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XP PSP s01e13: NHL Trade Deadline Roundup

March 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Larry Fisher

Larry Fisher from the Kelowna Daily Courier called in for episode 13 to debrief all the action from the 2014 NHL trade deadline. We talked Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan, Roberto Luongo to Florida, Gaborik to LA, Ryan Miller to Buffalo, Jaroslav Halak all over the place, Vanek’s path to Montreal, Edmonton’s moves of Hemsky and Bryzgalov, the non-moves of Brodeur and Kesler, and we both pick our winners of the day.

Follow Larry FisherXP PSP, and host Dave Cunning on Twitter.

Visit www.larry-fisher.com 

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

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My Interview with Mark Recchi

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Hi folks!

Last week (Monday, Jan 30/2012) at the CHL Prospects Game, I had the chance to chat with NHL legend Mark Recchi. He was nice enough to chat with me for a bit, and we talked about everything from him venturing into coaching and his involvement in junior hockey to the Max Pacioretty/Zdeno Chara incident and Tim Thomas’ presidental snub.

Enjoy!

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

November 19, 2011 2 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29, 2011 2 comments

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

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

Enjoy!

SDC

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

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

That’s right. I’m saying I’m psychic.

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

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the Future Holds…

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

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

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

Prediction: Capitals in 6; Toasted in 4

 

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What the Future Holds…

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

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

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

 

Prediction: Bruins in 5; Friggin’ hammahed in 2

 

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What the Future Holds…

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

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

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

 

Prediction: Canucks in 5; Iced in 5

 

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What the Future Holds…

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

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

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

 

Prediction: Red Wings in 6; Regretting it by tomorrow

[Guest Post] 2011 First Round NHL Playoff Drinking Games

April 12, 2011 2 comments

Hi Folks,

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

Enjoy!

SDC

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

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

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

That was rhetorical. The answer is “Nothing.”

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

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

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

Prediction: Capitals in 7; Buzzed in 3

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

Rules:

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

-If the Philly crowd boos, take a drink.

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

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

Prediction: Sabres in 6; Tanked in 1

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

Prediction: Bruins in 7; Rioting in both cities

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

Prediction: Lightning in 6; Lingering headaches the day after

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

Prediction: Canucks in 6; Drunk in 5

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

Prediction: Sharks in 5; Shwasted in 2

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

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

Prediction: Red Wings in 6; Relocating in a week

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

Rules:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Penalties:

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

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

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

Prediction: Ducks in 7; Blackout in Nashville

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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).

September 30, 2010 8 comments

 

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!

Yeah hi Bill, so camp registration fee is $250, and make sure the form is signed by a parent of legal guardian and returned by Aug 1. Good luck!

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 )

Fist pumping because he thinks he nailed the audition, or slipping on a banana peel back to reality?

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.

Do yourself a favor and at least look the part. If you show up wearing one of these, kindly show yourself out the door.

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.

 

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