Saturday, December 31, 2011


In last night's game versus the Calgary Flames, Daniel Alfredsson scored his 400th goal in overtime that gave the Ottawa Senators a 4-3 victory.  The journey to 400 has been a long, strange one for Alfredsson, picked 133rd overall in the 1994 NHL Draft.  He would go on to win the Calder Trophy in 1996, an opportunity that would likely never have happened had Alexei Yashin held out for the first half of the 1995-96 season.  In fact, Alfredsson would be the team's representative in the All-Star Game for the first three years of his career.  In 1999-2000, Alfredsson would be named captain in the wake of Yashin's contract dispute that year that would see him hold out for the entire year.  Since that season, Alfredsson has been the captain for the Senators team that has seen its share of highs (2007 Stanley Cup Finals) and its lows (2010-11 season). However, it is his commitment to the city of Ottawa that endears him to fans in the city, as well as his younger brother who decided to stay in the city to become a part of the city's Police Service, even with the criticism that comes with being in a Canadian market.  Is he a Hall of Famer?  That's up for debate.  One thing is for sure, Alfredsson has been the face of Ottawa hockey, and the Senators will be a far different team without him.

Swift Current Tragedy: 25 Years Later

These four gentlemen you see in the picture above are remembered for a tragedy that happened 25 years ago yesterday.  Trent Kresse, Scott Krueger, Chris Mantyka, and Brent Ruff were on the bus that was carrying the Swift Current Broncos squad to Regina for a game against the Pats that evening when the bus hit a patch of ice and eventually crashed.  The four players were killed in that crash, and the events of that evening are still remembered by Brian Costello, who had been covering the team.  His article on Yahoo vividly tells the story from that fateful day, as well as the changes to specific people on that bus as well, which included Joe Sakic, who will be a Hall of Famer as soon as this October, Sheldon Kennedy and then coach Graham James, both of whom are prominent names in the sex abuse scandal that implicates James in a series of sexual abuse against some of his former players that included Kennedy and Theoren Fleury.  A sad irony in the crash is that almost 25 years later, a plane crash in Russia would claim the lives of the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team.  May the souls lost in both incidents rest in peace and their families find solace in knowing that those lost in the tragedies live on with the legacies left behind.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seeing 2011 Out the Door

2011 will die in a few days, so what better time than to look back on the year.  The year was practically defined by two things that happened this year: Vancouver's run in the playoffs and the week in Portland.  First, the playoff run.  The playoff beard began in earnest on Ash Wednesday, and was shaved off three months later.  In between, there was a major close call in the first round, and ultimately, disappointment at the very end.  For the way it ended, though, the fact that this run got people talking, good and bad, made this time a memorable one.  In October, the week in Portland happened, with Fall into Darkness and Enslaved/Alcest happening within a seven day period.  A lot of things happened, many of which can be read in the blog's adventures that were posted a couple months ago (so go look for them, as I'm too lazy to go back and post links to them).

So, what will 2012 be like?  Who knows?  Life is unpredictable, and that's the way I like it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Jolly Panther

Before this season started, the Florida Panthers might as well have called themselves a band of pirates, as in they were basically raiding the free agent markets for players just to hit the cap floor.  As of Christmas, they will stand in first place in the Southeast Division with 43 points, six points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.  The offense is led by Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss, with Versteeg being the player Toronto thought they were getting last year and Weiss finally getting a fair shake as to what he can do when surrounded by talent.  Currently, attendance figures don't reflect the team's performance, but the fact that the on-ice product sees Versteeg and Weiss as the leading scorers compared to last year's leaders Weiss and Mike Santorelli.  This all is happening despite being the only team without a permanent captain, although a familiar face in Ed Jovanovski and Weiss are both worthy candidates for the job should the Panthers decide to name one.  Do I expect the Panthers to keep this up?  Probably not, but the Capitals haven't found their way under Dale Hunter and the Lightning's goalie problem has been exposed...again, so anything is possible.  And the Panthers are only going to get better once they deem Jacob Markstrom ready for the starter's job, a spot currently held by Jose Theodore, who himself, just might have rediscovered the 2002 magic.

Friday, December 23, 2011

David Gold

I never like waking up to the news of anyone dying, so when I got word this morning that David Gold, lead vocalist/guitarist of Woods of Ypres, was killed in a car accident last night, you could imagine the feelings there.  I was fortunate enough to have seen him perform with his band at Heathen Crusade III in 2008, and even without the interview possibility, he was one of the most approachable people at the festival.  Even while having a post-show meal at the hotel, he was willing to go through with the interview and was the same person during the interview as he was at the show: engaging and passionate about what he did.  David was a great guy and will be missed greatly.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Parlez vous Francais?

The man you see in the picture is one-time Montreal Canadiens captain and head coach Guy Carbonneau.  He is a part of the firestorm that is the decision to name Randy Cunneyworth as interim head coach of the Canadiens in the wake of the firing of Jacques Martin.  Why is Carbonneau being mentioned in this discussion? Well, Cunneyworth was named to the position for the rest of the year, but lacks the one thing that many a Canadiens coach has: the ability to speak even a modicum of French.  In Montreal, it is a big deal (so it seems) that a coach should be able to speak French, and you know it is a big deal when the Quebec government (!) is putting in their two cents.  In a recent article on Yahoo, Carbonneau mentioned that it would be in Cunneyworth's best interest to learn French.  The quote:

But there’s no doubt in my mind that the coach of the Montreal Canadiens has to speak both languages, at least to some extent.

Carbonneau should know a thing or two about Montreal media, as he has dealt with it as a player and more recently, as a coach.  However, it should be noted that Cunneyworth is the interim head coach, but even that seems to have caused the media to go into a frenzy.

Where do I stand?  I say let Cunneyworth coach and see where it goes from there.  He has stated that he is willing to learn French, but one way that he can ease some of this pressure is to win, something Montreal hasn't done lately.  Cunneyworth's every move will be scrutinized, and for every failure, those who clamor for a French-speaking coach will only grow louder.  If I'm the General Manager of any other team that could be looking for a new coach in the near future, I'd keep an eye on this situation just to see if he can handle the pressures of Montreal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sutter King

Rumors of Darryl Sutter being pursued by the Los Angeles Kings to be their next head coach in the wake of Terry Murray being relieved of his duties as Kings coach are not exaggerated.  In fact, tomorrow, the announcement of Sutter as the team's next head coach will take place.  When the news of Murray's firing was happening, I endorsed Randy Carlyle as the next head coach for the Kings.  Obviously, Sutter's connection to current Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi played a significant role in Sutter being hired.  However, Sutter does carry some impressive credentials as head coach: he led the San Jose Sharks to prominence after some lean years in the mid-90's, and he did lead Calgary to their last Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2004.  Defense-oriented, Sutter is an upgrade over Murray in the sense that Sutter will put boots to asses, compared to Murray's teaching style.  What that means for offense is anyone's guess, as the Kings have struggled in that department this year.  Who knows?  Maybe Sutter will get something out of Dustin Penner...if he gets back from injury.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Turris Chunka

The Kyle Turris saga is finally over.  Yesterday, it was announced that the talented, yet enigmatic center has been traded to the Ottawa Senators.  The Phoenix Coyotes will get defenseman David Rundblad and a second round pick in return.  For the Coyotes, they get rid of a headache while getting a promising defenseman that had struggled in his rookie year.  Turris had sat out the first two months of the season, and had done nothing in six games played.  For both players, it is a fresh start, one that Turris clearly needed more.  What he does with that is up to him, as he had already burned some bridges in the prolonged holdout with the Coyotes.  For Rundblad, this is already his third team, as he was drafted by the Blues in 2009 and traded the following off-season to Ottawa.  He is fast approaching Keith Ballard territory here, as Ballard was a first round pick that was traded around twice before playing his first NHL game.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Cunney-ng Move

If you have been following the head coach death watch in the NHL, if you have December 17 as the day Jacques Martin gets the ax from the Montreal Canadiens, then step on up and claim your prize.  As of today, the Canadiens will roll with Randy Cunneyworth as coach for the rest of the season.  The move to fire Martin was not unexpected, as the Canadiens have perennially underachieved (2010 playoffs notwithstanding), and have had some horrific contracts of major underachievers (read: Scott Gomez) and perennially injured players (Andrei Markov).  This is Cunneyworth's audition, and it's likely an uphill battle to take the interim off the label.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


For all of the talk about concussions in sports, there seems to have been an alarming number of them lately in both football and hockey.  Being that this blog is generally about hockey, the one thing that sticks out about the concussion epidemic that has hit of late is that it's the big name players that have dominated the headlines.  It's not just Sidney Crosby, either; it's Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux (both are pictured here), it's Jeff Skinner, it's Kris Letang, and until recently, it was Ryan Miller.  Concussions aren't limited to the stars, either, as New York Islander and ex-Portland Winterhawk Nino Niederreiter has been sidelined with a concussion.  Now, the NHL has done what they can to limit the number of these concussions with stricter enforcement of the rules on hits to the head, but one has to wonder if there has to be something that has to be done that could end up compromising the overall ga

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Today could be about a couple of hockey related topics, those being how to sell hockey to America with the American-born stars being at the forefront (in relation to the US Hockey Hall of Fame induction recently) and the Kings' change at coach (an interim has been named in John Stevens).  However, it was a non-hockey related bit of news that was brought to my attention by a few friends who are into metal, and it has everything to do with the guitarist you see here.  Ten years ago today, cancer claimed the life of one of the most influential guitarists in death metal, Chuck Schuldiner.  No words can describe the loss felt by the metal music community.

As homage to Schuldiner, here is one of his most recognized works:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coaching Carousel News

So far this season, four teams have already changed coaches, and now, it looks like the Los Angeles Kings are ready to make that five.  Rumors are circulating that Terry Murray's days as Kings coach are numbered, and that change could happen soon.  Now, the question here is who would the Kings go after?  Recently fired Randy Carlyle could be seeing his unemployment checks end, as he would, and should, be given serious consideration.  After all, his former team, the Anaheim Ducks, did go in a dramatically different direction once they made the change, and certainly, the Kings would be wise to go in a similar direction.  Murray is not the taskmaster type that Carlyle was in Anaheim, and as a former player in the NHL, the Kings could use a voice that knows what it takes to win, and winning was what Carlyle did in his time as coach, as a 2007 Stanley Cup ring will attest.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Missing Since February 2011

Remember this player?  That was Tomas Kaberle, when he was actually good (read: a Toronto Maple Leaf).  A trade to Boston near the deadline last year netted him a Stanley Cup ring, but one could argue that he did very little, if anything, to help Boston get that Stanley Cup.  Heck, I could argue that I did more to help Boston get a Stanley Cup, and I was rooting for the other team.  Okay, so that's a complete exaggeration, but the point is that Kaberle has been nothing like his Maple Leaf days since that trade.  Not even a free-agent deal with Carolina in the off-season has helped spark any of his former magic.  As of this morning, Kaberle is now on his fourth team this calendar year, having been shipped to the land of bad contracts (i.e. Montreal) in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek.  The moral of this story:  Got a bad contract?  Just trade with Montreal.  They're suckers for that kind of thing, just ask Scott Gomez.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Playing with Fire Revisited

This book that you see in the picture is the Theo Fleury autobiography Playing with Fire.  I had reviewed this in May of last year, and thought it was a great book.  This past September, I re-read the book in an effort to get ready for this hockey season, and I will likely make this the go-to book before every hockey season.  Why is this book being brought up again?  If you haven't been reading the news lately, then you will likely have missed out on Graham James pleading guilty to sexual assault while coaching in the WHL in the 1980's.  If you have read Fleury's account of what James did, then you will know just how unsettling the acts are.  The relevance of the things described in the book can be applied to the Penn St. and Syracuse scandals currently ongoing, and certainly, the guilty plea from James yesterday is one step in the right direction for sexual abuse victims, past and present.  There are still victims out there, and Fleury's autobiography is, and should, be a rallying point for those who have suffered, yet are afraid to come forward.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Retro Kits

As you may or may not know based on the colors this blog is sporting, they are representative of the Portland Timbers football club of the MLS (I refuse to use the phrase "soccer" for the most part).  Yesterday, the team announced a third jersey to be worn for the team's second season in the league, and as you can see, it goes back to their roots from the NASL days.  Yes, that includes the unfortunate Alaska Airlines logo.  Now, this part is no indictment on the Airlines itself, but rather the idea that most football kits have to have the sponsor on the front of the jerseys.  Granted, it is big money in most of the world, but the idea of even having a sponsor on the front of the jerseys simply cheapens the entire look.  Having said that, it won't necessarily stop me from buying the jerseys of the teams I love.  As for the rest of the Timbers' alternate, the collar is a decent touch, and the lighter shade of green certainly screams retro.  It also shows just that the Timbers franchise (all four incarnations) have come a long way since their beginnings in the 70's.  Overall, it's not a bad effort, but I hope it doesn't bump the Rose City kits from rotation, though.  Those are truly one of the most unique kits in football today.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today, I was thinking about talking about ways to make hockey a more known product in the United States just by simply promoting the American-born stars more, but the bit of news that a plan for realignment of the teams has been approved, so that demands time on here.  During the Board of Governors meeting that is ongoing this week, a realignment plan was approved yesterday and now awaits Commissioner Gary Bettman's action.  So, what will the new alignment look like?  Well, the divisions and conferences haven't been given names for the new alignment yet, but the alignment will look like this:

A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver
B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg
C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto
D: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

What does this mean?  Well, the two teams that will be most affected in travel will be Florida and Tampa Bay, as they will have the most miles to travel against division rivals.  Dallas' travel is reduced in the sense that under the new alignment, their closest rivals are Nashville and St. Louis, as opposed to Phoenix in the current alignment.  Many of the West Coast teams are grouped together, which will dramatically help the Canadian teams in travel.  Much of the Eastern Conference alignment is such that the mid-Atlantic teams are grouped together and the current Northeast Division is now simply adding the two Florida teams.  Dramatic change?  Yes.  Does it make the most sense?  I would also say yes to this question.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tri-City Americans

As a hockey blogger that has ties to the Pacific Northwest, it is, for better or for worse, my duty to talk about hockey and non-hockey teams based in that region.  As you know, most of the talk is Portland-centered, which means anything Winterhawks, Timbers, or Trailblazers is fair game.  Since the Pacific Northwest includes the state of Washington, all things Mariners, Seahawks, and yes, the Canucks (yes, I know they are in British Columbia) is also fair game.

Having said all of that, today's spotlight is on the team from the town of Kennewick, WA known as the Tri-City Americans.  Kennewick is a town in the southern part of Washington, and is located approximately 20 miles from the Washington/Oregon border.  (Wikipedia alert: most of what follows is taken from this site, so if anyone with better knowledge about the Tri-City Americans is reading this, step forward) The history of the Americans dates back to 1988, but the team itself has a history that goes even further.  In 1966, they began play in the WHL as the Calgary Buffaloes for a season before changing their name to the Centennials.  From 1977 until 1982, the team played under the Billings Bighorns name.  A season as the Nanaimo Islanders followed before the team moved to New Westminster to become the Bruins.  In 1988, the team became what is currently known as the Tri-City Americans.

Players who came through Kennewick  on their way to the NHL include Stu Barnes, Olaf Kolzig, Carey Price, and Sheldon Souray.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Buck Up!

As you know, I'm Pacific Northwest oriented when it comes to a lot of things, whether it is landscape, entertainment, sports teams, or beer (especially the beer).  Being that this is a hockey blog (despite the fact that the blog's colors are representative of the international football team Portland Timbers), today is a slightly deeper look into the history of hockey in Portland.

Before the Winterhawks came into existence in 1976, there was the Portland Buckaroos.  Actually, the Buckaroos were two different teams in two different eras.  The first incarnation played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League and North West Hockey Leagues from 1928 until 1941.  That team played in the Portland Ice Arena, where the Rosebuds had previously played in the 1910's and again in 1925-26 as the reincarnated version, the latter of which would eventually form the basis of the Chicago Blackhawks team (as the Black Hawks from inception until 1986) as founded by Frederic McLaughlin.  As for the Buckaroos, the second incarnation of the team would be formed in 1960, under the old Western Hockey League (the minor league version, not the junior league that the Winterhawks are a part of now).  That team would win three championships from 1960 until the league folded in 1974.  The Buckaroos would move to the Western International Hockey League the following year, and would be a part of the ill-fated Pacific Northwest Hockey League the year after that.

In 1976, the old Edmonton Oil Kings franchise (a new team bearing the same name has since started play in 2007) relocated to Portland, becoming the Winter Hawks (the name until 2009, when the space in between "retired") and to date, this franchise has won two championships in its existence, and counts Cam Neely, Marian Hossa, Paul Gaustad, and more recently, four first round picks in the last two years (Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter in 2010 and Sven Baertschi and Joe Morrow in 2011) as players who have come through the Rose City.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Duck Season

The coaching carousel in the NHL just doesn't want to stop.  It didn't take long for Bruce Boudreau to find a new job, as the Anaheim Ducks announced this morning that he would be replacing Randy Carlyle behind the bench.  The Ducks are currently near the bottom of the NHL in offense and the standings, and given that the Ducks have severely underachieved in the last three seasons, a change was inevitable.  I thought the Ducks were going to wait until after the season to fire Carlyle, but the Ducks were wise to pounce on a coach that has a winning record in Boudreau while he was still available.  Guys who win 200 games in their first four seasons do not fall out of the tree often, and Boudreau is one of them.  Prior to this season, he got a lot out of Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Green, so now that he's in Anaheim, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Cam Fowler will be the biggest beneficiaries of the coaching change.  Boudreau's hiring could also be a factor in whether Bobby Ryan stays in Anaheim beyond this season, as he's been rumored to be on the trading block.  As for Carlyle, the New York Islanders would be extremely wise to snag him up, not that I advocate teams firing coaches or anything like that (or do I?).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Canucks' Goal Problems

No, those problems aren't causing the Vancouver Canucks problems for anything other than what to do with Roberto Luongo.  You see, Cory Schneider has been starting the last few games, and no word on whether Luongo is actually injured has surfaced.  So, what's the problem?  Schneider is actually winning those games, having won five straight, including last night's win versus Columbus.  That win has put the Canucks within two points of the Minnesota Wild for first in the Northwest Division, and even though it isn't December until tomorrow, the perpetual question of playing Luongo and his hefty contract is most likely going to loom well into the playoff run.  For now, this seems to be Schneider's team, and Luongo will get his ice time, as the Canucks will likely do what they did last year: distribute the playing time evenly to the point where the team can have two fresh goaltenders.  If nothing else, this year will be interesting for the Canucks fans who have been on a few wild rides over the years.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not so Vintage Rangers

Have a good look at the picture above because this is what the New York Rangers will be wearing for the Winter Classic versus the Philadelphia Flyers.  The design is fairly simple, yet leaves the person wanting more.  The Rangers' crest on the front is modified from the usual design, which doesn't bother me too much, and the striping is okay, but could easily have been spruced up a little better.  The lace up collar trend is a little bothersome, but given that the Rangers have had that quirk on all of their jerseys, I tend to give this one a pass over the Flyers' Winter Classic duds that utilize the same thing.  The vintage white on the jersey doesn't quite look as bad, but how it looks on the ice will be the ultimate determining point for me.  In terms of jersey design for the Winter Classic this year, I have to give it to the Rangers over the Flyers, but not by a heck of a lot.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mull-ing for a Coach

This is Kirk Muller, a former first round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 1984, a Stanley Cup winner for Montreal in 1993, and has also had stops in Toronto (pictured), New York Islanders, Dallas, and Florida.  Now, he can add head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes to his resume as of today.  Admittedly, I clamored for the Hurricanes to fire Paul Maurice and general manager Jim Rutherford a few weeks back, and today, I get half of my wish.  Having said that, Rutherford does deserve some credit for getting a hot commodity in Muller as head coach, stealing him away from Milwaukee of the AHL after a couple of months on the job.  Whether Muller can do what Maurice failed to do most nights remains to be seen and carries considerable risk. However, this is a gamble that Carolina HAD to make, as Muller provides a fresh voice in a locker room that had gotten stale.

Hunting for Coach

Longtime Washington Capitals fans will undoubtedly remember this player in the antiquated rust bucket for being a decent scorer and a tough customer who wore the captain's C during the Capitals' Stanley Cup Finals run of 1998.  Current era Capitals fans can now call this player the new head coach of the team.  This morning, Bruce Boudreau was given his walking papers and it didn't take the Caps long to name a replacement in Dale Hunter.  In the midst of a struggle, both on the ice and a well-publicized rift between Boudreau and star player Alexander Ovechkin, this move was not unexpected.  However, there had also been talks of other teams making this change first, most notably the Columbus Blue Jackets (who are now on a bit of a points streak), Carolina Hurricanes (long overdue, in my opinion), and the New York Islanders (I wouldn't be surprised if it happened before Christmas).  Hunter will bring some credibility as a coach, having been appointed away from the London Knights of the OHL, where he was coaching, and as a former captain, perhaps he will help in the locker room, as well.  Washington is far too good of a team to be in this kind of free fall, and that falls on the head coach.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Living the Dream

This gentleman you see in the picture is Paul Deutsch.  Don't feel bad if you're a Minnesota Wild fan and don't recognize him, though.  Until Wednesday, no one outside of the Wild organization heard of him, so why was Wednesday important for him?  The regular starting goaltender Nicklas Backstrom left the team for personal reasons (for a few days, obviously), so that left Josh Harding to be the starter.  To fill the void, the Wild called up Matt Hackett from their AHL affiliate in Houston to back him up.  Seeing as this is Thanksgiving weekend, travel was going to be tricky, and given that NHL rules prohibit the Wild from signing a player with professional experience as an emergency, that was where the 51-year old Deutsch came in.  Signed to an amateur tryout deal, Deutsch didn't get to actually suit up for the game, as Hackett got to the arena in time.  For Deutsch, he now has one heck of a story to tell to his friends and family, and it also provided a handy excuse for not being able to make his recreational hockey game that night.  On top of that, he's even got his own player bio on the Wild roster page (though how long it will stay up there remains to be seen).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Time to Give Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, which means many will likely gathering around a table, eating turkey, stuffing, dressing, and all of the other good stuff that comes with it.  So, who in hockey should be giving thanks this day?

  • Mike Smith should give thanks to the Phoenix Coyotes and their defensive system.
  • Tampa Bay is thankful for structure, a General Manager that knows a thing or two about team building, and a coach that can effectively employ a frustrating alignment.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins for getting their best player in Sidney Crosby back in time for the holidays.
  • Fashion in the NHL is thankful for the New York Rangers.
  • Comedians (or wannabes) for the New York Islanders and their "alternate" jerseys.
  • The city of Edmonton for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  Now, anything is possible.

And this blogger is thankful for friends, family, a wonderful playoff run following the Canucks, and good music.  Happy Thanksgiving, and go stuff yourself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Survive or Be Eaten

Okay, so there's a sudden zombie outbreak and you need to know how to survive one.  Where do you turn?  Max Brooks thinks he has the answer, and in The Zombie Survival Guide, many of those answers are truly good ones.  In this book, he gives tips on what to do and what not to do, as well as thinking about survival from a realistic point of view (e.g. automatic rapid-fire weapons work less effectively than a shotgun).  From weapons to knowing your transportation and terrain, Brooks leaves no stone unturned, and he even gives examples of zombie attacks, which in turn, is an effective lead in to the follow up book World War Z.  A highly recommended read (both of them).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The title is exactly just how long it took for Sidney Crosby to officially announce his return after almost a year away from dealing with concussion issues.  The face of the NHL since the lockout of 2005, he has also become the face of the concussion debate in the NHL.  For one night at least, he was the brightest star, as he notched two goals and two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins disposed of the the New York Islanders (their struggles are a piece for another day) 5-0.  Obviously, Crosby won't have such an easy time like he did last night, but it is clear that he is truly is healthy and ready to go.  He took a few good hits and didn't show any signs of being worse for wear, and any rust that came with the long layoff was shaken off after scoring his first goal at 5:24 of the first period.  The NHL (minus the Flyers fans) missed Crosby, and looking at the game last night, Crosby missed being out on the ice.  Welcome back, Sid, and please stay away from my Canucks until the Stanley Cup Finals.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Classic: Flyers Edition

While writing the piece about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this morning, it didn't dawn on me that a) Sidney Crosby was making his season debut tonight, and b) the Philadelphia Flyers were unveiling their Winter Classic jerseys today.  The Crosby debut will be covered tomorrow, since I would like to be able to talk about whether he can contribute this season without fear of another concussion.  Right now, it's about the Flyers and their not-so secret design.  As you can see, the overall design doesn't deviate much from the Flyers' other designs, which is to say that the Flyers could have thought of something completely different.  The major difference here is their more frequent use of black on an orange jersey as opposed to their all-black oddities of the late 90's to 2008.  Having said that, Flyers fans should be okay with this design, and certainly, the sock designs that inspired the striping is a nice change of pace that is subtle enough to go unnoticed by the casual fan.

Now, when are the Rangers going to unveil their Winter Classic duds?  It's a little more than a month away, and the longer they wait, the more money that will be lost from sales.

The Nuge (Hopkins)

This fresh-faced kid you see here is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  Five months ago, he went from lighting it up with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League to the first overall draft pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers.  Almost a month ago, it was debated as to whether the Oilers would send him back to the Rebels before he hit the magical 10 game mark that would set the entry level contract into motion.  As of this writing, he is tied for the team lead with 19 points.  The player he's tied with?  Ryan Smyth, a fan favorite that recently returned to the Oilers the same day Nugent-Hopkins was drafted.

What makes Nugent-Hopkins special?  Well, for one thing, guys like Smyth, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle will have their numbers increased because RNH (I'm getting tired of typing out the last name, so I'll shorten it to what you see for the rest of this article) has the ability to get the puck to the guys that can score, as the 5-assist game against the Blackhawks on Saturday proves.  More impressive than that is that RNH looks like a more complete player than Hall, who was the first overall pick in the previous NHL Entry Draft.  Yes, RNH will hit a wall at some point this season, and yes, he can stand to fill out a 6'1" frame (he's 175 lbs. at the moment), but RNH has helped to reignite the passion of Oilers fans everywhere.  The best news of all?  He's got guys like Smyth and Shawn Horcoff to guide him along, as both know what it means to be representing the Oilers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time for Winds of Change?

This guy you see in the snazzy suit and tie is Paul Maurice, and he is the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.  How long he remains as head coach is something that will be determined in the next few days.  Currently, if the New York Islanders didn't stink up the joint, the Hurricanes would be in last place in the Eastern Conference, and there are rumors that Maurice could be the guy to take the fall.  Like the Columbus Blue Jackets situation, all blame should not go on the head coach, but on the higher ups in the organization.  However, Maurice has had two stints as head coach in the Hurricanes organization, only making the playoffs in three of those season (1999, 2002, and 2009).  In normal situations, this would be enough to get a coach fired, let alone twice, but given that the General Manager is Jim Rutherford, who has been the GM since the Hartford Whalers days, you begin to see why this is more than just a coaching problem.  The entire organization is suffering, and it is showing up on the ice, as Eric Staal hasn't lived up to the big contract he signed a few years back, Tomas Kaberle has not been anywhere near his former self since leaving Toronto, and Cam Ward hasn't been lights out.  Is it time for a change?  Yes, but who will implement it if the owner is too stubborn and is living off of the few successes that the franchise has had?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Islanders in Black

Remember when the New York Islanders saw the prototypes for their third jerseys get leaked out?  Now, do you remember your first reaction?  I certainly do, and my reaction now is a lot different from "Dear fucking Christ, no!" to "It's not so bad, but the Isles could have done so much better."  Yesterday was the official unveiling of the much maligned third jerseys by the Islanders, and as you can see, there is the number below the "ISLANDERS" word mark.  As for the name plate, there are no actual pictures, but thanks to, there is visual proof of the back of the jerseys, and I have to say that I'm happy that they didn't go for the Philadelphia Flyers style of name plate.  Would I go out and buy the Islanders' third jersey?  No, but I would not put it on the same level of ridicule as the Atlanta Thrashers' third jerseys or any of the Dallas Stars jerseys they have right now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Broadway Hat: Fashion Forward Thinking

The guy you see in this snazzy hat is Ryan Callahan, but it isn't Callahan that this piece is about, but rather the hat that he is wearing.  This season, the hat, known as the Broadway Hat, is worn by the Rangers player that does the most in every Rangers victory.  The origins of this hat?

Following the Rangers' first victory of the season, Henrik Lundqvist was seen sporting a black fedora for post-game interviews. Asked about the hat, Lundqvist said: "(Brad Richards) gave it to me. Someone bought it in Europe, and it's going to be our winning hat this year! We call it the Broadway Hat! Someone has to wear it after each win, and today was my turn. I am going to try and wear this hat every game. That's going to be my goal!" Check out all the different Rangers who have earned the hat to date this season.

For a team that is based out of New York, this hat is about as appropriate as it gets.  They're not the first team to introduce apparel to be worn after every victory (the gold jacket from the Bruins last playoff season and the hard hat that the Calgary Flames passed around during their Stanley Cup Final run in 2004), but fashion forward suits the Rangers perfectly.  Now, when will we see Sean Avery sport this hat?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fashioning the "C"

This player you see in the picture above is the new captain of the Colorado Avalanche.  With a tailspin looming, the Avalanche have finally decided to name Milan Hejduk the captain with Paul Stastny as one alternate captain and a rotating group of players as the second alternate captain.  Hejduk makes a lot of sense as captain, as he is the longest tenured player on the Avs, and will have along the way, learned from the previous Avs captains Joe Sakic and Adam Foote.  When asked about wearing the C, Hejduk has hopes for combining the best from his predecessors, taking the on-ice leadership that Sakic possessed and the speaking up when he has to like Foote did in their respective times as captain.  This appointment now leaves the Florida Panthers as the only team without a permanent captain, as they are currently employing four alternate captains.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Howe and Howe

Tonight, four players who had distinguished careers in the NHL (and WHA, in one case) will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  The main person that I would like to talk about today is the son of Mr. Hockey.  It took Mark Howe 13 years (that's the years since his first year of eligibility) to finally get the call from the Hall, but he will be inducted and not only will he be around to enjoy it, so will his father Gordie, who was the face of the Detroit Red Wings (the last team Mark played for before retiring), as well as the holder of the record for most goals in a career (before Wayne Gretzky broke it in 1994).  Mark began his professional career in Houston of the WHA, but would be in a Whalers uniform by the time the league folded.  The Hartford Whalers were his first team in the NHL (and Gordie's last NHL team, ironically) and though he struggled to find his niche early on, it would be with the Philadelphia Flyers that he would find his game and position, as he moved from left wing to become one of the more underrated defensemen in the league.  He would eventually finish his career in 1995 with Detroit.

Mark Howe never won the Norris Trophy, a product of playing in the same era as Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey, among others, and reached the Stanley Cup Finals three times, falling short in all three.  As a current scout for the Red Wings, he has four Stanley Cup rings to his name, a credit to his mental acumen in his playing days.  It took a while for Mark Howe to get to the Hall of Fame, but there is no chance that he would have traded the Howe name for anything in the world.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Father Hockey

Today's piece should offer the readers a little insight on religion, and how it can at times be a gathering point for all walks of life, including sports.  For the Toronto Maple Leafs, before James Reimer opened up about his faith, there was another Toronto Maple Leaf that opened up about his faith, and even acted upon that, becoming a Father in the Catholic religion.  That man was Les Costello, who played for only a couple of years in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Leafs in 1948.  In 1950, he left the game of hockey for seminary studies.  Those studies paid off, as he would be ordained as a Father in 1957.  In 1963, he helped to found the Flying Fathers, a hockey team consisting of a group of Catholic priests.  As of 2005, this group was still active, raising money for charities and in its time, even became a phenomenon in that it made tours of North America.  Costello died in 2002 a week after taking a puck to the head and falling back to the ice, hitting his head.

Costello only played two seasons in the NHL, but his legacy was best exemplified in his hometown of Timmins, ON, where his funeral had to be moved to McIntyre Arena to accommodate the large gathering of people.  And here's something you may not know: the Flying Fathers were indirectly responsible for Wayne Gretzky meeting his future wife Janet, as the proposed idea was a part of Gretzky's trek through Hollywood long before his trade to Los Angeles in 1988.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sucked into the Tube

From the mind of David Cronenberg, the guy that brought you Scanners, comes a techno-fear inducing movie in Videodrome.  The 1983 movie centers around the head of a television station Max Renn that puts on sleazy programming.  One day, with some help from one of his employees, he finds something called Videodrome, which broadcasts torture victims in what appears to be a clay colored room.  The reality of the Videodrome is something far sinister, as Renn finds out.  After the disappearance of his girlfriend (Deborah Harry, yes that Deborah Harry of Blondie fame), Renn tries to find answers about the mysterious station, and soon, changes to his physical being begin to emerge, including a development of a vagina-like VCR in his midsection.

The movie itself was ahead of its time when it comes to special effects, and the social commentary within the movie isn't too strong, yet will make you think twice about technology, and television in particular.  This movie isn't for everyone, but it is definitely one of those movies that once you get it, you get it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smokin' Joe

Frazier-Ali: that rivalry says it all about the golden days of boxing.  There were three of those fights, and Frazier took home a 15th round KO in 1971 in what was, and still is dubbed the "Fight of the Century."  Yesterday, Frazier died after a brief bout with liver cancer at the age of 67, and like everything else in life, he fought to the bitter end.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hitching in St. Louis

Yesterday, I talked about the potential fallout from the Columbus Blue Jackets' struggles early in the season.  Well, if they are indeed going to go after a new coach, it will not be Ken Hitchcock.  This morning, it was announced that the St. Louis Blues have fired Davis Payne and named Hitchcock to replace him.  This comes as a surprise, but not in the way that you would expect.  Currently, the Blues have 12 points, which isn't so bad compared to the Blue Jackets.  However, the Blues' struggles are not necessarily in the standings as much as they are in the consistency of their play.  Consider that in the recent week or so of the season, they played well against the Canucks (both games within nine days of one another) in both games, yet had a wretched game against the Oilers on October 30.  Payne's dismissal comes as the Blues are trying to instill some veteran leadership into the locker room, which explains Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner being signed in the off-season and now, Hitchcock being named the head coach.  The young players on the team do have the talent to succeed, but have never truly had the veterans to help harness that talent.  Now, there is no excuse.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rough Times in Ohio

The Seattle Seahawks lost again today, and well before this loss, it was obvious that the Seahawks managment screwed up by signing Travaris Jackson in the offseason.  Of course, this was obvious to everyone except the people making the roster decisions.  So, what does this have to do with hockey, you ask?  Well, there's a team that is in a similar predicament in the Columbus Blue Jackets, who can't buy a win to save their lives.  Before you say anything, I'm not talking about Jeff Carter or James Wisniewski, as neither have really been on the ice long enough to make a difference yet.  No, I'm talking about the decision to make Steve Mason the starting goaltender (even though it was obvious that he wasn't the answer in goal) and not have a veteran back him up.  Mason, as you will remember, won the Calder Trophy in 2009.  The next two seasons, he had some really wretched years in which the backup Mathieu Garon outplayed him.  Garon is in Tampa, backing up Dwayne Roloson while management decided to keep Mason as a starter, despite bad numbers.  The back ups this year?  Curtis Sanford and Mark Dekanich.  Neither have had recent NHL experience as anything other than a back up, and only Sanford has had extensive NHL experience, but not very many games since backing up Roberto Luongo in 2009.  The 9-2 whipping at the hands of the Flyers last night is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the Blue Jackets' problems in goal, and yes, not all of the blame for the Blue Jackets' struggles in their existence can be place on the goaltender, as the blue line hasn't been much better and there hasn't been a true first line center on the team (we're waiting on Carter and Ryan Johansen to develop this year, so don't send complaint letters).  However, bad goaltending is bad goaltending, and clearly, Mason has not proven to be the answer in goal for Columbus the last two plus seasons.  Coaching may take the fall soon, but there is no doubt that the General Manager and starting goaltender could be out the door by the end of the season, as well.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrating a Birthday in Style

When you turned 29 (if you haven't, pretend for the sake of argument), what did you get for that birthday?  If you're Pekka Rinne, a 7 year, $49 million extension and a shutout were his gifts.  Yesterday, he received a big birthday present in the extension that would keep him in Nashville until past his 36th birthday.  Last night, he gave the Predators immediate returns with a shutout.  Rinne's signing is not only a sign that Nashville believes they have solved their revolving door in goal, but it also ups the ante for the Predators' two defensemen who could be leaving after the season: Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.  Both players are as much of a cornerstone as Rinne, and the commitment to Rinne is a clear sign that Nashville is willing to spend, at least, for one other player (or both, in a perfect world).  Signing goalies to long term deals can be a tricky slope, but Nashville believes in Rinne, and now, they have the contract to prove it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flattus Maximus

Flattus Maximus of GWAR had a few people portray him, but one person was most commonly associated with the Flattus Maximus character: Cory Smoot.  In a sad development this morning, Smoot was found dead in his hotel room.  No cause has been determined, and this development happened as GWAR was in the midst of a tour.  This death will obviously hit GWAR fans hard, but what makes it worse is that it was in the middle of a tour and not while the band was taking a break in between touring and making an album.


Before I get to today's topic, there is a correction to be made from Avery the Musical: Act III.  Sean Avery will not be playing in the game vs. Anaheim tonight, so the side show that is Avery will have to wait for another day.

As for today's topic, it's all about the 'stache, as this month is Movember, or the month formerly known as November.  What is Movember?  I'll let the link speak for itself: Movember.

Now, if you would like to support this cause, whether you are a male who can grow a mustache (or not) or female who likes mustaches, just head to the Movember website for more information, including how you can contribute.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Avery the Musical: Act III

With the news that Sean Avery cleared re-entry waivers on Tuesday with no other team claiming him, his first NHL game this season will happen this Thursday vs. Anaheim.  Now, the chants of "We Want Avery" during a game against Toronto may or may not have had anything to do with it, but Avery's exile into AHL purgatory was short lived (in fact, he didn't suit up for the Connecticut Whale for one game).  As before, Avery will undoubtedly have his supporters and his detractors, and certainly, he will keep the Rangers in the headlines.  The question here will be if it actually makes a difference, as the Rangers haven't played to expectations (just like every year since 2000, it seems).  Fans wishing for Avery to be on the team got their wish, now we'll see if it backfires.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

THN Best of Hockey Issue

Seemingly every year, I buy the Hockey News magazines special editions, be it the Yearbook, Prospect Watch, or whatever else they come out with.  Obviously, I think highly enough of THN to keep sinking in money to buy these issues, so it should come as no surprise that I buy the BEST OF EVERYTHING HOCKEY issue that came out just recently.  On many of the topics, there is general agreement on them, but on some, I'm thinking, "East Coast bias!"  As a Canucks fan, this is something that you would expect, so take that for what you will.  There is also a section devoted to the best players on each team, as well as that team's best season.  In that section, there are a few interesting points:

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs do not have have a single player on the first or second team that played in the 1990's or beyond.  The latest any Leaf mentioned played was Bjorne Salmig, who last played in 1989.
  • Despite a dreadful last 20 years or so, one New York Islander managed to crack the second team in Kenny Jonsson, who played from 1995 until 2004.
  • Not surprisingly, the New Jersey Devils teams are dominated by teams from the Stanley Cup years, with Kirk Muller being the only one who played before those years that made the team.
  • Scott Walker makes an all-time team?  Only the Nashville Predators, folks.

This issue, like many of the Hockey News magazines, was designed to inspire debate, from the major issues of the day to the more comical things, such as hockey songs.  I am approaching ten years since I bought my first Hockey News Yearbook, and I am happy to say that I am still buying, and will continue to do so.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sundin the Leaf

If you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan (and this feels odd, since as I am writing this piece, I am wearing an Ottawa Senators jersey as a result of last night's Battle of Ontario tilt), then save the date of February 11, 2012.  Why?  On that date, the Maple Leafs will raise a banner to honor the player you see in the picture.  Yes, Mats Sundin has been either really loved or really hated in his time as a Maple Leaf.  Even before he suited up for the Leafs, the opinion has always been divided, largely because he was acquired in a trade in 1994 with the Quebec Nordiques that saw Leafs' fan favorite Wendel Clark go the other way.  This trade obviously didn't sit well with some Leafs fans.  In 1997, he was named the captain of the team, and would hold that distinction until 2008.  It was in the last year as a Maple Leaf that Sundin's detractors really let themselves heard, for Sundin refused to waive his no-trade clause that would have allowed him to be sent to a team that had a chance to win a Stanley Cup.  It is this act that many of his detractors point to as a reason to dislike him immensely.

Sundin's time as a Maple Leaf didn't end with a Stanley Cup, or even a Finals appearance for that matter, but when you think of the Maple Leafs and their run of good fortune in the early 2000's, for better or for worse, Sundin was the face of that team.  Even when the team wasn't (and still isn't to this point) very good after the lockout, Sundin remained, going down with the ship until after the 2007-08 season, when he became a free agent and eventually signed with Vancouver in the middle of the 2008-09 season.  Despite the criticism (fair or unfair), Sundin did everything possible to represent the Maple Leafs in the best light, and now, he will be honored along with the likes of Syl Apps, Doug Gilmour, and yes, Wendel Clark.

Friday, October 28, 2011

As the Turris Turns

Of all the restricted free agents over the summer, Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos received the most attention for their contract situations.  However, one that remains unresolved is that of Phoenix Coyotes center Kyle Turris.  Now, recent news offers a reason why: he wants out of Phoenix.  The Coyotes management isn't budging, even with rumors of teams offering trades for him.  Let's be honest, Turris hasn't been worth the third overall pick in 2007, even with a good showing in last year's playoffs that saw the Coyotes get swept out of the first round.  Turris wanting out of Phoenix is nothing new, as the Coyotes are clearly still handcuffed by the ownership situation.  However, sitting out the season, and remember that Turris has until December 1 to sign or sit out the season, will not look good on Turris.  A player that has not proven himself, whether it is over money or not, should not be sitting out a season.  He needs all the ice time that he can get, and sitting out until a trade happens will not accomplish anything, other than give him a bad rap.  Even though Doughty didn't miss a regular season due to the contract dispute, he did miss some valuable ice time in the preseason, and now he is injured.  His reputation also took a hit.  This is where Turris is heading, and if he isn't careful, this could be an Alexei Yashin situation where sitting out a season could brand him for life.  Turris would be wise to sign soon and play out the season and tempt fate this offseason for another team.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Movember to the Extreme

So, November is the month where guys grow mustaches for the month and don't shave that part of the facial hair.  It has earned the name Movember, and is an effort to raise awareness about men's health issues, with prostate cancer chief among them.  Now, this mask you see here is what Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller will be wearing for the month.  I have to admit, goalie masks are a thing of beauty, and certainly, this mask more than qualifies.  As you can see, pictures of the Ducks players are on the mask, complete with ridiculous drawn up mustaches.  The backplate of the mask would look like this:

Yes, that is Hiller rocking an equally ridiculous mustache and an over the top expression to boot.  This mask will be likely auctioned off at the end of Movember to raise money for charity, so this mask will not only be for looks, but also some good causes.

And this mask got me to think about this gem of a Looney Tunes cartoon:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bringing Back the Black

Since the Ottawa Senators decided to go Heritage this season, that unofficially retires the previous attempt at a black jersey (the SENS jersey, which will be discussed at a later date).  Now, did you know that the first attempt at a black jersey as an alternate happened because the original alternate jersey, introduced in 1997, became their home jersey two seasons later?  It would so happen that a season after that change, the Senators decided to bring back the black, this time as an alternate jersey.  Aside from the distracting "arrows" on the sleeves and waist, this is one of the better alternate jerseys, and surprisingly, would be a better primary jersey than the one they called their home (since the 2003-04 season, when the home/away designations changed to its current format), though to be fair, that jersey was special in more ways than one for the right reasons.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nightmare Fuel

Today's movie is the 1962 release of Carnival of Souls.  This is not to be confused with the 1998 version, which has almost nothing to do with the original version.  The 1962 version actually has a wider release now thanks to Criterion, but the version that was pushed in front of my face was actually distributed by a company called Good Times DVD, and somehow made its way to a GameXchange dollar bin.  As for the movie, it was shot on a $33,000 budget, and stars Candice Hilligoss as the main character Mary Henry, who is the sole survivor in a car crash that kills two of her friends.  Some time later, she is an organist in Utah that begins to see "The Man" in reflections after passing a deserted pavilion   Soon, the images begin to haunt her, and she begins to wonder if she is alive or dead, as the surrounding people's ability to acknowledge her fades in and out at times.  The ending will definitely surprise you.  The scare factor relies on the music of the movie, which is great in that it adds to the overall psychological horror that was intended.  As for death scenes, outside of the car crash in the opening sequences, there isn't much to speak of, but Carnival of Souls was built on mental scarring, not physical, and that is what makes this movie worth seeing.

On an interesting side note, parts of this movie was made in the Lawrence, KS area, so anyone in the Kansas City/Lawrence area, this would be a decent pick up for the local enthusiast in your life.