a pool. You can buy into the pool through buy buying shares in the team of your choice. How much the shares cost is determined by the value of that team within the pool. Your shares then flucuate depending on the on-ice performance of the teams you have bought into and the subsequent buying and selling that takes place. Hockey Monopoly, I guess. Buy low, sell high.

The preseason headline out of allsportsmarkets is...
NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Skyrocket Up 86%
The Pittsburgh Penguins were by far the hottest pick on the board. Opening with the lowest IPO price of the NHL teams ($5.25 US) and a float of 2,000 shares, the Penguins sold out within minutes of their release and reached a trading high of ($9.77 US) by Sunday’s close. They are currently holding a 38.9% gain. Traders on feel the post 2003-2004 NHL season additions of Sergei Gonchar, Jocelyn Thibault, Mark Recchi, Zigmund Palffy, John LeClair and NHL number one draft pick Sidney Crosby have added life to the team.
Hmmm, I'm not sure what it all means but I'm glad to see that my Av's trading under the AVLNC symbol have gone from $10.25 to $10.29 despite the losses of Forsberg and Foote. WooHoo!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hockey Humor Break

Need a giggle or two? Well if you do (and who doesn't now days) then head on over >>> here <<< and they'll fix you up.

My personal favorite was number 3 of the...

Top Ten Signs You're Dating a Hockey Player.
3. Demanded credit for an assist when you slept with his best friend.
Come on, I bet you giggled.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Frozen Ponds of Dreams

Build it and they will come...

and play for the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships and a chance to be honored at the Hockey Hall of Fame. How cool is that?
There will be few rules, no goalies and no on-ice officials. 120 men's and women's teams will face intense competition and cold in Ontario's north for a chance to have their names engraved on championship trophies hand-carved out of Canadian maple. The Championship Cups will be on display at the Hockey
Hall of Fame after the event

..."It's the purest form of hockey," Lumsden said. "You learn to work the puck, control it, use you feet and go like hell.
The format will be similar to the world pond hockey tournament started in 2002 by Danny Braun in Plaster Rock. The New Brunswick event has four skaters a side, no raising the puck, no goalies, and nets that are six feet wide and only 10 inches high. The natural rinks are about two-thirds the size of regulation hockey arenas.
For the Canadian championships there will be no bodychecking, no boards and only snowbanks to keep the puck in play."
The Pond Hockey Tournaments held in Plaster Rock, NB since 2002 have been hugely successful and hopefully this Canadian Championship will be also. This is Hockey played in one of it's most elemental and beautiful forms, check it out if you have the chance and be thoroughly entertained.
More info >>> here.

Hull Yes!

Can't you feel the excitement building as training camps are about to open and the season's start is just a little over a month away? I can and it's great to see that some of the players like the irrepressible Brett Hull have kept their quotable selves in fine shape during the loooooong off-season.
"This is not my 'Farewell Tour,' " he told the Republic. "Now, in a month or two, you can talk to Gretz, and maybe he'll tell you that it is my 'Farewell Tour'."
It remains to be seen though if Brett's on-ice game is as in good shape as his off-ice game.

Emrick No?
OLN also recently announced the hiring of Mike "Doc" Emrick as the lead play-by-play announcer for the coming NHL season. I know a lot of people are very happy with his hiring but I"m not one of them. Mike Chen on his blog sums up the misgivings I and I guess a few others have.
Emrick is plenty knowledgeable but something about his style just bugs me. He's a bit melodramatic and has a very odd, stilted delivery to his play-by-play which just rubs me the wrong way.
Hey, I wish Mike the best, nothing personal, he just wasn't my #1 pick. I'm hoping OLN will be a bit more creative and bold in the hiring of the rest of the crew they assemble for the upcoming telecasts.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Operation Iraqi Hockey

I'm very glad to see that a couple versions of our great sport have made it all the way over to Iraq and are providing a slice of home and a much needed diversion for the people stationed there.

Not only is Roller Hockey being played...
At Warhorse, though, near the city of Baquba, about 60 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, hockey has become a nightly ritual.
Soldiers from Company B of the 203rd Forward Support Battalion, 3d Infantry Division, gather at 7 p.m. to lace up their inline skates and play hockey on an area of concrete separated from the base's helipad by blast walls. The soldiers' 16 sets of inline skates and 13 hockey sticks were donated by a sporting goods stores in Wisconsin. The single net they use was fashioned with tent poles they welded together, and netting normally used as a sun barrier.

... also Street Hockey has become quite popular with the troops.
The three hours a week that the soldiers spend playing street hockey is one of the only ways they can relax.''We can go back to basically being a civilian," said Fay. ''We don't have to worry about being blown up."The league celebrated Independence Day with a hockey tournament, complete with a singing of the national anthem and medals. ''We called it the mini-Beanpot," Fay, said jokingly.

God Bless all involved and may this terrible war with all it's death, destruction and misery end as soon as possible.