Monday, December 31, 2007


Chilly Winter Classic is a hot commodity

...the Winter Classic outdoor game between Buffalo and Pittsburgh on New Year's Day could become a marquee event on the NHL calendar.

Those that promote the NHL have never been so busy, producing daily commentary on, updates on rink flooding and painted lines and time-lapse videos on arena construction.

When 73,000 seats are sold out in a manner of hours, filling a football stadium for a hockey game, you know they are on to something. When NBC decides to broadcast the game – Bowl games be damned – you have the buzz. [...]

No less a voice than that of Penguins star Sidney Crosby believes one of these events a year would be good for the game.

"I think one (game) is good. I mean, it doesn't always have to be the same teams, but I think one's good," Crosby said Friday. "It's something for everyone to look forward to. I think it's going to bring attention."

The Red Wings are hoping to host one of these at Ford Field, perhaps with the Maple Leafs as the opponent. Already there is talk about Penn State hosting a Flyers-Penguins game.

Costas believes the NHL can build on events like this because it has the ability to attract casual fans and channel surfers.

"It will feel special because it is special," said Costas. "It's unique. Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller are extremely well known. You have players that people want to see and in an atmosphere that's intriguing, plus those 70,000 people in Buffalo on New Year's Day.

"There is certainly going to be a great atmosphere."

(my emphasis)
Yeah, you bet there will be.

I also think one or two (one in the US, one in Ca.) of these games a year would be great for the sport.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hockey Gone Wild #18 a continuing series.

I have no clue what set off these two Danish teams 35 seconds into this clip, but off they go into a pretty wild and crazy donnybrook I bet even Don Cherry would appreciate from his hockey friends in europe. And just when you think it's over with... off it's goes again.

More >>> Hockey Gone Wild.

Monday, December 24, 2007

All They Want for Christmas Is...

Here's some other gifts Santa should consider for NHLer's.

For the Philadelphia Flyers, Santa has a little something special. Day parole.

For the Phoenix Coyotes, a few people out in the desert who actually give a damn.

For Marc Crawford, a new hobby. You know, for when he gets his ass canned.

For Rick Tocchet, an all-expense paid trip to Vegas.

For Sean Avery, a mute button.
Brillant, what a wonderful gift for Sean Avery... and it's something that we all could enjoy. A twofer.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hockey Bloggers

Changing the way hockey is covered.

A Handy Guide for Beginners: Hockey Blogging

Do not make fun of James Mirtle and/or Eric McErlain. They are the overlords of the hockey blogosphere/world/box/thing. Thus, if you wanted to call one of them a Bat Shit Crazy Son of a Bitch whose blog is vile trash, it's not a good idea. If said event were to occur, you would have huge, muscular guys with cool sunglasses show up at your house in a matter of minutes whose only agenda would be to "take you down" a la Dog the Bounty Hunter. That is, of course, if you were to do such a dastardly thing.*

Always post lots of random pictures of hot chicks, specifically ice girls. This may not guarantee that your blog gets tons of cheap hits, but it will give you a lot of street cred. You're the cool blogger who doesn't play by the rules! You're not like those MSM sons of bitches who bend to the man. You embrace your true self as a manly blogger who enjoys a tight ass or two or twenty. That being said, if you are of the female hockey blogging persuasion, well, I have no idea what you should do. Post a picture of Mike Modano's chest? I have no clue.

Do name your blog in a fashion that tricks readers who don't look hard enough into thinking you are someone famous and enormously egotistical. You shouldn't take more than two minutes to come up with a snappy, irreverent name either. Names like John Buccigross Rocks and I Am Sean Avery and I Am All That is Man should suffice. See how easy that was? You too can have an awesome blog title.**

Do flame Eklund. That's the 'in' thing to do isn't it? In fact, if you have a sneaking suspicion that he creates rumors simply from the banter on your message board, go ahead and prove it by baiting him into it. It's fun. Promise.
Damn. I keep forgeting that rule about posting hot pics of hockey chicks. I just knew this blog has been missing something lately. Man, I better get with the program and fast.

...OK, that's much better.

The hockey revolution will be blogged.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tis the Season

Peace on earth, goodwill towards men.

Well, unless apparently, your a Ranger's fan surrounded by a mob of Islander loving Santa Clauses on their home hockey rink. Goodwill has it's limits.

I pity the fool.

Merry Freakin Christmas

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Rival Hockey League?

Be still my beating heart.

Russian tycoon eyes league to rival NHL

Another professional hockey league could be on the horizon.

And it could be a league that would give the world's top hockey players an alternative to the National Hockey League.

A media report on Saturday said that Russian energy tycoon Alex Medvedev is planning to develop a rival league based in Europe.

The Toronto Star indicates Medvedev has hired former NHL Players Association director Bob Goodenow and Stanley Cup winner Igor Larionov to work towards developing the league.

The story also suggests the operators would like to have the new league up and running by fall of 2008. As well, according to the report, Medvedev has already contacted prospective broadcasters and sponsors.

The start-up of a new league would not be surprising, considering the continued exodus of Europe's best hockey players to the North America and the NHL.

Friction between Russia's ice hockey federation and the NHL has been growing.
I'm skeptical, but hey, stranger things have happened. If (big IF)a European league does manage to get off the ground it could create profound changes in how hockey is played, marketed and viewed globally. We're looking at changes possibly much more profound than those of the last great NHL rival league insurrection...

I wish this rival league, actually, I wish any rival league all the best in their efforts to challenge the NHL. The competition, I think, would do the sport tremendous good.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Puck Tech


They're suppose to help hockey players glide across ice like a hot knife cuts through butter. In other words... easily.


So cool that four NHLer's are secretly testing them out this season.
The four teams they play for asked that their names be kept secret so the Thermablades on their feet didn't draw media attention and their use become a distraction, says Kris King, the NHL's Toronto-based senior manager of hockey operations. [...]

Thermablades use a rechargeable battery and microprocessor to maintain a blade temperature of 5 C. The slight heat is enough to increase the thickness of the water layer between the blade and the ice surface, and the company says its tests have shown this reduces gliding friction and starting resistance for skaters.
Sounds good to me. But then again, I'm a better hockey through high technology kind of guy to begin with.

Contenders and Pretenders

Ted Montgomery, writing for USA TODAY gives us a rundown on the good, the bad and the ugly teams so far in this NHL season. At the moment, my guys appear in what you might say is the bad (bubble) category.
Colorado Avalanche: This is a tough team to figure. The offensive firepower is there, and the goaltending has been adequate for the most part, but the defense teeters back and forth between being stingy and leaky. They'll have to correct that if they are to entertain any ideas of surviving even one round in the tough Western Conference playoffs.
I couldn't agree more. Well, actually on second thought, I think I'd drop them down to pretender status at this point.

Find where Ted thinks your team stands >>> here.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hockeydad Rap

I'm big and I'm bad... I'm a hockey dad.

ESPN or Bust

Can hockey be a sport if it isn't on ESPN?

One of the most powerful forces in the NHL today is an organization that owns no standing in the NHL. And therein lies the problem.

ESPN has become the big elephant sitting in our room, only in this case everyone is talking about it.

The lack of a television deal with ESPN is now the No. 1 gripe in hockey today. Players complain about it. General managers complain about it. Coaches complain about it, and fans truly complain about it in most vulgar terms.

With 2008 almost upon us, the return of the NHL to ESPN should be the top priority for Commissioner Gary Bettman. It's that simple. No one cares about network television anymore. We care about ESPN. This is more important than figuring out how the NHL is going to score more goals. I don't want expanded nets. I want expanded visibility for the sport of hockey. To achieve that, we must return to ESPN.
I couldn't agree more.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Me Like Hockey

Yes I do.

Me work Hard five days a week,
sweeping garbage from the street.
Come home not one book to read,
not 'nuff pictures for me see.
Sit right down in favorite chair,
wearing only underwear.
Favorite night is Saturday night,
'cause me can watch hockey fights.

Me like hockey

Me not like pro basketball,
'cause me short and they all tall.
Baseball slow like Forrest Gump,
'cept when Robbie spits on ump.
Wrestlemania not so great,
Me like to see Hulk Hogan Skate.
TV socccer not that hot,
you play bad and you get shot.

Me like hockey

Swedish players must be geeks, haha
'cause they still got own real teeth. hahaha
Not like Finnish players names,
what's a Teemu anyway? hahaha
Russians worst in history,
got stupid names like Valeri. hahaha

Me like Sergi Federov,
Me like him more if head were off. hahaha

Me like hockey

Please Mr. Linesman let the players fight

Friends come over, put game on,
argue then we lay bets down.
Got bag of chips and case of Bud,
should last 'til end of first period.
But Yankees they win The World Cup,
me think they cheat use glowing puck.
Maybe if we want to winder,
maybe we should play in winter.

Me Like Hockey

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hockey's Next Great Frontier...


Huh, well that definitely wouldn't have been my first guess. The US market would've been my first.
"We feel the future in China is extremely bright," said Chris Collins, a former NHL scout and broadcaster from California who has been appointed the general manager of the China Sharks.

"Is it going to be easy? Certainly not. But we're helping them to build from the ground floor up. If we do this right, it will be a path for the rest of the NHL to come to China."

The NHL has visions of glory in the lucrative Chinese market, which Collins says is "breathtaking" in its size. The NBA is already reaping $50-million (U.S.) in annual revenue from China, primarily from the sale of NBA merchandise at 50,000 outlets across the country, making it the NBA's biggest market outside the United States.

The NHL, by contrast, doesn't even have a single souvenir hawker at the China Sharks' games. "Our entire business plan only started a few weeks ago," Collins said. "But the marketplace is wide open. The game has nowhere to go but up."
Yeah, we'll just have to wait and see about that. I have serious doubts. Personally, I think the powers that be should concentrate their efforts on reviving the professional game in this country before worrying about introducing and growing it in another.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tick... Tick...


You know I’ve done it before
And I can do it some more
I’ve got my eye on the score...

Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick Tick … Boom!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Puck Rock

Darude "My Game"

What can I say? Not exactly primo stuff. However, I'll always be a sucker for anything that pays homage to the greatest movie ever made... Slap Shot.

More >>> Puck Rock.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Polar Bear Hockey

I thought it'd be pretty tough to go up against these guys...

..I guess I was wrong.

They might not be much as hockey players but I still wouldn't want to go into the corners and fight these guys for the puck.

Scoring down again in the NHL this season

...but what's the answer?
The league was averaging 5.5 total goals per game through Monday night (not counting shootout tiebreakers), down from 5.9 through the same number of games last season and markedly down from 6.2 at the same point in the first season coming out of the lockout when a number of rule changes opened up the game.

That's 100 fewer goals from last season through 251 total games and 175 fewer goals from 2005-06 at the same point.

Is the league alarmed?

"Not yet," commissioner Gary Bettman told The Canadian Press. "It's something we're going to keep an eye on. It's something we're going to continue to monitor. The game is still entertaining. We've had some high-scoring games, the Dallas-LA game Saturday night (6-5) is another good example. But we are keeping an eye on it."

The numbers are still up from the 5.1 total goals per game the league was averaging through the same number of games in 2003-04, but it's trending back the wrong way. [...]

So what now? Bigger nets? Even more reduced goalie equipment? Four-on-four play for the whole game?
Bigger nets and further reductions of goalie equipment sounds good to me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hockey Gone Wild

...#17 in a continuing series.

The videotape they didn't want you to see...

Hockey GM denies trying to cover up brawl
Halifax Wolverines player Kirk Forrest dropped his gloves just 43 seconds into a game Tuesday night, and chased down Josh McKinnon of the Summerside Western Capitals.

Forrest told CTV Atlantic he was seeking revenge for a previous incident and had no regrets.

"He hurt my teammate," said Forrest. "I stuck up for my teammate."

He pursued MacKinnon to the visiting team's bench and landed several punches. Another Wolverines player then dove right into the bench and the brawl escalated. [...]

The brawl was captured on tape by students Greg Sewart and Joey Johnson from Halifax's Atlantic Media Institute.

After the fight, the general manager of the Wolverines, Jack Finlay, approached the students and allegedly suggested they should tell others the tape had been lost.

"He suggested, 'Tell them we destroyed the tapes,'" said Sewart, 31.

"We were asked to lose the footage. It just seems so strange and unethical that we should be told that."

CTV News contacted Finlay, who denied making the suggestion. He said he only asked for a copy of the tape and then hung up the phone.

In an interview with the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Finlay had a different answer. He said he was only joking, and had made his comments in reference to a previous game between the two teams that Summerside failed to record.
More >>> Hockey Gone Wild.

Poll Numbers

NHL Power Rankings...

1) [1] Ottawa Senators (13-1-0, 26 points)
The Ottawa Senators just broke the NHL record for hottest start to a season. Their starting goaltender played just TWO of those games, due to injury. Chris Phillips, D, is +15 just 14 games into the season. Still has a ways to go before he reaches Bobby Orr's all-time record of +124--one of the few records Gretzky doesn't own.

2) [2] Detroit Red Wings (12-2-1, 25 points)
It was Wings' record that the Senators just broke. But with the league's top scorer in Zetterberg, and Lidstrom and Chelios playing like it's five years ago, I doubt the Wings have anything to complain about. Well, other than how Chris Osgood (goalie) has more assists than three of their forwards (in half the games!).

3) [4] Colorado Avalanche (10-5-0, 20 points)
Stastny has cooled off, as was inevitable. But this team has not, winning six of their last seven games. And the open door is now the shut door as Theodore is now this team's best goalie.

4) [3] Montreal Canadiens (8-3-3, 19 points)
Yes, they lost to Toronto. But it's not like anyone below them on this list has fared any better these past few weeks. And they sure don't seem to be missing Souray any. Only in Montreal can you have a .930 save percentage and fans question whether you should be starting or not.

5) [7] Carolina Hurricanes (9-3-3, 21 points)
Brind'Amour. Staal. Stillman. Cole. Whitney! You have to think that these Canes might be better than the team that won the Cup two years ago. What would Ronny Franchise have given for this?

6) [8] Philadelphia Flyers (9-5-0, 18 points)
The Flyers are currently 3-4 on their 8-game road trip. You do have to feel a little sorry for them. Can't quite look the Devils in the eye yet, but getting there. High priced acquisition Briere is one of five Flyers who is minus. Biron is goaltending better than the guy who made him expendable in Buffalo. And there are plenty on this team capable of becoming the fourth suspended Flyer this season.

7) [11] Columbus Blue Jackets (8-4-2, 18 points)
Ken Hitchcock has this team playing defense, and now they're the third-best defense in the league. The Jackets remain the Nash and Leclaire show, as Leclaire has 5 shutouts in 9 starts. (That is NOT a misprint!)

8) [13] New York Islanders (8-4-0, 16 points)
The Islanders grudgingly get this spot, as the team is -1 despite their .667 win pct. This team has remarkably balanced scoring and solid, if not spectacular goaltending. Which is good, because he's signed for the next 14 seasons!

9) [9] Pittsburgh Penguins (7-7-1, 15 points)
Fleury has lost his starting goaltending spot to Dany Sabourin, who will play in his 23rd career NHL game this week. In those games, he is 5-10 for his career. That said, he's still been better than Fleury (at the moment), which leads one to wonder--will Fleury ever reach the potential he showed just a few seasons ago?

10) [5] San Jose Sharks (7-7-1, 15 points)
A little upstaged by the Modano road tour last night, Jeremy Roenick is only 55 points behind him. JR's best statistical season came in 1993, and he is now one goal short of 500 for his career. These two actually played together for the US Hockey junior team in '89. Which American great would you have rather had?
Rest of the rankings can be found >>> here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

30 days, 30 Arenas, 30 Hockey Games

My new hero, Steve Williamson, is living the dream.
He began a journey last month that will take him to a game at each of the league’s 30 arenas in 30 consecutive days.

“Putting the whole thing together was kind of Rubik’s Cube-ish,” Williamson, 49, said last Monday from his seat at Madison Square Garden, where he watched the Rangers defeat the Lightning in the fourth game of his whirlwind tour. “But this is one of those rare N.H.L. seasons where everything on the schedule lined up perfectly for me.” [...]

“A lot of people have the ability and resources to do something like this over a longer period of time,” said Williamson, talking as he snapped photos of the Garden scoreboard with his iPhone. “But I wanted to take that challenge one step further by doing 30 arenas in 30 days.”

By the end of the tour, Williamson will have traveled about 30,000 miles and spent about $10,000 on airfare, car rentals and hotels. (He said he would cut costs by staying with relatives and friends along the way). That estimate includes the price of his authentic No. 30 Lightning jersey, with a message sewn on the back: 30 games in 30 nights. He wears the jersey to every game, washing it by hand whenever his schedule allows.

“Steve is a master at logistical organization,” said Pete Williamson, 37, who met up with brother Steve at the Garden. “When he first told me about this trip I was like, Huh? But then it kind of sunk in. I know that if anyone can do this, Steve can.”

Williamson, a divorced father of two teenage boys, is chronicling his experiences on his Web site .

He spoke last Monday about “meeting knowledgeable hockey fans in an old-school hockey atmosphere at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit,” and enjoying Cheli’s Chili, which is owned by Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios.

“It’s nice to know that when Chelios is not busy slashing opposing forwards, he’s whipping up a nice pot of chili for the fans,” Williamson said with a chuckle.

He also said, referring to the game he saw in Los Angeles, that he “admired all the glitz of the Staples Center, and all the pretty girls that go to games there.” He got around to talking about the fish tacos at Honda Center in Anaheim — “I won’t do that again,” he said, chasing that remark with a gulp of beer — and about Rangers fans being “among the smartest and most loyal in hockey.”

“In Tampa Bay, it took our fans a while to learn the game,” Williamson said. “I remember back in 1992, our first season, when Chris Kontos scored four goals in one game. When he got the hat trick, some fans who threw their hats on the ice were escorted out of the arena.”

Williamson said he got the idea for this trip in 2001, when he flew 11,000 miles round trip from Osaka, Japan, where he was working at the time, to California, to see the Lightning play in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

“Since then, I have wanted to climb a bigger mountain,” he said. “I know that bad weather and late arrivals and departures are going to be my main obstacles here, but I’m going to do this.”
You can see how Steve is doing with his ultimate puck trip through the NHL on his >>> website.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Living and Dying by the Sword

There's been a 56 percent increase in fighting majors so far this season, and a 78 percent increase in games that have more than one fight. It's not just the usual suspects that have been dropping the gloves this season, even the stars have been getting into it. A lot of this has to do with the perception that the Ducks scrapped their way to the Cup last year so naturally there's going to be a copycat factor at play this year. However, there's a big down side to this approach as teams are discovering. Important players are being taken out.
Yes, fighting is way up in the NHL this season. And often it's big-name, big-money players dropping the gloves.

Wade Redden set the trend opening night, getting in touch with his inner-McGrattan, scrapping twice. He's been followed by the likes of Lecavalier (twice this week!), Staal (first ever), Ilya Kovalchuk, Nathan Horton (twice already), and Zdeno Chara, who Thursday broke both an 18-month fighting abstinence, and David Koci's face.

Welcome to the NHL's hot new reality show: Punching With The Stars.

Judge: "I thought the choreography was brilliant! Especially when you lifted up his sweater and smacked him in the ear. And the spewing of blood was a wonderful touch. Just try to smile more."

Oh, but there's a nasty twist to this show. Scrappers are going down faster than Marie Osmond.

At least seven players have been injured in fights this season, most notably, Edmonton Oiler Sheldon Souray, who separated his shoulder in a fight with Byron Ritchie of the Vancouver Canucks.

And hence we have a dilemma -- or at least NHL coaches do.

Do you really want your $5-million-a-year stud defenceman risking his season fighting ... Byron Ritchie?

"Probably not," admits a downcast Souray, who is likely out at least a month.

"It's crazy," says one NHL coach, who preferred his name not be used (speaking out against any kind of fighting is never popular). "The league is too close now. You lose a key player like that for four weeks, that could be your season."
Well, there's a large group of people that passionately believes in this stuff (me included), and the Ducks have created a new sense that by using these tactics a club can be successful. Just like the Flyers did in the 1970s.

So, it's back to the future for the NHL. For better or worse.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mic'd Up

Have you ever wondered what hockey really sounds like or what players and coaches talk about on the ice?

Well, now you know.

Hot Steel

The next great revolution in hockey?
A select handful of NHL players are about to begin using heated skate blades produced by a Verdun, Que., company to enhance performance.

Thermablades use a rechargeable battery and a microprocessor within each skate blade to maintain a temperature of 5 C. The warm blade increases the thickness of the water layer between the blade and the ice surface, and the company says its tests have shown this reduces gliding friction and starting resistance for skaters.

"The NHL is very interested in confirming the data provided by Therma Blade Inc. to establish the safety and reliability of the blade under NHL game conditions and we have agreed to allow a small group of players to test these blades in practices over the next few weeks," says Kris King, the NHL's senior manager of hockey operations.

Six to 10 players will try them first. If there are no glitches, the blades then would begin appearing in NHL games.
Seeesh, new uni's, new blades, what's next? Glowing ice? How about disco goals?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bowman to Toronto

...the rumour that just won't go away.
October 16, Globe and Mail: Among hockey broadcasters, speculation has Toronto Maple Leaf general manager John Ferguson fired in November if the team continues to lose more than it wins. Who would replace him? Colin Campbell, the NHL's Toronto based head of hockey operations, seems to be a favourite. But would the league allow him to leave his job in mid-season? Would Scotty Bowman take the job?

Two views Bowman:

- One broadcaster says Bowman would jump at the opportunity to run the Leafs if his contract matched that of Bryan Colangelo, who is president and general manager of the Toronto Raptors. (Both Raptors and Leafs are owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.) Bowman would want Colangelo's autonomy and a contract that matched his annual stipend of about $3-million (U.S.). If Bowman took over, he would "clean house," the source said.

However, Bowman is 74 years old. Physically, is he up to the job of rebuilding an organization? Apparently so. He's healthy and looking for a challenge. Both parents lived into their 90s.

A second view: "Scotty asked for a Colangelo type of contract in the summer," said a source. "I think he enjoyed being courted by MLSE. But ultimately he's 74 and he's very loyal to the Ilitch family (which own the Detroit Red Wings, for which Bowman is a consultant.) I think he really enjoys his grandkids and I don't know that he wants to get into the day to day operation of a hockey club."
Bowman has gone on the record at least eight times as stating that he's a) not interested in the job and b) very happy being a consultant to the Detroit Red Wings organization. The rumours, however, never end...
No, they never do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Puck Rock

Bill Barilko 50 Mission Cap
By the Tragically Hip.

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another until 1962 the year he was discovered
My fifty mission cap I worked it in to look like that

More >>> Puck Rock.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good Science Can't Save a Bad Idea:

The NHL's New "Uniform System."
By Brandon Keim

Basically, it stinks. Literally and figuratively.
Actual game testing was reserved for this season, when it was already too late to call the jerseys back. And that's when players pointed out something that Reebok might be forgiven for failing to anticipate, but can't be excused for not learning through real-life testing: just because jerseys don't absorb sweat doesn't mean the sweat disappears. Instead of being absorbed by jerseys and socks and evaporating, the sweat gathered underneath them.

By the end of pre-season training, players around the league vocally denounced the uniforms. Sweat, they said, now soaked their equipment, literally pouring into their gloves and skates, filling them like buckets and making it hard to play with the skill that Bettman and Reebok promised to "enhance." Unsurprisingly, players said the unbreathable uniforms were uncomfortably not. So much for 4 to 10 degrees cooler.

It also turned out that much of the savings in weight and drag came from making the uniforms more form-fitting than before, which in turn required the jerseys to be much more elastic. That makes it possible for players to pull jerseys over each other's heads during fights -- a very dangerous situation. But that's only when the fighters can actually get a grasp on the slippery fabric. When they can't, fights continue longer than before, rather than ending in a wrestling match -- again, a dangerous situation. Even if one feels that fighting doesn't belong in the game, it's there now, and isn't about to go away. For these players, the jersey puts them at increased risk of injury.

So what's Reebok going to do? At first, they and the league acted like nothing was wrong. Only after Sidney Crosby, the boy superstar on whom the NHL has placed its fading dreams of American success, complained did they say that the uniform system would be tweaked, though neither Reebok nor the NHL have been specific about any changes. A return to the old, perfectly good jerseys is, however, unlikely.

A decade of painful decline -- in the quality of the NHL game, the interest of its fans and the economic health of its teams -- has shown that Gary Bettman is incapable of learning from or admitting his mistakes, of which the new uniforms are merely the latest. Reebok's assorted scientific comparisons also left out the most important number of all: the new jerseys sell for twice as much as the old ones.
If it wasn't for bad ideas I'm not sure Bettman and company would have any ideas at all.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Stop Hockey Violence

Oooops, I mean stop hockey violins...

Make them stop. There's no violins in hockey.

Although, I do have to admit, I kind of like their take on "Smoke on the Water".

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ten Questions

...for the NHL as the season gets ready to begin.

1. Can the Ducks be mighty once more?

The defending Stanley Cup champs went into camp not knowing if two of their veteran leaders were going to join them in defense. Still, with Mathieu Schnieder coming in to replace Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Getlaf emerging as a star to supplant Teemu Selanne, hockey should be pretty intense in the O.C. again this year.

2. Do the Rangers have enough to win it all?

Offensively yes, defensively the Blueshirts appear to be seriously challenged. Fans in New York are obviously jacked about the Rangers chances and with solid goaltending, this team should challenge to win the East.

3. Did Buffalo's Free Agent Fallout ruin the Sabres?

No, not with the offensive firepower still at Lindy Ruff's disposal. The Sabres aren't as talented as they once were, but that doesn't mean they won't go far. There's still plenty of difference-makers in Buffalo, and they'll be back in the playoffs.

4. How good, really, are the Penguins?

They are the chic choice in the East again, much like last spring when the playoffs started. Pittsburgh is only OK in goal, but look to have the pieces elsewhere to make a run. Will they? Quit asking all these questions!

5. How far do the Thrashers fall?

Atlanta had as rough an offseason as the Sabres and Islanders, only it wasn't as talked about. Atlanta paid a price to make the playoffs last year, and its flop resonates with this year's team. The Thrashers could be the Southeast's first-to-worst team.
Questions 6-10 can be found >>> here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Outdoor Game in Buffalo

The NHL finally gets one right.
by Dave Feschuk
The regular season, let's face it, is a dreary, mostly meaningless slog punctuated by scarce highpoints. But this – even if they're calling it, rather lamely, the Winter Classic, and even if it comes with some inherent risks – this might get somebody excited about watching the NHL before April.

As a sell-the-game strategy – compared to, say, the league's time-wasting season-opening trip to England – it's perfect. New Year's Day, ever since U.S. college football decided the date wasn't as important as it once was, is a virtual void on the sports calendar. The NBA, clearly attuned to the off-court habits of its fun-loving employees, doesn't play on Jan. 1, presumably because it doesn't like the idea of the continent-wide staining of hardwood by projectile vomit. So it'll be a hockey afternoon to remember, which is why ticket sales have been brisk.

Cox, a compassionate humanitarian, wrote of his concern at the prospect of frostbite on the feet of forlorn goaltenders. Try socks, fellas. And don't forget that Orchard Park, N.Y., isn't exactly Antarctica. Yes, Buffalo is the lake-effect blizzard capital of civilization, that a flash flurry can have them tunnelling out of the Tonawandas and rationing the chicken-wing supply in Cheektowaga.

But Buffalo's got shovels and plows. Blizzards cancel indoor games, too. And as for concerns the playing surface is likely to be crappy, as it reportedly was in Edmonton when the Oilers played their Commonwealth Stadium tilt with the Canadiens a few years back, the ice is sub-standard in a long list of NHL buildings every day of the season. And besides: A goalie in a tuque, the enduring image of that memorable Edmonton moment, is a picture worth the trouble.
I totally agree.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hockey Gone Wild #16 a continuing series.

Anatomy of a brawl...

...a classic hockey case of, one thing, leading to another, to another, to another, to another.

More >>> Hockey Gone Wild.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is Friendship Overrated?

Personally, I'd say no. But I guess it would depend on the circumstances...

...and the friends.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NHL Will Re-Format the Format

Goodbye and good riddance...

NHL plans to ditch unbalanced schedule
CHICAGO -- The twain will meet in the NHL next season, after the league decided yesterday to adopt a more balanced schedule between the Eastern and Western Conferences.

However, after their meeting, the NHL governors did not agree on how the 82-game schedule will be changed, only that the current one, which emphasizes play within the divisions, will be scrapped.

A decision will be made at the governors' next meeting in late November and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said two options are being considered.

One choice is to drop one of the eight divisional games and make that a game against a team from the other conference. Under that proposal, teams from opposing conferences would travel to each city every other year. The current schedule has teams playing only teams from one division in the opposing conference every year, which means stars such as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins are seen in western cities once every three years.

The second choice will drop the divisional games to six and have full interconference play with a home-and-home series between every team.
I'd vote for option #2 if I could.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Wild Women

Occassionaly I'll take a hard left turn and go off the beaten path of this blog towards whatever has caught my attention. I got a feeling I'll be doing more offroading of that sort around here in the near future. I hope my regulars stay around for the ride. Hockey still will be #1 but sometimes there'll be detours. Like this one...

Women driving motorcycle sales
After decades of riding on the backs of bikes often driven by men, women in growing numbers are sliding to the front of the saddle and driving themselves, a movement Schmitt fosters as president of Women Riders Now, based in Livingston, Mont.

Women account for at least 10 percent of motorcyclists in the U.S. today, and they're the fastest-growing segment in the graying $9.7 billion motorcycle industry.

You go girls...

On a related note. Is it just me or are women getting wilder?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Season Begins

...the 07/08 hockey video gaming season that is.

NHL 08 Ships To Retailers

The revolutionary Skill Stick System evolves in NHL 08 and delivers an unparalleled level of control. An all-new deking system enables you to move the puck off your stick, to walk around a defender and give you space in front to challenge the goalie. For all the goaltenders out there, an all-new Goalie Mode feature lets you strap on the pads and be the last line of defense in net for the first time.

Showcasing true next-gen horsepower, an all-new intelligent CPU called On-The-Fly AI functionally coaches against you to counter your tendencies, and forces you to adjust your strategy. With Create-a-Play, you can hit the whiteboard and showcase your own strategic wisdom by customizing plays, recording them in practice mode and bringing them into game to outsmart your opponent. Innovative new online features such as Online Custom Leagues and Online Team Play that links up to six players anywhere in the world, gives you a new level of online depth.
Let the games begin.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

"The Gladiator of Hockey Movies"

The Rocket won nine Canadian Genie awards including best director and best actor as well as the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar this year. If you get a chance see it.

"Bold, gripping, passionate. Punctuated by the most exciting hockey scenes ever presented in a feature film.:
-Jason Anderson,
EYE WEEKLY (Toronto)

"Hugely entertaining and invigorating… a story not just of a sports star, but of a working-class hero and champion of the oppressed.”
-Matthew Hays, CBC

"This terrific film is as much about language and resistance as the forging of an icon. The Rocket's rise as the first French-speaking idol coincided with the Francophone search for identity in postwar Canada. From a backdrop of seething language oppression comes this film's depth, elevating the movie above the genre of sports biopic.”
-Erik Floren, EDMONTON SUN

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Breakdown

As far as my guys go...
Colorado Avalanche: Avs GM Francois Giguere was among the big winners in the off-season, adding star winger Ryan Smyth and top defenceman Scott Hannan while losing nothing from his core group. Smyth, aka Captain Canada, joins a potent offence that includes Joe Sakic, Andrew Brunette, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos. Hannan brings much-needed muscle and physicality to a blue-line that has puck-movers John-Michael Liles, Brett Clark and Jordan Leopold. There remains a question mark in goal - where Peter Budaj and Jose Theodore reside. The latter is in a contract year after doing little to earn the monster deal he signed in Montreal. Perhaps that will bring out a big year. Look for Giguere to make a trade if neither Budaj or Theodore answer the bell. Otherwise, this is a dangerous team that almost certainly will return to the playoffs.
That sounds about right to me.

Here's the rest of the teams and their breakdowns for the 07/08 season.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Puck Rock Goldie Oldie

...a classic protest song from the NHL's dark era.

A truley bleak period in the history of hockey indeed.

Cool song though.

More >>> Puck Rock.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scenes We'll Never See Again

Since goal judges are in the process being removed from their traditional locations at the ends of hockey rinks (see story below) here's a video of a player interacting with a judge that we'll probably never see again....

Friday, August 24, 2007

Goal Judges

...being evicted.
When the NHL instituted video replay in the 1991-92 season, the idea was to help the referees determine whether a goal had been scored.

Few probably considered that it might make goal judges all but obsolete. Yet improvements in technology have achieved just that.

This season, all goal judges - who used to sit directly behind the goals - will be moved to the press box or similar locations depending on arena configurations.

The Flyers, like many clubs, are about to capitalize financially on the relocation by converting the goal judges' boxes into luxury seating.
Another tradition bites the dust.

Cleaning up the red-light district
Some clubs may want to keep the goal judges positioned where they've always been, but there won't be many, not with money to be made. This brings up the question of why even bother to have goal judges when it's obvious they've become as outdated as elevator operators.

Purists argue goal judges are a part of hockey history. They're a link to a time when the players wore tube skates and carried wooden sticks, and the ice and boards were clear without a hint of advertising.

But the advent of video replay devalued the goal judge, rendered him next to meaningless. He used to have a telephone in his little glass box, a hotline so his bosses could call and ask, "Are you sure that was in?" One NHL goal judge admitted last season he never gets calls any more.

"Not even a wrong number?" he was asked.

"It's like I'm not even there," he said.

It's to the point now where the referees don't even bother with the goal judge. They don't talk to him. He's simply another face in the crowd, only this season he'll be up in the press box or dispatched to some other forlorn spot far from the action he once took in with all the seriousness of an air-traffic controller.

Will it matter if he can't see the puck or makes a bad call? Not any more. His place in the game is fading away. The bigger question is the one you'll hear more and more outside NHL arenas this coming winter: "Who's got goal-judge seats for sale? Anybody got goal-judge seats?"

Like cabooses at the ends of trains, goal judge boxes at the ends of rinks will soon be but a memory of a distant time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Best of the Worst

...NHL jersies.

Meanwhile, these guys have their own opinions on the issue...

Personally, I think their own uni's are among the worst I've seen.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Check Please...

Give me fuel.
Give me fire.
Give me that which I desire

Monday, August 13, 2007

Homeless Hockey Players

Please, won't someone open their doors (and wallets) and give these poor souls a place to stay.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hockey Gone Wild #15 a continuing series.

This minor league brouhaha (I just love that word) involves a couple of future NHLer's and Cup winners. This one was cooling down until the coaches decided to mouth off to each other. They should've just let those two go at it.

But nooooo...

More >>> Hockey Gone Wild.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum...

No, I can't believe it Grapes.

Now THAT'S what I call a shocking piece (or is it peace?) of hockey video.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cyber Pucks

Video game development just keeps getting better and better...

Another few years at this rate of evolution and I guess it could become difficult to tell the difference between the virtual and the real.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stop Duck Abuse

Ducks' captain Scott Niedermayer stands up for ducks.
Niedermayer sent a letter to the 50 members of the Chicago City Council, urging them to fight against efforts to repeal the city's ban on foie gras -- the delicacy from enlarged livers of force-fed ducks and geese.

"As an Anaheim Duck, I hate to see real ducks tortured so that a handful of wealthy chefs can serve their diseased organs," wrote Niedermayer, the playoffs MVP last season. "Please uphold this compassionate law."
Nice to see a player that not only stands up for his teammates as a captain, but also for those whose his team is named after.

Personally, I got nothing against duck abuse. As long as it's confined to the on-ice NHL variety.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fog Horns of the NHL

I don't know. I think I'd have to pick St. Looies as my fave, then Buffalo's and San Jose's. Montreal's my least favorite. It sounds pretty wimpy, if you ask me.

Obviously, all fog horns are not created equal.

Scotty Bowman to Join the Leafs?

Hell, why not? They've tried everything else in attempting to win the Cup again. Might as well give Scotty a shot at helping make it happen.
The search for a senior advisor to the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs has been ongoing for months, but according to one Toronto newspaper, the search could possibly end as early as this week with hockey legend Scotty Bowman leaning towards accepting the post.

Bowman still remains as an advisor to the Detroit Red Wings and has reportedly been approached in the past by the Maple Leafs only to turn down their offer on two occasions.

Reports also indicate that if Bowman accepts the post, the front office makeup of the Maple Leafs would change drastically. The housecleaning would include general manager John Ferguson Jr. and head coach Paul Maurice.
Who knows? Maybe having a guy on board whose won nine Cups over the years will finally break the looooong string of futility those of the Leafs Nation have been enduring.

I kind of doubt it though.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Best American NHL City?

Here's how good the hockey fans are in Buffalo: While TV ratings in the rest of the U.S. pushed to reach numbers posted by drunken drivers, the citizens of this mid-market media area were watching the Stanley Cup finals at five times the national rating.

And the Sabres weren't even in the finals.
It simply amazes me that the league doesn't think that another franchise in the hockey hotbed area between Toronto and Buffalo would be a good idea.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

ESPN and NHL are Talking

I never thought I'd see the day.
A return to ESPN could boost the league’s profile on the network’s news shows. According to an ESPN study of its 1 a.m. “SportsCenter” program, the show featured 29 fewer minutes of NHL coverage in March 2007 than in March 2004, the last year ESPN aired NHL games. That amounts to a 28 percent decline in hockey’s allotment of airtime, ESPN ombudsman Le Anne
Schreiber wrote in May.

The move would mark a change at Versus, as well, which is open to giving up its cable exclusivity if it can tap into ESPN’s marketing prowess. Over the past two years, Versus executives have complained privately that ESPN ignored their network. They are hoping for a situation that mirrors the NBA, where ESPN and TNT push viewers to each network’s games.

The league’s talks with ESPN come as it is negotiating with cable and satellite operators for carriage of its planned NHL Network and its out-of-market Center Ice package. Cable sources describe the negotiations as progressing smoothly, with the league taking a page from Major League Baseball by tying carriage of its planned channel with the renewal of Center Ice.
A possible return by the NHL to ESPN and the development of it's very own hockey channel? Somebody pinch me, I've got to be dreaming.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Is Vegas a Good Bet for the NHL?

Adam Proteau writing for the Hockey doesn't think so.
Is the NHL arrogant enough to believe that – in the midst of exotic animal exhibitions, sins of the flesh and oxygen-fueled gambling – the Average Joe is going to shell out to watch the likes of Lou Lamoriello’s Trap-tacular Extravaganza?

Isn’t the idea of the defense-first NHL in Vegas very much like dropping Chastity the Abstinence Clown into the middle of Amsterdam’s red-light district and expecting bonzo box office to follow?

Nobody doubts the first few years of the operation would garner the NHL some of the best publicity it has ever had.

But once the newness of the game inevitably wore off – the way it has in Miami, Nashville, Washington and Long Island, among other places – a half-empty building surrounded by nothing but money-making attractions would make the NHL a laughingstock in a way that NBC and its horseracing fetish couldn’t ever come close to.

If that were to occur, Bettman and Bruckheimer would be losers on one of the biggest stages there is. And you know what Hunter S. Thompson said about a loser in Vegas.

Okay, maybe you don’t. In his famous Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas novel, Thompson wrote, “For a loser, Vegas is the meanest town on earth.”

The NHL doesn’t need any more kicks to its collective junk than it’s already received. But if it were proven Carrot Top and Wayne Newton can turn a profit in Las Vegas yet hockey can’t, the utter degradation of the sport would be complete.
Complete article can be found>>>>>> here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Grapes of Wrath

Don Cherry, comes to the defense of the Staal brothers.
"I am very disappointed in the Sun because I always thought of it as very fair and not a trash tabloid," he said last night from his cottage near Kingston. "But what you did to those kids by putting their mug shots on the front of the paper was really low."

His complaint was not the only one yesterday, but it was the loudest. Some felt the placement on the front page of the arrest in Minnesota of hockey brothers Eric and Jordan Staal of Thunder Bay was in poor taste.

The brothers and 12 other pals were brought into custody and charged after a bachelor party for Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal, 22, allegedly got a little out of control. [...]

Cherry questions why police had to go to that extreme over a party and why they would release their booking photos, but was even more adamant in his defence of the two hockey players and the very game they play.

The headline on the Sun's front -- "NHL Players Gone Wild!" -- was misleading, he said, adding this was not even remotely in the same league as last week's incident with the Chilean soccer team and Toronto Police, and yet received equal or even bigger coverage.

"Those guys spit on the cops," he said of the Under-20 soccer players.

He said he still can't believe the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal or the NBA referee gambling probe did not receive the same front-page treatment.

"I mean they were killing dogs," said the emotional Grapes, well known for his love of the canines and specifically his beloved Blue.

"All of these other sports have all kinds of crazy things happen -- you have got guys up on rape charges, murder, attempted murder, gambling suspicion and guys taking steroids, and you have some kids on your front page who got a little too loud at a party. Come on!"

Still angry, he added that he "knows something that was not on the front of your paper.

"What wasn't there was how 2,600 NHL players took random drug tests and not one player tested positive, but instead you have something about a noisy party."
Go get'em Grapes.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Attack of the Hockey Bots

Notorious B.O.T. faces off against Two Puck...

Finally, a Stanley Cup for puck nerds
For their final exams, 14 teams of engineering students will pit prototype hockey robots against each other on a “rink” surface to battle for control of the puck and score goals in a net.

The event is the culmination of Physics 253, a 13-week crash course in practical design modeled on similar courses at MIT and Stanford. Students learn the basics of electro-mechanical design and then apply that knowledge to construct their robots from scratch.

The students have spent the last six weeks building the autonomous robots to be fast, accurate and, most importantly, capable of taking knocks from their opponents. The robots are preprogrammed and no remote control will be allowed in the competition.

Each match will last two minutes and the robot that scores the most goals wins. Although the students have been encouraged to design their robots to carry on the great Canadian traditions of scoring goals and pummeling opponents, course instructor Andre Marziali, a UBC Physics professor, will call penalties on any hockey-bots that catch fire during the competition.
We may be seeing the early developement here of the real "Blade Runners" of future hockey.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hockey: The World Greatest Sport's why.

But then again, being hockey fans, you already knew why.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Puck Rock

The Good Old Hockey Game (punk version)...

The Leafs win the Cup? Man, I don't know about that.


NHL and NeuLion hope to bring ultimate online hockey experiences to the fans.
This new NHL online video offering will be powered by NeuLion and will include the following:

  • Live hockey games from NHL Center Ice Online. Paying subscribers of this service will have access to as many as 40 games per week, subject to local blackouts, with the option to view multiple games at one time. Viewers can also zoom into just one game and set their own viewing preferences. The ability to view multiple games is one of several upgrades to last year’s NHL Center Ice Online product.

  • League-wide videos, player information and fan input. Favorite players or teams can be monitored, as well as stats for fantasy league purposes. Fans can also share videos with other fans globally. Specific favorite NHL content can be organized and shared through buddy lists, blogs, e-mail and playlists.

  • Team Channels for all 30 teams plus Fans can have access to the total team experience which feature footage only available through this new service. Footage can include clips from morning skate, pre-game interviews and post-game commentary. Additional content could include off-season NHL highlights and team-specific video-on-demand such as locker room access and mascot features. Fans can also choose game highlights to watch their favorite team or players. Premium content will be available for a pay-per-view or subscription fee.

    (my emphasis)
  • “The popularity of viewing sports highlights and games online continues to grow, especially with hockey fans, who tend to be early adapters to new technology,” said John Collins, Senior Executive Vice President, Business and Media, NHL, in a Thursday statement.

    Collins continued: “This new agreement with NeuLion is another addition to the NHL’s technical platform to deliver unique and exciting content online that is available anytime, anywhere, without geographic boundaries.”
    I think this is a smart move by the league. As we all know the TV ratings for the sport continue to decline and the prospects appear dim that hockey will ever be able to carve out a decent niche in that increasingly over-saturated medium of talk shows, poker and reality garbage. However the web offers wide open opportunities and the NHL is wise to take advantage of the fast developing webcasting technologies that are better able to target the hockey loving audience.

    Smart move.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Fight club… for kids?

    From the... you just can't make this kind of stuff up dept.
    He is the head professor of an old-school ritual outlawed at all levels of amateur hockey and ringleader of a summer curriculum that has generated more scorn than approval among the provincial capital's chattering class.

    The Wild's Derek Boogaard, who towers over most men with his hulking 6-foot-7 frame (6-9 on skates), loves presiding over this controversial family affair in his hometown, as his persistent smile attests.

    Thursday night, about two dozen players ages 12-18 paid $50 apiece to learn from the Boogeyman and his protégé, Aaron, his youngest brother and a former Wild prospect now under contract to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    The kids learned how to leverage their strength when decking an opponent, protect themselves against punches from various angles and condition their bodies for the physical play that is the cause of, and solution to, the NHL's identity crisis.

    The second "Derek Boogaard Fighting Camp," which includes T-shirts splotched with blood-red dye, was staged inside a stuffy miniature rink with boards, glass and plastic ice.

    Kids separated into two groups and donned full equipment, including skates and boxing gloves, during an hour of supervised training with the brothers Boogaard.

    "The main thing is I'm not teaching them how to hurt each other," Derek insists. "I'm showing them how to protect themselves - where to hold, where to grab and, if you're in trouble, what to do.
    And they say fighting has no future in this sport.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Cyber Pucks

    Another year, another bunch of upgrades...

    Looks like it's not only the NHL players that will be getting new uniforms to play in for 08... so will the virtual ones.

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Global Warming Hockey

    Sign of the times...

    Outdoor hockey threatened by global warming

    MONTREAL (CP) - Many Canadians go to their local outdoor hockey rink to skate and live the dream of scoring that winning Stanley Cup goal.
    But this quintessential slice of Canadian life in wintertime is slowly melting away because of global warming, says a collection of young environmentalists.

    "A bunch of us are fairly avid hockey fans and hockey players and we noticed that we were waiting longer and longer every year to play, and then we started phoning rink operators and were told the same story," said Mike Hudema of Global Exchange.

    "It's not only that the season is getting shorter but it's also the (fewer) number of the cold days in a row. Suddenly you get a real warm spell where your entire rink will melt, and so getting a nice clean surface is really hard."
    Hmmmm, I suppose it's possible this issue might affect the outdoor game being planned by the NHL... in the next post.

    Like I said, sign of the times.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Go Outside and Play

    They did it once...

    Now they're thinking about doing it again.

    If the National Hockey League moves forward with its plans to stage another outdoor hockey game, the Buffalo Sabres appear to be the front-runners to host the event in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

    No announcement will be made when the NHL releases its 2007-08 schedule at 2:30 this afternoon, and neither the league nor the Sabres would comment publicly Tuesday.

    Yet sources around the NHL have indicated the Sabres would land the game, probably on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day against the Pittsburgh Penguins, if myriad logistical issues can be finalized by the end of the month.

    Such an event would give Sabres fans a reason to get excited after a deflating week in which co-captains Daniel Briere and Chris Drury left town and management was cornered into signing top goal scorer Thomas Vanek to the richest contract in Buffalo sports history.

    Published reports last month stated the league was interested in offering an outdoor game to be broadcast on NBC.
    Earlier reports indicated a possible outdoor game being played at Yankee Stadium between the Rangers and Islanders. That I think would've been totally cool. Sounds like that possibility has fallen through for now though. This one in Buffalo, particularly if it involves the Penguins or say the Wings would be a great alternative, which I believe couldn't help but generate a lot of interest and publicity for the sport and the league.

    IF they can pull it off... and that's a big if.

    Anyways, as far as that first outdoor game, here's a funny piece by Raj Binder on that contest played by the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens in front of 56,000 freezing fans in Edmonton.

    Personally, I'm hoping there's more of these games to come.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Is ESPN Killing the NHL?

    The Sports Law Blog explains.
    Since the NHL made the questionable decision to abandon the cable network as its broadcast partner in favor of the fledgling Versus network, many have argued that NHL coverage on the Worldwide Leader in Sports has ranged from underwhelming to disrespectful. Even ESPN’s ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber, felt compelled to examine hockey coverage on the network. In an article last month, she confirmed that hockey coverage has indeed diminished 28% on Sportscenter over the last three years and that hockey-oriented shows such as NHL 2Night were cut altogether since ESPN’s loss of NHL rights.

    The reduced exposure on ESPN can only be harmful to the NHL. By minimizing coverage and highlights, the network is effectively reducing the imprint of the game on Americans’ collective sports consciousness. Worse still, several ESPN writers and commentators have gone out of their way to emphasize the demise of hockey. Le Ann Schreiber recently noted that during the NHL’s regular season, hockey was only mentioned on-air if there happened to be “some egregious brawl” or if it was being “dissed” for its invisibility and irrelevance. . . .

    Off Wing Opinion offers a in depth analysis of the situation.
    At the end of the day, what we're talking about above are simply the techniques that ESPN is using to attack the NHL and run it down in the eyes of the American sports fan. Why do that? Because every fan that can be convinced that Versus is too hard to find, or that hockey is the sport of the past -- despite the fact that more Americans are playing the sport today than ever before -- means more sports fans who can be force fed whatever ESPN might be fronting at the time -- be it MLS, Poker, or even the WNBA.

    Here's an idea -- why not treat ESPN personalities like Mike Greenburg who run down the sport the same way we ought to treat anybody who has too much power?

    Fight the power. Question authority. Think for yourself. Watch hockey.

    Monday, July 09, 2007

    No Love For Canada

    It's a crying shame.
    Although TSN (Canada’s version of ESPN) reported the six Canadian teams generate one-third of the 30-team NHL’s revenue, it is looking more like Kansas City has a better shot at obtaining the next NHL franchise than, say, Hamilton, Winnipeg or Quebec.

    Canada’s hopes of adding another team weren’t helped when billionaire Jim Balsillie pursued Nashville and quickly began a season-ticket drive in Hamilton, where more than 14,000 season tickets were ordered. The NHL, however, wasn’t at all pleased that Balsillie didn’t show more of a willingness to keep the team in Nashville.

    Balsillie now appears to be on the outside looking in with his bid, even though he reportedly made a larger offer for Nashville than William "Boots" Del Biaggio III, who has a contract to operate an NHL team at Sprint Center in Kansas City.

    On the other hand, Mirtle is convinced a place like Hamilton would better serve the NHL than Kansas City.

    "They could put a second team in Toronto and another one in Hamilton (less than an hour away) and they’d still sell out," Mirtle said. "In Toronto and southern Ontario, the market is underserved. There’s eight to nine million fans. People are dying to get into Maple Leafs games, and the Leafs aren’t that good of a team."

    (my emphasis)
    Hey, I got love for Canada. Big time love. It's the Home of Hockey AND it's the last civilized place on earth. What's not to love?

    It makes no sense to not put at least one franchise back in the Holy Land of Hockey. No sense. Southern Ontario is the most logical but Winnipeg and Quebec should have teams in the NHL too.

    Saturday, July 07, 2007

    Greatest Movie Ever Made

    and here's everything you ever wanted to know about it...

    Here's some more on the history and lasting impact of the movie... Slap Shot.

    It is the rare sports movie that resonates with the athletes whose lives it would presume to reproduce. Slap Shot's passages have entered the lexicon of hockey players, many of whom recite its lines with the fluency, and the passion, of a preacher spouting Scripture.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    The Evolution of Sports

    ...has unfortunately led us to our current sorry state of affairs.

    Yeah,the spirit is not dead... yet. It is in critical condition though.

    Monday, July 02, 2007

    The Best Mullets Available

    ...worn by one of the NHL's best shut down defensemen and one of it's best "heart and soul" players went to the AV's as free-agent signings.
    The Avalanche signed two very good new players Sunday, and two of the NHL's very best mullets.

    The Avs first signed defenseman Scott Hannan to a four-year, $18 million contract, then made a bigger splash by signing star left winger Ryan Smyth to a five-year, $31.25 million deal on a busy first day of the NHL free agency period.

    The additions of Smyth and Hannan figure to give the Avs more of what many critics felt the team was lacking last season: grit and toughness, not to mention talent and some old-fashioned hairdos.

    "We identified the cream of the crop, of five of six players, and we feel we got two of them. I was hoping we'd get one and we got two," Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere said. "At the end of the year, we had to determine what the needs we were looking for, and these two guys fit those needs."
    I love these two pickups by the AV's.

    My favorite Smith clip...

    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.