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This interview with Wade Redden posted to The Score’s Backhand Shelf blog on January 23, 2013. Redden was just about to return to the NHL after being bought out by the New York Rangers and signed by the St. Louis Blues. The move essentially rescued him from AHL purgatory, where he seemed to have been banished to. Redden went on to play 23 games (including tallying his 1,000th NHL game) for the Blues and recorded 5 points, before being dealt to the Boston Bruins the same season for a conditional 7th round draft pick in 2014. The Beantown stop reunited Redden with his old Ottawa (and some say best) defense partner, Zdeno Chara. It was almost a storybook ending for Redden, as the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup final, but were bested by the Chicago Blackhawks, who spoiled his chance to have his name engraved on hockey’s richest prize.
Redden did not sign an NHL contract with any club the following season, and announced his retirement in January of 2014.
Posted by Dave Cunning under Interviews on Jan 23, 2013
Many NHL pundits and fans assumed they had seen the last of Wade Redden in the NHL, after the New York Rangers swept his $6.5 million cap hit under the rug by reassigning him to their AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale from 2010 to 2012.
But those critics were proved wrong after the Rangers cashed in one of their freshly CBA-approved accelerated compliance buyouts earlier this month, and used it to sever ties with Redden and the remaining two seasons of his six year deal with them. It posted him as an available, unrestricted free agent – something that the St. Louis Blues were quick to capitalize on the day after Redden hit the market.
The 35 year old veteran of 13 NHL seasons signed a one year deal with the Blues on January 20th for $800,000 plus another $200K in performance bonuses. That’s $4 million less than what he would have made with New York this year; though he will still earn a pro-rated $3.341 million for 2012-13, and just a little less than that for 2013-14 from the Rangers.
Redden passed a physical, dealt with immigration, and suddenly found himself to be an NHL player once again faster than you can say John Tortorella.
Redden has been skating with St. Louis in the interim, and accompanied them on their recent road trip through Nashville and Chicago. He is slated to resume NHL blue line patrol as early as Thursday, when the Blues take on the Predators at home.
In the meantime, Redden took a few minutes out to chat with me. Here’s what he had to say on his new contract, his time with the Rangers, and everything in between.
So you’ve passed your physical and signed your contract, how does it feel to officially be a member of the St. Louis Blues?
Redden: “It’s great. It’s a very exciting time. Last week was a whirlwind. It all happened pretty quick. But I’ve been here for a few days now, and have got to be around everyone and get on the ice with the whole team. I haven’t been on the ice with a group like this for a while. It’s great. I felt good out there. I’ve was on with the [Kelowna] Rockets before, and obviously they’re a great team and all that, but it’s great to get on the ice with this group of guys. We’ve got a great team here with a lot of great young guys. I’m excited to get rolling, and about the chance I have here.”
You hadn’t been playing for anyone else this year until now, but as you mentioned, you were skating with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets just prior to coming to St. Louis; what else did you do to keep in shape during the lockout? Do you think what you did was enough to keep you playing at the NHL pace, especially since you’ve been removed from NHL action for two seasons?
Redden: “Yeah, definitely it was. There was a group of NHL guys through the whole lockout inKelowna that I skated with. We pushed ourselves pretty good. We kept busy, kept on the ice, and kept training. Obviously it’s a bit of an adjustment anytime you are away for that long, but I’ll get worked back into it pretty quick here, and I should be good to go.”
You’ll be playing under Ken Hitchcock, a Jack Adams Trophy and Stanley Cup winning coach, on a team that many feel is poised to win their first ever Stanley Cup – what are your thoughts on being a part of such a strongly positioned team upon your NHL return?
Redden: “It’s very exciting. The organization here has built a great team. The young guys here have been around a while, and they’re just starting to come into their own and find out what kind of team they are – and they’re a good team. I’m going to try to mix in and add what I can bring, and help the team to do as good as it can.”
You’re one of the oldest guys on this roster – what kind of role do you feel you have as a veteran on this team?
Redden: “I’ve got experience, and I’ve played a lot of games, but I think they just want me to come and play the way I usually play – try to be steady and make good plays. We’ve got a lot of talent up front, and to just try to get the puck to them and let them create things like they can. Just try to be solid, play a good all-around game, and help the team win that way. That’s what they’re expecting from me.”
A lot of people may have thought or assumed that they wouldn’t see Wade Redden in the NHL again after you were reassigned to Connecticut from 2010-12; did you think you would get another chance in the NHL while you were down there?
Redden: “I always felt that I went down there with a purpose. I obviously wasn’t happy about the demotion or getting sent there. And I played in this league for a long time, so I knew I could play. Obviously there were different circumstances that affected my reason for being there. I went down there, worked hard, played hard, tried to be a good teammate, and did all the things I usually do. I always felt like if I did those things, it’d be my best chance to get back. I’m happy and fortunate to have found another chance.”
Did you ever consider retiring while you were playing in the AHL? You’ve played in 994 games in 13 NHL seasons, tallied 450 points thus far, played for Canada 7 times – a very respectable career, and very respectable statistics to leave on. If you didn’t, why did you decide to keep at it?
Redden: “Yeah, I’ve played in a lot of games, but I didn’t feel good about finishing that way, that’s for sure. My time inNew York wasn’t great. I knew I could do better, and I wanted to prove that, not only to myself, but to other people too. I don’t want to rest on what I’ve done thus far. I think there are still good things to happen. I want to keep having fun, keep playing, and you never know – a lot of good things are available if you keep going. You never know what’s going to happen.”
In your opinion, what went wrong in New York? You were so successful in your early years with Ottawa, but you just didn’t seem to gel with the Rangers.
Redden: “I went in there on a big contract. I think maybe making that money there and being the player I am… I felt like the first little while, things were going pretty good, and then they kind of fell off. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and like I should have been doing more. Once I started feeling that way, I think I just got away from the things that made me successful. Things just kind of snowballed from there. It wasn’t a good fit from early on, and they made a decision to make changes. I lived with that. It wasn’t a good fit, things didn’t work out, and I’ve moved on. I’m done there now, and am happy to have moved on.”
Sean Avery was in a comparable situation playing in Connecticut after being sent down from the Rangers while you were there; did you ever have any discussions with him about the similar scenarios you found yourselves in?
Redden: “Not really, no. We were both there – kind of buried down there – but our situations were a little different. We never really got into it too much. We were both just trying to make the most of it.”
Do you feel like you have something to prove this year in the NHL? Perhaps to prove the New York Rangers wrong for what they did with you, or something else – or do you just look at this season like business as usual?
Redden: “Yeah, I’m excited. Life goes on. Everyone’s focused on what they’ve got to do. I’ve just got to do what I do best. Yeah, I’ve got pride and I want to do well. But at the same time I’ve got to stay within myself and play the way I can play, do what I can do, and everything will work out just fine.”
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My 2012 interview with Mark Recchi posted on The Score’s Backhand Shelf blog on February 1st of that year, shortly after his retirement from the NHL. At that time, Recchi denied foraying into the coaching world, but the co-owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers has since worked for the Dallas Stars as their Advisor to Hockey Operations, and the Pittsburgh Penguins as a player development coach.
The audio of this interview can be heard here:
Posted by Dave Cunning under Interviews on Feb 01, 2012
Usually when people retire from their line of work, they cease continuing to labor in their field of employment. Mark Recchi may have missed this memo.
Although his competitive hockey days are behind him, Recchi continues to be active in hockey. Since his Swan Song Stanley Cup, Recchi has been a participant in the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game, Mario Lemieux’s Fantasy Camp, and most recently was a guest coach for Team Cherry at the 2012 CHL/NHL Prospects Game in Kelowna, BC.
The Kamloops Blazers alumnus has always followed his old squad closely, and has finally had the opportunity to attend junior hockey games now that he’s not travelling the continent as a player.
“I always watch. I pay attention,” admitted Recchi. “I know what’s going on, especially in the WHL and all the different teams – that’s the great thing about the internet, you can watch all kinds of different games. I watch all the Blazers games. It’s exciting. I’ve had the opportunity to come back three times and watch the team live, which obviously I wasn’t able to do before. It was really neat for me to get in the building and watch some games.”
Those thinking that this two-day stint as a coach may be foreshadowing a return to hockey for Recchi as a coach can hold on to their rumors – for now. Even though at age 43 he’s becoming farther removed than the younger generation of hockey player, Recchi knows he could still find common ground with players if he did choose to pursue a coaching career.
“No. Not yet anyways,” said Recchi, quelling the coaching notion. “I like the building side more than I do the coaching right now, but you never know. I think everything’s definitely changed since I played junior hockey and over the last number of years, but that’s like anything. I have five children, and I know how to handle young kids. I played with a lot of young players too – Steven Stamkos, Tyler Seguin – I’ve been involved with these younger players coming in and tried to help them. You can see it in their eyes whether they’re a deer in the headlights, or whether they take it all in and do the right things. That’s the stuff I really like to see. Most of these kids will have a great chance to play in the NHL for a number of years if they can keep doing the right things, keep maturing, and stay headed in the right direction. It’s nice to see how they react to it and to see how they handle it. Bottom line is they’re all good kids and they want to learn and get better. Yes, it is a little different world than what I had and I understand that, but you can still talk the same language. I’m 43 going on 25, so I still feel young.”
Some players who have won multiple Stanley Cups fondly remember their first as their favorite. After playing for seven different teams over twenty-two seasons and winning three Cups, Recchi feels his teams’ championship victories grew sweeter each time — and so did his appreciation for the effort it took to achieve them.
“They are all special,” Recchi acknowledged. “The first one’s great, but I thought every other one got better after that. I was 22 years old when I won my first Stanley Cup. I had won in the minors two years before that, and won the World Juniors… and then all of a sudden I didn’t win anything for the next fifteen years. We won the World Championships in 1997, but it was a long time until I won the Cup again in 2006. That one was special. Then to retire on a winning note, and to go out with a bang – I went to Boston to give it that one last chance, and it came through. They’re all totally different. It makes you appreciate how hard it really is to win the Stanley Cup – especially when you go fifteen years between winning another.”
His most recent Cup inscription of course came while he was a member of the Boston Bruins last season. While many have scrutinized the Bruins for being a reckless and dirty team that plays a “bad guy” role in the NHL (see: Lucic vs. Miller), Recchi contends people have those criticisms confused with their deep commitment to teamwork.
“I don’t think they have a “bad guy” mentality, I think they have an all-in team mentality,” Recchi countered. “We took care of business when it needed to be taken care of, but what people didn’t understand was how good of a team we were, and how good of skaters we were. We had better skaters and were deeper than people thought. People overlooked what we had on our team, especially in the Stanley Cup Finals. We were four lines and eight defencemen deep. We were a deep hockey team that was big, and we could skate. We felt in seven game series, we would come out on top because of it. We could skate and play with anybody. We definitely had some incidents though the year where we looked after each other, but we weren’t a highly penalized team overall. But when things needed to be taken care of, or if someone had problems with one of our teammates, we took care of it. We helped each other, and that’s why we were able to build something very special. We had each other’s backs – we knew management had our backs, we knew the coaching staff had our backs, and we had theirs in return. It was an all-in attitude.”
Recchi himself was not without receiving his own criticism in last year’s playoffs – he made a memorable comment that Montreal’s Max Pacioretty may have been embellishing his neck and head injuries after receiving a hit from Zdeno Chara. Recchi admits now that is was indeed a calculated veteran move on his part to deflect heat away from his captain.
“I was doing it to deflect some things,” Recchi conceded. “[Chara] was our captain, and he was very upset about the whole thing. It was a very hard thing for him to handle. He didn’t mean to and doesn’t want to hurt anybody. ‘Z’ is a great person. I said it to take the attention away from him. Pacioretty’s a heck of a player. I felt bad doing it, but at the same time, I had my teammates to protect – that’s the bottom line. ‘Z’ would have done it for me. Anybody would have done it for each other in our dressing room. We were there to look after each other, deflect pressure, deflect criticism, or whatever was needed. That’s what we did, and that’s why we were successful.”
Recchi’s former teammates continue to draw attention to themselves – most recently Tim Thomas, who declined his invitation to meet US President Barack Obama while the rest of his teammates showed up. Recchi was in attendance, but respects Thomas’ exercising of his right to choose.
“That’s Timmy’s choice. I was there, but that’s Timmy’s decision. I respect Timmy for what he is as a person, and as a goalie. Everyone has their own opinions. I would have went, but that’s your right as a person. He’s a terrific goalie – he stops the puck and he’s a great teammate to the guys. It didn’t have any effect with them.”
In addition to his Stanley Cup championships, Recchi was a seven time all-star. His 1,533 career points place him 12th on the all-time NHL scoring list. He’s also 19th in goals (577), 14th in assists (956), 15th in power play goals (200), and tied for 14th with Wayne Gretzky in game-winning goals (91). One would have to think a Hockey Hall of Fame nomination for Recchi wouldn’t be out of the question when time comes.
Well it’s getting on in the 2014 NHL playoffs, and it’s about time to dust of the old Double Championship Challenge for it’s second quadrennial go-round. If this seems Greek to you, click here to catch up on what the 1st Quadrennial Double Championship Challenge was all about. You may recall Rich Abney walked away with a championship t-shirt and four years of bragging rights in 2010 after picking the Chicago Blackhawks’ Canadian Olympic team members to win gold and the Stanley Cup in the same season.
So let’s have at it — cast your votes on who will win this quadrennial’s crown as outright best in the world.
Here’s who’s left:
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp — Chicago Blackhawks [note: Keith & Toews can repeat as back-to-back DCC champs]
Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter — Los Angeles Kings
Martin St-Louis, Rick Nash — New York Rangers
Carey Price, P.K. Subban — Montreal Canadiens
Here’s who’s eliminated:
Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau — San Jose Sharks
Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz — Pittsburgh Penguins
Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo — St. Louis Blues
Ryan Getzlaf , Corey Perry — Anaheim Ducks
Matt Duchene — Colorado Avalanche
Jamie Benn — Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins
Here’s who did not qualify:
Roberto Luongo — Vancouver Canucks
Mike Smith — Phoenix Coyotes
Shea Weber — Nashville Predators
John Tavares — New York Islanders
And unlike 2010 when Corey Perry joined Canada’s World Championship roster after winning Olympic gold in Vancouver, there are no players or staff that are representing Canada twice in the same season this time around.
Who’s your pick? Leave a comment to let us know! Choose correctly and you’ll be eligible to win an exclusive prize from Serenity Now…The SDC Blogs.
Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post with your name, your pick, and where you’re from. One vote only — no do-overs. Those who select correctly will be entered into a draw for the grand prize. Good luck!
If you’re looking for a great gift or stocking stuffer for a hockey fan on your Christmas list, or just a great collection of hockey stories for yourself, look no further than Stan Fischler’s latest book, Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories.
Fischler, an Islanders, Rangers and Devils correspondent for MSG and veteran author of over 90 books, writes a wide spectrum of hockey stories in BTN – everything from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2013 playoff collapse against the Boston Bruins, to puck tales that predate the NHL. There’s a story about how a game that went deep into overtime in the 1930’s was almost decided by coin toss – a crazy notion when you consider the discussion of the shootout and other game ending approaches these days. Today’s debate about preventing and managing concussions make the game’s stewards in the 1940’s look like primitive cave people – it sounds like it was commonplace for fights to spill into the stands and involve spectators, and sticks were regularly cracked over helmetless players’ heads. It makes for interesting commentary on where the game has evolved from when you read that teams used to only cost $75,000 and gunshots used to signal period ends, seasons used to last around 20 games, and the Art Ross Trophy winner would net 70 points in that short span.
As today’s hockey fans are aware, the NHLPA and NHL don’t always get along, but those of us affected by their disagreements may take solace in learning that the NHLPA has been a thorn in the side of NHL ownership since the 50’s. And as we are all reminded by Gary Bettman’s annual awarding of the Stanley Cup always being met by a deafening rebuttal of boos from fans in attendance, the NHL commissioner has not always been a fan favorite either. When Clarence Campbell was at the league’s helm, he had everything from insults, tear gas, and items from the produce section whipped at him by fans who did not agree with his suspension of Maurice Richard. Can you imagine Bettman having to make public appearances in riot gear?
Hockey players have always been known for their toughness, resilience, and overwhelming desire to keep playing the game. One of the best examples of this is included in the book. It depicts the story of Bill Chadwick, who lost sight in one eye from an injury but kept playing. He later injured his other eye too, and was forced to end his playing days. But he stayed in the game, becoming a referee, and then an announcer. Do you think they were having the visor discussion even then? The book also digs up interesting tidbits on player oddities, like how Jaromir Jagr runs the stairs of every arena he plays in, and how Gordie Howe was ambidextrous and gave goalies he faced double the grief in trying to stop him.
Fischler’s book gives us glimpses into the days when the NHL competed for fans and players with rival leagues like the WHA and the lesser known Eastern League. He tells us stories of when players were bought with, and arenas were built on, horse race winnings. It unveils stories of “Big” Bill Dwyer, a bootlegger in the 1920’s, who owned the New York Americans; and local rival New York Rangers coach Lester Patrick, who okayed the team publicist’s suggestion to modify to players names to Jewish and Italian last names to attract fans of those local minorities to Rangers games, and away from Americans games.
And if you thought the Winnipeg Jets had a tough travel schedule when they were still competing in the Eastern Conference, things won’t seem so bad when you read about the team from the Klondike that rode dogsleds to Ottawa to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1905, only to get shelled 23-2 and see Frank McGee score 14 goals in a game against them.
It’s an enthralling and easy read – most of the stories are only 1-3 pages long, suitable for any age or level of reader, and any completion time frame. Any fan of hockey will be a fan of this book. You can find it a print or digital copy for around $20 on Amazon, Chapters, or your local bookstore.
Here’s the Press Release:
Stan Fischler’s latest hockey classic, Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories (Sports Publishing, November 2013) is a collection of short, zany (but true!) tales that have taken place over more than a half century of hockey-watching. An easy read for fans of all ages with photos to accompany the anecdotes, this book offers a unique perspective into the NHL from one of today’s most prolific hockey writers. Different from the typical NHL “game” stories, this book details everything, from the hilarious to the absurd.
Fischler details the time that:
• Bill Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds
• Rene Fernand Gauthier accepted a challenge to shoot the puck in the ocean
• Sam LoPresti faced 83 shots on goal in one game
• And 98 more unique stories!
So lace up your skates and hit the ice with Behind the Net, a comprehensive collection sure to entertain any hockey fan, regardless of team allegiances.
About the author:
Stan Fischler is a legend of sports broadcasting. He began his career as a publicist for the New York Rangers in 1954 and has been covering hockey in the over half a century since. The winner of five Emmy Awards, Fischler has worked in every medium from print to TV to Twitter. This “Hockey Maven” currently serves as the resident hockey expert for MSG and MSG Plus. He can be seen every week on MSG Hockey Night Live. He lives in New York City.
Contact the Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 W 36th Street, 11th Floor | New York, NY 10018
Ph:(212) 643-6816 x 226 | Fax: (212) 643-6819
In episode 4 of XP PSP we discuss:
-The demise of the LA Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Conference Finals, and the Hawks/Bruins Cup Final from all angles.
-steps to take when choosing a new playoff team to cheer for when yours has been ousted.
-Superstitions of fans and athletes, and how they affect performance.
-The NBA Final between the Spurs and Heat.
Canadians Should Cheer For The LA Kings, and Who American and European Fans Should Pull For in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final Four.
With the elimination of the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens from the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs — and every year Canadian city based NHL teams are either eliminated from the playoffs or do not qualify — there is a certain level of Canadian fan disengagement from the NHL as Canada’s best hopes of bringing the Stanley Cup back north are snuffed out. But with nationalistic pride in mind, there are still plenty of – predominantly, in fact – Canadian born players to cheer for on the remaining four American based teams. Here are the numbers to show you which teams are in fact the most Canadian, American, and European, and to whom your drifting allegiances would be best to land upon:
Canadians: Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Wade Redden, Rich Peverley, Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly.
Americans: Matt Bartkowski.
Europeans: Dennis Seidenberg (Germany), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Zdeno Chara (Slovakia), David Krejci (Czech Republic), Kaspars Daugavins (Latvia), Tuukka Rask (Finland).
22 total active players
Canadians: Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford.
Americans: Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Brandon Bollig.
Europeans: Michal Rozsival (Czech Republic), Marian Hossa (Slovakia), Michal Handzus (Slovakia), Michael Frolik (Czech Republic), Johnny Oduya (Sweden), Marcus Kruger (Sweden), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Sweden), Viktor Stalberg (Sweden).
21 total active players
Los Angeles Kings:
Canadians: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Penner, Dwight King, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Jarret Stoll, Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson, Keaton Ellerby, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Jonathan Bernier.
Americans: Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez.
Europeans: Slava Voynov (Russia), Anze Kopitar (Slovenia).
25 total active players
Canadians: Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke, Tanner Glass, Craig Adams, Deryk Engelland, Simon Despres, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Americans: Joe Vitale, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter, Mark Eaton, Paul Martin.
Europeans: Evgeni Malkin (Russia), Tomas Vokoun (Czech Republic), Douglas Murray (Sweden), Jussi Jokinen (Finland).
25 active players
So, with all that being said, if your favorite/regional team has been eliminated, and you are in the market for a new team to temporarily align with and would prefer to cheer for a new team and/or players based on nationality, you now should have all the information necessary to appropriately select your new allegiance.
by Peter Nygaard (follow him on Twitter)
Boston Bruins (2) vs. Washington Capitals (7)
- The Issues:
The Incumbent — Last year, the Boston Bruins surprised many by advancing out of the Eastern Conference as the 3-seed and surprised even more by beating the President’s Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks on their home ice. Perhaps you heard about it. The old adage is that the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in sports to defend, and rightfully so. The last team to repeat as Cup champions was the ‘97-98 Detroit Red Wings. Since then, only three teams have even made it back to the Finals to defend their championship. It will not be easy to repeat, but the Bruins know what it takes to win the Cup.
- Bailout Plan — Watching Boston goalie Tim Thomas harks back to the days of Dominik Hasek, as Thomas employs the same unconventional what-ever-it-takes style as The Dominator did. It’s hard enough to get past a stellar Bruins blue-line led by the towering Zdeno Chara, but those who are lucky enough to get a one-on-one chance on Thomas will be hit with everything including the kitchen sink by the fearless goalie. As far as bailout options go, there aren’t many better than Timmy Thomas.
- Political Dirt:
Regardless of how November’s election plays out, Obama will still likely be in office for any post-Stanley Cup White House visits. Don’t think they’ve forgotten how Thomas publicly snubbed the event last year.
- Campaign Promises:
OW-AHH BAWSTON B’S WON’T LET THAT COMMIE PINKO WIN! OVIE WILL BE SHAKIN IN HIS BOOTS WHEN HE HEAHHS THA AWWSOME POWAH OF OW-AHH LEGENDARY BAWSTON FAITHFUL. THA ONLY THING WE AHH GONNA PROMISE IS THAT THA SO-CALLED LAHNG-SUFFAHING WAHHSHINGTON CAPITALS WILL BE GONE-AHS QUICKAH THAN THA GREAT WES WELKAH GETS AHF THA LINE AHH SCRIMMAGE. AND NOBODY GETS AHF THA LINE FASTAH THAN WELKAH!! NO ONE DENIES THIS!
- The Issues:
‘Washington Capitals’ in name only — Forget everything you knew about the Washington Capitals. After the midseason firing of Bruce Boudreau and takeover of new coach Dale Hunter, the Capitals have undergone a transformation from a team that reigned supreme on highlight reels to what looks more like the core of a legitimate playoff contender. The Caps still have the same highlight-reel talent, but they’re no longer looking to blow the roof of with their goal-scoring. By instilling unconditional trust in his players, Hunter has overhauled the team into one that is no longer afraid to play ugly hockey. That may be the difference that puts the immensely talented Caps over the edge.
- Energy Crisis — It’s hard to believe, but Washington actually finished the season with a negative goal-differential. Losing center Nicklas Backstrom for half the season did not help matters, but star winger Alex Ovechkin finished under 40 goals for the second straight season and posted a career-low 65 points. Left-winger Alexander Semin also experienced a drop-off in production, leaving many wondering if the Capitals are already on the decline.
- Political Dirt:
Who exactly is going to be on the ticket? The Caps have seen injuries to presumed missing-piece Tomas Vokoun and last year’s starter Michal Neuvirth, leaving rookie Braden Holtby as the Game 1 starter. Does Washington trust Holtby enough to give him veto power over Boston’s playoff hopes, or will he be relegated to a cabinet post when the others return?
- Campaign Promises:
If elected, the Capitals promise to stop jabbering on about regular season success until we actually win something of note in the playoffs. If our fans shut up, will you be willing to just sit back and enjoy some seriously fun-to-watch hockey? Please?
Vote For: Boston Bruins in 7
Last week (Monday, Jan 30/2012) at the CHL Prospects Game, I had the chance to chat with NHL legend Mark Recchi. He was nice enough to chat with me for a bit, and we talked about everything from him venturing into coaching and his involvement in junior hockey to the Max Pacioretty/Zdeno Chara incident and Tim Thomas’ presidental snub.
There’s just so much ammunition to fire.
First of all, the Canucks BA-LEW ( with a GAA of 8.05, Ba-“Lou”, perhaps?) IT, and successfully, once again did NOT win the Stanley Cup; once again shattered the hopes and dreams of fans who, quite frankly, should have known better, and sent the city into a cannibalizing, lawless, character-altering, violent riot.
I’m going to tackle this in two parts: the hockey part and the insane aftermath part.
Hockey-wise, the Canucks had everything going for them in Game 7 (the home-ice advantage winning pattern seemed to be the primary leverage, as well as the Olympic hosting/Cup winning tradition), and none of it ended up mattering because the goalie who was supposedly the best in the world let in too many goals, and the regular season’s leading scorers didn’t score any goals. You can collect all the regular season trophies you want — President’s Trophy, Western Conference Championship, Art Ross, maybe even a Vezina Trophy – but if the players who won or helped win those trophies don’t perform in the final circumstance, said team will never win the Stanley Cup, THE ultimate trumping trophy.
It’s pretty brutal when the team that was picked to win the Cup before the first puck of the season was dropped can’t even score a single goal in a franchise-defining game like in this year’s Game 7. I hate to question the heart of players in that situation, but it seems like Boston was the only team that showed up to play that night, and they were unquestionably the better team at the game of hockey (which it should all be about, but more on that later).
On paper, the Canucks should have Harlem Globetrotter’ed the Bruins; instead they got their show ran by a team whose top scorers had at least 40 less points than theirs, a goalie who beat them up, and a 43 year old (Mark Recchi, who seems like he could still play 2 or 3 seasons with his level of production). Don’t you dare blame it on injuries either, as both teams were filled with players ready to fall apart if a strong enough gust of wind blew through the dressing room. If you’re going to do interviews and tell people how playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was something you dreamed of as a kid, or how your team is going to become legends after you win (Kesler), try not to embarrass yourselves and your fans in your home rink by not even scoring one measly goal in the most important game of your lives.
Now, regarding the riot that followed. I mean, it was just so predictable, wasn’t it? If you Google image search “Vancouver Riot”, you have to specify which year you want pictures from (seriously, look for yourself). Like I said, fans were told their team was going to win it all from the outset of the season (and every season prior). You place that level of expectation on a city that still had memories of 1994’s Game 7 failure in mind, mix it in with being dubbed “Canada’s Team” (though every team from a Canadian city left standing in the playoffs is named that), and the further expectation of living up to the Olympic success in that very building, as well as the sea of people outside of it watching it on the big screen; was the outcome anything but predictable, especially from a riot-prone city? It became more than just about a hockey score a long time ago.
Everyone, from Vancouver’s mayor and the Premier of BC to the Canucks’ staff and players, have vocally condemned the riots, and rightfully so. What those people did was atrocious. Their actions were comparable to those of the citizens of Middle Eastern countries today amidst conflict – only instead of fighting for their democratic freedoms and right to live, these jokers were fighting and burning police cars because their favourite hockey team lost.
While everything about the riot bothers me, one thing that bugs me just a little more is the blatant minimization of the participants by the afore mentioned delegates. Every commenter has gone out of their way to say that the people rioting were a small, isolated group of anarchists, which were not Vancouver Canucks fans. And while perhaps (and hopefully) that is true, I just don’t see how you can tell me that out of the thousands of people congregating in downtown Vancouver outside of Roger’s Arena, and the nearly 20,000 people who were inside the arena, and would eventually leave and join that mass, that not one of those who started/participated in the violence was a Canucks fan. Wade through the uncountable amount of riot pictures and video; these people are wearing $200 replica Canucks jerseys with the name of their favourite player stitched on the back, they paid thousands of dollars on tickets to go to games, they painted their faces, dressed up in team colors…. Those just aren’t the kind of investments a non-fan makes. If these people aren’t fans, I just have to wonder – what exactly is the criteria for being a Canucks fan? Wasn’t it the Vancouver organization that came up with the “We Are All Canucks” marketing campaign slogan? I support the condemning of rioters and their actions, and even the disowning of fans actually; but denying that these people were fans of the team seems like a stretch, even for a city in full-blown damage control. Vancouver, you have plenty of upstanding citizens and loyal, civilized fans (very encouraging to see the droves of people coming out to clean up the city the next day); but for once just admit, you’ve got a whole lot of crazy ones too. How many more riots will it take before someone finally admits this? For those who make the case that Vancouverites would have rioted no matter what the outcome of the game, I counter with Newton’s Third Law (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction); they went bananas in the best, most peaceful way possible when Canada won Olympic gold in 2010 in the very same location, but in times of defeat the people congregated in that area seek to implode the place. For their team being 40 years old, “bad” Canuck fans sure act like adult-sized, criminal versions of small children throwing tantrums because they didn’t get what they want.
And what is there exactly to be cheering about, when you’re standing on top of an upside down, burning police car, with your hands in the air, yelling at the top of your lungs, posing for pictures? Morons, I tell you. Probably the same people that smashed the windows of the Chapters and didn’t steal a single book. And did it annoy anyone else that the media was more concerned about discovering the identity of a couple making-0ut during the riot than idenitfying rioters they said they were going to punish to the full extent of the law?
For me, it all comes down to this tried and true formula, yet again: The Vancouver Canucks choked, and their idiot fans took it too far and rioted. Every reason I don’t cheer for Vancouver underscored itself once again; not for the first time, and likely not for the last. Don’t worry, Ryan Kesler, at least Kevin Bieksa thinks you’re a legend.
Told you so!
This year’s Stanley Cup Final is just so incredibly polarizing in terms of how valuable home-ice advantage is, it’s amazing. Name another series where you’ve seen one team lose on the road either by shutout, or only by 1 goal (and not score more than 2), but then upon returning home absolutely obliterate their opponents by scores more fitting of low-scoring football games. I’ve never been much a believer in home-ice advantage affecting the outcome of games – obviously it’s nice to play in your own digs, not have to travel, have extra prep time, the comfort of your own dressing room, and the support of your home fans – but in the end, all those things are only small advantages, not game outcome determiners; and all those things can go right out the window if the visiting team gets up a goal or two. But to see the home team’s scores in each game; it’s enough to think that those little advantages have added up somehow. Besides the fact that the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the next 2 games, it’ll be interesting to see if the winner claims victory on the road or at home. As I’ve written about before, for the winner’s sake, I hope it’s on their home turf (which now, can only be Vancouver).
Speaking of which, I’ve been contemplating my storied anti-Vancouver Canucks stance more and more as the Canucks have pushed the envelope as far as they have this season. If I had to whittle down to the root of my hatred, it’s always come down to 2 ultimate factors: 1) The Canucks are always heavily favoured to win by local fans and media, always choke, and have never won the Cup; and therefore 2) their crazy, rabid riot-prone fans cannot accurately claim them to be the best (though they have always continued to do so) without having done just that. You may or may not hate the Oilers, Flames, Leafs, Habs, Ducks, Bruins, Hawks, Avalanche, Stars, Wings, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, or Penguins; but the fact remains that those teams have all got it done (at least once), and they and their fans will always have that to hang over Vancouver and their fans until they win.
I guess it comes down to your fandom rooting – I respect a fan that has been cheering for their team from the start, through the dark times, and finally has their cheering rewarded; but I also respect cheering for a team that is rooted in success. Both Finals teams offer desirable conclusions to both scenarios.
My latest thought on my personal stance is that if indeed the Canucks were to finally win their first Stanley Cup, I would have to at least reconsider my policy on cheering against this seemingly cursed-to-lose franchise, and perhaps even motion to enter fandom of said team. Geographically, I should be on board as a resident of BC (though I’m from Kelowna, not Vancouver; a city that prides itself on not being Vancouver), but truth be told I’ve always been an “against-the-grain” kind of guy, and have no problem cheering for or aligning with the less popular. This is a whole other ball of wax too; as it’s come to my attention that the Canucks are the object of many people’s hate throughout this continent (outside of BC of course); and that in itself, is oddly attractive to me.
I can’t say I care for bangwagoners, and I would be afraid of being viewed as such. If I were a current Canucks fan that learned someone like me was considering jumping ship to their side, I probably wouldn’t welcome me with open arms after the deserved slogging I’ve given them since I was aware they existed. Hey, if Wayne Gretzky can jump ship from endorsing Coke to Pepsi, and Bret Hart can come back to WWE, then maybe I can come around on the Canucks. I have to admit, I love the U2 game-entrance music, and the Vancouver fans are probably the best at singing O Canada as a group.
I’m not saying this will actually happen (they have to win first, of course), but it’s running through my mind. I think in the end I’m most likely too far gone, but it may be a very brief window to rid some hate from my brain. Maybe I’m just proving myself a poor anti-fan.
And lastly, the Miami Heat. I don’t have much to say other than wow, that sure didn’t work out like it was supposed to. Quite frankly, I think Lebron deserved the negative attention he drew, but I can’t say I wanted to see such an incredible athlete lose. They probably should have paid more attention to the Mavericks though, who apparently also really wanted to win. One other thought I had was of Gretzky and the Oilers’ dynasty days – they didn’t win the Cup the first time they made it to the Finals either (I know the Heat have won before, I am comparing the current roster to that roster), and we all know what ended up following. I’d be very surprised if Lebron James wasn’t an NBA Champion at some point.