Monday, January 31, 2011


I haven't done a book review in a while, and since the book I'm currently reading is still about 150 pages or so away from finishing, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at something I read a couple of years ago...after showing little interest in reading it as part of a college class.  Yes, the book in question is Mary Shelley's Frankeinstein.  Before I get into the book, I'd like to say that reading books in the post-college years has come rather easily.  I suppose it's due to not having to deal with time constraints and trying to determine what has to be picked out for quizzes and essays, all of which likely takes me out of the running to be a teacher some day.

The novel is told through the eyes of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who as we find, is on a ship heading north.  For what exactly, the reader will find out in the end, so read the entire thing, since I'm giving no spoilers here.  The basis of the story concerns Dr. Frankenstein and his want to recreate life in an inanimate life.  His studies take him to the point of creating a monster made from various human parts.  However, after the creature comes to life, Dr. Frankenstein becomes disillusioned with it, and abandons it.  This does not sit well with the creature, who proceeds to kill everyone Dr. Frankenstein loves until the final encounter.

One of the first true horror novels to be written, Frankenstein spares no detail when it comes to how things come together for the creature and captures Dr. Frankenstein's descent into insanity quite well.  At roughly 200 pages long, it's a relatively quick read that offers a lot in terms of the emotion and atmosphere that some of today's novels lack.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What We Learned from Raleigh

The All-Star Game wrapped up, with Team Lidstrom taking the game 11-10 in what was an offensive bonanza.  What did we learn?  Well, if this format doesn't happen next year, I won't be happy.  Having the two captains pick their teams with the help of the alternate captains was a big success.  Next year will obviously have two different captains, so it will be interesting to see just who will be picking the teams.  Also, the SuperSkills intros didn't go perfectly, as apparently the Buffalo Sabres didn't have a represntative, according to the PA Announcer (Tyler Ennis was announced as a Florida Panther) and in the "smoke curtain" the players went through mistakenly had Patrick Sharp as a Blue Jacket.  Also, the star of the SuperSkills competition was Marc-Andre Fleury, who had a few tricks up his sleeve, from doing jumping jacks to the 360s while trying to look for the PK Subban shot in the Breakaway event.  One person who was happy about seeing the record for the Fastest Skater remain was Mike Gartner, who holds that record.  The fastest skater went to Michael Grabner, whose fastest time was still 7/10 slower than Gartner.  Incidentally, I wish Grabner all the luck in the world...except when his Isles have to play the Canucks.  Oh, and I'm so glad that I am not a goalie, as the task of facing a Zdeno Chara slapshot is enough to contemplate retirement on the spot.  105.9:  That's the highest that he registered, beating his own mark from a few years ago.  Imagine having Chara and Al MacInnis or Al Iafrate firing pucks at you:  I pity the goalie that has to stare any of those guys down.  And speaking of goalies, more goalie races, please.  Thank you.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

All Star Rosters Set

Last night was the NHL All-Star Game Draft, where the captains had to pick their teams, and both of the full rosters, including the rookies that will be participating in the SuperSkills competition, can be found here.  Now, for the things from last night that bring the intrigue:

*It's not much of a surprise that Team Staal took Cam Ward with the first pick.  Ward's having a great year, and as his teammate, Staal does owe him something for keeping Carolina in the playoff hunt.

*Henrik vs. Daniel:  Need I say more?

*Since the alternate captains could announce the picks, too, it was "The Waiting Game" for the likes of Jonathan Toews and Marc Staal.  Eventually, they would be picked by Team Lidstrom and Team Staal, respectively.

*You know Team Staal is going to have the home ice advantage, with Staal, Ward, and Jeff Skinner all on the same team.

*Those who are last, are first.  Just ask Phil Kessel.  The last guy picked, he also got a new car out of the deal.  Why can't all pick-up game selections end this way?

*And the rookies were divided into two teams, which were determined by the flip of a puck.  Team Staal will have Logan Couture, Tyler Ennis, Michael Grabner, Jamie McBain (there's that Carolina connection, again), Tyler Seguin, and PK Subban.  Team Lidstrom will have Taylor Hall, Evgeny Dadonov, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Cam Fowler, Derek Stepan, and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Let the fun begin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Almost Here!

Today is the day that the world at large will know who will be playing for whom this weekend.  Team captains Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom will be picking from a pool of players that include Steven Stamkos, Cam Ward, and Patrick Kane for the Sunday game.  Also in the weekend festivities will be the SuperSkills competition, which will include a group of rookies such as Logan Couture and Taylor Hall.  One player of note is Jeff Skinner, who was originally slated to participate with the rookies on Saturday, but will now be in the All Star Game itself.  This time last year, Skinner was playing in the Ontario Hockey League, playing against the likes of Hall and Tyler Seguin, both of whom were taken ahead of him in the 2010 Draft and will also be a part of the festivities this weekend.  Saturday promises to be the most fun, but the Game itself has a lot of intrigue, such as the possibility of the Sedins playing against one another and teammates playing against each other.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Mid-Term Report

Today has been a task in trying to figure out what to put here that would relate to the All-Star theme week.  Since the All-Star break started today, there really isn't much to talk about in the world of hockey today...except for the mid-term grades for each team.  So, with that in mind, besides each team name will be a grade and a summation of the team's season so far in five words.  Without further ado, here we go:

Anaheim Ducks: Hiller stands on his head.

Atlanta Thrashers: C+ Byfuglien surprises, but now what?

Boston Bruins: A Thomas resurgence, Bruins have purpose

Buffalo Sabres: D+ Miller ordinary, subpar team offense

Calgary Flames: C- Left for dead, still breathing

Carolina Hurricanes: C+ Kids, Staal carrying the day

Chicago Blackhawks: C Cap can't kill this team.

Colorado Avalanche: B- Still growing, Duchene real deal

Columbus Blue Jackets: F Will trade for good goaltending

Dallas Stars: A+ Richards leading a surprise resurgence

Detroit Red Wings: B+ Are you expecting anything different?

Edmonton Oilers: D+ Growing pains there, have faith

Florida Panthers: D+ Will they ever find offense?

Los Angeles Kings: C- One step back, two forward?

Minnesota Wild: C+ Goaltending duo keeping things good

Montreal Canadiens: B- The Price has been right

Nashville Predators: A+ Never count this team out

New Jersey Devils: F Cap woes, underachievers equal doom

New York Islanders: D- All that can go wrong...

New York Rangers: B  Lundqvist the man, now Gaborik...

Ottawa Senators: F The mutiny in Canada's capital

Philadelphia Flyers: A+ "Bob" taking control in goal

Phoenix Coyotes: B Will make playoffs for fans

Pittsburgh Penguins: B+ Need Crosby back real soon

St. Louis Blues: D+ Halak can't do it alone

San Jose Sharks: D Where's the offense and Niemi?

Tampa Bay Lightning: A Stamkos, St. Louis dynamic duo

Toronto Maple Leafs: D+ Fans need reason for hope

Vancouver Canucks: A High expectations, don't stop now...

Washington Capitals: C- Career lows for superstar players

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All-Star Hits the Big 5-0

Today's All-Star theme week takes us not to a specific jersey, but a player that transcends the label of All-Star.  In fact, this player turns 50 today, so to get it out of the way, Happy Birthday to Wayne Gretzky.  Today's piece will be all about The Great One and his impact on the game, on and off the ice.

Born on this date in 1961, it was evident early on that Gretzky was destined to be an NHL player.  His first professional game was with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA in 1978.  His time in Indianapolis lasted eight games before he was sent to the Edmonton Oilers.  The WHA folded after the 1978-79 season, and the Oilers were one of four teams absorbed by the NHL.  Rules allowed the Oilers to protect two skaters, and Gretzky was one of those players.  He would prove the Oilers to be wise, as in his first NHL season, he tied for the league lead in points scored, but would not win the Art Ross Trophy, as Marcel Dionne took home the hardware on the goals tiebreaker.  He would also not take home the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, since he had a year of professional hockey under his belt already from the WHA days.  The following years saw him break the 200 point barrier four times, something that only Mario Lemieux even came close to matching once (199 points in the 1988-89 season).  His time with the Oilers is best remembered for the four Stanley Cups won in the mid-80's.  Financial issues with the Oilers eventually forced a trade to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988.  His arrival in Los Angeles touched off a major surge in hockey popularity in the city, as the team suddenly became a hot ticket in town.  In the larger scheme of things, his trade to Los Angeles helped push for NHL teams to appear in non-traditional markets like San Jose, Phoenix (who Gretzky would later coach long after his playing days were over), and Florida.  As for the on-ice product, Gretzky would help lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, only to fall to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.  That would the last time he reached the Stanley Cup Finals, with the 1997 Rangers coming the closest to making the Finals.  Gretzky would be traded to the St. Louis Blues on February 27, 1996, where he would enjoy a brief union with Brett Hull.  After the 1995-96 season, he would sign a free agent deal with the New York Rangers and be reunited with Mark Messier, a teammate from the Oilers' hey days.  He would retire a Ranger after the 1998-99 season, and a front office job seemed to be in the cards.  Little did anyone know that the front office job would consist of being part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.  He would go on to coach the Coyotes after the lockout and would have that role until 2009, when uncertain ownership issues would force him out the door.

The on and off ice impact is obvious in a sense that he brought the game up to levels never before seen and likely never seen since his retirement.  If there is one regret about seeing him play, it would be that a Gretzky/Lemieux Stanley Cup Final never happened.  For all of the praise heaped upon both players, fate was not so kind on this dream matchup, for it would have likely pushed the game of hockey to even higher levels.  Perhaps the Crosby/Ovechkin matchup could generate similar interest, but since they play in the same conference, short of one of those players moving to a team in the Western Conference, the best one could hope for would be the Conference Finals.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All Star Updates

So, the All-Star Game is this weekend (But you already knew that), and the replacements have already been named.  Not making the All-Star Game this weekend are Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Ales Hemsky, and Tobias Enstrom.  Two of those players have already had replacements named, and they are Martin Havlat and Keith Yandle.  Havlat has put up numbers closer to his standards this year, which is to say about a point a game, and there is some justice for Yandle, as I thought he deserved a spot ahead of someone like Mike Green, who is having a sub-par year by his standards.  Now, the additions are good, but I never like to see them come at the expense of someone getting hurt.  After all, many of those players have earned that right to be called an All-Star.

Speaking of All-Stars, there are rumors of Peter Forsberg wanting to make a return to the NHL.  He never officially retired, so calling it a comeback would be the wrong thing to say.  However, he's 37, and there's no telling how much he actually has left in the tank, since his last game in the NHL was 2008.  Sure, there have been the Olympic Game stints with Sweden and the Swedish League games, but no one truly knows what he can still do.  If he does make a return to the NHL, logic dictates that the Colorado Avalanche would be the team of choice, since he recently had a tryout with the team.  As for what I do know what he can provide, veteran leadership and the winning pedigree are sure things, and those are things that Colorado could use with their youthful locker room.  No, the Avs' glory days of the late 90's and early 2000's are not going to be relived, but having that winner's attitude in the locker room could be as beneficial to the current team as playing the games on the NHL level and learning on the job.

Update:  Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes was named one of the replacements in the All-Star Game.  Skinner had previously been included on the rookies contingent that will be participating in the SuperSkills challenge on Saturday.

NHL All Star Jerseys 1992

Today's jersey in the All-Star Week theme is from the 1992 All-Star Game that was held in Philadelphia.  The jerseys you see here are the ones worn from that game and according to the NHL Uniforms database, were a replica of the original jerseys worn from the first All-Star Game, being that this was the 75th anniversary of the formation of the NHL.  For more historical context, the red, white, and blue of the jerseys were the same colors for the ones worn during the first official All-Star Game in 1947, which obviously doesn't count the benefit games for Ace Bailey (1934), Howie Morenz (1937), and Babe Siebert (1939).  This design was a one year only deal, as the teams went back to the black and orange All-Star Jerseys the following year.

Monday, January 24, 2011

All-Star Jerseys 2009

This weekend will be the gathering of the NHL's best in Raleigh for the All-Star weekend, which will begin with the fantasy draft, as picked by captains Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom on Friday.  Saturday is the Superskills competition and Sunday is the All-Star Game itself.  So, what is this blog doing in preparation for this event?  Why, talk about some of the jerseys of the past All-Star Games.  This week will be all about the best (remembered) jerseys used in the game itself.

Today goes back to the last All-Star Game, which was held in Montreal in 2009.  Last season had no All-Star Game, due to the Olympics and the agreement that players would have that instead of the All-Star Game itself in the years that the Olympics take place.  The looks for the last All-Star Game?  Look for yourself at the picture included with the piece.  The jerseys are red for the East and white for the West, with the years that the All-Star Game were held in Montreal on one sleeve of each jersey.  The design itself, like many All-Star jerseys in any sport, are specific to that game and no other game, save for the mid-90's design that eventually became a template for the Dallas Stars' alternate jersey (which became their home and away jerseys until 2007).  The reason why I like this jersey is the same reason why I like the Islanders' fisherman jerseys: it's unique and grabs my attention right away.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Updates and Retractions...

Since there's not too much specific that I want to talk about, I will think about mentioning a couple of quick items.  First, a small retraction to the Evgeni Nabokov story from yesterday: it looks like the New York Islanders have claimed him on waivers, meaning that Detroit does not get that warm body.  There's just one problem: Naobkov doesn't want to be an Islander.  You know, I'd make a joke about the Islanders, but really, can this team ever catch a break?  Even when things go right, they always find a way to go wrong.  As for Nabokov, a Stanley Cup contender would be nice, but given that no teams wanted you this past offseason, you really should accept the fact that you will be on an NHL team this year.  Heck, the Islanders are even paying your flight to Long Island.

Second item is that Team Staal and Team Lidstrom both look a little clearer now.  Alternate captains were named, and serving under Team Staal will be Mike Green and Ryan Kesler while Patrick Kane and Martin St. Louis will serve under Team Lidstrom.  The Kesler and St. Louis choices, I'm fine with, but I think it's too soon for Kane to even be an alternate captain in any capacity at this stage in his career, and Green hasn't really been worth even an alternate captain designation.  Jonathan Toews and Brad Richards would have been my picks for alternate captain.

Friday, January 21, 2011

KHL Defectees

In a post earlier this month, I talked about Kyle Wellwood's prospects of playing in North America since he was released from his KHL team last month.  Well, here's an update about Wellwood's status and that of Evgeni Nabokov.  First, Wellwood has been claimed by the San Jose Sharks, who snuck in ahead of the St. Louis Blues to claim him.  This begs two questions: why would any team want to claim Wellwood, given that he couldn't cut it as a third-line center for Vancouver and was cut after training camp earlier this season by Phoenix, and do the Sharks really need another forward?  To answer both questions, the first question can be answered by saying that any team who needs warm bodies due to injuries, and St. Louis had a need because of injuries to the likes of Carlo Colaiacovo, David Perron, and Andy MacDonald (and that's not even mentioning T.J. Oshie, who just came back from injury), while San Jose was looking for anyone who can produce.  Unfortunately, San Jose needed that help on the blue line, and I'm not sure how Wellwood is going to help there.

Second order of the day: Evgeni Nabokov has been signed by the Detroit Red Wings, pending a clearance of waivers.  Here, you can see Detroit needing some healthy bodies in goal, since Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard are battling injuries.  Seeing as Nabokov is going to be a likely backup once Howard returns to full strength, it will be interesting to see if Nabokov is willing to take a backup role in order to have what could very well be his best chance at winning a Stanley Cup.  His reputation as a goalie that comes up small in the biggest games won't be a big worry if he does accept whatever role he is given once the goalie situation is more favorable for Detroit.  In any event, he is a warm body who provides more veteran experience to a team that has a lot of it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mascot Abuse

It wasn't brought up until today, but it was too good to pass up.  Eight years ago, the single biggest mascot incident happened in Calgary, as the Flames mascot Harvey the Hound had his tongue ripped out by then-Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.  Just look at the picture above, and tell me what you think Harvey the Hound is thinking as he is without a tongue.  I don't have much to say about it, other than it's hilarious.  As bonus material, here's a video featuring some biased commentary on the incident.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Captain All-Star

Yes, I know the jerseys pic has already been used, but that was the best I could do for the picture that is the subject of today's piece.  Yesterday, the All-Star Game captains were named, and they are, in accordance to the jersey that they will be wearing that game from left to right, Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom.  I know people out there are complaining about Staal being named captain, and while he hasn't put up the numbers of say, Sidney Crosby, he is the hometown pick, and you have to give the fans in Raleigh something to hang their hats on.  Staal's numbers, however, do merit a selection as captain, as 47 points in 46 games is very good, and considering that the Hurricanes have little to really consider themselves competitive, that makes Staal's selection look even better.  Lidstrom...that's a no brainer.  At 40, he is still one of the best defensemen in the league today, and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, even if his days as Norris Trophy winner are past.

Now, for the questions that will be answered on the 28th:

*Who will be the first pick and who will make that selection?
I don't know about who will be the first pick, but I think Staal should be the one making the first pick.  Again, hometown rules apply.

*Will the Sedin twins be playing on separate teams?
It's entirely possible, as there are many ways to go with the selection process.

*Who will be the last player picked?
Early bets say Ales Hemsky, Phil Kessel, or Patrik Elias, since those three are on teams that are in the basement.  I say Elias will be Mr. Irrelevant, since his 21 points aren't quite that impressive compared to Kessel or Hemsky.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jersey Death Watch? Already?

The 2010-2011 season isn't even over, yet there is already a death watch for jerseys destined (or doomed) to their demise after this season.  The Atlanta Thrashers' third jersey is already being talked about in getting the axe.  You know, while they're at it, could someone please tell the Thrashers that their current home jerseys need to be shelved for good?  How that jersey is still in circulation, I will never know.  There is also talk of the Dallas Stars introducing a different third jersey.  Hmm, maybe the Stars think about introducing different home and away jerseys instead, since the current style is quite boring.  If I were to buy a jersey right now, the Dallas Stars jersey would be very low on the list.  Just look at this jersey:

Really?  This is how you want to represent your team?  Why couldn't this jersey be the alternate jersey?  I would have far fewer complaints if that were to be the case.

Two more changes that are being thought of are the Oilers going retro for their home and away jerseys.  I can tell you right now that this change is long overdue, and as much as I liked the change in 1996 to darker colors, the orange and blue needs to make a full  One more planned change of note: the Los Angeles Kings making their current third jersey their home jersey next year.

The plan is to have a road version of this jersey and the retro purple and yellow jerseys that they have been wearing from time to time this year as their alternate jerseys.  Again, like the Oilers, as much as I like the purple and black, the time to make this change seems about right, and what better way to do that than going back in time to the early days of when Wayne Gretzky made his L.A. debut and the silver and black era began.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jersey/Sweater Fouls: the Rules

Okay, so there is this Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo that I read frequently, and when it comes to the blog, there is one piece that I always read without fail: the Jersey Fouls.  However, reading this last piece on the fouls has me thinking: "What exactly are the things that can be considered a Jersey Foul?"  This, my half-dozen readers, is where you come in.  Comment on this piece with what you consider a Jersey Foul and on a later date, I will write a piece that covers what is considered a Jersey Foul and what is not.  And for you Canadian folks, yes, I know it's called a Sweater (hence, the title of this piece).

If you need ideas on what to look for, here's an idea: Puck Daddy Blog

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Guardian Project

In conjunction with the All Star Game, the NHL has partnered with Stan Lee (yes, the same Stan Lee behind the Spider Man comics) for the Guardian Project.  What's that?  You have never heard of such a thing?  Well, the Project is basically the NHL teams in comic book form, where each of the teams will have a comic book version of themselves revealed with each head to head vote.  Now, I understand appreciating to the kids and comic book nerds of the hockey sector, but some of these characters (that have been revealed so far, anyway) look quite ridiculous and the names for the characters are really unimaginative.  I have more of a problem with the latter because names are where things can be made or broken.  For instance, would you buy a Spider Man comic if the character was renamed "The Spider?"  Didn't think so.  This very thing is what causes problems for the Guardian Project.  Let's look at the Minnesota Wild's entry into this Project:

I like the rendering of the Wild's entry into this project, but naming it "The Wild" does nothing for me.  A far better name for this character would at the very least, make the project more interesting.  It doesn't have to stray too far from the Minnesota Wild name, but just simply calling it "The Wild" is a poor excuse for a name. Oh, and this kind of thing is common with all of the characters, though "The Predator" and "The Shark" are only a handful of names that actually make sense, since those are intimidating on their own.  However, it should not extend to teams like the Kings, Penguins, or Canadiens, as none of those inspire fear or awe on their own merits.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All Star Madness

So, the players for the 2011 All-Star Game in Raleigh, NC were announced yesterday, and predictably, there is some argument as to who belongs and who got snubbed.  The jerseys for the event were also revealed yesterday (above).  Before I begin my take on this event, I should direct you to the complete list of players that will be participating in the events of All-Star Weekend.

The teams have yet to be determined, as the teams won't be picked until the Friday before the game by two captains that no one knows about yet.  If I was a betting man, I would Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal, since they are the face of the league and the hometown player, respectively.  This selection of teams will offer a different dynamic in that the possibilities are endless as far as who will team with who.  As for the way the players were picked, I thought the idea of having rookies there for the Super Skills competition instead of the rookies vs. sophmores game, as it was in the past, is not a bad idea.  The players that will be participating in the actual game, that's a slightly different story.  The Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers, despite being near the top in their respective conferences, only have one representative each, being Nicklas Lidstrom and Claude Giroux, respectively.  Meanwhile, Ales Hemsky gets a spot on the roster.  I argue Edmonton's spot here, as I could just as easily argued for Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall here instead of Hemsky.  No offense to Hemsky, but I don't think he should be the Oilers' representative at the game.  Why not Hall or Eberle?  They're only a point behind Hemsky, and maybe a rookie can infuse some life in a glorified exhibition.  Another selection that raises some eyebrows here is Mike Green.  This year has been an off year by his standards, with only 21 points to account for to this point in the season.  Name recognition can do wonders for you, just ask Green and Marc Staal.  Staal is Eric's younger brother and only has 17 points.  Two players that could have made an argument for being snubbed: Keith Yandle and Mark Giordano.  Okay, Giordano would have been a stretch, given the Flames' struggles, but his numbers are slightly better than Green's.  Heck, an argument could have been made for the likes of Lubomir Visnovsky, Alexander Edler, and anyone ahead of Green in the points category.  Phoenix, by the way, does not have a representative in the actual All-Star game, which makes the Yandle snub all the more puzzling.  The fans' picks were mostly spot on, save for Marc-Andre Fleury, who would have still made it into the game, edging out Roberto Luongo.

All Star weekend begins on January 28 and will conclude with the game on the 30th, so mark your calendars because it promises to be interesting.  Tomorrow, I will speak about this Guardian Project that the NHL has going on that will coincide with the All Star festivities.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rush in Rio

And now for something off the beaten path: a Rush DVD.  Having been around for the better part of 40 years, this Canadian trio has endured a lot just to be around this long, and as evidenced by their most recent tour, they don't plan on slowing down anytime soon.  Today covers one of their many releases, as this blog takes you to Brazil, or more specifically, Rush is taking you to Brazil.  This DVD, filmed on the Vapor Trails tour in 2003, was shot on the band's first trek to Brazil, and looking at the crowd there (it was filmed in a football stadium, which should tell you how big music is in South America), they were ready to open their arms to Rush.  The band did not disappoint, as they played songs from their entire discography, ranging from songs off of Vapor Trails and Test for Echo to classics such as "Free Will" and "Spirit of Radio."  Nothing beats seeing a band in person, but DVDs such as Rush in Rio are proof that the experience is just as fruitful in the comfort of your own home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mood Music from Portland

It's been no secret that I like a lot of things Portland, and certainly, bands like Agalloch help to sway that opinion.  However, did you know that Portland is more than just doom metal music?  Exhibit A is a band called Disemballerina, which is made up of a cellist, viola/harp player, and a guitarist.  I know what you're saying, and yes, it is an interesting combination.  However, putting all three elements together makes for some somber mood music that would be ideal for a candle-lit dinner.  I discovered Disemballerina from an esteemed colleague at Cosmic Hearse, who did his own review here.  The demo is perfect for days when the sun decides to take a hike or if you simply want to relax.  If only Kansas City could produce a music project like this...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The KHL Experiment Gone Awry

It's rare that I will comment on hockey that isn't played on North American soil, since I'm the only person here that writes this blog and therefore, doesn't have the resources to cover anything outside this continent (read: televised games of European leagues), though that doesn't stop me from talking about Man U and Celtic FC (the team I love to hate and the team that has my full support, despite being in separate leagues in a completely different sport).  However, this little bit of news making the rounds this week has me intrigued.

The guy you see in the pic is Kyle Wellwood, ex-Maple Leaf and Canuck, who was recently released from his KHL (Russian League) team.  What's that?  You didn't know Wellwood was still playing hockey?  Then, you probably didn't know about Evgeni Nabokov having a life after the NHL, though he too, is no longer with his KHL team.  Back to Wellwood, he was a guy that had some potential as a second line player, but work ethic has often been an issue with him and is the focal point for why teams are unwilling to commit to him, thus his exodus to the KHL in the first place.  Now, news of his release from his team this year makes one wonder if Wellwood is destined to be a career journeyman who will be destined for the AHL or any other lower tier league.  Speaking of which, Mr. Wellwood, the Missouri Mavericks of the Central Hockey League would look like a good fit for you, and I would be the first to be on board for such a thing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Border War Hockey

The time after the NHL Winter Classic always seems to be a slow time, since there hasn't been much to write about, as evidenced by my inactivity the last two days.  However, as I was browsing through the paper yesterday, something caught my eye that I would not have thought of otherwise.  You see the picture and think, "Isn't this kind of thing only for football and basketball?"  The reality is that it extends to anything you want it to be.

The Kansas and Missouri rivalry dates back to the Civil War days, and despite my disdain for both schools, I found this little bit quite interesting.  I thought New Mexico having a college hockey team was odd, but now, there is in fact, a Missouri and Kansas squad.  Both teams are a part of the Mid-American Collegiate Hockey Association and features the likes of Purdue, Iowa, and Northwestern in the league.  Judging by the teams that make up the league, none of them pose much of a threat to a team like North Dakota or Maine.  Both Kansas and Missouri are slated to make their way to the Independence Events Center on the 20th of this month, and if you happen to be in the area, tickets can be purchased here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Music's a Bitch

Anyone who has ever been in a touring band, no matter the size of the tour, will tell you that there are rules to follow in keeping things well with the band.  Today's book review is about the reality of touring and adheres quite well with the dos and don'ts of touring.

Hardcore Logo is a book by Michael Turner, who himself has been in a few punk bands in his day.  The story follows Joe Dick, Billy Tallent, Pipe, and John, who are four guys that were in the band Hardcore Logo.  Following a storied breakup of the band, Joe decides to get the band back together for one last tour of Canada after getting a note from a promoter about playing a one-off show for a benefit.  This would lead to the band's last shot at "success," as the foursome decide to make their tour an all-acoustic affair.  Predictably, the results bring back some bad memories of the band's first time together.

A brutally honest take on the music scene and the touring aspect, Hardcore Logo is written in a manner that is easy to follow while keeping a certain archaic style associated with the punk rock music scene.  Recommended reading for anyone who likes music and those who aspire to one day be a part of a touring band.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hockey in the Land of Enchantment

While thinking about the things that I have written about this past year, and with the one year anniversary of this blog on the horizon, I thought of what it is that I should write about this time.  I've written about hockey in Kansas City and hockey in Portland, since they are the place that I live and the place that I would love to live in, respectively.  However, I have never really written about the place that I visit most frequently outside of Portland, so today will be all about the Land of Enchantment, otherwise known as New Mexico.

You'd be surprised to know that hockey in New Mexico is actually quite abundant, even though it doesn't get nearly the same attention that its neighbors in Arizona and Texas do.  In fact, you'd be surprised to know (and I was, too) that the University of New Mexico actually has a hockey team that plays in Division II of the ACHA.  Obviously, it won't be competing with the likes of Michigan or Boston U for the NCAA Championships anytime soon, but the idea of a college team south of say, Denver, sounds quite ludicrous at first thought.  As far as other teams go, there were the New Mexico Scorpions who played in the CHL (where the Missouri Mavericks play), and who are currently inactive in the league.  One team that is currently active is the Renegades, who are currently in the Western States Hockey League and play their games in Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque.  Another team that began play this season is the Mustangs of the North American Hockey Association, who are the affiliates of the Renegades.

Yes, the New Mexico hockey scene is there, as little there is, to the point where there is even a hockey league in Taos.  In one sense, this just goes to show that the Wayne Gretzky effect is far reaching, even in places like New Mexico.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Worst Season Ever

Before you go off and say that's terrible, keep in mind that it only really applies to two teams this season: the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils.  This was previously talked about in a piece a few weeks ago, but now that the Islanders have raised the equivalent of the white flag and the Devils are well on their way to threatening the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators for worst season ever (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but still...), one has to wonder where these two teams will rank in the annals of worst seasons ever.

First, let's look at three of the worst teams ever: the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks.  Both the Caps and Senators were in their first year of NHL existence in their respective years.  However, no team will ever be worse than the 1974-75 Capitals, not even this year's Devils, who have one more point right now (22) than the Caps did their entire first season.  How bad was it for the Caps that year?  Besides only having 21 points in the standings, they went through three different head coaches and were literally set back for years with a misfire of their first ever draft pick (Greg Joly in 1974).

The Ottawa Senators came close to being the worst team ever in 1992-93.  Along with the San Jose Sharks, the Senators had only 24 points in their first season.  Because the team had such low expectations, they considered that season a success, as they ended up with the first overall pick in 1993, who turned out to be Alexandre Daigle, widely considered one of the draft's biggest busts.  Meanwhile, the Sharks ended up with the most losses in the NHL ever.  Where the similarities end for the Sens and Sharks is that the Sharks made the playoffs the following season while the Sens continued to be basement dwellers until 1996.

Now, what does this have to do with the Isles and Devils this season?  Well, the Islanders have been awful since 1995, going through jersey makeovers approximately five times (if someone would like to earn a prize, count the number of times the Isles changed home and away jerseys since 1995.  Alternate jerseys do not count).  They have not won a playoff series since 1993, and have a history of notoriously bad contracts.  This year, bad luck in the injury department has made a trip back to respectability a tough road to hoe, and with a 14 game losing streak this season, it's no wonder the Isles waved the white flag on the season, trading James Wisniewski to Montreal and Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay in the past week.

At least the Islanders can actually make moves.  The Devils can't really say the same thing.  Beginning with the ludicrous 15 year contract totalling $100 million for Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils have dug a hole for themselves this season.  Coaching changes since 1995 are nothing new to the Devils; however, this year has been a comedy of errors on all fronts.  Kovalchuk hasn't lived up to half of the contract, Martin Brodeur has been injured and the goaltending behind him isn't even close to being competent, and the Devils have suited up less than the league maximum more than once.  One has to wonder if the Devils will even be able to sign whoever they take in the first round in this year's NHL draft.