Paul “BizNasty” Bissonnette and the Phoenix Coyotes don’t always make the playoffs, but history shows that when they do, they don’t exactly go deep in them — the team has never advanced beyond the first round. They again sit on the fringe of entry this year. They also again sit on the fringe of continuing to operate in Arizona.
Another oft-eliminated early team are my LA Kings, who currently sit 3rd in the Western Conference, due to some ludacrous (i’ll take it though) qualifying calculations by the NHL that puts them ahead of 3 teams with more points than them. Currently my favorite site that tracks the current state of the Kings is www.arethekingsintheplayoffs.com , operated by The Royal Half (on Twitter: @theroyalhalf); possibly the most pessimistic Kings fan of all time, so it keeps things objective and in perspective. It’s a must see for all Kings fans that aspire to see the team one day achieve what they have never been able to do, even with the greatest player of all time (that’s Gretzky, of course) — win the Cup! Threat Level has been elevated to MURRAY.
If you’re going crazy Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping, and you’ve got Christmas gifts for a hockey fan in mind, consider what I got sent my way from Bobby Atwal from The Fan Zoo. Also check out the gift ideas in the new SDC STORE.
Are you wondering/stuck on what Christmas gift to buy the hockey fan on your list this year? Bobby Atwal, president and CEO of The Fan Zoo (and self-proclaimed hockey super fan) has selected his top five holiday gifts for the ultimate hockey lover to try and help you out — some of which you won’t find at your average sporting store.
Hockey enthusiasts are some of the most devoted fans in the world. They live and breathe the sport. However, choosing the right gift for them can seem like a daunting task, since hockey fans cover a wide demographic (male/female/young/old) or they already have everything a fan could want.
Bobby’s Atwal’s Top Five Holiday Picks for the Hockey Fanatic
(Ex: Canucks Triple featuring Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows – From the 2011 Western Conference Championship team).
More on The Fan Zoo….
The Fan Zoo is a sports memorabilia company focused on connecting athletes with their communities of fans.
Connecting professional athletes with their communities of fans is what we’re all about. Founded in 2003, by sports enthusiast Bobby Atwal, the Fan Zoo provides the highest quality of authentic sports memorabilia to the fans who love to support their favourite athletes. From autographed photos, framed prints, plaques, balls, sticks, to jerseys – we acquire the merchandise you want, directly from the source. Visit http://www.thefanzoo.com
We know that fans exist only if their communities can thrive. That’s why we believe in helping the children who are most in need today so they can become the superstars of tomorrow. Every month The Fan Zoo tangibly makes a difference with a child in need within our community, by enabling them to participate in the sport or athletic pursuit of their choice. The Fan Zoo events are ‘Fan Experiences’ you won’t want to miss. From private and public signings to dining with a sports hero, we put you in touch with some of your favourite athletes. How about inspiring your corporate event with an athlete appearance or gifting your loved one with a personalized voice recording for special occasions? We make it happen!
– Mason Raymond
More on Bobby Atwal…
Bobby Atwal is 1st and foremost a sports fan. Raised in Vancouver B.C., Bobby had a huge collection of cards from his favourite Canucks players. In 1994 when his team made it to the Stanley cup playoffs, he would go to the airport to get his cards signed by his heroes like Pavel Bure. His memorabilia collection slowly grew to include prized pieces like a personalized jersey signed by the Canadian Olympic team in Salt Lake City and a bottle of wine signed by Wayne Gretzky from the !rst vintage of the Great One’s winery. His hobby eventually evolved into a business, when Bobby created what today is known as The Fan Zoo.
Turned off by the industry, which to a large degree is unregulated, Bobby wanted to create a brand built on integrity and focused on connecting athletes with their communities.
He developed trusted relationships directly with professional athletes and their agents. He guaranteed his company’s memorabilia to be authentic by only going directly to the athletes or their agents for purchase. Photos are all licensed images – meaning all people involved are paid fair royalties. Jerseys and memorabilia are purchased directly from the professional manufacturers and athlete signings are performed in controlled environments. Furthermore, his company is committed to giving back to the community. Each month The Fan Zoo sponsors a child in need to help them achieve their sports dreams.
Schwartzel Taps His Inner Seinfeld For Masters Win, Tiger Loses Again, Norm MacDonald, and Hockey Quips.
Shameless self-promotion: I had my latest newspaper article published; did you pick up a copy of The View on Friday? Click here to read it online if you don’t get the paper. Also, follow @LakeCountryBB and @BlackbeltsLCF on Twitter.
Sorry if this throws you off, but I’ve got a few golf comments to make. I watched the final round of The Masters today, something I didn’t think I was capable of doing. A big part of making it tolerable was listening to Norm MacDonald’s “Norm Cast” running commentary of the event, and even getting one of my tweets read on the air live by Norm. You should follow Norm on Twitter @normmacdonald and @normsportsshow , and check out the website.
The tweet I got read was, “If Tiger Woods wins the Masters today, expect Michael Vick level forgiveness of transgressions from the masses.” Valiantly try as he might, Tiger did not win. Charl (es?) Schwartzel did wins The Masters, and subsequently lifted the “Seinfeld Curse”(dubbed by Norm and company, as Charl has a striking resemblance to Jerry Seinfeld, facially). So I guess this means Tiger is still a dirty man-whore. How slutty do you think Tiger was over the weekend to play as well as he did? Also, do you think Tiger Woods was rattled that Lee Westwood’s wore his same red shirt, black hat/pants/shoes setup for Masters Sunday? That’s Tiger’s Sunday getup, Lee, everybody knows this.
I felt painfully bad for Rory Mcilroy, watching his Masters-sized meltdown. Guy was leading until he hit a shot onto some guy’s front lawn (who has a house on Augusta, btw?), and basically collapsed from there. Had a chance to be the youngest guy since Tiger to win the Masters, and then he BA-lew it.
I was closet-cheering for South Korea’s KJ Choi to win, and he was in the hunt. I bet KJ Choi played a lot of screen golf in Korea as a youngster. Only people who have lived in Korea will understand that comment. Basically, screen golf is virtual golf; and most Koreans play it instead of real golf because there are very few real golf courses in Korea as there’s very little previously undeveloped land to build them on, and the ones that exist are extremely expensive and exclusive. I am a little surprised Jinro Soju isn’t KJ Choi’s major sponsor (another Korean inside joke, sorry). SK Telecom must’ve won a screen golf bet for his rights.
So the last place Edmonton Oilers beat the Canucks back to back before the end of the NHL regular season? Can anyone else feel Vancouver’s first round slipping out of their hands?
Vancouver’s Raffi Torres’ hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle seemed like a classic tall guy’s elbow naturally falling at short guy’s head level. Clean hit if Raffi got lower. I honestly thought it was a good, hard, borderline clean hit. The Chara-Pacioretty thing has every call on eggshells, and discipline is expected everytime someone goes down. I think Torres said it best himself, saying he was just finishing his hit, and if he hadn’t he probably wouldn’t be seeing much more ice. I like Eberle, but if players can’t hit, the NHL turn into touch hockey before we know it.
I’m happy that my LA Kings won’t be facing Vancouver in the first round of the playoffs, especially now that they are without Anze Kopitar. I’m also happy that Vancouver will be meeting Chicago in the first round. I’m a casual fan, and I don’t invest my entire existence into my hockey team, nor their playoff hopes. If LA doesn’t win, no big deal. However, for Canucks fans, if Vancouver bows out early yet again, look out innocent civilians residing in the lower mainland of BC….
Rookie Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and seasoned veteran Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils both have 30 goals this year. The difference between them? $97.3 million in salary. That seems fair. Oh, Jacques Lemaire just retired again, and Brodeur sucks now? New Jersey is in trouble going forward. Jeff Skinner on the other hand, not so much. Calder?
Martin St. Louis sure is content using those obscenely yellow Easton sticks, isn’t he?
I have a hunch that more NHL players are going after Gordie Howe hat tricks on purpose and as a real stat these days. Not that I mind.
I enjoyed Toronto’s late playoff push. I love how mad so many people would have been if they got in. I think the Leafs have a lot to look forward to next season, as long as Brian Burke doesn’t Niemi/Halak his #1 goalie and trade James Reimer in the off-season, in favour of backing Giguere or Gustavsson (who is anything but a monster. Unless he’s one from Monsters, Inc).
And finally, Cory Clouston gets tossed out of Ottawa. After getting the worst out of every good player Ottawa had under his regime, feuding with Dany Heatley to the point of a no-trade clause waiving trade, and finishing nearly last in the league over and over, how did it take this long for this to happen?
Hockey Talkie: Brodeur, Byfuglien for Norris, HBO 24/7, Sutters, Spengler, Waffles, & The DiPietro Deficiency.
Could the New Jersey Devils’ situation be any worse? Dead last in the entire league (as of Dec 28/10), their bazillion-dollar signee, Ilya Kovalchuk sucks, and their former best-goalie-in-the-world is anything but, often injured lately, and having a tough time doing the most important thing about the goaltending position job description – stopping pucks. You gotta think Martin Brodeur is, at least, contemplating retirement at this point. No disrespect to him, but I mean he’s won everything for a goalie to win (3 Stanley Cups, Olympic Gold twice, 4 Vezina’s, multiple All-Star selections; holds 20 NHL records, including most wins, shutouts, most games and minutes played, even scored a game-winning goal). But really, at this point, what is the purpose in him hanging around, especially when he’s now playing for the worst team in the league? After all his accomplishments, it’d be a shame to see him fizzle out and get Chelios’ed in his remaining time.
Speaking of bad teams, how many more stints on the IR for Rick DiPietro until the New York Islanders decide buying out the remaining 11 years on his contract is actually the better option? Tough for the Isles to get the most bang for their $67 million bucks out of a constantly injured goalie who hasn’t played an entire season since around the time he signed that contract.
Dustin Byfuglien’s the early favourite for the Norris Trophy, no? He’s 13th in league scoring as I write this, and there is not another defenceman on the list until Nicklas Lidstrom at 26th. He’s even got more points than Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Dany Heatley, Evgeni Malkin, Teemu Selanne, Joe Thornton, Martin Havlat, Rick Nash, and Patrick Kane, to name a few. To be fair, he is currently 65th in +/- rankings, which may or may not be a more important measure of a defenceman’s worth, depending on who you are. He’s still got my vote, for now.
Like many of you hockey folks, I’m loving the HBO 24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road To The Winter Classic miniseries. I know lots of people are talking about it, so I’ll try to raise a few points that aren’t being beat to death, too badly.
One – Bruce Boudreau has been getting a lot of heat for his constant cussing in the dressing room and on the bench. My response to this is that the only people balking at this have to be people who are either over-sensitive, or just have never been in a hockey dressing room before; because, and I hate to break it to the weak at heart, but that’s exactly the way hockey dressing rooms and coaches are during the game. They get frustrated when things don’t go right, and when you’re as emotionally invested in the game and the success of the team as a coach has to be, f-bombs begin to flourish, especially in a slumping team situation. Personally, I love the fact that he’s not pulling any punches or walking on egg-shells just because there’s cameras around him all the time.
Two – I love seeing that NHL players are pretty much like every other hockey player that plays on every other team in the world and every other level (minus the skill level and multi-million dollar contracts, of course). It should be pretty obvious, since they all came up through all the same developmental leagues that all other players do to get where they are, but there’s something humanizing about seeing a teammates pulling hotel pranks on each other during road-trips, coaches telling players to “pack up your stuff so we can get the f— outta here” after a road loss, generally being jokers off the ice, and then really dialling in their serious side when it’s time to perform on the ice.
Three – as cool as this build-up to the Winter Classic has been, and as amazing as that game will be, this kind of TV series is tailor-made to a Stanley Cup Finals showdown, is it not? I know the big sell is the Crosby-Ovechkin matchup for American viewers by the networks, but isn’t the confrontation for the Cup, aka the biggest prize in the sport, even easier for fans to invest their advertisement-susceptible eyes to, compared to a gimmicky mid-season outdoor game?
And further, isn’t it a testimony to how unnecessary it is to advertise hockey in Canada that, compared to the Winter Classic media blitzkrieg, there has barely been a mention of the upcoming Heritage Classic outdoor game between Calgary and Montreal? You mean to tell me the mention of Jarome Iginla vs Josh Gorges isn’t enough to put butts in seats, and eyes on TV’s?
Even though I’m an avid Calgary Flames hater, it’s unfortunate to see Darryl Sutter “resign” as team GM, after team CEO Ken King asked him too. Seems like an either-quit-or-you’re-fired face-saving situation for Sutter; which, if you’re going to publicly announce that you ask a guy to quit, you might as well just fire him. I don’t support Flames success, but I have to admit, Sutter has been the only guy to get any out of that organization in recent history, including brother/head coach Brent, who barely batted an eyelash at the situation, citing his family’s unparalleled ability to separate family from business. Man, that’s got to be an awkward family to be around at Christmas.
I love the Spengler Cup. I wish it could be rescheduled so it actually got some coverage, instead of being overshadowed by the WJC. With personnel like Mark Messier coaching, Hockey Canada obviously supports the team; why aren’t they allowed to sport the official Hockey Canada jerseys like every other legit Canadian team representing Canada in international play? Surely HC just doesn’t want to desecrate the uniform with all those euro ads, right?
And finally, I’m loving the waffles being thrown on the ice at Toronto Maple Leafs games. It’s just such an amusing item to throw. It causes a delay of the game, bla bla… some one could get hurt, yadda yadda… let’s be honest, if the Leafs keep sucking, and Kessel keeps not scoring, they’ll be thanking their lucky lifetime season-ticket holders that something as soft (and delicious) as waffles is all that’s being thrown on the ice.
Happy belated 31st Birthday to my friend, Jeff Bourne! I had all these pictures on my phone with really no where to put them, so I figured a birthday montage would be a perfect place to spill them. If you’ve kept up on Jeff at all through me, his bro, or his own website, you know he had a bit of a rough go last year, but he’s rebounded, and with good health, a new job, girlfriend, and a return to sledge hockey, things are getting back on track for him. Alright, enough of that enjoy the mural of Jeff!
Though a lot of us probably don’t support the actual combat that takes place in the wars that have seen our family members, friends, and fellow countrymen & women fight in, I think we can all agree that we have nothing but the utmost respect for those who fought and either survived or didn’t, so that we could maintain our freedom. Whether you agree or disagree with the rationale of which the governments have deployed their soldiers for, it is those soldiers who deserve all the praise they get for putting their lives on the line for us.
I went to a local Remembrance Day ceremony in Kelowna City Park this year. I can’t remember who the quote was from, but one of the speakers read a quote saying, “War is one of man’s least creative ways devised of resolving conflict”. And that’s completely true. Unfortunately, whether it’s a dispute on government, religion, land claim, or whatever else, ultimately if it can’t be resolved diplomatically, we humans just decide to shoot or blow the other guys up to either get our way, or simply defend ourselves from having the same thing happen to us.
And even that brings a whole other element into play: who’s right? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? The ceremony featured a lot of prayers, which obviously ties in a religious angle to war. Whether we thank God for helping our soldiers survive, for giving them courage, ask His blessing as they ship out and enter the battlefield, ask Him to thwart our enemies, ask Him for peace, or whatever else we choose to pray for in terms of war, you do have to consider that the “bad guys” are probably doing the exact same thing, and feel very justified in their stance on the situation; hence the decision to fight for their side as well. Democracy seems correct (to us in our culture at least), but to some it is a very foreign, perhaps evil, concept, worth fighting against as to not have it imposed upon them.
Along the way I have been privileged to meet some veterans and hear their stories. One of the most interesting stories I’ve heard was the one from a neighbour I had some years ago who was actually a soldier in the German army. You know, the “bad guys”. He’s now got a nice little condo, been married for 60 years, a family, and participates actively in Strata rule enforcement. He’s a regular guy, and a nice one at that. But once upon a time, anybody on this side of the planet would have recognized him as evil. And of course, this isn’t to condone any of the actions that Hitler and the German army instigated, but this was a guy that was considered every bit as honourable to his fellow countrymen as our soldiers are to us. To hear him describe returning home to the pile of rubble that used to be his dwelling, and hear that side of the story made him a lot more mortal and a lot less villainous. But I think that’s the beauty of today, the day of digital media and endless information sharing; it used to be that only the civilizations that won wars dictated how history was written. Now we really have the opportunity to hear ALL sides, and decide for ourselves what’s justified, what’s worth fighting for, and what maybe needs a little further examination before risking human life. I also have a friend who I played college hockey with that recently served with the US Army in Iraq. While many oppose(d) the Iraq war, when you know someone in it, it makes you want that mission to be completed, if only for your friend to come home safe.
Prime Minister Harper announced today that Canadian soldiers would be staying in Afghanistan until 2014, but that after 2011 their mission would be exclusively non-combat, and only to train domestic forces. As much as I (and most of us) would like all our troops home immediately and out of danger, at least there is a commitment to ending the combat. A quote from the PM said,
“We do want to make sure that as we leave, what we leave behind is a situation where the sacrifices Canadians have made — and they have made a lot of sacrifices there — that those sacrifices are appropriately honoured and we leave something of lasting benefit,”
And I think in the end, that’s what it has to be all about: recognizing the efforts of those who have fought, and making sure those sacrifices were not in vain. I may not “Remember” it all year ‘round, but I am truly thankful to have had my freedom defended and fought for by so many brave people that never met me; it’s a very humbling notion to see old people marching in Remembrance Day parades, know what they did, and know that a sliver of it was in fact for me (divided equally amongst all of us of course), despite that when they were on the battlefield they’d never even heard of me, and that I’ll probably never even speak to them personally.
And because of this, for at least one day in a year, I actually, really, think about the idea of freedom. The notion that we can truly choose to do pretty well whatever we want to do, pursue, or stand for in our lives. Of course, you naturally want to point to all the good and noble things you have or you’re going to do with your life; but really, people have every bit as much of a right to become a complete jackass, and do some appalling, atrocious, or possibly just non-eventful and anti-climatic things with their remaining existence. I think that’s the dangerous part of freedom, and of fighting for and earning it, so it can be given to others. While many will indeed do remarkable and noteworthy things with their freedom that was paid for by human sacrifice, many will either do a lot of not-so-great things, and many may just do nothing at all (which may be worse in the end). I think the latter two concepts seem to cheapen that ultimate sacrifice that was made, which is sad, but at the same time, and unavoidable bi-product of an open-ended gift. While I admittedly probably don’t make the best of my freedom, I hope there’s been at least a glimmer here and/or there that wouldn’t make a veteran upset if I told him or her what I had been doing with myself.
Anyone who tunes into Coach’s Corner during Hockey Night in Canada on CBC knows that Don Cherry is a huge supporter of our country’s veterans, and he actually had a decent quote after showing a video montage and appearing from a military cemetary for British and Canadian soldiers with their crosses lined row on row. He said while pointing to the memorials, “These people gave their lives, the least you can do is buy a poppy.”