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Hockey Talkie: Preds Matching Weber Offer Sheet A Pivotal Move

July 25, 2012 Leave a comment

If the Nashville Predators truly had any interest in winning, they had to match Philadelphia’s offer sheet for Shea Weber. No question.

The match was a pivotal move for the club, and one the team itself described as “the most important hockey transaction in franchise history“.

Even after matching the Philadelphia Flyers’ offer sheet of $110 million (hold on, they were gonna pay him how much to play hockey? Wait, Nashville IS paying him that much??) over 14 years (third longest in NHL history; second highest total value), the Nashville Predators still retain plenty of bankroll breathing room – they’re only 24th in league payroll, with nearly $16.5 million in cap space still available. So yeah, they did have to match Philly’s offer for their captain/best player. They NEED him, plus financially, it’s not like they had to move money around to make it work – they straight up could afford it.

If Nashville didn’t match, the Predators likely would have sunk this season, save for Pekka Rinne again playing out of his mind all year, this though without an all-star bolstered blue-line anymore. And you can’t expect a hot goalie to play in front of that kind of mediocrity for long before he also joins the mass exodus in an effort to actually win somewhere.

Additionally take into account the roster exits the Predators do have to address — Radulov back to the KHL, and Jordin Tootoo to Detroit – also subtract Weber, and Smashville’s roster wouldn’t exactly have looked primed to improve on its Conference semi-final appearance last season.

And the message sent to fans and fellow players would have been one to the tune that the Predators really weren’t all that committed to success – that they weren’t willing to do what’s necessary to keep top talent that has proven their ability to help the team win, on the team; that they’re ok with just seeing how far they can go with what they have on hand. That’s not a message anyone can get behind.

If Philadelphia did indeed acquire Weber as hoped, then as Nashville would likely fall, the Flyers would likely rise in return – perhaps even enough to finally get them over the Cup hump. They’ve got scoring, they’ve got goaltending (in Bryzgalov, somewhere, I’m sure of it. The guy just needs to come back to earth), and they have defence too – but Weber could have been the perfect replacement for Chris Pronger, whose future remains in jeopardy after injuries sustained last season. Though he gives up two inches in height and eleven years of NHL experience, Weber’s eleven years younger, faster, heavier, shoots harder (multi-time runner up to Zdeno Chara for league’s hardest shot) has nearly as much experience as Nashville’s captain as Pronger has as Philadelphia’s, and even a little bit of crazy (see: Zetterberg head smash) in him, just like Pronger, and he can score from the concession stand if he has to (much to the chagrin of all Nashville’s healthy scratches). I can’t see that being anything but a smooth swap – and even more potent if Pronger manages to return.

But Nashville did match. And they still have Weber. For a really long time. But 14 years ought to be long enough to find someone he can move the puck to (Alexander Semin, anyone?), and to build a better team around him, and Rinne. And if for some reason it doesn’t work out, they can trade him after a year, as Weber has no NTC built into his deal. Tough salary slack for another team to absorb, but their “out” is there. The match meant the Predators kept a pivotal player, their team leader, around 50 points a year, and it sent the right message to their team and fans. Good move, Nashville.

Knock Knock, Analyzing The Flyers Flop

May 12, 2012 Leave a comment

[Originally post for www.betonhockey.com on May 10/2012]

 There are plenty of legit reasons that could make a person believe the Philadelphia Flyers should have won the Stanley Cup this year.

At the time of their elimination at the hands of the New Jersey Devils this year, the Flyers had the leading goals (tied with teammate Briere – 8), assists, and points scorer of the playoffs on their roster (Giroux 8g, 9a, 17pts); as well as second place in playoff assists, Jakub Voracek (8), second place in playoff points (Briere — 13), two players tied for the lead in playoff powerplay goals (Giroux, Hartnell – 3), one player tied for the lead in playoff short-handed goals (Giroux – 2), and two players tied for the lead in overtime goals (Briere, Voracek – 1). And in the second round, all this firepower was being directed at a goaltender that turned 40 years old during the series. Mind you, that old goalie is a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, holder of more than 20 goaltending records, and wears the best looking blocker in the league, but I digress.

As a team, the Flyers had the number one rated power play (35.7%), scoring on 15 of 42 opportunities – that’s 6 more man-advantage goals than the second place team – and were second in goals for; only behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who they disposed of in the first round.

With two of five games in the series being decided by one goal, another two of five being won by two goals, and even in the lopsided game 2 that New Jersey won by three, you’d think offensive numbers like these would have been more influential, and in Philadelphia’s favor.

So what in the world went wrong?

BetOnHockey_Flyers_Bryzgalov.jpgGoaltending, right? It always comes down to goaltending with the Flyers, it had to be that again, right? Well, as it turns out, yeah it kinda was.

Remember when Philadelphia allegedly cured their goaltending ailment by signing Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9-year, $51 million contract that maxed out their salary cap allowance? How’d he do? Dead last in goals against amongst goaltenders in the playoffs, with 37 on 326 shots he faced. The second worse, Braden Holtby of Washington, faced more than 100 more shots (albeit playing in two more games) and let in 9 less goals. More importantly, Martin Brodeur let in 12 less. Out of 23 goalies recording statistics in the playoffs, Bryzgalov placed 19th in GAA (3.46) and save percentage (.887%), and Philly’s backup Sergei Bobrovsky finished 23rd in GAA (8.11) and 21st in save percentage (.722%) [to be fair, Bobrovsky only appeared in one game]; meanwhile, Brodeur is currently pitching a 2.05/.920%. Bryz was so bad, he’s not even being invited to play for Russia at the IIHF World Championships — a tournament where participating national teams clamber for all the available NHL talent they can acquire in an attempt to legitimize their team and an overall watered down talent pool that is somehow allowed to influence world rankings – holding fast with Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov as their starter, and backing him up with two KHL goaltenders, despite Bryzgalov’s availability [also to be fair, much of the NHL’s top talent turns down the opportunity to play in this tournament for various reasons, and is unsubstantiated that he would have gone, even if invited].

Additionally, it didn’t help having Claude Giroux, leader of basically every offensive statistical category in the playoffs, suspended for the series-deciding game five, after a head hit he dished out in game four. Some may argue though, that while facing a 3-1 series deficit to the Devils, the series may have already been over for the Flyers. The on-ice absence of Philadelphia’s captain Chris Pronger was unquestionably missed as well.

BetOnHockey_Flyers_Eliminated.jpgSome may argue still the Flyers felt the relocation of former captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who have both become substantial contributors to the success of the Los Angeles Kings, more so than the acquisition of Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and even Jaromir Jagr.

Whatever you want to pin it on, it’s back to the drawing board once again for the Flyers. They again bow out of the running for the Stanley Cup early, and now make it 37 years since their last Cup victory. At this point, after acquiring a highly touted goaltender and a bona fide offence, it’s got to feel like they gave all the right answers, and then someone changed the questions for that franchise. I can’t imagine it’s anything short of frustrating for all those involved. I wouldn’t blame Peter Laviolette is he felt like doing this with a real hammer. I regret having to say we’ve heard the last rendition of Mac Miller’s “Knock Knock” in the Flyers’ dressing room for another season.

2012 NHL Playoffs Preview: Penguins vs. Flyers

April 13, 2012 3 comments

Canvassing the Caucuses: An Election-Style NHL Playoff Preview during Election Season

PART 4

by Peter Nygaard (follow him on Twitter)

Eastern Primary

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (5)

[also see: Boston Bruins vs. Washington CapitalsFlorida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils,  & New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators]

  • The Issues:
    No Kid Left Behind — After taking an elbow to the head from David Krejci, Sidney Crosby looked like he might never return to the Sid “the in-his-mid-20s Kid” we had seen earn the title of best hockey player in the world. However, since returning on the ides of March, Crosby has returned to form, tallying 25 points in 14 games. With Crosby sidelined, the Penguins were still one of the better teams in the NHL. With a healthy Crosby and the NHL’s leading scorer Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh is downright terrifying.
  • Socialized Healthcare — The Penguins were among the NHL leaders in man games lost to injury. Crosby’s 60-game absence was the most notable, but the Penguins missed Jordan Staal, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy and Zbynek Michalek for a combined 93 games as well. All five will be healthy for the series opener.
  • Political Dirt:
    Arguably the NHL’s most reviled player for the past few years, Matt Cooke spent the offseason working with coach Dan Bylsma trying to ‘reform’ his game. Surprisingly, Cooke has drastically cut down on his penalty minutes and was even Pittsburgh’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Sounds a little too good to be true, right?
  • Campaign Promises:
    If elected, the Penguins promise to drum up more fan interest and vitriol than any other team in the NHL. Pittsburgh isn’t a big market, but ask any casual fan who Sidney Crosby is, and you’re unlikely to get a blank stare. You may hate to see them succeed, but it’s good for the game.
  • The Issues:
    Russian Diplomacy — When the Flyers inked Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract, they hoped he would be the $51 million answer to their long-standing goaltending question. Instead, Bryz has only made the situation murkier. The enigmatic Russian’s performance level has dipped up and down, while backup Sergei Bobrovsky has had his moments but struggled with consistency as well. With so much money invested in Bryzgalov, it will be tough to give him the hook, but coach Peter Laviolette won a Stanley Cup in Carolina after dropping the veteran starter for a younger, less-experienced netminder.
  • Space ExplorationTake it away, Ilya.
  • Political Dirt:
    When a team trades away its entire leadership core to bring in a guy who played his way onto the bench during the regular season, it’s usually time to cash out.
  • Campaign Promises:
    If elected, the Flyers plan to do what they do best in the playoffs and serve as foil for somebody else’s run to the Stanley Cup. “Ever the bridesmaids, never the brides” seems to be the mantra for this organization.

Vote For: Pittsburgh Penguins in 7

My Interview with Mark Recchi

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Hi folks!

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.

Enjoy!

Hockey Talkie: Status Report on the NHL’s Long-Term Front-Loaded Contract Signings

December 16, 2011 1 comment

[Originally post for betonhockey.com on December 6/2011]

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?

Hockey Talkie:The Monster, The Trap, and The Hit.

November 19, 2011 2 comments

[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on November 15/2011]

With even Marty Turco’s name entering the discussion of future Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltenders now, at this point, the writing’s gotta be on the wall for Leafs’ goalie, Jonas Gustavsson, wouldn’t you say?

As much as Brian Burke refuses to admit any loss of confidence in “The Monster”, it’s his actions that tell the true story.

Look, I’m sure Jonas was as good as he was scouted to be in the Swedish Elite League.  His last year there, he had a 1.96 GAA.  And he had an intimidating nickname to boot.  So what could go wrong?  What went wrong was the Leafs gambling a goaltender would put up Swedish Elite League numbers in the NHL.  They needed him to be better than Vesa Toskola, Andrew Raycroft, and the rest of the revolving door of past Leaf goaltenders that failed to guide the Buds to the Stanley Cup.  Let’s be honest, he’s been average at best, and has in no way lived up to a moniker as lofty as “The Monster”.  Unless your lack of confidence in him scares you, or you compare him to the creatures from the animated Pixar movie, Monsters, Inc.

For all intents and purposes, Gustavsson should be the Leafs starting goaltender right now.  He’s 27 years old, and into his third NHL season.  I’ll give him credit, he did outlive 34 year old, former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, J.S. Giguere.  But with the emergence of 23 year old James Reimer on the scene, Gustavsson was again shuffled to a secondary role.  And with Reimer hurt, the Leafs elected not to give the reigns to Gustavsson, but to bring up 25 year old Ben Scrivens, who has basically been rendering Jonas obsolete altogether.  How many times does Jonas have to give way to other, younger goaltenders before even he realizes his lifespan in Toronto is limited?  Either the Leafs enjoy having 1.4 million dollars inactively sit on the bench, they’re too proud to admit a mistake and trade him, or are going to try and “show him off” in limited activity this year, in order to reclaim some value from him at the end of the year when his contract expires.

Whatever the scenario, I wouldn’t bet on Gustavsson being a Toronto Maple Leaf past this season.

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Some thoughts on the Philadelphia Flyers/Tampa Bay Lightning “stalemate”.

Tampa Bay was playing a system – “The Trap”, if you will.  Philadelphia realized this, and countered the system that relies on an active breakout to breakdown, by being completely passive.  Which is intelligent; some might even say smart.  But most are saying it’s boring, and bad for business.  And to Tampa’s credit, that’s one heck of an effective system, if you can make it work.  Both teams were simply trying to win the game (Tampa did), or at least not lose it.  Philadelphia later showed they could break the trap, and the game went on, but for 2 minutes of play there, it was pandemonium at NHL headquarters.

Here’s the thing: the new NHL is all about speed, scoring, and doing everything at a million miles an hour.  So while what both teams were doing were fantastic moves from a strategic we’re-trying-to-win-the-game standpoint, they are horrendous channel-changing deal-breakers to casual southern American hockey fans tuning in to hopefully see a hybrid-blend of boxing and NASCAR on ice.

If there was ever a more poignant example of the fact that the NHL is trying to run an entertainment business rather than a sports league, I can’t think of it.  It’s like Gary Bettman got scared NBC was going to back out of their freshly signed 10-year broadcasting deal if they saw that game.  We are now at the point where NHL higher-ups are going to have conversations about making rule changes in order to negate coaches ability to implement solid game strategies.  It’s no longer about winning folks, it’s about presenting an entertaining product.  I can’t think of one reason why a true hockey fan should be happy about this development.

**********************

And finally, the Buffalo Sabres are officially the largest collective of gutless cowards on the planet.  Their all-star goaltender, Ryan Miller, got run by Milan Lucic, and not one Sabre players did anything of consequence to him.  I’d be generous to say that Thomas Vanek and Andrej Sekera both gave him mild bodychecks.  Announcers said during the broadcast that the Sabres didn’t have anyone tough on the ice at the time to respond, but the hit took place with 6 minutes left in the FIRST period.  That means there were 46 other minutes worth of hockey for at least one of the Sabres to grow a set and attempt subtract a few incisors from Lucic’s mouth.  This is the EXACT instance where fighting in hockey is required.  Of anyone who supports fighting and hockey, they would all agree, this is the prime example of where it is justified.  The Sabres absolutely embarrassingly failed to do the right thing, and they got walked all over the rest of the night.  Their goaltender is out with a concussion, and if Buffalo’s mentality doesn’t change, I’d bet they’re going to get walked on the rest of the season too.

Even minor leaguers knows that if someone punks your team out, it’s not necessarily how you do or how tough you are, but that at least you do something; as evidenced by this vid of Justin Bourne dropping the mitts with a player that had just knee’d his teammate in an ECHL game a few years back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yfvWdS6MAU

Every player in hockey knows this is the norm, and it’s astonishing that Buffalo didn’t do a SINGLE thing immediately, or for the duration of the game. Boston will likely continue punking teams out because they have guys who can, will, and that get away with it; and teams like Buffalo that continue to not at least take the punk test will continue to fail it and get walked all over.

Hockey Talkie: Simmonds Good Guy/Bad Guy Battle, Nabokov/Isles, Jagr, and #ShanaBanned.

September 29, 2011 2 comments

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:

=============================================================================================================================

***PRESS RELEASE***

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:

http://www.change.org/petitions/nhl-fine-wayne-simmonds-for-his-homophobic-slur-against-sean-avery

For more information on Change.org, please visit:

http://www.change.org/about

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.

CONTACTS:

Gloria Nieto, Petition Author, (408)280-6301 glorianieto@comcast.net

Joe Mirabella, Organizing Manager, Change.org, (206) 354-4931, joe@change.org

=========================================================================================================================

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!

September 26, 2011 1 comment

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.

Moving on….

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?

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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. 

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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.

*********************

And finally….

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!

[Guest Post] 2011 Round 2 NHL Playoff Drinking Games: 2nd Round’s On Me

April 29, 2011 2 comments

Hi Folks, Sorry for the hiatus.  My wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew and I all took off to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for a little Easter vacay.  After being removed from all english-speaking media for nearly a week, I came back to see that my LA Kings got bounced, Vancouver nearly blew their 3 game lead and went to 7 with the Hawks, somehow the Predators are in the 2nd round, and I think some other stuff happened too.  A lot can happen in 7 days I suppose.  Big shout-out to the hotel bar for getting SkySports and showing a few select playoff games.  Other than that, it was surprisingly easy to be cut off from my phone, computer, email, facebook, twitter, blog, etc for a week.  I suggest everyone give it a try sometime.

MOVING ON…. I’m pleased to bring back guest poster, Peter Nygaard (aka @RetepAdam on Twitter) for 4 playoff series’ worth of suggested supplementary drink-along material for you to enjoy the second round with, after the popularity of his first installment.  Continue to, or begin to Follow Peter on Twitter for coverage, analysis and whatever else throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.  He occasionally tweets for @FVSports , so pop by there too.

Enjoy!

-SDC

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Well, that was quite a first round. Between the 14 overtime games, bitter rivalries and countless subplots, the most exciting aspect of the first round was that it was once again a scoretacular affair. For the second straight year, goals came at a clip of nearly six per game in the first round, and there were nearly twice as many games that featured 7+ goals as there were games with less than three. In the context of this column, what that means is that everybody who participated in the First Round Drinking Games got schwasted. 

Yet, somewhere amidst the belligerent stupor, I discovered a newfound ability. My knack for predicting events such as Alexandre Burrows’ series-winner has become so apparent that I’m going to go ahead and say that it borders on precognition.

That’s right. I’m saying I’m psychic.

But I’m not going to lure you in with claims of knowing how the future will unfold, only to turn on you, my loyal reader, and demand a sum fee for a display of my powers. No, I will be giving away these babies for free. So, throw out your Magic 8 Ball. Make chai out of your tea leaves. Sit back and enjoy as I give you a little glimpse of the future.

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(1) Washington Capitals vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If the announcer mentions Alexander Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos in the same sentence, take a drink.

-If the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning have won a Stanley Cup while the Washington Capitals remain Cupless makes you laugh, take a drink.

-If that same fact makes you cry on the inside, finish your drink.

-If somebody in the room mentions Dwayne Roloson’s name, “The Rock Rule” goes into effect. The first person to successfully pull of an “IT DOESN’T MATTER” doesn’t have to drink while all other players must finish their drinks.

-If Sidney Crosby’s name is mentioned for no apparent reason (i.e. in any context other than discussing Tampa Bay’s first round series), take a drink.

-If the Lightning make some sort of weak pun on their team name as part of a home crowd motivator, take a drink.

-If Mike Green makes an excellent defensive play, pour a drink into your gaping, wide-open mouth.

-If you’re listening to the game at such a high volume level that Washington’s home goal siren causes your neighbors to call the cops on you, finish your drinks on the go.

What the Future Holds…

-After two years of Bruce Boudreau not following John Tortorella’s lead, Capitals alternate captain Mike Knuble will finally take matters into his own hands by skating up to Ovechkin during a break in the action, ripping the ‘C’ off his jersey and placing it on his own.

-“Seen Stamkos?” is no longer used mockingly to refer to the Tampa Bay star’s scoring drought, after he breaks out with a multiple goals in the first three games of the series, and reverts to its original meaning of asking Tampa Bay citizens whether they’ve seen him play. The answer remains a resounding “No.”

-Versus and NBC take every opportunity to show the Flyers-Bruins series instead of this one, leading most fans to not really have more than a vague idea of the series score, just like both of the teams’ first round series.

Prediction: Capitals in 6; Toasted in 4

 

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(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal

-Returning favorite: If the Philly crowd boos (or cheers for Boucher in its own particular… idiom), take a drink.

-If the Flyers blow a lead of any sort (game, series, whatever), take a drink.

-If you’re watching on NESN and the announcers homer up the Bruins, take a drink.

-If the Stanley Cup is mentioned, drink two seconds if you’re rooting for the Flyers; drink three seconds if you’re rooting for the Bruins. One second for each decade since either team has won it.

-To counteract the media hype for this series, after the clinching game, finish an additional drink for every game short of 7 that this series ends.

 

What the Future Holds…

-Every journeyman goalie ever will watch this series and daydream about what might have been.

-Fed up with Tim Thomas’ continued resurgence, Tuukka Rask will convince team brass to trade Thomas to Philadelphia in exchange for Keith Van Horn.

-After the series ends, Chris Pronger will tearfully reveal his puck-collecting addiction on the most-watched episode of Hoarders to date.

 

Prediction: Bruins in 5; Friggin’ hammahed in 2

 

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(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (5) Nashville Predators

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal

-If “Alex Burrows” and “hero” are said in the same sentence, take a drink.

-If it even appears like Alain Vigneault is considering replacing Roberto Luongo in net with Cory Schneider, take a drink.

-If a Preds player complains about the lack of focus placed on them this series, take a drink.

-If a Canucks player isn’t exactly sure where Nashville is, finish your drink.

-If a game in Nashville gets canceled due to inclement weather, develop a greater understanding of what living here’s been like for the past year and change — and finish two drinks.

-If, by contrast, Vancouver seems like the nicest place in all of North America to live, take a drink. (Note: Having been there, it does.)

-If you live in an area where Versus isn’t part of the television package (for instance, the Vanderbilt campus), drink until the Grizzlies game looks like the Preds game.

 

What the Future Holds…

-The losing goalie in this series will not win the Vezina Trophy. Also, the winning goalie in this series will not win the Vezina Trophy.

-After struggling to hold Hart Trophy frontrunner Corey Perry in check last series, Nashville captain Shea Weber will have an equally difficult time stopping Daniel Sedin, to the point where after the series ends, he will swear that there are “two of him out there.”

-After reading that last joke — another one in the tired series of twin jokes — you will probably just skim the next section and scroll down the pick.

 

Prediction: Canucks in 5; Iced in 5

 

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(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (3) Detroit Red Wings

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal

-If the Sharks miss Evgeni Nabokov, take a drink.

-If the Red Wings miss every playoff goalie they’ve had in the past decade not named Jimmy Howard, take a drink.

-If San Jose fans take a page out of the Detroit playbook and throw a shark on the ice for good luck… that’s freakin’ awesome.

-If Detroit is a man down, drink for every second Darren Helm holds the puck.

-If a member of your viewing party is named Joe, he must be referred to as “Little Joe” for the rest of the series, as “Big” and “Jumbo” are already taken.

-If San Jose’s home goal song gives you the urge to break out your old Super NES, take a drink.

-If Detroit’s home goal song gives you the urge to break out your old Jock Jams mix, take a drink.

 

What the Future Holds…

-With yet another impressive playoff performance, Johan Franzen overtakes Ray Finkle as the most famous athlete to be nicknamed “The Mule.”

-Joe Thornton will rest on his laurels as playoff hero and not even bother to show up for the rest of the series for fear of diminishing that reputation.

-After making this series pick, I will proceed to be sick with myself.

 

Prediction: Red Wings in 6; Regretting it by tomorrow

[Guest Post] 2011 First Round NHL Playoff Drinking Games

April 12, 2011 2 comments

Hi Folks,

I’m pleased to bring you our first guest poster here at The SDC Blogs.  Peter Nygaard (aka @RetepAdam on Twitter) of New Jersey has 8 series’ worth of suggested supplementary drink-along material for you to enjoy the first round with.  I’m sure we’ll be checking back in with Pete for the following rounds as well.  For those of you who may not be so enthused with me promoting alcoholic consumption, please, relax.  Enjoy the humor, and substitute any beverage you feel to be more suitable.  It’s all in good fun!  I think the post is hilarious.  Follow Peter on Twitter for coverage, analysis and whatever else throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.  He will also be occasionally tweeting for @FVSports if you really can’t have enough.

Enjoy!

-SDC

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In case you live under a rock or in a television market that doesn’t get Versus (looking at you, TeleVU), you’re probably already aware that the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs begin Wednesday.

In the meantime, the procession of predictions and prognostications has begun. Every network has five analysts debating the mettle of each of the sixteen teams, poking and prodding at their cracks and stating without a shadow of a doubt that each series will play out this way or that way. TSN even has a trained monkey that they trot out every now and then to offer up its picks. But enough about Pierre McGuire (zing!); I digress.

In lieu of a traditional playoff preview with positional breakdowns, analysis and insight, I’ve decided to go in a different direction: Drinking Games. Because what’s better than kicking back and watching playoff hockey while enjoying an adult beverage?

That was rhetorical. The answer is “Nothing.”

So, without further delay, here is your guide to getting an early start on your team’s celebration — or drowning your sorrows after an agonizing defeat— series by series.

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(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If the announcers mention the Capitals’ playoff woes, take a drink.

-If footage is shown of the Capitals’ playoff woes, drink for three seconds — one for every series Washington has lost as a higher seed under Bruce Boudreau.

-If you think Boudreau is probably dropping an ‘F’ bomb, take a drink. (Note: For health reasons, do not include intermissions)

-If Boudreau is actually shown dropping an ‘F’ bomb on live air, finish your drink.

-If the Rangers score a powerplay goal, in your best Sam Rosen expression, shout “That’s a powerplay goal!” and finish your drink.

-If the Capitals change goalies sometime during the series, finish your drink and change drinks for the rest of the series.

-If the Rangers change goalies sometime during the series, whack your TV as hard as you can to fix the colors — then finish your drink and change drinks for the rest of the series.

-If Mike Green is shown driving a moped, finish your drink as fast as you can. The last player to finish must finish another drink.

Penalties:

The Sean Avery Rule: If a player obstructs any other player’s view of the TV by waving his/her arms, the offending player will have to go get the next drink for the obstructed player.

The Tortorella Rule: If a player sprays his/her drink at another player or strikes another player with a bottle, the offending player will be suspended for the duration of one game.

The Alexander Semin Rule: If a member of your playoff viewing party disappears for an extended length of time, you may heckle him/her relentlessly unless he/she returns for the rest of the series.

Prediction: Capitals in 7; Buzzed in 3

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(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If the Philly crowd boos, take a drink.

-If they return from commercial for games in Buffalo without showing the soul-crushingly bleak surroundings at the HSBC Arena, take a drink.

-That should pretty much do it, in all honesty.

Penalties:

The Pronger Rule: After finishing a drink, do not let another player take your drink for any reason (disposal/refill/etc.). If your empty falls into possession of another player, you must finish his/her current drink.

The Nick Bakay Rule: If the camera crew spotlights a celebrity in the stands of a game in Buffalo, shout “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo,” run a lap around the room and finish your drink.  (Note: This will probably never happen, so just don’t worry about this one.)

The “Amurrica” Rule: If Ryan Miller makes an incredible save and you are drinking an import, just leave the room.

Prediction: Sabres in 6; Tanked in 1

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(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight, 10 seconds for every fight in the stands and finish your drink for every goal.

-If either crowd boos the opposing team’s national anthem, take a drink.

-If either crowd sarcastically cheers the opposing team’s national anthem, finish your drink.

-If Milan Lucic breaks a pane of glass, finish your drink and switch to bottles. If you’re using bottles, switch to glasses.

-Any mention of Benoit Pouliot’s name immediately triggers a game. If the announcer says “Benoit,” players must respond “Balls.” The last to do so drinks. If the announcer says “Pouliot,” players must responds “Pooli-oolio.” The last to do so drinks.

-If the series does not go to seven games, continue drinking on the scheduled dates for the unnecessary games as though it did.

Penalties:

The Zdeno Chara Rule: When Boston is at home, the tallest player in the room is allowed to introduce any set of rules he/she wants into the game.

The Brian Gionta Rule: When Montreal is at home, the shortest player in the room is allowed to introduce any set of rules he/she wants into the game.

Prediction: Bruins in 7; Rioting in both cities

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(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If the camera crew shows Sidney Crosby watching the game, take a drink.

-If the announcers compare Steve Yzerman to Mario Lemieux for no apparent reason, finish your drink.

-If a Penguins fan uses the words “if,” “but” or “injury,” take a drink.

-If someone in the room wonders aloud why Tampa Bay has a hockey team, take a drink.

Penalties:

The Dwayne Roloson Rule: In complete disregard to the laws of nature, the oldest player in the room must be depended upon to drink twice for every instance of drinking.

The Crosby Rule: If a player loses consciousness, drop everything to discuss how soon he/she will return to action.

Prediction: Lightning in 6; Lingering headaches the day after

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(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If the announcers mention a member of last year’s Blackhawks squad who is no longer with the team, take a drink.

-If the announcers mention the Canucks’ playoff history with the Blackhawks, take a drink.

-If Jonathan Toews’ sideburns connect to his chinstrap, finish your drink the first time they show him onscreen.

-If Vancouver wins the series — and you are a Vancouver fan — finish your drink and run outside to join the mini-riot that will likely follow the clinching game.

-If Vancouver wins the series — and you are a Chicago fan — finish your drink and calmly flip back to the Bulls game.

Penalties:

The Sedin Rule: If a player can successfully switch drinks with another player and get that player to drink from it, the player must finish both drinks.

The Patrick Kane Rule: If a player mentions the word “taxi,” he/she must pay for the next round. Exact change.

Prediction: Canucks in 6; Drunk in 5

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(2) San Jose Sharks  vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If San Jose’s goal horn gives you the urge to break out Super NES, take a drink.

-If the announcers say the words “California,” “Golden State” or “Bay Area,” take a drink.

-If Ryan Smyth does a hair flip with his mullet, take a drink.

-If the announcers make an awful pun on Jonathan Quick’s name, take a drink.

-If you hear the name “Joe,” take a drink.

-If the announcers say the word “Finland,” take a drink. If they say the word “Finnish,” listen to the man.

-If Dan Boyle shoots the puck into his own goal, finish two drinks.

Penalties:

The California Rule: If nobody watches you finish your drink, it doesn’t really count.

The Sharks Postseason Rule: If someone should start choking, give him/her the Heimlich Maneuver, but also reflect on the irony of the situation.

Prediction: Sharks in 5; Shwasted in 2

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(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If the announcers refer to last year’s series, take a drink.

-If Phoenix has a sellout crowd, finish your drink.

-If Detroit does not have a sellout crowd, finish your drink.

-If you see an octopus — real or plastic — take a drink.

-If the announcers mention any city in Canada, take a drink.

Penalties:

The Shane Doan Rule: If a player uses a French word during a game in Phoenix, all other players should ignore him/her for the rest of the period.  (Note: This includes all references to “Belanger” and “LaBarbera,” but “Bissonnette” may still be referred to as “Biz Nasty.”)

The Hakan Andersson Rule: If any player has Scandinavian heritage, he/she is to be praised relentlessly throughout each game in Detroit.

The Darren Helm Rule: The player who finishes his/her drinks the fastest shall not be rewarded in any way, shape or form.

Prediction: Red Wings in 6; Relocating in a week

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(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators

Rules:

-Drink 2 seconds for every penalty, 5 seconds for every fight and finish your drink for every goal.

-If anybody on TV or in the room says the word “Mighty,” take a drink.

-If Ray Emery gets in a fight, drink for 10 seconds.

-If Teemu Selanne gets in a fight, finish your drink.

-If the announcers use the words “Vezina” or “Hart,” take a drink.

-On Nashville goals, each player must yell out “Sheeee-yooooot!” The last player to do so must finish his/her drink.

-On Anaheim goals, each player must yell out “Emiiiilllliiiiooooo” The last player to do so must finish with “The Mighty Duck man” or finish his/her drink. (Note: If the last player does say “The Mighty Duck man,” see Rule 2.)

-If any Anaheim player uses a triple deke or the Knucklepuck, or if Anaheim as a team goes into “Flying V” formation, finish your drink.

-Lastly and most importantly, if any player can identify me in the crowd at a game in Nashville, he/she may dole out as many seconds as he/she pleases.

Penalties:

The Jonas Hiller Rule: If a player loses his/her balance, he/she must remain on the floor for the remainder of the period.

The Nashville Rule: The player with the fewest teeth may introduce any rule he/she chooses during games in Nashville.

The #DanEllisProblems Rule: The player with the most money in his/her wallet at the start of each game may sit in the worst seat available.

Prediction: Ducks in 7; Blackout in Nashville

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