With the puck about to drop on the final 2 games of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series, TiqIQ.com has passed along some interesting data on average secondary market ticket prices for the March 1st Blackhawks/Penguins game in Chicago at Soldier Field. If you were planning on attending, but haven’t bought a ticket yet, here’s what you should expect to have to shell out:
-Current average ticket price for Saturday’s game: $230.77 (down 18% this week and 67% since its peak on 9/23/13)
-Cheapest ticket currently listed: $91 (originally $139), Section 432
-Most expensive ticket currently listed: $845 (originally $325), Section 308
All I know is, if I’m gonna cough up $825 to sit in a seat in the farthest section away from the ice in the stadium, my seat better come with an open mini bar, and the NHL Network installed into the back of the seat in front of me.
Comparatively, here are the average prices for the previous four Stadium Series games of 2014, as well as the upcoming Heritage Classic, ranked from most expensive to least:
-Yankee Stadium – Rangers/Devils – $244 ($89)
-Yankee Stadium – Rangers/Islanders – $206 ($43)
-Winter Classic – Red Wings/Maple Leafs – $156 ($57)
-Dodger Stadium – Kings/Ducks – $199 ($117)
-Heritage Classic – Canucks/Senators – $182 ($74)
Speaking of buying things hockey related, I know a t-shirt worthy catchphrase when I hear one, and thusly I put one on one. After TJ Oshie’s unfathomable shootout performance against Russia, “TJ Sochi” was one of the best nicknames to emerge from the Sochi 2014 Olympics, so here’s what I did with it:
Visit my Etsy store and make this shirt yours before everyone forgets about that fateful night in Sochi! It may even help to cover the American shame of losing the bronze medal game 5-0 and finishing fourth, after posting a video like this:
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
Alright all you NHL teams that tried to weasel your way around the NHL salary cap by signing players to long-term front loaded contracts, how have your deals been working out for you so far? You thought you were pretty smart by signing those sneaky but legal deals, so let’s see what you’ve come up with so far.
New Jersey Devils, you made the most publicized deal of the bunch, signing Ilya Kovalchuk at age 28 to a 15 year, $100 million dollar contract; keeping him as your property until 2025 when he’ll be 42 years old. That very same year, Kovy appeared in 81 games and put up his worst year’s point total (60) since his rookie year when he only had 51 – a far cry from the 98 he put up as a Thrasher in 05-06. Oh, and you missed the playoffs last year too. You better hope he picks his socks up, because no team in their right mind is ever going to be involved in a trade for that much money for a player with such relatively poor point production. The only offsetting factor is that Kovalchuk’s an outstanding player. He could neutralize most of this heat by playing like a superstar again. If he doesn’t, the Devils get a FAIL on this one.
Philadelphia Flyers, you signed Chris Pronger at age 37 to a 7 year, $34 million deal that locked him up in orange until 2017, when he’ll be 43. You also made him your captain. You’ve had decent playoff success, but still failed to win the Cup. Pronger’s been injured on numerous occasions, with a knee and eye injury being the most recent. Last year he only appeared in 50 games, his lowest since 94-95, and consequently had his lowest point total since then as well. This season he’s missed games due to a virus, the afore mentioned eye injury, and surgery on his knee. Is he going to make it to 43? Although Pronger brings a lot of veteran leadership and experience, I’d say Philly is behind the count on this one. [update: on December 15/2011, it was announced that Pronger will miss the remainder of the NHL season and playoffs due to post-concussion syndrome]
New York Rangers, looks like you didn’t think your signing of Scott Gomez in 2007 for seven years and $51.5 million was that great a move after all, considering you paid him $18 million of that contract before flipping him to the Montreal Canadiens for them to pay the remainder. Might have been a good play though, Gomez’s point production is constantly under criticism, and he’s coming off a career worst point total of 38 (his best was 84 in 05-06 with the New Jersey Devils) — pretty poor for a centerman. He’s the Habs’ problem until 2014, when he’ll be 34 years old. In the end, a win for NYR for moving him, and a tie at best or loss for Montreal when it’s all over.
Vancouver Canucks, you inked Roberto Luongo at age 32 to a 12 year, $64 million contract, keeping him a Canuck until 2022, when he’ll be 43. As much as I hate the Canucks, there’s no question that Roberto is an elite goaltender, so I understand your wanting to keep him around. Thing is though, as great of a run you had last season, Roberto let in more than 20 goals during last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Between that and your stars not scoring, you failed to win your franchise’s first Stanley Cup, and your fans destroyed your city. And that was only year one. You’ve got 11 to go, and Lu has already been shaky; giving way to “backup” Cory Schneider multiple times this season. Many think that Schneider should be the team’s #1 goaltender. Do that, and you’ll have $5.3 million dollars sitting on the bench every year you allow it. It’s great to have a President’s Trophy winning season and all, but if you fail to win the big trophy, it’s all for not. If Luongo can’t be consistent when it counts over the next decade, Vancouver loses this one. And maps may have to be re-drawn over the area that used to be the city of Vancouver, if rioters are given any more reason to cause carnage.
And New York Islanders, the pièce de résistance unquestionably still belongs to you. In 06-07, you signed Rick DiPietro to a 15 year, $67.5 million contract – keeping him on Long Island until 2021, when he’ll be 40 years of age. Apparently you were not informed that Rick needed to be kept in an antique store with a “FRAGILE” sign around his neck. You got two decent seasons out of him right off the hop, but it has been downhill from there. Due to injury, Rick played in only five games in 08-09, eight games in 09-10, and just 26 last season. Goaltending has been nothing short of a metaphorical revolving door, as DiPietro has shared the net with multiple goalies – none of which seem to be able to keep pucks out of it. The team has been, or close to, dead last in league standings the last number of years. You haven’t made the playoffs since Rick’s first season with the team. Between hip surgery, knee surgery, groin problems, neck injury, concussions, facial fracture, and sickness, DiPietro has only been able to play in a fraction of the games you surely hoped he would. And when he did play, the team still ended up being bad. Sorry NYI, there’s just no way you come out on top from this one. [update: on December 15/2011, DiPietro was placed on injured reserve yet again, after suffering a groin injury]
So, NHL owners, what have you learned?
I heard this topic brought up on NHL Home Ice on XM Radio….The New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, LA Kings, and Buffalo Sabres play a total of 7 exhibition games against teams in Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. So my question is this: if an NHL player hits a Euro to the head, or commits another suspendable play, will the NHL’s Senior VP Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, hold them accountable? Can/Would they get “#Shanabanned” (probably the best hashtag on Twitter, btw)? Could he Shanaban the European players? Some grey areas in this European exhibition experiment. The radio folks didn’t know, maybe one of you readers has some insight?
Judging by the fact that he has been starting in goal through pre-season, assumably everything is hunky-dorry with Evgeni Nabokov and the New York Islanders? You remember the Nabokov clustercuss from last year; came back from the KHL mid-season, picked up by Detroit, nabbed by the Islanders through the waiver system, and then refused to report to Long Island? Didn’t that make a bunch of people mad? Water under the bridge?
Granted, it’s only pre-season, but while pointing to his current point-total, clearly Jaromir Jagr can still hang in the NHL. But I have to wonder, black Tuuks still? Really, Jaromir? I mean, even Mike Grier finally upgraded from that style.
Jagr’s Flyers’ teammate, Wayne Simmonds, sure neutralized that defence shield he had from the banana incident (apparently the banana thrower feels really, really bad; says he was just trying to prevent the game winning goal in the shootout. But dude, if you’re going to attempt to do that by throwing a foreign object on the ice, throw ANYTHING ELSE besides a banana at the black player who’s shooting) with that alleged Sean Avery-directed slip of the tongue, hey? [note: Simmonds denied saying what people speculate he said, and was not disciplined by the NHL] Though Simmonds was caught on tape appearing to say what lip-readers insist was a homophobic slur, isn’t it odd that cameras were even on Simmonds? I mean, lots of NHL players say lots of bad things to other players during games; did Simmonds just have extra spotlight on him from the London incident? Or was someone looking for Simmonds to trip up after everyone was on his side? Lots of speculation. I think he’s a great player, and I hope we can focus on that, rather than this BS. On one hand, this is a good opportunity for guys like Brian Burke to reinforce the progress made against homophobia in hockey last year. On the other hand, there’s lots of people who want to take this far beyond learning a lesson. Here’s a press release I was sent this morning:
34,000 DEMAND NHL FINE PLAYER FOR ANTI-GAY SLUR
Explosive campaign on Change.org calls on National Hockey League to hold Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers accountable for homophobic slur against New York Rangers player Sean Avery
NEW YORK, NY – More than 34,000 people have joined an avid hockey fan’s campaign on Change.org calling on the National Hockey League to fine Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers for using an anti-gay slur against New York Rangers player Sean Avery.
Gloria Nieto, a gay rights activist and sports fan, launched the campaign on Change.org after watching an NHL exhibition game on Monday in which Simmonds reportedly called Avery a “f*cking f*ggot.” Avery complained to NHL officials, who refused to fine Simmonds, citing conflicting accounts of what was said on the ice. Activists claim that video footage clearly shows Simmonds mouthing the homophobic slur.
“All of us in the hockey community deserve a chance to enjoy games and the hard competition the league offers,” said Gloria, who created the petition on Change.org. “The National Hockey League has a unique opportunity to make a statement about fair play. As they hand out penalties for hits to the head, how about a penalty for hits to the heart, especially for all the fans who believe in equality for all?”
News of the online petition’s success is likely to increase pressure on the NHL. Within a day of the campaign’s launch, Gloria Nieto had recruited tens of thousands of supporters on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. Prominent gay rights organizations across the U.S. are also demanding action, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Courage Campaign, and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which created its own petition on Change.org and gathered more than 1,000 signatures.
“There is clearly a lot of outrage that the NHL has refused to hold Wayne Simmonds accountable for his homophobic slur,” said Change.org Organizing Manager Joe Mirabella. “With no budget and armed with only a laptop, Gloria has managed to recruit more than 34,000 of supporters to take a stand against homophobic language in sports. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch her campaign take off.”
The petition follows a recent trend of professional sports leagues fining their members for unacceptable language, including basketball players Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah. Bryant, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, was fined $100,000 by the National Basketball Association for calling a referee a homophobic slur and Noah, from the Chicago Bulls, was fined $50,000 for using an anti-gay slur against a fan.
Live signature totals from Gloria Nieto’s Change.org campaign:
For more information on Change.org, please visit:
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.
Gloria Nieto, Petition Author, (408)280-6301 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Mirabella, Organizing Manager, Change.org, (206) 354-4931, email@example.com
I have yet to be sent a press release for the ceasing of racism in the NHL though. Maybe that one’s coming next.
Hockey Talkie: Modano Retirement, Flyers Fans’ Final Straw, Marchand Mangling, Upper Body Injuries, and The Bourne-Gillies Wedding!
Isn’t it wonderful to see hockey highlights on Sportscentre again? I know it’s only preseason, but sports highlights are 1000 times better to watch with NHL clips included, wouldn’t you say?
Speaking of the NHL…
On Mike Modano’s retirement: I always wanted to cheer for Modano as he was a great player and wore my number 9, but I was always held back by that American factor. Regardless, he had a phenomenal career, despite my fringe support. I had a couple thoughts when I heard about his announcement. First was that I predicted this day was looming in a previous blog before he was dealt to Detroit. Second was that I thought the Dallas Stars paying him $999,999 for one day of no service was absolutely ludicrous, especially if it ate at the Stars’ salary cap. Luckily, I was assured by @capgeek on Twitter that Modano won’t actually see a near million-dollar day, as I asked if Modano will actually be able to cash that cheque. His response was,
“@capgeek @davecunning No he won’t and it doesn’t affect the Stars’ cap at all.”
So there’s obviously some sort of “out” that teams get on contracts when a player “hangs ‘em up”, which I don’t totally understand. Anyone out there know the deal?
Thirdly, on Modano retiring as a Dallas Star, I thought to myself, isn’t that the team that told Modano he wasn’t going to be included in the further development of the team and subsequently did not offer him a new contract, and also once stripped him of his captaincy? It is definitely noble to have played with one franchise for that long, and in the end the move makes the most sense, but I’m sure Mike’s got a few axes to grind with the organization that he has retired with.
I wonder how long it will take before the “upper/lower body injury” player report becomes too specific, and teams just say a hurt player has a “body injury”. Upper and lower still gives dirty players a fairly sizeable target to hack and to try and mangle, doesn’t it?
Considering how annoying the “pest” players of the NHL are (see: Esa Tikkanen, Claude Lemieux, etc), doesn’t it warm your heart just a little to know that the Bruins’ pest, Brad Marchand, got a misspelled tattoo permanently engraved on his flesh? Apparently it got rectified, but if you were going to wish that kind of misfortune on a current NHL player, the only guy ahead of Marchand would be, like, Matt Cooke, wouldn’t you say? I think even some Bruins fans could bring themselves to admit that.
I feel like Philadelphia Flyers fans might burn down the Wells Fargo Center after this season if Ilya Bryzgalov turns out to be a dud. That team has been one good goaltender away from a Stanley Cup so many times, that this might be the year Flyer fans make the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot look like a little girls’ teddy bear tea party if their team can’t get it done. They really don’t have any excuses any more.
Close friends of ours, Justin Bourne (son of 4-time Stanley Cup champ and NY Islander Hall of Fame member, Bob Bourne) and Brianna Gillies (daughter of 4-time Stanley Cup champ and Hockey Hall of Fame member, Clark Gillies) were married on September 17th in Long Island, NY! I was humbled and honoured to have been included in the wedding party as a groomsman for a very fun weekend. Still no word on whether the Islanders fronted the cash in exchange for the rights to the couple’s offspring, as was proposed at one time. Bourne will be working for The Score this year, so be sure to keep up with him there. In the meantime, follow both Justin and Brianna on Twitter!
This edition’s Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp player bio features former New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins player/Colorado Avalanche coach, Bryan Trottier; who will be making his 4th HGFC appearance this August, and will be co-hosting the event alongside Bob Bourne.
Bryan Trottier appeared in 1,279 NHL games from 1975 to 1994. Drafted by the New York Islanders in 1974, he would go on to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1975-76. He spent most of his Islander days playing on a line with Mike Bossy and fellow HGFC pro, Clark Gillies. Known as the “Trio Grande”, they were a formidable line combination. In 1980, Trottier would help the Islanders win their first of four consecutive Stanley Cups. At the dawn of the 90’s, Trottier was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he would again collect Stanley Cups in bunches. Playing alongside Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, Trottier was instrumental in the Penguins collecting 2 consecutive championships. Trottier would briefly retire after winning his 6th Stanley Cup, and took a front office job with the New York Islanders. Trottier was lured back to the Penguins as a player for one final season in 1993-94, before retiring from his playing days for good. He stayed on with the Penguins as an assistant coach until 1997, and moved on to coach with the Colorado Avalanche in 1998; where he won his 7th and final Stanley Cup in 2001.
In international competition, Trottier suited up for Team Canada at the 1981 Canada Cup, though Canada would lose to Russia in that year’s final. Three years later, Trottier claimed US citizenship through his heritage and competed on the American roster of the 1984 Canada Cup; a move that was not received well by Canadian fans. Canada went on to beat Sweden in the finals, and the US team finished fourth.
In addition to his 7 Stanley Cup championships, Trottier
collected a sizeable bounty of individual awards over his NHL career as well, including the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer in 1979; the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s playoff MVP in 1980; the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP in 1979; and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy as the player who best exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice and who had made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community in 1989. He appeared in 8 NHL all-star games, was the NHL’s plus/minus leader in 1979, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. His #19 was retired by the New York Islanders in 2001.
Trottier currently sits at 10th in all-time NHL playoff points (184), and 15th all-time in NHL regular season points (1,425). He is also the New York Islanders’ all-time leader in assists (853), total points (1,353), plus/minus (+470), and games played (1,123).
**HGFC Fun Factoid: Bryan Trottier suited up for the Pittsburgh Phantoms of Roller Hockey International (RHI) during the 1994 roller hockey season. In 9 games, Trottier had 9 goals, 13 assists for 22 points, as well as a +2 rating.**
For further information on the camp please visit http://www.hockeygreats.ca or call direct to Val 250-878-7871.
This edition’s Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp celebrity profile features Kelly Hrudey. These days, Hrudey is better known as a member of the CBC Hockey Night In Canada broadcast team, but seasoned fans may remember him as an NHL goaltender, and for sporting one of the ugliest goalie masks ever worn in hockey.
A second round pick by the New York Islanders in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Kelly Hrudey spent his 16 year NHL career backstopping 3 teams; beginning on Long Island, then moving on to Los Angeles, and concluded in San Jose in 1998. Hrudey nearly hoisted the Cup on two occasions: In his first season with the Islanders, New York was looking to add another championship to their 4 Cup dynasty; making it to the Stanley Cup finals. There they met Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, who were just beginning their own dynasty, and defeated New York. Though he didn’t see any ice during those playoffs, Hrudey would return to the Cup finals again in 1993 as a starter while a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and (perhaps ironically) a teammate of Wayne Gretzky. Though that season did not result in a championship, it remains the franchise’s most successful season in club history.
Hrudey was also included on Team Canada’s 1987 Canada Cup roster as a third goalie. He sits at 13th in all-time most saves with 18,140, 24th all-time in games played with 677, 28th all-time in minutes played with 38,080:55, and 35th in all-time wins with 271. While playing for the 1987 New York Islanders, he set a playoff record, stopping 73 shots in a single game versus the Washington Capitals. The match-up spanned across 4 overtime periods, until finally being concluded on a goal by Pat LaFontaine shortly before 2 am.
In the twilight of his playing career, Hrudey would join the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast team for guest playoff commentary if his current team did not qualify for the post-season. These appearances eventually transitioned into a full-time broadcasting career, and he now provides regular television and radio commentary segments for CBC.
2011 will be Hrudey’s first year attending the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp. Though he won’t be strapping on the pads and suiting up, we are told that Kelly will be bringing a television camera crew with him to camp this summer; and the rumor mill has been running rampant with speculation as to what will be filmed. Don’t miss your chance to meet NHL legend Kelly Hrudey this August; you might even get your mug on TV!
Hockey Talkie: Hodgson Hype, DiPietro’s Judgement Deficiency, Collapsing Thrashers, Franzen, Ovie, and TSN’s WWF Playbook Move.
For the Canucks’ sake, Cody Hodgson better turn out to be the second coming of Crosby, like Vancouver media would have you believe. He seems like a good kid, and a really good player, but the more that Sportsnet West jams him down all our throats, they more I start to undeservingly hate him by default. Just let him season a little, or at least get the birdcage off before the greatness assessments start flying; that’s all I’m asking.
So after years of unplanned injuries, New York Islanders’ goaltender, Rick DiPietro, voluntarily pursued one the other night when he squared up with Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson; where he found himself a broken face, twisted knee, and another visit from the Injury Fairy. You would think that someone that’s clearly so fragile would try to avoid blatant threats against his health; especially with the dark cloud of trying to live up to his first-overall draft selection and his lengthy/exorbitant contract hanging over his reputation, and contending against his minimal activations, frequent and lengthy IR stints, and overall average performance. I’d say Islanders’ GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang are almost ready to one-punch him too.
A thought on goalie fights… as even casual fans seem to love them, why can’t NHL goalies that fight just sit in the box for 5 minutes to serve their penalty like everyone else? There’s no real reason why teams couldn’t just put their backups in until the penalties expire; both would be coincidental penalties, giving the goaltenders opportunity to reset after they are released. I’m sure the reason it’s frowned on is all to do with something along the lines of “not encouraging that kind of behaviour” or another hypocritical cliché.
Another Atlanta Thrashers’ player collapses during a game? As much as I wouldn’t want to, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a Performance Enhancing Drug scandal in Atlanta in the future, especially now that it has happened to two players on the same team. Had their been two seperate instances involving unrelated players, this might fly under the radar, but it’s hard not to wander towards suspicions after this revelation. These are the most elite athletes in the world; you don’t just collapse for no reason while doing something your body has been trained to do for its entire existence. With Freddy Meyer now experiencing a similar mid-game fainting episode to that of Ondrej Pavelec’s invisible banana peel slip earlier in the season, I’m going to go ahead and speculate with nothing beyond my own opinion that these guys are putting something into their bodies that is causing their systems to operate in an unnatural way – and is causing unnatural reactions. Regardless of whether my suspicion turns out to be true or not, it’s always dangerous to put things into your body that alter the normal operations of your heart or your brain; and if we can look to MLB for any indication of what drug scandals can do to your sport, I hope I am completely off-base, for the players’ and the NHL’s sake.
I really think Detroit’s “Mule”, Johan Franzen could be the best player in the NHL if he could be consistent. 5 goals in one game? A 4-goal game in the playoffs last year after being benched by Mike Babcock the night prior? Who else do you know that scores in bunches like that? He’s got a well-known streaky dominance, but an equally well-known follow-up of extreme average-ness for extended periods of time. After the 5 goal game, Detroit was shut out by Columbus the next night, and Johan missed at least one wide open net.
A further player assessment; for a one time “best hockey player in the world” candidate, Alex Ovechkin’s…. kiiiiiiinda average at hockey now. Well, among the top 30 players in the world that is. Even with an injured Crosby, Ovie’s still 8th in NHL scoring, and 15 pts off first place overall. His hardest shot round at the Skills Competition was nothing short of comical; broken stick, unregistering radar, and swimming through tripped over TV cables and all. I wonder how rattled CCM was that Ovie blew up his CCM stick and then borrowed an Easton stick to finish the shootout? Luckily for CCM, the Easton blast was nothing spectacular. Still, having your poster boy tote someone else’s product in a globally viewed performance review couldn’t possibly be an option written into the product endorsement contract.
Also on the All-Star Game, I never understood why the NHL’s “All-Star” level goalies get so bad at stopping pucks in that showdown. I get that the defence and physicality is limited, while the offensive output is maximized, but isn’t that scenario the goalies’ show-off time too?
I find TSN’s stealing signing of rival sports channel’s broadcasters (Darren Dreger, Steve Kouleas) like the WWF stealing underutilized WCW talent in the 90′s. To be fair, Sportsnet did pick up TSN patriarch Jim Van Horne at one point in time too, so it’s not like it’s a one-way street. Interesting talent joust. Sports channels are possibly the most entertaining they have ever been nowadays. Viewers win.
Hockey Talkie: 24/7, NYI, Kings Colors Contention, Price Pose, Langenbrunner Laud, Spin-O-Rama’s, Pro-tection, and Euro-League Relegation.
So I, seemingly like every hockey fan, loved HBO’s 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic mini-series. I touched on it a couple of blogs ago already, and the topic’s generally been beat to death and forgotten by now, but there’s two points I still want to discuss: First, as cool as the series was, the build-up was for a gimmicky mid-season game. Doesn’t the series seem tailor-made for the passion and emotion behind the pursuit of the Stanley Cup in the playoffs, and for specifically, the Cup Finals? Wouldn’t your eyes be glued to your TV watching the triumph of winning and heartbreak of losing the toughest trophy to win in sports? The boyhood dream storyline, first and last shots at the Cup… can you imagine seeing Marian Hossa backstage at any point of losing 2/winning 1? It blows me away that Americans need hockey to be put in a football stadium (where I can’t imagine fans at the game can see any of the action on a playing surface that’s ¼ the size of the football surface, unless they’re watching the jumbotron the whole game, in which case why didn’t they just stay home and watch it on TV?) in order for them to flock to it. Part of me thinks someday they (Americans)’ll get our game, the other part thinks the US sell is a big waste of time and the NHL should just milk the Canadian loyalist audience for all its worth.
On a lighter note, one of, if not the funniest segment of the whole series was Capitals’ coach Bruce Boudreau Christmas shopping for his wife, getting distracted by a Haagen Daaz ice cream store, saying “it’s never too early for ice cream”, getting turned away because the store didn’t serve ice cream that early, getting rattled, and then leaving the store with a shoes for his wife that were admittedly the wrong size and color. I mean, fat guy hypnotized by ice cream? The comedy writes itself. Enjoy:
In an ongoing effort to not be poor, I was seriously considering betting against the New York Islanders for the rest of the season to make some money; and it seems good that I didn’t follow through on the notion, because they started beating top teams like Detroit and Pittsburgh. Someone tell the Islanders they’re not supposed to play “spoiler” until the playoff push. Good for them frustrating top teams lately, as well as my interest in gambling.
If the LA Kings were better in their earlier years, do you think they would have stuck with the purple and gold jerseys? The LA Lakers win titles, and they look good in those colors; yet the Kings were bad, and got mocked for them. Coincidence?
I really enjoyed Carey Price’s crossed arm pose after stopping Pittsburgh in a shootout recently, mostly because of the heat he’s taken in Montreal for so long; it was good to see him have some success and win some favour back. I’ve secretly been cheering for him to shake the Halak-ian curse, and I think he’s pretty well done that, finally. Then of course, the Habs lost to Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury jammed it down his throat by doing the same pose. Hmm, oh well, so much for that.
I was surprised to see Jamie Langenbrunner not only traded from the New Jersey Devils recently, but also traded for so little. A guy that’s won 2 Cups, captained an NHL and Olympic team, and always put up consistent, steady point production seems worth more than a 3rd/2nd round pick. But there isn’t much value in anyone from the Devils these days. I think NJ got hosed in that deal; at least Langenbrunner gets to play for a good team.
There’s been lots of talk about spin-o-rama goals in shootouts these days. My thought is I’m fine with them. My only potential beef is with goals like Mason Raymond’s ; I think he might have stopped moving forward, which is the only real shootout rule, besides the idiotics of Kovalchuk losing the puck and Stamkos falling (seriously, of all players, those two both f’d up clear, uncontested breakaways?).
I’ve never understood why pro players insist on things like wearing no helmet in warm-up, taking the earguards of their helmets, and wearing visors that are not approved by any standards association in the world. I just don’t get wearing less protection at the level full of the biggest and toughest players in the world, that theoretically could damage you more than anyone else in the sport. Did anyone see Scott Gomez a few years ago take a puck in the head during warm-up that ricocheted off the post and into his melon and bust him open? At literally every level of hockey besides pro, you have to wear approved equipment (minor, junior, college/university, & minor pro), so why do players shed all the gear they’ve gotten used to over their entire playing career to be less safe? It’s gotta be all aesthetics, right? From a business standpoint, it’s a really dumb move — the pros wear all this special gear, and young minor hockey players want to wear it, but when they go to buy it, they find out it’s not approved by the safety standards that regulate equipment use at their level (The Oakley visors are the prime example, they’re illegal in every level up to pro). These kids are the major market for equipment manufacturers because parents will buy their kids whatever they want, in contrast to the junior or college player who gets all their gear provided to them by their team.
And lastly, do you think European-League relegation theory would ever work in North American hockey, specifically the NHL–AHL and maaaaybe ECHL? The process is this: If you win your league, your team ascends to the league above and receives an inflated budget. If you finish dead last, you go down and lose money. Sure, this could introduce a lot of problems, most notably probably the last-place/first-draft-pick system, but it’d make for a little more competitiveness and exposure to unknown teams, don’t you think?
Hockey Talkie: Brodeur, Byfuglien for Norris, HBO 24/7, Sutters, Spengler, Waffles, & The DiPietro Deficiency.
Could the New Jersey Devils’ situation be any worse? Dead last in the entire league (as of Dec 28/10), their bazillion-dollar signee, Ilya Kovalchuk sucks, and their former best-goalie-in-the-world is anything but, often injured lately, and having a tough time doing the most important thing about the goaltending position job description – stopping pucks. You gotta think Martin Brodeur is, at least, contemplating retirement at this point. No disrespect to him, but I mean he’s won everything for a goalie to win (3 Stanley Cups, Olympic Gold twice, 4 Vezina’s, multiple All-Star selections; holds 20 NHL records, including most wins, shutouts, most games and minutes played, even scored a game-winning goal). But really, at this point, what is the purpose in him hanging around, especially when he’s now playing for the worst team in the league? After all his accomplishments, it’d be a shame to see him fizzle out and get Chelios’ed in his remaining time.
Speaking of bad teams, how many more stints on the IR for Rick DiPietro until the New York Islanders decide buying out the remaining 11 years on his contract is actually the better option? Tough for the Isles to get the most bang for their $67 million bucks out of a constantly injured goalie who hasn’t played an entire season since around the time he signed that contract.
Dustin Byfuglien’s the early favourite for the Norris Trophy, no? He’s 13th in league scoring as I write this, and there is not another defenceman on the list until Nicklas Lidstrom at 26th. He’s even got more points than Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Dany Heatley, Evgeni Malkin, Teemu Selanne, Joe Thornton, Martin Havlat, Rick Nash, and Patrick Kane, to name a few. To be fair, he is currently 65th in +/- rankings, which may or may not be a more important measure of a defenceman’s worth, depending on who you are. He’s still got my vote, for now.
Like many of you hockey folks, I’m loving the HBO 24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road To The Winter Classic miniseries. I know lots of people are talking about it, so I’ll try to raise a few points that aren’t being beat to death, too badly.
One – Bruce Boudreau has been getting a lot of heat for his constant cussing in the dressing room and on the bench. My response to this is that the only people balking at this have to be people who are either over-sensitive, or just have never been in a hockey dressing room before; because, and I hate to break it to the weak at heart, but that’s exactly the way hockey dressing rooms and coaches are during the game. They get frustrated when things don’t go right, and when you’re as emotionally invested in the game and the success of the team as a coach has to be, f-bombs begin to flourish, especially in a slumping team situation. Personally, I love the fact that he’s not pulling any punches or walking on egg-shells just because there’s cameras around him all the time.
Two – I love seeing that NHL players are pretty much like every other hockey player that plays on every other team in the world and every other level (minus the skill level and multi-million dollar contracts, of course). It should be pretty obvious, since they all came up through all the same developmental leagues that all other players do to get where they are, but there’s something humanizing about seeing a teammates pulling hotel pranks on each other during road-trips, coaches telling players to “pack up your stuff so we can get the f— outta here” after a road loss, generally being jokers off the ice, and then really dialling in their serious side when it’s time to perform on the ice.
Three – as cool as this build-up to the Winter Classic has been, and as amazing as that game will be, this kind of TV series is tailor-made to a Stanley Cup Finals showdown, is it not? I know the big sell is the Crosby-Ovechkin matchup for American viewers by the networks, but isn’t the confrontation for the Cup, aka the biggest prize in the sport, even easier for fans to invest their advertisement-susceptible eyes to, compared to a gimmicky mid-season outdoor game?
And further, isn’t it a testimony to how unnecessary it is to advertise hockey in Canada that, compared to the Winter Classic media blitzkrieg, there has barely been a mention of the upcoming Heritage Classic outdoor game between Calgary and Montreal? You mean to tell me the mention of Jarome Iginla vs Josh Gorges isn’t enough to put butts in seats, and eyes on TV’s?
Even though I’m an avid Calgary Flames hater, it’s unfortunate to see Darryl Sutter “resign” as team GM, after team CEO Ken King asked him too. Seems like an either-quit-or-you’re-fired face-saving situation for Sutter; which, if you’re going to publicly announce that you ask a guy to quit, you might as well just fire him. I don’t support Flames success, but I have to admit, Sutter has been the only guy to get any out of that organization in recent history, including brother/head coach Brent, who barely batted an eyelash at the situation, citing his family’s unparalleled ability to separate family from business. Man, that’s got to be an awkward family to be around at Christmas.
I love the Spengler Cup. I wish it could be rescheduled so it actually got some coverage, instead of being overshadowed by the WJC. With personnel like Mark Messier coaching, Hockey Canada obviously supports the team; why aren’t they allowed to sport the official Hockey Canada jerseys like every other legit Canadian team representing Canada in international play? Surely HC just doesn’t want to desecrate the uniform with all those euro ads, right?
And finally, I’m loving the waffles being thrown on the ice at Toronto Maple Leafs games. It’s just such an amusing item to throw. It causes a delay of the game, bla bla… some one could get hurt, yadda yadda… let’s be honest, if the Leafs keep sucking, and Kessel keeps not scoring, they’ll be thanking their lucky lifetime season-ticket holders that something as soft (and delicious) as waffles is all that’s being thrown on the ice.