[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on November 8, 2011]
Is it possible that Alex Ovechkin’s best and most productive days of hockey are behind him?
Probably not, but let’s speculate some evidence of why they might be, if indeed they are.
Last year, in the first ever fantasy hockey pool that I paid money to take part in, I somehow lucked out and drew the first overall pick. At the time, it was a no-brainer and generally assumed that your first pick would be either Ovechkin or Crosby. I picked Ovie. Mainly because in his past 4 of 5 seasons, he had 100 or more points, and seemed like he could score whenever he wanted to. He was just always dangerous if he had the puck. The guy scored a goal sliding on his back on the ice while doing a barrel-roll for crying out loud. Now, you may argue that I did get the better choice of the two considering Crosby’s season-ending injury, and that Alex finished ahead of Crosby in points. But, for the guy that was supposed to finish first overall in scoring, instead he placed seventh, and scored 24 fewer points than he did the season before. I made an early exit out of the fantasy pool and lost all my money. **Screams in my best Captain Kirk/George Costanza Wrath of Khan reference impression** OOOOOOVVVVVVIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
We’ve since learned that he was injured – as he took 10 games off before the playoffs, and has eluded in interviews to rehabbing over the summer during his training. Whatever was bothering him then, may continue to linger. When an injury site is vaguely referred to as an upper or lower body injury, it’s hard to speculate the possible extent and long term effects on the injury. BUT, from experience, between a torn ACL in my knee, broken collar-bones, pulled groins, and minor neck, back, and shoulder issues, they all had range-of-motion limiting effects on me, though I eventually healed and played through them all. Wayne Gretzky’s back injury in 1991 was one that had lasting effects on his career and offensive productivity until he retired. As of this post, Ovechkin’s sitting at #39 in league scoring, averaging less than a point a game, and sitting at -1. For him, that’s unheard of. Since 2008, his point totals have been slowly diminishing, and so have his shots on goal (you know, scoring chances). In 2008, he took 528 shots. The following years, he only took 368, then 367 shots. And with those lowered totals have also come less wild, pre-meditated stick-burning goal celebrations. While he’s still excited when he scores, his reactions are noticeably subdued, for him anyways.
He’s changed his gear this year too, switching from CCM to Bauer. Hockey players are very particular with their gear, and once a player finds a setup they like and seems help put pucks in the net for them, they’ll quite often remain loyal to that brand forever. This move may be purely monetary, but it may also indicate that Ovechkin’s lost confidence in his previous equipment to help him score goals. And further, it may have damaged his confidence in himself to score goals. You could always tell in Ovie’s goals, skating speed, interviews, and off-ice antics, that confidence has never been an issue for him. When you’re a player of Alex Ovechkin’s caliber, you can’t afford to have anything get you “in the head” if you hope to score torrentially like you once did.
And further on confidence, even his coach, Bruce Boudreau has shown lower confidence in him; benching him on November 1st, in favour of other players. Boudreau was quoted as saying, “I thought other guys were better than him …I’ve got to put out the guys that I think are going to score … I just didn’t think Alex was going to score.” Moments after Boudreau cold-shouldered him, Ovechkin was cussing like a sailor at the snubbing. Ovechkin’s used to being the go-to guy when the team needs a goal, and in these key situations, he’s starting to not be the guy Boudreau taps on the shoulder first anymore. That can’t be good for the ol’ ego.
And further still, Ovechkin’s the Capitals captain. What are other players supposed to think of their leader when they see him not chosen to lead them? The C may simply be too much responsibility for him, ala Mike Modano, Brett Hull, or any other former NHL captains that have either surrendered their C, or had it taken away by their coach/team management.
Boudreau’s not exactly innocent of blame here either. He’s spent so much time trying to change Ovechkin and the Capitals’ overly offensive playing style over the last couple of seasons that Ovie couldn’t even be his old-self if he tried. His most effective style – the kamikaze-bull-in-a-china-shop-shoot-and-score-from-anywhere-blow-guys-up-and-there’s-no-need-for-defence- style – has been rendered obsolete. Bruce, you seriously want an offensive juggernaut to turn in his guns and become a 2-way, defence-first, responsible, playmaker instead? Has anyone told you who plays for your team, and what they do best? Sure, balance out weaknesses, but come on, no other team has the scoring personnel that Washington does. Last I checked, you still have to score more goals than the other team to win a hockey game, right?
Ovie could be just plain distracted too. He’s doing endorsements and/or commercials for Bauer, Nike, Mr. Big, Eastern Motors, ESPN, and probably forty companies based in Russia. Maybe making money’s beginning to take mental precedence over being a dominant hockey player every year?
Some speculative conspiracy: George Laraque recently wrote in his book regarding steroids in the NHL, saying that,
“I can give you some clues here that will help you identify the ones using steroids, if you really feel like it. First, you just have to notice how some talented players will experience an efficiency loss as well as a weight loss every four years, those years being the ones where the Winter Olympics are held. In the following season they make a strong comeback; they manage a mysterious return to form.”
I’m not going to say Ovechkin was/is on PED’s, but his production did begin to decline post 2010 Olympics. Heck, even during the Olympics. Ovie’s former other-worldly talent, speed, and scoring ability suddenly turned suspiciously average. Like Tiger Woods, but without the TMZ scandal.
And finally, the guy just can’t seem to win the big one. Besides the 2008 World Championship tournament that’s attended by a fraction of the best players in the world, the Stanley Cup, and the Olympic gold medal (the real world championship in my view) continue to elude him. Could frustration over continual early playoff exits, and Crosby’s ongoing trumping of him be wearing him down too? Is it possible he’s become complacent with just being really good and making a lot of money? Is it feasible that with Sidney Crosby sidelined, Alex doesn’t have the competitive drive to try and be better than Sid, his arch-nemesis, the player he’s most often compared to?
I love watching Alexander Ovechkin, and I truly hope he gets back to form and proves all of this wrong. He’s been the face of the league since he’s been around, and if he can get his act together, there’s no reason why he can’t continue to be. But the question is, will he?
Hockey Talkie: Winnipeg Jets, Draft, Oilers – Smyth, Taylor/Tyler Trump, and the Creepy Keeper of The Cup.
Do you remember in 1994 when the unnamed Baltimore franchise competed in the CFL, and then won the Grey Cup the following year? It looked like we might be getting to that point with the “Winnipeg NHL franchise”, until mercifully, they officially introduced themselves as the Winnipeg Jets at the 2011 Draft. Great move. I understand the arguments to have called the team other things to be more provincially inclusive, or go in a different direction; but in the end, the team did the right thing – they gave the people what they wanted. Gonna be awkward when the Phoenix Coyotes play their first game at the MTS Centre though. Now all they have to do is swindle Teemu Selanne out of Anaheim and they’ll be set. Also, jerseys and a logo would be nice.
On the heels of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and with last year’s #1 overall, Taylor Hall, ascending the podium with the Oilers brass to announce the first overall pick, I had a thought a while back….with a Stanley Cup ring in his first year in the league, did Tyler Seguin check-and-mate the Taylor vs Tyler debate? Seems like the ultimate trump card, does it not? These guys are going to have long, successful careers in the league, and the debate will probably live on for years, but at this point, Taylor’s got a whole lot of catch-up to play; especially while still a member of the cellar-dwelling (albeit youthful talent laden) Oilers.
Speaking of the Oilers…. You know you’re either Canadian or just plain nuts when you voluntarily request to move from +30° C LA beach weather to -30° C Alberta blizzard weather, as Ryan Smyth is trying to wiggle his way back to Edmonton. I really respect what Smyth has done in the NHL, and for team Canada and all, but where does he get this crazy notion he can play for anyone he wants to? Even though he’s following all Wayne’s team footsteps, Gretzky went where he was told in the end (PS – you should watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Kings Ransom” on the Gretzky trade for that whole story). It just seems a little arrogant for Smyth, which is extremely out of character. With LA nabbing Richards from Philly, I’m sure the Kings aren’t exactly clambering to pick up the pieces after his departure. It’s too bad, because he was one of LA’s more productive players last season, right into their playoff run.
Good to see the Columbus Blue Jackets finally acquiring some talent to help out Rick Nash from doing everything. I was seriously thinking of starting a FREE RICK NASH campaign to try and get him traded to team with a chance to win, but with these latest developments, I may have to sit on that one for a little longer.
Phil Pritchard, aka the” Keeper Of The Cup” sure does polish the Stanley Cup a disturbing, creepy amount, wouldn’t you say? The guy is with the trophy every day of his life; have you ever seen him not rubbing that Cup down with that little grin on his face? I thought he might go all Smeagol/Gollum and run out and stab Zdeno Chara this year after Bettman took the Cup away from him and gave it to the Bruins’ captain. He probably could’ve claimed the riot tweaked him out, and gotten away with it.
Brad Marchand is the NHL’s new Claude Lemieux, pest/irritation wise. With those babyface red cheeks of his and inability to grow facial hair, perhaps just less assuming, but just as ratty.
And lastly, even if you didn’t like the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final, you gotta agree, seeing that Stanley Cup hoisted is absolutely extraordinary. What an exclamation point of a literal life-long journey for those fortunate enough to win it. The most difficult trophy in sports to win, and the biggest and most impressive looking for a reason. I wonder if any of this year’s draft picks will be lifting the grail above their heads, ala Tyler Seguin, at the conclusion of next season?
There’s just so much ammunition to fire.
First of all, the Canucks BA-LEW ( with a GAA of 8.05, Ba-“Lou”, perhaps?) IT, and successfully, once again did NOT win the Stanley Cup; once again shattered the hopes and dreams of fans who, quite frankly, should have known better, and sent the city into a cannibalizing, lawless, character-altering, violent riot.
I’m going to tackle this in two parts: the hockey part and the insane aftermath part.
Hockey-wise, the Canucks had everything going for them in Game 7 (the home-ice advantage winning pattern seemed to be the primary leverage, as well as the Olympic hosting/Cup winning tradition), and none of it ended up mattering because the goalie who was supposedly the best in the world let in too many goals, and the regular season’s leading scorers didn’t score any goals. You can collect all the regular season trophies you want — President’s Trophy, Western Conference Championship, Art Ross, maybe even a Vezina Trophy – but if the players who won or helped win those trophies don’t perform in the final circumstance, said team will never win the Stanley Cup, THE ultimate trumping trophy.
It’s pretty brutal when the team that was picked to win the Cup before the first puck of the season was dropped can’t even score a single goal in a franchise-defining game like in this year’s Game 7. I hate to question the heart of players in that situation, but it seems like Boston was the only team that showed up to play that night, and they were unquestionably the better team at the game of hockey (which it should all be about, but more on that later).
On paper, the Canucks should have Harlem Globetrotter’ed the Bruins; instead they got their show ran by a team whose top scorers had at least 40 less points than theirs, a goalie who beat them up, and a 43 year old (Mark Recchi, who seems like he could still play 2 or 3 seasons with his level of production). Don’t you dare blame it on injuries either, as both teams were filled with players ready to fall apart if a strong enough gust of wind blew through the dressing room. If you’re going to do interviews and tell people how playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was something you dreamed of as a kid, or how your team is going to become legends after you win (Kesler), try not to embarrass yourselves and your fans in your home rink by not even scoring one measly goal in the most important game of your lives.
Now, regarding the riot that followed. I mean, it was just so predictable, wasn’t it? If you Google image search “Vancouver Riot”, you have to specify which year you want pictures from (seriously, look for yourself). Like I said, fans were told their team was going to win it all from the outset of the season (and every season prior). You place that level of expectation on a city that still had memories of 1994’s Game 7 failure in mind, mix it in with being dubbed “Canada’s Team” (though every team from a Canadian city left standing in the playoffs is named that), and the further expectation of living up to the Olympic success in that very building, as well as the sea of people outside of it watching it on the big screen; was the outcome anything but predictable, especially from a riot-prone city? It became more than just about a hockey score a long time ago.
Everyone, from Vancouver’s mayor and the Premier of BC to the Canucks’ staff and players, have vocally condemned the riots, and rightfully so. What those people did was atrocious. Their actions were comparable to those of the citizens of Middle Eastern countries today amidst conflict – only instead of fighting for their democratic freedoms and right to live, these jokers were fighting and burning police cars because their favourite hockey team lost.
While everything about the riot bothers me, one thing that bugs me just a little more is the blatant minimization of the participants by the afore mentioned delegates. Every commenter has gone out of their way to say that the people rioting were a small, isolated group of anarchists, which were not Vancouver Canucks fans. And while perhaps (and hopefully) that is true, I just don’t see how you can tell me that out of the thousands of people congregating in downtown Vancouver outside of Roger’s Arena, and the nearly 20,000 people who were inside the arena, and would eventually leave and join that mass, that not one of those who started/participated in the violence was a Canucks fan. Wade through the uncountable amount of riot pictures and video; these people are wearing $200 replica Canucks jerseys with the name of their favourite player stitched on the back, they paid thousands of dollars on tickets to go to games, they painted their faces, dressed up in team colors…. Those just aren’t the kind of investments a non-fan makes. If these people aren’t fans, I just have to wonder – what exactly is the criteria for being a Canucks fan? Wasn’t it the Vancouver organization that came up with the “We Are All Canucks” marketing campaign slogan? I support the condemning of rioters and their actions, and even the disowning of fans actually; but denying that these people were fans of the team seems like a stretch, even for a city in full-blown damage control. Vancouver, you have plenty of upstanding citizens and loyal, civilized fans (very encouraging to see the droves of people coming out to clean up the city the next day); but for once just admit, you’ve got a whole lot of crazy ones too. How many more riots will it take before someone finally admits this? For those who make the case that Vancouverites would have rioted no matter what the outcome of the game, I counter with Newton’s Third Law (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction); they went bananas in the best, most peaceful way possible when Canada won Olympic gold in 2010 in the very same location, but in times of defeat the people congregated in that area seek to implode the place. For their team being 40 years old, “bad” Canuck fans sure act like adult-sized, criminal versions of small children throwing tantrums because they didn’t get what they want.
And what is there exactly to be cheering about, when you’re standing on top of an upside down, burning police car, with your hands in the air, yelling at the top of your lungs, posing for pictures? Morons, I tell you. Probably the same people that smashed the windows of the Chapters and didn’t steal a single book. And did it annoy anyone else that the media was more concerned about discovering the identity of a couple making-0ut during the riot than idenitfying rioters they said they were going to punish to the full extent of the law?
For me, it all comes down to this tried and true formula, yet again: The Vancouver Canucks choked, and their idiot fans took it too far and rioted. Every reason I don’t cheer for Vancouver underscored itself once again; not for the first time, and likely not for the last. Don’t worry, Ryan Kesler, at least Kevin Bieksa thinks you’re a legend.
Told you so!
Sports Shorts: Brian Burke Getting Trump-ed, Hometown Hockey Allegiances Query, Basketball Beaks, Marion Jones, and more.
Sometimes while watching late-night hockey highlights, I’ll zone out and come to again right in the middle of NBA highlights. As I shake the cobwebs, it’s always a mad dash to get that channel changed asap to something more worthy of my attention (so, pretty much anything else on any other channel, except more NBA highlights). So, here are some recent sports observations…
Does Brian Burke not ever have 5 minutes to comb his hair and freshen up? Can we give this guy a 10 minute break for a shower so he can clean up and make himself presentable? I know it’s a hair-tearing-out environment in Toronto these days, but come on Burkey, you’re getting a little Donald Trump-ish. I’m sure the potential pending sale of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment isn’t helping either.
So the Canucks were the heavy pre-season prediction favourite to win the Stanley Cup, then they lost a few, won a few, lost a few more, and now the discussion is that this may be Alain Vigneault’s last season as Canucks coach if they don’t deliver. Oh, predictable Vancouver bandwagon dumpings…
If a team moves, and then a new team starts in the same city, should fans cheer for the team that used to be there (which is inherently the same group of people that left), or stay true to the city and cheer for the new one? Example: Atlanta Flames move to Calgary, become the Calgary Flames. Atlanta eventually incarnates the Thrashers; so should those original Atlanta Flames fans now return to the homeland and cheer for the Thrashers, or are they justified in staying Calgary fans? Same scenario in Minnesota (North Stars to Dallas, Wild now in Minny), and Colorado (Rockies to NJ in ’82, Avalanche sprout up) in recent history.
Based purely on talent and consistency, the Detroit Red Wings are the most overall dominant team of the modern age of hockey, agreed? From the Yzerman and Federov era to the current Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen et al generation, all mixed in with a handful of Stanley Cup wins, it’s tough to argue this isn’t hockey’s version of the New York Yankees.
The people who broke into Pat Burns’ widow’s car and stole his stuff booked themselves a one-way, non-refundable ticket to hell, did they not? I’m still rattled at the Hall of Fame that they couldn’t do that guy the favour of waiving his mandatory waiting period or whatever so he could enter the Hall of Fame WHILE HE WAS ALIVE. 3 Jack Adams Trophies for coach of the year honors (on three different teams), and a Stanley Cup; are there deeper pre-requisites for HOF entrance?
I recently saw Marion Jones’ ESPN 30 for 30 special… does it say more about Marion Jones and her athletic ability that she walked on to a WNBA with very little previous basketball experience (played with UNC); or less about the WNBA, a league that is supposed to boast the best female basketball players in the world, yet people can just walk on and make their teams, as Jones has done with the Tulsa Shock?
Everyone remember the Double Championship Challenge (DCC) that I hosted over the last hockey season? You know, the one to see which players would win both the Olympic Gold Medal and Stanley Cup in the same season? Well after many candidates and contest entrants were eliminated, when Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook did exactly that, we had a winner. Congratulations to Rich Abney of Kelowna, the first ever SDC Blogs’ Quadrennial DCC Champion! Here’s your fifteen minutes of fame (or however long until the next post). Rich wins the t-shirt you see pictured, and 4 years of bragging rights! [Doubly interesting because Rich works with the runner up, Ryley Herzog, at the same store] Stay tuned for the blog’s next contest… you could be our next winner!
Without further adieu, enjoy Serenity Now… The SDC Blogs’ first video blog!
The Hockey Tryout: Even The Best In The Game Still Have To Prove Their Worth (And advice for keeping your sanity through hockey’s trial period).
With the opening of the 2010-11 NHL season looming, fake-meaningless tease pre-season hockey is all us stick-and-puck fans have to tide us over until that first puck drops. We’ve endured baseball highlights on Sportscentre for long enough, it’s time to get some real sports going!
One interesting notable for me looking at the pre-season has been the boggling number of established NHL veterans still looking for a job – and their only option, seemingly, is to “tryout” for an NHL team. Good luck trying to get Stanley Cup champ and former NHL All-Star Bill Guerin to fill out and mail in his registration form and camp fee in a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, in exchange for a free camp jersey and four guaranteed ice-times.
I count upwards of 20 NHL vets now fighting for their right to stay active in the world’s best hockey league:
Anaheim — Joe DiPenta (1 Cup), Stephane Veilleux; Atlanta – Enver Lisin, Kyle McLaren; Boston — Brian McGrattan; Columbus – Dan Fritsche; Dallas – Jonathan Cheechoo (All-Star, Rocket Richard Trophy); Florida — Tyler Arnason; New Jersey — Marcus Nilsson; N.Y. Rangers — Garnet Exelby, Ruslan Fedotenko (2 Cups, Olympian), Alexei Semenov; Philadelphia — Bill Guerin (2 Cups, All-Star, Olympian); Phoenix — Shane Hnidy, Kyle Wellwood; San Jose — Andreas Lilja (1 Cup); Tampa – Eric Perrin (1 Cup); Vancouver — Brendan Morrison, Peter Schaefer; Washington — Matt Hendricks. ( from TSN.ca )
I just gotta wonder what the real likelihood of these guys making these teams really is (see: Theo Fleury, Flames tryout). I mean, it’s not like they’re new players that no one’s had a chance to see because they’ve been playing in an obscure minor league and there are only a handful of youtube videos on them. These guys have all been around the league, and coaches and scouts already know what they’re all about.
And in reality, that’s the shitty thing about trying out for ANY team at ANY level. In most cases, teams are already all but finalized before you show up at camp. Guys have been committed to in the off-season, or re-signed from last year. With only a few spots open from trades, injuries, or releases, if your resume isn’t already speaking for you, your only hope is to be so awesome that you out-perform a seasoned veteran, or that a vet gets hurt and you’ve looked good enough to be a lock for a call-up spot. And that’s just the honest truth.
Too many young, good hockey players have had their hockey dreams dashed at an early or mid-point level because a team apparently already committed a starting spot and full PP/PK time to a player; who then walks out of camp a week later headed back on the 12-hour long bus to the team he was playing for before because things “didn’t work out” the way he was told they were going to at their tryout. To be fair though, the onus is on the player to perform; if he can’t do that during that evaluation period, then the chances of that player being a team fixture do fade, no matter how highly touted or decorated they are. As a coach now myself, I’ve had to weigh-in on some tough (and not so tough) decisions about who will play for our team. While it’s easy to strike a guy off on paper, no one wants to be the guy who has to tell the player that he’s not we’re looking for. It’s easy to tell that a guy wants to make the team, but it’s unfortunate when that’s just not a realistic possibility. I’m sure many teams don’t mind collecting those “camp fees” to pad their team’s budget for the year though.
And that’s where hockey, more so at the minor-pro level, can really get quite exploitive. Hockey is a game that players are passionate about. I mean, blindingly passionate about. So much so that they’ll jump at any chance to play for any team, anywhere. From Northern Saskatchewan to Southern Alabama, if you’ve got a team and a training camp, chances are there are players willing to un-bank their life savings and drive to your hole-in-the-wall town from the exact opposite point on the continent for that one chance to be part of the team and to seek their fame and glory. And chances are also that that team is probably full, despite their advertising to “leave no stone unturned” in hopes of finding talent.
Free-agent camps are tricky too, because they’ll mention how many coaches, scouts, and GM’s will be watching you, and how many were signed out of last year’s camp; and when you show up, there’s only one scout (maybe just a guy wearing a team jacket) from a crappy team that only sticks around for 1 period (this happened to a player I know this past summer) and doesn’t give anyone a fair look.
The third axis is the agent. Many free agents will seek a player agent to represent them in pursuit of a contract. The first tip-off here is the player pursuing the agent, not the agent pursuing the player. If players are not careful, they can get mixed up with people/con-men who will take their money in exchange for promises of placement, and then never hear from the agent again, see their money again, or sign a contract (happened to me). There are lots of good, credible agents and agencies out there, but you really gotta be careful, that’s all. And again, it’s tough because players want to play so bad because of their love for the game and their emotional attachment to it; that pursuit and their trustworthiness is easily abused when it aligns with a person or team who doesn’t mind separating you from your money in exchange only for false hope and promises.
So, aspiring players who have not had the luxury of being drafted and/or a phenom from a young age, here’s your tryout camp mental checklist to review before filling out that form and sending in your cheque:
1) Are you good enough?
2) Ask yourself again, no really, are you good enough to make this team?
3) Are you willing to endure failure and rejection, and self-improvement for what might be years until you do make this or another team?
4) Can you fiscally, and mentally, afford it?
5) Are you willing to live and play in the middle of no-where for an extended period of time, for next to no money?
6) What is your goal is hockey? Will you settle for anything below the NHL in the end?
7) Do the rewards that come with being a hockey player outweigh the benefits to you?
8) If you’re not single, what does your significant other think of all this?
I’m sure I could think of more, but if you’ve answered yes to all the above questions, then you should pursue your hockey dreams, no matter what they are, and no matter what they call for. If you’re hesitant, then you may want to re-evaluate your path in the game. But when it comes to camp time, always do your homework on the team, and be realistic (even if your realism would be described as crazy by others). Other than that, let your heart and passion for the game, combined with your abilities and talents take you as far as they will lead; just don’t be afraid to follow them! Being able to play the game of hockey is a very temporary privilege that only a very small percentage of people will ever have the opportunity to do at any level, so don’t take your remaining time in the game for granted. If opportunity knocks, open the door; just make sure you let the right people in.
The third annual “Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp” is nearly upon us. And yes I did say that with Christmas-Eve-ish excitement.
I’ve been really fortunate to have been absorbed into the organizing team, and to have had the opportunity to partake last year and this year. Basically an all-inclusive hockey vacation, our registrants are granted the opportunity to 1) golf Shannon Lake Golf Club in West Kelowna 2) board a houseboat cruise of Okanagan Lake, provided by The Boardroom including an open bar, and being catered by Original Joe’s Restaurant, where Clark Gillies may or may not do this again:
3) play three days of hockey practice, scrimmage, and a final showdown for the VT Cup (a replica Stanley Cup, complete with engraved names of past winners) in a charity game 4) be accomodated at 5 star The Cove Resort in West Kelowna, and participate in all our social activities (hint: the event is also sponsored by Okanagan Spring Brewery and Ex Nihilo Winery), where Bryan Trottier may or may not shave his signature moustache as part of an impromtu midnight charity auction again to the tune of a karaoke’d rendition of Sweet Home Alabama:
Oh, I forgot to mention, they get to do all these things with NHL Hall of Fame Legends Bob Bourne, Clark Gillies, Dale Hawerchuk, Billy Smith, Dave Semenko, Bryan Trottier, Larry Melnyk, Steve Shutt, Ron Flockhart, and Doug Bodger, who by the way, are all still really good at hockey. Our players also recieve 2 personalized jerseys (home and away, with choice of number), a free stick and gloves, and various other freebees of all kinds. For a hockey fan, it’s a pretty big deal.
While it’s too late to sign up or sponsor for this year, you my loyal readers, can still purchase tickets for the VT Cup Championship game, of which 100% of ticket sales will directly
benefit the Rick Hansen Foundation. Tickets are $7.50, pretty freaking decent to see that amount of NHL caliber in one game. The game is a lot of fun for players and fans alike; we’ll have some local personalities provide in-game entertainment, so bring your friends, family, kids, and of course yourself for a great afternoon of entertainment. Puck drops at 1:00 PM at the Royal LePage Place Arena in West Kelowna on August 7th. There will be an open autograph session for any and all fans to get all the pros to scribble on whatever you want at noon as well.
Hope to see you all there!
First off, congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on winning the Stanley-Freaking-Cup (as though they all are collectively reading this blog and saying, “hey thanks man”), and to Rich Abney of Kelowna for winning the 1st Quadrennial SDC Blogs’ Double Championship Challenge! Along with his prize, Rich receives 4 years of bragging rights. Keeeerr-rap (doubly for runner up Ryley Herzog, who will be hearing about it at Chevy’s Source for Sports for the next four years J). It was looking like Ryley and the Flyers had a chance of pulling one over on all of us with that Bruins/Habs massacre, but alas…
What a great playoffs overall. Complete with a standard Canucks exit, Pronger’s puck stealing/Carcillo antagonism vs Byfuglien/everyone, Joe Thornton and San Jose’s meltdown, Pronger vs. Burish chirps, awesome NHL “History Will Be Made/No Words” commercials and CBC video montages, 3rd string goalies becoming starters and fading out 1st stringers while fading in huge contracts next year (see: Rask, Halak, Niemi, Leighton, etc), Keith losing 7 TEETH mid-game and continuing, Crosby and Ovechkin eliminated early by an underdog, Hossa rescinding his Cup curse, Vince Vaughn, the rejuvenation of hockey in Chicago and the end of the longest running championship drought, a mullet and a mystery OT Cup winning goal (and a Crosby-Olympic-Golden-Goal-esque one at that) by Kane, a prophetic mural, the Conn Smythe and yet another championship for overshadowed (until now) Jonathan Toews; hard to find anything bad to say about that guy.
The Stanley Cup is just simply awesome. Winning it is an un-top-able feat (no, not even Dilbert’s Topper could); truly the most difficult trophy to win in sports, by all accounts of comparison of every other sports’ playoff formats. In no other sports are you required to win 16 games and not lose more than 3 per series to secure final victory. And when you do accomplish said task, an achievement-appropriate sized trophy awaits you; also the biggest in all sports. Often described as the lightest 34 pounds you’ll ever lift over your head, most dreamers will never have the opportunity to find out what that really means. From the first moment video cameras show the Cup in the building to well after it gets lifted over the captain’s head, I get perma-chills and goosebumps every year.
Justin Bourne did as good a job as anyone could on describing what winning the Cup means here.
I had one idea about something to change in the playoffs though. You see, it’s always better to win the Cup at home, in front of your own fans. The Wachovia Center in Philadelphia was dead silent when Patrick Kane scored to win, and rightfully so. How much better would that moment looked on TV if the Madhouse on Madison had the chance to chant “Chelsea Dagger” alongside Toews’ Cup hoisting?
So here’s my idea: for sure in the Cup final, and perhaps in the previous series’, once a team has won three games, the remaining games should be played at that team’s home rink; unless the other team wins 3, in which case the series would shift to that team’s rink. It might play havoc with some arena scheduling, but I think it’d make for a better winning atmosphere. Your thoughts???
Well, that’s it for hockey for a while. Cripes (I’m sure the female readers out there are breathing a sigh of relief). No, I won’t watch baseball in the meantime. Trying reeeeallly hard to give the World Cup and soccer a chance…. but can someone score a goal or two already? 90 +minutes and 0-0 draws are not helping the cause. It seems too exciting of a tournament to have play that boring, doesn’t it?
Anyone who’s played hockey before knows that scoring a goal is awesome. It’s a huge feeling of self-accomplishment, followed by an immediate and obligatory get together to thank
the guy(s) who set you up to score, then group hug everyone on the ice with you, and then skate-by high-fives for everyone on your team’s bench from everyone on the ice. As you can surely put together, putting that little black puck in the net brings a lot of satisfaction on a lot of different levels.
Besides your home crowd going bananas (assuming you scored while playing at home), the other add-on that can upgrade you and your team’s current state of awesomeness is having what’s known as a “goal-song”. Pretty self-explanatory; a goal song is the song that gets played EVERY SINGLE TIME after your team scores. A good goal-song gets your team right pumped up after scoring, and simultaneously drives the other team absolutely nuts and makes them want to destroy the arena’s audio system with their sticks because they’re so tired of hearing it.
I’d like to submit to you, my top 3 favourite goal songs; 2 of them currently being used by both the Blackhawks and Flyers.
The current reigning champion has to be the Chicago Blackhawks’ song; “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis. It makes the Madhouse on Madison go, well, mad. :
On the flipside, here’s how much Chicago’s mortal enemies, the Vancouver Canucks hate hearing the tune:
Makes home team happy, enrages the visiting team. Check and mate. Fratellis FTW.
Next is a song called “Bro Hymn Tribute” by Pennywise. I have some personal attachment to this song because when I played minor hockey with the Westside Grizzlies, the team from Merritt would always play it when they scored. When we beat them out for the league championship, we blasted it on our own stereo and piped it through the ventilation system so they could hear it from a few dressing rooms away. We stole it for our own, and then rode it out to the Provincial Championship we won right after. Currently, the Philadelphia Flyers are using it. Great tune.
Which one of the 2 do you think we’ll be hearing more of in game 6(/7) of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals??
Finally, Kernkraft 400 ‘s “Zombie Nation” may be the staple of all hockey goal songs, across all teams and leagues.
Honorable mention to U2’s “Vertigo” currently being used by the Montreal Canadiens, and The Vengaboys’ ”We Like to Party” , which the NAIT Ooks used to play when they scored on us, and it used to drive us (and every other team) absolutely nuts, and Joe Satriani’s – “Crowd Chant”.
What did you think of my list? Agree? Disagree? Did I leave something out? How about some suggestions on good celebration songs from other sports?
Well here it is folks, the last DCC update before we declare a champion. Many have fallen, and only few remain standing. Only one can stand alone and be declared as THE SMARTEST MAN ALIVE! Our remaining contestants are Rich Abney with the Blackhawks, and Ryley Herzog with the Flyers. Ryley was a late entry, actually only committing when the Flyers were down 3-0 in the Boston series, so interesting turn of events there. Interesting side bet by Adam Whitmore, who’s banking on Patrick Kane to come up short again, and walk away with 2 second place finishes this year. Rough round for my bro Rob Cunning — had bet on the Sharks, and is also a Habs fan — and we all know how both those series turned out.
I gotta go with Chicago myself here. The media’s trying to spin Philadelphia into a team with that actually isn’t a grossly exaggerated underdog, but, come on, they are just that. In all honesty, Byfuglien for Conn Smythe doesn’t sound that crazy. Lots of good candidates for that hardware though. That mural that an overzealous Chicago artist (that consequently sucks at drawing faces; apparently local Chi-Town artists didn’t ascend from the “Dark Days” along with the team) doesn’t seem so crazy painting a pig wearing a Blackhawks jersey Jonathan Toews with the Stanley Cup in the background now, does he? Or is it more due to having signed Marion Hossa, in which case Chi-Town is screwed and Hossa will never be seen again after this season?? Hawks in 5???
We’ll see what pans out — good luck to our finalists!