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[Archive] 2014 interview with Matt Irwin

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

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My interview with San Jose Sharks’ defenceman Matt Irwin posted on The Score’s Backhand Shelf blog on March 26, 2014. The NHL sophomore went on to play his first season entirely in the NHL, with no AHL appearances. He boosted his game appearances from 38 to 62, added 11 assists to his 2012-13 total for a career high 17, finished with a career high 19 points and +5 rating. He also made his first ever NHL Stanley Cup playoff appearance and scored his first ever NHL Stanley Cup playoff goal in the first round against the LA Kings. 

The audio of this interview can be heard on XP PSP: the eXPat Pro Sports Podcast, or on iTunes

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Interview: Getting to know San Jose Sharks’ defenseman Matt Irwin

Matt Irwin2

He may not be a household name just yet, but San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin may work his way into your mental NHL player directory yet. Now in his second NHL season, the 26 year old British Columbian is continuing a trend from his amateur career that has seen his point totals, ice-time, and contributions to his team’s success dynamically increase every year.

Irwin spoke with me at length about his long road to the NHL and what he’ll have to do to stay there, the tough decisions he was required to make and small window of opportunity he had to live out his dream, past teammates that helped get him where he is now, current ones that help make him better, what the San Jose Sharks will have to do to win their first Stanley Cup, what it takes to be consistently inserted into a lineup full of Olympians, All-Stars, and Stanley Cup champions, and more.

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Let’s start at the beginning. In 04-05, you got to play three games of Junior A hockey just up the road from your hometown of Brentwood Bay, BC, with the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL. You didn’t record any points, but did skate alongside future NHLer Jason Garisson. In 05-06, you played alongside future NHLer Colin Greening in Nanaimo for 56 games and had 9 points. In 06-07 you exploded for 49 points, was the team’s top scoring d-man, the Clippers won the BCHL, and you were named the BCHL’s best defenceman. 07-08 was more of the same, as you’re again the team’s top scoring d man, and win league’s best defenceman. So explain your rather dynamic development in junior hockey — what did you take away from the guys you played with that went on to play at higher levels of the game, and how did it help influence your junior career to produce what it did? 

Irwin: “Those three games were as an affiliate player. I played Junior B with Saanich in Victoria, and got an opportunity to play in three games [with Nanaimo] and see what it was all about. It was a big step for me. From there, I got the opportunity to sign and play [the following season] with them for the whole year where I got to play on a consistent basis. Not a lot of power play time, more five-on-five minutes. The following year when everything picked up, Bill [Bestwick] gave me a great opportunity to play on the power play. The first five games of that year I had five or six goals. It was all happening really fast, I wasn’t expecting it. I was working on my shot, Bill had me working on it all the time. That’s where the offensive side of it started to come together.”

After you completed your junior career, you moved on to play NCAA hockey with UMass Amherst from 2008 to 2010. Instead of playing four seasons you only played two, joining the AHL’s Worchester Sharks at the end of the 09-10 season, and did not return to the NCAA. Why did you choose not to stay for all four years after taking the BCHL scholarship route rather than major junior? Talk about making the choice to abandon a fully funded education.

irwin hit2Irwin: “It’s interesting how it worked out. When you mention the WHL, I never had any interest in it at all until my 19 year old year of junior. At that point, it made no sense to leave Junior A and forgo a scholarship that I was about to get at that time to play only another year and a half of hockey, when I could play five and a half more years with the four year scholarship instead.

“I had full intentions going in when I stepped on campus at UMass of playing my four years and getting an education. After my first year, San Jose and some other teams were interested in bringing me out to their development camps. I ended up going to San Jose’s, and they showed a lot of interest afterwards, regardless of whether or not I wanted to stay at school or leave then. I chose to go back for another year at UMass, and then after my second year, they offered a contract. It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in terms of hockey. You’re leaving an education on the table that’s paid for, to pursue a dream that you’ve had since you were a kid with no guarantee that you’ll make it to the NHL, or even be able to stick in the AHL. It was a risk. I got a lot of support from my family. What they told me, and what made me make my mind up, was that school would always be there, but my window of opportunity to chase my dream to play in the NHL or play professional hockey at my age – I was 22 when I left school, so I was older — to establish myself at that level in the AHL and get a crack at the NHL wasn’t a large one. I figured that school would always be there. Jumping at the opportunity was something I had always wanted to do, and dreamt about as a kid. Afterwards, I could go back to school and go from there. I’ve been going back to school, and I’ll be getting a degree pretty soon, so everything’s falling into place.”

What are you going to graduate with? What’d you see yourself doing with that education if pro hockey hadn’t worked out? How are you taking classes while playing in the NHL?  

Irwin: “I hadn’t declared before, but it’ll be a Bachelor’s in Management Degree. I hadn’t looked too far into what I could do. It was more or less that I just wanted to get myself a degree. Something in the business world. I was deciding on what degree would interest me the most and which I’d be able to do the majority of online, so that’s where it went. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do if hockey doesn’t pan out. We’ll let those chips fall where they may and cross that bridge when we come to it.”

While with playing in the AHL with Worchester, you skated alongside Logan Couture and Tommy Wingels who were on their way up to the NHL, and Jonathan Cheechoo who was rounding out his North American playing career. Was it reminiscent of your experience in Nanaimo, playing with future NHL guys? What did you learn from them at that level, now only one step away from the top? 

Irwin: “It was huge going there. It was definitely an eye opener going to pro. It’s a totally different lifestyle. When you’re in school, you’re either in the books or involved in your social life and hockey, whereas when you move on to pro it’s pretty much hockey in the morning and then you’ve got the rest of the day to do what you want.

“You learn a lot from those guys that I’ve been around. Cheech was a great mentor for me to have my first year — a guy that had established himself as a goal scorer in the NHL, and won the Rocket Richard trophy for most goals in the league while he was in San Jose. Just to see how those guys prepare for practices and games, seeing them get called up, sent down, and how they react to being sent down. It doesn’t change their game. They get a little pace, they get hungry, and keep pushing forward because the ultimate goal is to stick in the NHL. You learn from different experiences, and I think that helped my game a lot.”

You played two more seasons with Worchester afterwards — At 25 years old, did you still think you had a good shot at the NHL, or were you starting to think about other options? Some guys at that age who are playing in the minors start thinking about other career paths, and ultimately some decide to move on, thinking their window is closed. 

Irwin: “Well I kept up the school thing, but I was still chasing that dream of playing in the NHL. Like I said, when I left school, my window of opportunity was very small because of my age, and it’s not too often you see guys that are 25 and older that are getting a fair crack in the NHL. There are a handful of guys, but your chances get smaller and smaller because there’s so much young talent coming up. I knew where I stood in the organization. They always believed in me, and told me that I was on the right track — right where they wanted me to be as far as development. I thank them and give them a lot of credit for staying with me, believing in me, and giving me that opportunity. The first year that I got called up I never played, my second year I got called up, didn’t play, but got to practice with the team for a week. That was a cool experience. Then when the lockout ended last year I got invited to training camp, and was able to play with the team for the majority of that season. I never gave up on the dream of playing in the NHL. When I was 25 it was only my third year of pro, so I knew if I kept going in the direction I was going, playing well and being dependable in Worchester, they were going to give me a chance up here in San Jose.”

Last season you got called up to San Jose for 38 games. Talk about getting to play your first NHL games after chasing your dream for so long, and what the season was like trying to prove you belonged up there. 

irwin hitIrwin: “It’s pretty cool once you step on the ice, you hear the anthem for your first NHL game, your family’s in the building… it was a cool experience, something I’ll never forget. But then you realize you want to stay there, and prove to yourself, the coaches, and your teammates that you do belong in this league. It’s very cliché to say, but you just come to the rink everyday, work hard, prepare like you’re playing the game, practice to get better, improve and challenge yourself, and translate that over to the game and play consistently. Do what makes you successful, don’t try to do too much. All those things were running through my head. I didn’t want to over think and do anything I wouldn’t normally do. I just wanted to stay consistent and do the things that had gotten me to where I was at that point. I knew what those things were, tried to stick with them, and help the team win.”

How noticeable was the jump in level of play? You took a very incremental route of levels to get to the NHL, and must have seen tangible spikes in talent and speed at every league you ascended to. Did it take some getting used to?  

Irwin: “I was comfortable. From the BCHL to college, it’s a different game. Every level you go up, it’s faster. You’re playing with better players. Every level above is going to be a little bit better, little faster, more structured. From the AHL to NHL, there are similarities. The North American style pro game is the same, but the skill level of players is a bit better. The AHL is a great league. It allows you to develop your skill set to translate it into the NHL. The league does such a great job of developing players, and teams do a great job of getting players and not bringing them up too soon, making sure that they’re ready. Once you’re in the NHL, it’s not so much about developing as it is about being able to step in the lineup, play, and contribute, while getting better at the same time. There’s not a lot of time to wait on development because they’ll just find someone else. It’s a business at the highest level. Once you’re there, you’ve got to do what makes you successful and keep getting better. As you go up, the leagues are obviously a little bit better than the one before, but those leagues before were very helpful and were great stepping stones to getting me where I am now.”

So far this season, you’ve played entirely with San Jose. You’ve appeared in ten more games than you played last year and have six more points, but have also missed 17 games as a healthy scratch.  Still, you’re playing between 15-22 minutes a night, and are getting up to 28 shifts a night. Do you get a sense that you’ve hollowed out some permanent real estate in the San Jose dressing room? What do you attribute your boost in production and ice-time to? 

Irwin: “Coming into this year, I wanted to establish myself as a legitimate top six defenseman in this league. This year there have been ups and downs. We’ve got a great group of d-men between the seven of us. Any of us could play on any given night. We’ve got some young d-men, and some veterans in Dan Boyle, Scott Hannan, and Brad Stuart. Obviously Marc-Edouard Vlasic too, who made the Olympic team and won a gold medal – he’s my age, but he’s played almost 600 games in the NHL. He’s another veteran presence for guys like myself, Justin Braun and Jason Demers, who are the younger guys that don’t have as many games of experience as they do. We have a really solid group of d-men that any one of which can play on any given night. When you do play, you want to take advantage of that opportunity, and help the team win. I’ve sat out my share of games this year, but it’s part of the learning process. You get to see the game from a different angle, and you realize that you actually have more time with the puck than you think you might. It’s good to step back from the game a little bit. Obviously you want to play, but when you do sit out for a couple of games, you’ve got to take it as a way to learn and improve yourself, instead of dwelling on the fact that you’re not playing and being a bad teammate. You’ve got to stay positive until you get that next opportunity to step back in and play.”

You’ve got a pretty elite group this year – 4 Olympians in total between gold medalists Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, bronze medalist Antti Niemi (also 2nd in NHL wins), and Joe Pavelski, in addition to some of the NHL’s elite in Joe Thornton (2nd in NHL assists), Logan Couture, Dan Boyle, and others. The team is currently 4th overall. Is this the roster of San Jose Sharks that finally get past the seemingly cursed third round? What will it take to do so? How is it playing with guys who have accumulated the accolades they have?  

Irwin: “Those are so pretty impressive names to have all in one locker room. When you first get to the team you get caught watching, seeing how they go about their business. It’s pretty impressive what they do, because they’ve been doing it consistently for so long. That’s one thing I’ve tried to learn from those guys — consistency. That’s one of the greatest attributes someone can have playing in the NHL — bring it every night, be consistent, and help your team win. We’ve got guys who have been around for a long time and have won Olympic medals, Stanley Cups, NHL awards, and have been NHL All-Stars. There’s a lot of that in the room, and they’re great for young guys like myself and the others to look up to, and learn from.

“As far as whether this is ‘the year’ for us to win it all, of course we think every year is the year for us, but the league is just so tight, and it’s tough. It’s not easy to win the Cup. If it was, we’d have a handful of them already. The guys in the locker room are determined, we have a great group of core veterans and young guys, and we feel strongly about this year. Our goal is to get home ice advantage throughout the playoffs in the Western Conference, and if we’re fortunate enough to make the Stanley Cup Final, get it there too. We’re chasing Anaheim for it right now. We’re comfortable at home. We play well there. You’d always prefer that seventh game to be on your home soil if it comes down to that. Last year we lost in game seven in LA. We felt like we played well enough to win, but we ran into a really good goalie. This year’s going to be a lot of the same. With the way the new playoff format is, we’re going to have to play out of our division first, so we’re looking at playing Anaheim, LA, or one of those teams in the first round. That’s a tough first round matchup, but you’ve got to get past those teams at some point to get where you want to go. I think our team is built to make a deep playoff run. We’re a big solid team that skates well and can score. I like our team, and time will tell when we get to the playoffs.”

How’s hockey in California these days? With Anaheim and LA now both having won Stanley Cups, and San Jose being in the hunt every year as well, there’s been a real evolution of interest in the game there, and competitiveness of the teams located in the state – especially when compared to how teams in that area traditionally fared in the 90’s and earlier.  

irwin body positionIrwin: “It’s great. Growing up as a kid, it wasn’t a hockey hotbed here. I didn’t know much about them. You watch the Mighty Ducks movies, and that’s pretty much all you know about hockey in California. But nowadays, it’s three teams at the top of the league almost every year. LA and Anaheim won Cups, and we’re looking for our first. It’s good for the state of California. More and more kids are getting involved in hockey. The youth programs around here are picking up steam. We’ve got a junior Sharks program that we just had our first graduate player of just suit up for us last year in Matt Tennyson. The grassroots of hockey in California are picking up, and the sport’s becoming more and more popular. I would like to think that’s in large part because of the success of the NHL teams in the area. Kids look up to us and they think hockey’s a pretty cool sport to get involved in. You see more and more players from California in the NCAA, major junior, and the pros. The number of guys from California that are making it to the NHL is going up. It’s good to see.”

Back to your Olympic teammates – did you notice any extra fatigue in them after the tournament, especially considering the travel? Did they come back totally gassed, or energized from the experience and ready to go? 

Irwin: “When those guys came back – we had Patty [Marleau], Eddie [Vlasic], Pavs [Pavelski] and Nemo [Niemi] who were all at the Olympics and all played deep in the tournament —   they were confident. They all had good tournaments. I think the hardest thing on them was the travel and the time change. Tthat’s probably where the fatigue came in, but you wouldn’t know it when we played the games. They stepped right back into the lineup, played their 20 minutes a night, and contributed to helping the team win. I think Pavs had a hat trick in his first game back. I don’t think fatigue was much of an issue. They got a lot of confidence from playing in the Olympics, and for us, that’s great. They represented their countries and our organization really well. We’re happy to have them back. They’re four of the best players on our team. They came back and didn’t miss a beat.”

Has there been any light back and forth between any of those guys regarding the different places the countries they represented finished at the Olympics? Is it a sensitive issue, or just water under the bridge?  

Irwin: “There hasn’t been too much chatter, really. There might be the odd poke here and there, but other than that, there’s not much that has been said. Coming back, the Olympics are behind them now, and the focus is on the stretch run for us. We’ve got 13 games left, and our goal is that home ice. I think they embraced the opportunity they were given at the Olympics, and here and there there might be a quick jab, but other than that, everyone’s focused on the Sharks and making a deep run.”

How did you spend the two weeks off you got during the Olympic break? It seemed like lots of guys did different things; some just trained harder, while others took time off to spend with their families and other things.

Irwin: “I went home to Victoria and spent time with friends and family. I helped out with my old Junior B team the Saanich Braves, and the hockey academy that runs out of my old high school. Other than that, I just relaxed, got engaged, and that was pretty much it.”

Regarding another current teammate of yours, what’s Raffi Torres like in the dressing room now that he’s returned, considering the drama he’s been through? Is it distracting at all to you or the other guys?

Irwin: “We’re all happy to have Raffi back. It’s been a long recovery for him. Any time you get a player back after they’ve worked so hard to get back into the lineup, the boys are excited. He’s a really good teammate. He was great while he was injured, which is tough because you might not feel part of the team when you’re out, especially for that long, and don’t travel or participate in practices. He was always around the room, chilling with the boys. When we got him back we were thrilled. He brings a presence to the lineup, adds depth and scoring, and he’s relentless on the fore check. He’s one of the better guys in the locker room. He’s funny. It was almost like he didn’t miss a beat – he had a couple of goals his first game, a couple more the next night, and he was playing physical, the way he has to to be successful. He helps our team out so much when he plays like that. It backs up our d-men, and backs other players off of them when they know Raffi’s on the ice. He’s the kind of player you need this time of year, and especially in the playoffs. We love having him in the lineup, and he adds a lot more depth to our group.”

In such a tight and dominant Western Conference, what’s it going to take to be the team that tops this year’s powerhouses like Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim? Who’s been the toughest for you guys to play this year, and who will it be toughest for you guys to beat in a deep playoff series? 

Irwin: “We always have tough games against LA. It won’t be a walk in the park for any team that makes the playoffs. There may be upsets based on your seeds and where you’re ranked going into them, but the parity in the league is so tight. There are teams on the wildcard bubble like Dallas who would be tough to play in the first round of the playoffs. Whoever you draw in the first round isn’t going to be easy, and as you go on it won’t get any easier. LA, Chicago, Anaheim all have great teams, big bodies, great players, depth throughout the lineup, rolling four lines – I think that’s what makes those teams so good, having four lines and six d-men that can play, and it’s not just a burden placed on two lines and four d-men to play heavy minutes. In a playoff series, that’ll take its toll eventually. To be able to spread the minutes out among the lineup is important. All those teams have that ability with the depth they have at all positions.”

As a defenseman, who’s one guy you don’t want to see bearing down on you on a 1-on-1 or an odd-man break? 

Irwin: “There are a lot of guys in this league that have the ability to make you look really funny if they get that chance. Datsyuk, Jagr – he’s just so good and so strong even at his age and with how long he’s been playing. He’s just a dominant force. He doesn’t look like he’s that fast, but he can move. His first couple of strides are so quick, and he’s a big body. He’s hard to get the puck from and he’s got great vision. Those types of players are the ones that on any given play can make you look silly.”

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XP PSP s01e14: San Jose Sharks’ Matt Irwin interview

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

He may not be a household name just yet, but San Jose Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin may work his way into your mental NHL player directory yet. Now in his second NHL season, the 26 year old British Columbian is continuing a trend from his amateur career that has seen his point totals, ice-time, and contributions to his team’s success dynamically increase every year.

Irwin spoke with me at length about his long road to the NHL and what he’ll have to do to stay there, the tough decisions he was required to make and small window of opportunity he had to live out his dream, past teammates that helped get him where he is now, current ones that help make him better, what the San Jose Sharks will have to do to win their first Stanley Cup, what it takes to be consistently inserted into a lineup full of Olympians, All-Stars, and Stanley Cup champions, and more.

Click here to listen to the XP PSP audio podcast at Podbean

Download XP PSP on iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/xppsp/id643817929

Click here to read the written version of this interview on The Score’s Backhand Shelf.

[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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Double Championship Challenge Update: Off to Round 3!, Amongst Other Hockey Thoughts.

May 15, 2010 2 comments

Alright, an update on the Double Championship Challenge:

With Pittsburgh’s shocking (?) elimination also sees the departure of contestants Grant McMillan and Adam Whitmore. 

Bergeron and the Bruins are done, but no one put any stock in them.  Mark Recchi’s easily the NHL’s best “Old-Guard” player left.  Scored a lot of goals this year, and did well for himself.  I hope he sticks around for a few seasons yet.  That is, unless he can’t take a hint like Chris Chelios went he got sent down to the AHL and kept hanging around.  I think Mark’s value will be decent for a few seasons yet. 

And easily my favorite elimination, the Canucks exit sees Casey Fodor and Jeff Bourne bow out. (my favorite because I hate the Canucks, not because of who picked them).  I’ll admit, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Luongo after the Gold Medal, but not soft enough to cheer for him while there’s a whale on his chest.  I’ve never seen so many people want a captain stripped of his captaincy so badly; sad really.  I’m sure he’s doing a better job in that role than he’s being given credit for.  I know I hate on the Canucks and their fans a lot, but I will miss the way the inhabitants of GM Place sing the Canadian national anthem together.  If there’s one thing they’re doing right, it’s that.  Anytime the singer can stick the mic in the air mid-song and have the crowd take it from there, you know you’ve got a good audience.  Oilers fans at Rexall do it well too. 

So, with those developments, we’re down to 3 contestants and teams.  Here’s what we have left:

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith – represented by Rich Abney.

 

Mike Richards and Chris Pronger – represented by Ryley Herzog.

 

 

Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Patrick Marleaurepresented by Rob Cunning.

Did that big duface Chris Pronger and the Flyers make themselves contenders after pulling off the greatest playoff upset in history (only 3 teams in history have ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series; the Flyers were the only of those teams to comeback from a deficit in the last game to win as well), or did they just burn themselves out to get lit up by Montreal next round?  In that same notion, are the Canadiens a legit Cup contender now, after knocking off arguably the 2 best teams in the playoffs?  As long as Montreal doesn’t keep spoiling everyone’s fun, one of our contestants will be our champion in 2 rounds of play. 

Also, I think I’m going to allow someone to select Corey Perry, who has a chance to win 2 championships for Canada in the same year; that is, if Canada’s B Team can go all the way at the World Championships.  As I’ve said before, that World Championship title doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot when the best players in the world are not competing for it.  It’s far from a Stanley Cup,  but it’d still be pretty cool.  Any takers????

Can Jonathan Toews change his last name’s spelling to Tayves already, or some other phonetic spelling that makes sense?  There really wouldn’t be any worry about disgracing the family name I’d think, Johnny’s easily the top Toews around.  Just a thought.

Double Championship Challenge Update, and Food for Thought… Where To Find The Best Cooking and Wings in the World!

May 7, 2010 6 comments

 First, an update on our remaining candidates in The SDC Blogs’ Double Championship Challenge, and their respective representatives:

 Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith – represented by Rich Abney.

  

 

 

Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fluery – represented by Grant McMillan and Adam Whitmore. 

  

 

Patrice Bergeron – unclaimed.

  

Mike Richards and Chris Pronger – represented by Ryley Herzog.

  

Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, and Patrick Marleau – represented by Rob Cunning.

  

 

Mike Babcock – unclaimed.

  

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Roberto Luongo – represented by Casey Fodor and Jeff Bourne. 

Good Luck to all participants!  I’ve got a feeling we’re going to see a Chicago-Pittsburgh final… we”ll see what pans out!_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Now for something completely different, some good old-fashioned blogging non-sense….

Recently, I got my annual box of Girl Guide cookies.  Every year I have the same thought: why can’t they sell boxes of just the vanilla cookies?  They’re just so much better than the chocolate row.  I can never find anyone in time that’s willing to trade all my chocolate cookies for all their vanilla cookies.  I ate them all.  Don’t act like you’ve never eaten an entire box yourself. 

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I just don’t understand why Saskatchewan is the only place on the planet that knows to mix hot sauce and ranch together to make buffalo wings.  It’s an incredible combination; dare I say the best one out there for chicken wing sauces.  I always have to order a side of ranch dressing with my wings at restaurants, because no one here knows what I’m talking about.  Shoutout to the Moose Jaw Brewsters/Cornerstone Pub for making the best wings I’ve ever had, anywhere.

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Avocadoes are runaway the best vegetable on the planet. Probably ever. Put them on anything and tell me the food’s not instantly better.  Good for you too.  And with great avocadoes, of course come great guacamole, which is currently dominating even Old El Paso salsa (best salsa EVER) in my chip-dipping world.  So hot right now, Avocadoes.   

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Never, EVER,  turn down Mexican food made by an actual Mexicans.  I don’t mean the North American infused Tex-Mex stuff you get at Taco Bell or Taco Time, I mean a homemade meal cooked the way that was passed down through Mexican families.  I’ve been incredibly fortunate to experience it twice, and man, it’s on another level.  Fresh cooked corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, refried beans, and whatever meat happens to be on the menu… freaking incredible.  So good…

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There should be a rule against selling/growing mandarin oranges with seeds in them.  Ever buy a box of oranges that was full of seeds that just absolutely wrecked your day, all because after you bit into the orange slice and crunched down on an unexpected and unwelcomed seed?  I’ll tell you what it is, the problem arises when you buy “Chinese” oranges instead of “Japanese” oranges (the traditional Christmas oranges).  No I don’t dislike Chinese people for all those jumping to conclusions, I just need the right oranges sent over for me to demolish with pleasure.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Nothing Says “Best in the World” Like a Stanley Cup AND a Gold Medal In The Same Season.

April 21, 2010 18 comments

As all of Canada is aware (and most of the US is pretending not to know anything about it or what we’re talking about) CANADA WON THE OLYMPICS AND WE’RE THE BEST IN WORLD AT MORE STUFF THAN EVERYONE ELSE ESPECIALLY HOCKEY STILL. 

With that in mind, I was thinking the other day, that there’s a handful of Canadian hockey players that played for Team Canada this past Olympics and won gold there, that have teams that qualified for the NHL playoffs, and have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup this year.  So for the following list of players (and coaches), there’s a HUGE opportunity to pretty much have the awesomest year of hockey possible, if they were to win both championships in the same season:

 

Vancouver Canucks    –    Roberto Luongo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Penguins   –    Sidney Crosby, Marc-André Fleury (does it count if you didn’t play any games?)

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey Devils         –    Martin Brodeur, Jacques Lemaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago Blackhawks  –   Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews 

 

 

 

 

 

Nashville Predators  –   Shea Weber

 

 

 

 

 

Los Angeles Kings    –   Drew Doughty

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia Flyers   –    Chris Pronger, Michael Richards

 

 

 

 

 

San Jose Sharks          –    Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton (does it count if you didn’t contribute?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Bruins           – Patrice Bergeron

 

 

 

 

 

Detroit Red Wings     – Mike Babcock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Sabres            – Lindy Ruff

Members of the Sharks and Blackhawks have the most personnel with the opportunity.  But don’t count out Sid and Fleury’s Pens (mostly Sid’s), Brodeur’s been playing out of his mind for Jersey so far, Doughty may be a darkhorse, wily ol’ Mike Babcock and the Wings always have a chance.  You can count out Luongo. 

So, here’s what I am proposing.  I will allow people to post their bets for Stanley Cup Champs/Olympic Gold aka “Double Hockey Awesomeness & Supremacy” (name subject to change), via the comment board.  Once the last team is eliminated in the first round (to the nearest millisecond) I will tally the final ballots, and close the wagering.  Until the cutoff time, feel free to change your votes, but be warned, I will only take your last choice at the elimination of the final first round team.  The person(s) who correctly choose the correct players/team that win it all this year will receive….something, from me.  I’m thinking an SDC Blogs t-shirt that says “I’M THE SMARTEST MAN/WOMAN ALIVE”, or something like that.  I’ll let you know when I get it nailed down.  Whatever, everyone likes t-shirts, right?

*** SDC TRIVIA: Who was/were the last player/players to win the Stanley Cup /Olympic Gold aka “Double Hockey Awesomeness & Supremacy” in the same season?***

                                                                                                                      (no prize awarded for this one)

So with that, happy betting! Enjoy the playoffs, and may the best/luckiest person win!

GO KINGS GO!

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