Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Looooooooong Shot

... to say the least.

That's the loooongest one I've ever seen scored with a goalie defending the net. Man, that shot is going to haunt that poor tender's dreams for a loooooooooong, loooooooooong time.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Soul on Ice

The little known and often outright hidden Colored Hockey League which predated the NHL and the Negro Baseball League from 1894 to 1925 was responsible for a number of firsts in the evolution of hockey, not only as far as who played it, but also HOW the game was and is still played to this day.

For more info on the Colored Hockey League and the book Black Ice which chronicles it's history, check out this previous post of mine.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Taijiquan Hockey

The ancient art of hockey stick fighting...

Hey, I take the Odd part of my Odd Man Rush moniker very seriously... if that hasn't been evident to everyone already.

Survey Says...

The NHL Players recently filled out a survey for that lists who they think are the best in various aspects of the game.

TOP VOTE-GETTER: Alexander Ovechkin (56%).
• Ovechkin burst onto the NHL scene in 2005-06 as part of one of the most talented rookie classes in history. Sports is in this forward's blood -- his mother won two Olympic golds playing hoops for the Soviet Union and his father was a pro soccer player. Ovechkin is known for his physical play and soft hands and he's difficult to knock off the puck.
• OTHER MENTIONS: Ilya Kovalchuk, Thrashers (14%); Jaromir Jagr, Rangers (8%); Marian Hossa, Thrashers (7%); Joe Sakic, Avs (4%); Teemu Selanne, Ducks (3%); Brendan Shanahan, Rangers (3%); Jonathan Cheechoo, Sharks (2%); Sidney Crosby (2%).


TOP VOTE-GETTER: Georges Laraque (56%).
• There was an infamous incident earlier this season when a television mike captured Georges Laraque inviting the Ducks' George Parros to a fight. Not all of his on-ice duels have been that "civil," but Laraque is one of the more feared forwards in the NHL. He has 865 career penalty minutes over eight NHL seasons.
• OTHER MENTIONS: Derek Boogaard, Wild (20%); Donald Brashear, Capitals (9%); Zdeno Chara (4%); Scott Parker, Sharks (2%); Chris Chelios, Red Wings (2%), Colton Orr, Rangers (2%); Jarome Iginla (2%); Chris Neil, Senators (2%); Tomas Holmstrom, Red Wings (1%); Ryan Smyth, Oilers (1%).


TOP VOTE-GETTER: Lindy Ruff (41%).
• Jack Adams Award winners Sabres page
• Lindy Ruff has coached the Buffalo Sabres since the 1997-98 season, but his most successful campaign came in 2005-06. Ruff led the Sabres to a 52-24-6 record and 110 points, both franchise records and a 25-point improvement over the previous season. He won coach of the year honors in 2006, as well.
• OTHER MENTIONS: Randy Carlyle, Ducks (13%); Jacques Lemaire, Wild (10%); Barry Trotz, Predators (7%); Guy Carbonneau, Canadiens (6%); Peter Laviolette, Hurricanes (4%); Dave Lewis, Bruins (4%); Bob Hartley, Thrashers (3%); Ken Hitchcock, Blue Jackets (2%); Marc Crawford, Kings (2%); Dave Tippett, Stars (2%); Wayne Gretzky, Coyotes (2%).
For the complete list go >>> here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wrestling's Next Big Thing... The Goon?

Aaaah, I don't think so, but hey, who knows? Hockey is after all always needing and looking for crossover appeal. However, I doubt this is what they had in mind...

What can I say? Well, maybe sorry, I guess. Things are a little slow this week with the all-star break and all.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lost Hockey Movie Classics

These puck films are extremely hard to find... but for the true hockey fan, as Jamie Fitzpatrick points out, it could prove a very worthwhile search effort.
Generally, when Hollywood straps on the skates, the results are lame. Fans of a certain age might recall Youngblood (Rob Lowe as a young hotshot who learns to drop the gloves) or Ice Castles (Robby Benson as a young hotshot who falls for a blind figure skater). More recent titles include MVP: Most Valuable Primate. Need we say more?

While such horrors remain available on video or DVD, many of the hockey movies we really want to see have long since disappeared. Here are three that are nowhere to be found these days. Maybe you will stumble upon one of them on the late show.

Face Off (1971) celebrates young love, bad dialogue, post-hippie pretensions and the manly pursuit of pucks. Billy is a rookie with the Leafs, Sherry is a pop singer wowing the Now Generation. His is a world of hard-drinking, hard-punching jocks; her's is a grab bag of bearded, dope-smoking artsies. Can love bridge the gap?

The film is written by Scott Young, who knew a thing or two about hockey players and pop stars. He was one of Canada's most respected sportswriters (elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988) and the father of rock icon Neil Young.

Spot the cameos! Toronto captain George Armstrong and groovy Bruins' star Derek Sanderson have speaking parts. Harold Ballard, the Leafs' creepy owner, appears briefly. The hero of the 1972 Canada-Soviet series, Paul Henderson, cuts the rug at a team New Year's party.

Memorable scene: Billy accuses Barney, Sherry's guitar player, of corrupting Sherry with drugs and rock and roll. Barney's reply: "Oh man. That's heavy."

King of Hockey (1936) stars Dick Purcell as Gabby Dugan, a pure-hearted lad soiled by the depravities of professional sport. Gabby can skate like the wind and make the babes swoon, so he's a little cocky. The veteran goalie, "Jumbo" Mullins, tries to keep the kid on the straight and narrow, but Gabby starts gooning it up on the ice and soon falls in with gamblers and mobsters.

Rumors of bribery and game-fixing lead to a confrontation between Gabby and Jumbo. The goalie ends the discussion with a crack to the head, leaving Gabby blinded. It's up to the lovely Kathleen to step in and set everything straight. Cue lesson in humility, miracle operation to restore sight, inspiring comeback and hero's redemption.

The idea of pro hockey as a dark world filled with gamblers and wiseguys was hardly a stretch. In the 1920s and 1930s, the NHL family included William V. Dwyer, legendary rumrunner, associate of Dutch Schultz and Legs Diamond and owner of the New York Americans.

Memorable scene: Spotting Kathleen in the stands, Gabby deliberately takes a "foul" so he can go to the "penalty cage" and chat her up for a couple of minutes.

Gross Misconduct (1993) tells the true story of Brian "Spinner" Spencer, who played eight NHL seasons in the 1970s. Probing the grim underside of small-town hockey culture, Spinner's tale is much stranger than fiction. This is the darkest of all hockey movies.

Growing up in a desolate lumber town, the hockey prodigy is driven to excel by a spiteful father. Brian's emotional immaturity and violent streak are valued commodities in the hockey world, helping him claw his way to the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

All is well for a couple of years, as Spinner buys a big car and a fur coat and shags legions of puck bunnies. But his dream soon fades to the drab reality of life as a journeyman pro, doing the dirty work for a series of mediocre teams. Spencer quits the game, retires to a squalid Florida trailer, gets into various scrapes with shady characters and ends up dead at age 38.

Highlighting the troubled father-son relationship, the film is built around one of hockey's most bizarre episodes. On a Saturday afternoon in his rookie year, Spencer calls his folks with big news: he will be interviewed tonight on Hockey Night in Canada. Camped in front of the TV that evening, Roy Spencer discovers that his local CBC television station is carrying a Vancouver Canucks' game instead of the Leafs. Drunk and furious, Roy heads to the CBC building with a gun, demanding a switch to his son's game. As young Brian Spencer proudly takes a seat for his first interview on national TV, his father is gunned down by police.

Memorable scene: An inebriated, seething Roy Spencer tears through the winter night in his pick-up truck, bottle in hand and shotgun at his side, ready for a final reckoning with the Great Canadian Dream.

We Would Love To See:

The Game That Kills (1937) - Who can resist the title? Or Rita Hayworth as the coach's daughter? And who will rescue her when she is kidnapped by the mob?

Idol of the Crowds 1937 - A retired hockey star (John Wayne) returns to the ice because he needs money to enlarge his chicken farm.

So, there you have it. The Lost Hockey Film Classics. Let me know if you locate any of them, I'd appreciate any info you might find on being able to track them down.

Happy hunting.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The "Middies"

We've reached the halfway point of the 06/07 NHL season and George Richards writing for McClatchy Newspapers thinks it time to give out some mid-season awards.
_President's Trophy for Best Overall Record: Nashville. Sure, the Predators have to compete with Detroit for this trophy, but they still have a bunch of games against St. Louis and Columbus after the break.

_Art Ross Trophy for Most Points: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. "Sid the Kid" missed out on the Rookie of the Year trophy last season, so he's making amends. In a big way. Crosby also is going to be the star of the All-Star Game - at least until the opening faceoff. Rookie of the Year winner Alex Ovechkin also is in the running for this, and could charge at the end and snag another major award away from Crosby. We'll see.

_Maurice Richard Trophy for Most Goals: Teemu Selanne, Anaheim. Selanne is having a great season, scoring 30 goals in his first 49 games with the Pacific-leading Ducks. Jonathan Cheechoo, last season's winner, has tailed off, and went into Friday's action with 16 goals. But playing alongside Joe Thornton, he could bag a bunch in a hurry and be back in contention.

_Hart Memorial Trophy for Most Valuable Player: Marian Hossa, Atlanta. Thornton came from the rear of the field to surprise Jaromir Jagr and win this last season, so why not Hossa? The former Senator has been a huge offensive lift to the Thrashers, and should lead them not only to their first playoff berth, but their first divisional title as well.

_Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh. The Penguins are a fun team to watch, and Malkin is a big part of that. If the Pens stay in Pittsburgh, what a future this franchise has.

_Frank Selke Trophy for Top Defensive Forward: Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina. Last season's winner, Brind'Amour has helped Carolina keep pace with Atlanta in the Southeast Division. Going into Friday, he had logged 160 short-handed minutes.

_Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year: Barry Trotz, Nashville. The popular pick here - as always - is Buffalo's Lindy Ruff. As in Buffalo, the Predators are helped by Trotz's stability and longevity with the franchise.

_James Norris Award for Top Defenseman: Scott Niedermayer Anaheim. Playing with an injured Chris Pronger definitely hasn't hurt Niedermayer, who has been at the top of his game all season.

_Georges Vezina Trophy for Top Goalie: Martin Brodeur, New Jersey. Even at 34, Brodeur keeps on going. Coming into the weekend, the three-time Stanley Cup champion leads the league in just about every important category - and has eight shutouts. If Roberto Luongo keeps his recent hot streak going, he could challenge.
I can't find much to disagree on with George and his picks, except, I'd go with Luongo for the Vezina... maybe even Hart.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bob Marley and the Harford Whalers....

have left town.

A Tribute To Hockey Teams That Are No More

I remember hockey games
played right here in my state
that’s where all the people came for their local hockey team

those days are still around, unfortunately not in my state
support it can’t be found
it’s in the press, and now we’re all depressed

Bob Marley and the Hartford Whalers
are not around
Bob Marley and the Hartford Whalers
have left town

imagine New York without the rangers
Philly without the flyers
no Detroit red wings

so go to games
support your team
and while you’re there ya buy ice cream
let em’ know you care
if everyone does their part
the team won’t break your heart

Bob Marley and the Hartford Whalers
are not around
Quebec’s nordiques and the golden seals
have left town

the Rockies and the north stars
have both disappeared
so support your team, while we just dream
of our golden years

support your team!
let’s dream about our golden years!

I can relate. I lived in Denver when the Rockies were there and I was also living there when they were yanked away by New Jersey. Those were tough freakin years. I was long gone from Colorado by the time Denver yanked the Nordiques away and even though I'm a big Av's fan, I'm torn a little inside because I can certainly relate to and feel for what those fans in Quebec went through... and probably still are going through.

Needless to say, it sucks big time when your team leaves town.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is BIGGER Better?

Well, I guess it depends on what one is referring to. In this case it's the size of the nets in Hockey we're talking about.

E.M. Swift writing for thinks it's time to expand them...
One of the items on the agenda at the NHL general managers meeting in February is whether, in an effort to increase scoring, the league should make the goal bigger. It's now six feet wide by four feet high -- the same as it's always been. The new goal would add eight inches in width and four inches in height -- 80" x 52" -- so if you do the math, that's a 20 percent increase.

Goalies and so-called "traditionalists" have howled in protest ever since Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations, floated the idea in late December. But I think -- no, I'm certain -- that it's an idea whose time is long overdue.

It's not just that scoring is down. The league is averaging 5.8 goals per game, including overtime, this season. That's down from 6.1 last season and way below the seven-plus average from the late 1970s through the early '90s -- before teams even played overtime.

The bigger concern is that certain types of scoring attempts have all but disappeared. The booming slapshots from a wing breaking across the blue line, which popularized hockey and made Bobby Hull a matinee idol in the 1960s; the sniper blast from the sideboards of the kind that made Guy Lafleur, Mike Bossy and Mike Gartner so deadly.

"When I was growing up, I saw a lot of goals scored by guys going down the wing, slap shots to the far corner," says Calgary's Jarome Iginla, a member of the NHL's competition committee. "Those were exciting to see. The bigger nets would give you more chance to have those goals."

Hall of Famer Ken Dryden, the premier goalie of the '70s and now an elected member of Canada's Parliament, says, "You can't really beat a goalie with a shot anymore. The goals now are almost all scored off redirections. The shooter sees a whole lot less space now, which changes the psychology of the contest between the goalie and the shooter. The goalie's equipment has gone from being an instrument to protect the body to being an instrument to protect the net." [...]

For those who believe that tinkering with the size of the goal violates the traditions of the game, Dryden counters with this: "If you're a pure traditionalist, the goalie can't wear a mask and he has cricket pads on his legs. But things change. When we played, we wore equipment designed to stop pucks shot at 70 mph. Then the banana hook was introduced, and guys began shooting it at 100 mph. Eventually you manufacture better equipment. All that gets added to the traditional framework, but the traditions have changed."

Why not decrease the size of the goalie equipment still further, as the NHL did last season?

"The goalies are saying that because of safety concerns, you can't go any further in that direction," Dryden says. "How do you argue to make something less safe? So the only thing left to give is the size of the goal they're protecting. You give it a try, make it a little bigger, and see how the goalies deal with it."

Dryden adds, "The real tradition we need to protect is the fair contest between the shooter and the goalie. You want a balance where real skill gets rewarded, and if the balance gets out of whack, the traditions have already been broken. The real traditionalist looks for a situation where the shooter has a chance, and the goalie has a chance."

Amen. Let's bring on the super-sized goal.

(my emphasis)
I agree, count me in also as one that would like to expand the nets. Pretty much for all the reasons mentioned. The game has always evolved. It was once played with no forward passes allowed and just two sticks stuck vertically in the ice with no cross bar, obviously things changed and it's time for things to change again. It's been a looooong established tradition in the sport for things to change.

So, bring it on I say.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Tim...

wherever you are.

The Ballad of Tim Horton


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Down Goes Boogaard, Down Goes Boogaard!

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Godard scrambled the Boogieman's head so bad he ended up heading to the wrong penalty box and out of the game completely.


Here's the setup and the blow by blow recap
The fight was so eagerly anticipated the scorekeeper forgot to turn off the clock.

He didn't want to miss a second of the scrap.

From the time word got out Darryl Sutter had summoned Eric Godard from Omaha Monday, it was obvious he was brought in to fight Derek Boogaard.

You could have sold programs.

It was so premeditated that early in the second the two initially lined up on opposite wings at centre ice until Boogaard decided to switch with his linemate so he could stand beside Godard.

Weighing in at 6-ft. 4-in., 220-lbs., the Flames tough guy spotted Boogaard three ins. and 50-lbs. when they shed the mitts and got 'er goin'.

In a week in which Jarome Iginla's injury and first fight of the year sparked debate over whether the Flames needed some muscle in the lineup, there was no debating what would happen next: The summer's fiercest free agent signing would make good on his regular-season debut with the big club.

Kicking off a spirited tilt with a few missed haymakers from both brutes, Godard eventually gained control, stunning the little-used Wild forward with a few overhand rights that buckled Boogaard's knees. After climbing to his feet, the visitor was finished off with two more rights that sent him to the ice for good.

The Boogie Man then left the game for good, in search of some ice and repairs.

"I was just glad I didn't get beat up," laughed Godard, a veteran of 35 NHL fights over three years on Long Island.

"It's exciting when the crowd gets into it like that."

Turns out the impetus for Godard's promotion had little to do with his shocking four-point night in Omaha last week. In fact, the Flames were none too impressed with Boogaard in their last meeting when the big lug ran around hitting everything who moved in the latter stages of a 5-2 Flames win Dec. 12.

Enter Godard.
...and exit Boogaard.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated

Fighters far from obselete in NHL
WINNIPEG - New York Rangers right-winger Colton Orr is a remnant of the old NHL. But as the league's tall foreheads have noticed in recent weeks, he and those who play just like him, haven't gone anywhere.

A big, strong, tough-as-shoe-leather North End Winnipeg kid with a heart much larger than his physical skills, Orr (absolutely no relation to Bobby) is one of the more recent incarnations of Jimmy Mann or Tie Domi or Dave Semenko or Shawn Cronin.

When Domi retired before the start of this season, many hockey observers thought (or hoped) the fighter would quickly become a thing of the past, a dinosaur made useless by what many declared were the NHL's "visionary changes."

Orr, however, is living proof that nothing could be further from the truth. He was suspended for five games after he cross-checked Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin last Saturday. The suspension cost Orr more than US$13,000 in salary. Washington's Donald Brashear received a one-game suspension after sucker-punching Rangers defenceman Aaron Ward in the same game.

While only the most blood-thirsty would argue that Orr's suspension should have been shorter than five games, people who watched Brashear's actions were dumbfounded. How does a cross-check result in a five game penalty when a punch to the head is only worth one? Maybe the NHL appreciates fighting more than they let on.

Orr wasn't going to question or comment on the NHL's decision, but he had no problem talking about the fact that players like himself and Brashear are still collecting paycheques in the NHL, "and will for some time."

"You still have to have players like me," Orr said. "Sure, there are a lot of people who think we're gone, or maybe hope we're gone, but the game hasn't changed that much. Guys like me are still here to protect our teammates and make sure things don't get out of hand."

To actually think that the fighter in hockey is now obsolete, is to think that the cop on the beat or the professional bodyguard is obsolete. The NHL is still full of Colton Orrs. Try Buffalo's 6-foot-4, 247-pound Andrew Peters. Or Minnesota's Derek Boogard, 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds. Or Ottawa's Brian McGrattan, 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. The list of players who still welcome the occasional punch-up is endless [...]

"The ones who think the fighter is gone ... I've read some of that stuff. It's just not true. Every team in this league has at least one player like me. I don't think we're going anywhere."
No, I don't think they're going anywhere either and I'm just fine with that.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Georges Laraque Story

Using Jackie Robinson as his inspiration Georges Laraque battled racism to make it in the NHL.

I've never been a big fan of his (I'm a Av's fan) but I love it when anyone beats racist stereotypes to succeed and I hope he inspires others to overcome the same ignorant nonsense that still permeates so much of our society.

I pity the fool hockey player who tries to bait Georges with BS racial insults. He'd quickly end up between Laraque and a hard place and that's no place to be.

Here's some of Georges Greatest Hits

Friday, January 05, 2007

Eklund Exposed

... well sort of.

The anonymous hockey blogger who many love... to hate.

Love him or hate him the guy sure knows how to get attention.

Speaking of getting attention, Hazel Mae sure got mine.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hockey Gone Wild

Japanese style....

Seeeesh, at least there wasn't any flying karate kicks with skates on administered.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Goldie Oldie

...for all my Flames friends.

Boy, they don't make music like that anymore.

Thank God.