Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Future of the Islanders

When it comes to doing pieces on hockey, the following is exactly the kind of piece that I abhor doing.  It's not because it isn't important because it is for the future of the New York Islanders in this instance.  Rather, it is because it shouldn't have to come to this and talking politics (of any kind) is clearly not a strength of mine.  Tomorrow, the fate of the Islanders will decided when voters in the area will decide if the team will get a new arena in Nassau County, where the current Nassau Coliseum is located.

Now, why the feeling that it should have never come to this?  The basic idea behind the vote on Monday is because the owner, Charles Wang, wants a new arena built for the Islanders.  Here is one reason for and against this idea, as I see it:  the reason for is that the current Nassau Coliseum is a dump.  No other way to describe it, really.  So, what's the reason why it hasn't happened yet?  According to sources familiar with the situation, Wang wants the taxpayers to foot the bill.  Now, given Wang's track record as Islanders' owner, he hasn't exactly been the kind of owner the Islanders, or any other team for that matter, should want to bat for them.  When it comes to the contracts of Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro, who was the guy that ultimately green-lighted those deals?  If you answered Wang, step on up and claim your prize of absolutely nothing.  Now, granted he is trying to do what's best for the team, it seems that many of those decisions don't pan out the way he intended.  If he wants this measure to pass, it would be a good idea if he puts some of his own money where his mouth is, and not rely on the taxpayers to foot the entire bill.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lords of Chaos

In relation to the recent events of Norway, and the fact that I have had the book that I am reviewing today for ten years now, this review will be a special two part review.  Lords of Chaos: the Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground was originally published in 1998 and would see a revised, updated version in 2003.  The authors, Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind, did a pretty good job of examining the events of the early 90's in Norway as it related to the Black Metal scene, as well as try and put a face to the ideas that drove those actions, and the subsequent thoughts.  Why are there two parts to this review, you ask?  This part will be devoted to my thoughts when I first bought the book and the part that will follow will be devoted to my thoughts now that I don't have the rose-colored glasses on that I did when I first read the book.  So, without further ado, here is part one:

When I first picked up Lords of Chaos all those years ago, I was an impressionable youth that had recently gained some level of independence, having finished the first year of college.  Being in that purgatory that existed between the rebellious years of high school and what would eventually be the calmer final years of college, finding individuality was always the thing that drove many of my decisions.  So, when I picked up Lords of Chaos and leafed through the pages, the sections that I read most frequently were of the actual murders and church burnings.  For obvious (and not so obvious reasons) those were the things that got my interest.  I bypassed the "psychology" parts of the book because at the time, I thought it was mindless drivel that feebly attempted to get an understanding for why the things that happened.  Even the origins part, the first couple chapters or so of the book, were considered by my admission at the time, total BS.  All I seemed to care about in the book were the actual murders and the thoughts of those who actually in some way, shape, or form, participated in the events.

And now, the review, in the present state of mind:

In revisiting Lords of Chaos, the main idea was to see where my thoughts were then and how they have changed from that point in time.  This was actually the first time that I read the book from beginning to end instead of skipping around.  It's quite amazing just how much things can change from the early 90's to today.  Black metal, in its core from the late 80's through early 90's, was as much about individuality as it was turning thoughts into action.  Uncompromising, raw, unpleasant to the average listener, these were things that defined the genre in those days.  Today, there just simply isn't a defined set of rules for black metal.  Seemingly, anyone can do it nowadays, be it those stuck in the time warp or those who for the lack of a better term, have nothing better to do than to fulfill their douchebag quota.  In terms of origins, it's fascinating to note that many of the bands such as Black Sabbath and Venom used the facade of Satan as a promotional tool.  The infant stages of black metal had the idea of going farther than that, putting theory to practice, which led to among other things, church burnings and murder.  For all intents and purposes, it seems that the black metal war against Christianity will be an eternal one, for every side that is involved in war, large or small, needs a viable enemy to justify its existence.  There is no doubt that the crimes committed under the auspices of music will continue to fuel a fire within, but the more that I read into Lords of Chaos, the more I realized that every ideal has its strengths and weaknesses, and those who don't have a clear head when making such decisions will be the first ones out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


When I started this blog a year and a half ago, I did so with the intent of talking hockey and baseball.  However, as time and things go along, this blog has become more of a hockey blog, with everything else that interests me coming in as it happens.

Today, I get to talk some baseball.  Unfortunately, it isn't about trade talks or anything related to the actual game going on right now.  In fact, it's actually sad news.  Coming across the news wires, former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead yesterday afternoon.  Early reports say suicide, which adds a sad end to what was a star-crossed career.  Irabu was the second Japanese player to make it to the MLB after Hideo Nomo.  Like Nomo, Irabu came in with some considerable hype.  However, he never lived up to the billing, being called a "fat toad" by then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.  A 34-35 record with a 5.15 ERA in his time with the Yankees, Expos, and Rangers marked his six years in Major League Baseball.

His numbers in the US were nothing special, but his lasting legacy is being one of the first Japanese players to make it in the Major Leagues, which now include the likes of Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, Koskue Fukudome, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Today is a bittersweet day, as the San Francisco band Ludicra has decided to call it a day.  One of the more underrated bands prior to last year, they started getting more recognition with the release of The Tenant, which made a few year end lists.  Despite getting stiffed on the aborted Mayhem tour and the health problems of guitarist John Cobbett (which forced a few missed dates on the repackaged headlining tour with Krallice), Ludicra persevered through it all.  They leave at their very best, which is something most bands can't or won't do.

I got to see Ludicra on Halloween weekend in 2009, and while the show itself was great, it was a bonus to see the drummer kick ass...literally, and still play the show afterwards.

I leave this piece with something to remember Ludicra by:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Insane Asylum

Book reviews can often happen at an irregular pace, and certainly, this blog's curator is no exception when it comes to that.  However, since I have in fact finished a book (after three months), I can grace this blog with yet another book review.  Today's selection is not only a great book, but it was also turned into an equally great book (Some say the movie is better than the book, and in the rare instance, it is true here).  The Ken Kesey novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is told through the eyes of Chief Bromden, who happens to be an inhabitant of the Asylum that is headed up by the Big Nurse, who keeps everything in order.  However, that all changes when Randle Patrick McMurphy enters the asylum from a prison work program.  Soon, it becomes a war of wills between the Big Nurse and McMurphy for control of the ward members.

The mechanical nature in which the asylum is run is told in such a way that the asylum is more of a machine factory than an actual insane asylum.  The slow turn in which the inmates soon go from weak-minded to free-thinking is just that: slow, which furthers the McMurphy/Big Nurse storyline that builds to a fairly big finish.  While the movie version gets all of the recognition (and rightfully so), the book is underrated in its narrative that presents a cold, sterile atmosphere.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Isle Ridicule

The player in the picture above is Alexei Yashin.  Before I get to why I am talking about him, I'd like to say that the turtleneck look he sports is fantastic, and I sometimes don that look, only with the mock turtlenecks.  Now, the real reason why Yashin is being talked about is that there are rumors of him returning to the New York Islanders.  As you may recall, Yashin was given a 10 year, $87.5 million contract in 2001 after being obtained from the Ottawa Senators.  After the 2006-07 season, he was bought out by the Islanders and went to the KHL.  An equally unsuccessful campaign there has him thinking about a return to the NHL, and possibly the Islanders.

Yashin's history points to not only an inconsistent effort on the ice, but also a big ego off of it.  From the time he was drafted by the Senators in 1992 (second overall), he has had a star-crossed career.  Two contract disputes in his time with Ottawa overshadowed his offensive output (94 points in the 1998-99 season was his career high), with him missing half of the 1995-96 season and the entire 1999-2000 season.  The latter included the Senators stripping him of the captaincy and an unsuccessful play for free agency status after that season.  He would be traded to the Islanders after the 2000-01 season and sign the big contract.  However, his best year on the ice with the Islanders was his first year, where he managed 75 points.  He never broke that total for the rest of his time with the Islanders (or in the KHL, for that matter).  He was bought out after the 2006-07 season, and the Islanders are still on the hook for $2.2 million.  The rumor of Yashin even returning to the Islanders is certainly a head scratcher, as the Isles have the talent in place, with John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, and Kyle Okposo representing the team's youth movement and Mark Streit returning from injury.  Yashin will be 38 during the season, and his numbers in the last decade don't suggest that he will help the team.  Given that the Isles need a positive veteran presence to help out, Yashin is the last guy the Isles even need to look at, let alone any other team.  If Yashin does return to the Islanders, here's hoping Trevor Gillies has his fighting hat on.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Going Winnipeg on You

Last night, I talked about the new Winnipeg Jets logos and gave some thoughts about them.  Today, to celebrate this development from last night, this blog will abandon the blue and green for a week in favor of the colors that adorn the new Jets: a darker shade of blue, red, white, and gray.  This blog will be back to its regular colors on August 1.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Winnipeg Jets!

Even though it's the middle of July and incredibly hot to the point of being able to bake a pizza outside on the asphalt, today almost feels like Christmas.  Why, you ask?  Today is the day that the new Winnipeg Jets franchise unveiled their logos.  As you can tell, they maintained much of the former incarnation's color scheme, with the blue becoming darker and adding gray to the color scheme.  The big logo you see is the team's main logo, and the one on the upper right corner is most likely the shoulder patches for the future jerseys.  On the lower right hand corner is the team's wordmark logo.  Seemingly every time new teams, be it brand new or relocated, unveil new logos, it brings a sense of excitement, and with the new Winnipeg Jets, I am genuinely excited about this development.  The waiting game still exists for the jerseys, which will probably be in September.

Belgo Anise IRS

Having not done one of these beer reviews in a while, and there are a few others that I haven't reviewed, but tried in recent months, today's beer tasting is from the folks at Stone Brewery.  A limited release, the Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout (hence, the title of this piece, and no, not Irwin R. Schyster of the old WWF) is according to the bottle, an "odd year release" and has a 10.5 ABV.  It's not quite as dark as a normal stout, but the smell is quite good.  For a beer as strong as this, it's surprisingly easy to digest, but the flavor leaves a little to be desired (read: I expected more out of it than what I got).  While it is relatively easy to drink, it's not recommended  lest you want to make friends with the floor.  According to the bottle, it is best enjoyed at 55 degrees (F) and should be allowed to sit unopened for 3-6 months...that is, if you can get your hands on one, as it is a limited release (from what I understand).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Evil Dead II

From the minds of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi comes a movie that is considered a horror classic.  Evil Dead II is the sequel to one of the scariest horror movies in American Cinema Evil Dead.  The sequel wraps up the loose ends to the first movie while setting up what would eventually be the third and final movie in the series Army of Darkness.  The second movie isn't nearly as scary as the first and not as quote friendly as the third movie, but what it can claim to be is the perfect movie in the sense that it combines the two and maintains a balance that few movies can claim.  Evil Dead II also has some hilarious moments that would carry over onto Army of Darkness.  Whereas many people claim Evil Dead II to be a classic, it's just another day at the office for Bruce Campbell, who simply makes movies that people will be talking about for a long time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Deal that Was (Not Was)

Tomorrow marks one year since the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga began.  For those who don't remember, the basic story is that Kovalchuk signed with the New Jersey Devils for 17 years...only to have that rejected.  He would later sign a 15 year deal that was finally accepted.  What has happened since then?  Let's take a look:

  • New Jersey failed to reach the minimum for players dressed on a couple of games during the season.
  • The Devils went through three coaches between the time it started and today: John MacLean, Jaques Lemaire, and Peter DeBoer.
  • Martin Brodeur can no longer carry the Devils in the same manner that he did in his prime.  Granted, he is nearing 40, but too much was placed on him last season.
  • At one point, the Devils were neck and neck with the New York Islanders...for the first overall pick in the past draft.
  • Kovalchuk managed 31 goals and 60 points.  For a guy who's pulling down nine figures over the life of his contract, those are disappointing numbers, especially since Kovalchuk is capable of 50 goals every year.
  • The Devils' biggest acquisition this year?  Adam Larsson, who was the fourth overall pick in this year's draft.
Given that the Devils didn't have a lot of room to even make decent sized acquisitions, one could look back at the Ilya Kovalchuk contract and wonder what would have happened if the Devils weren't so desperate for offense.  Now, there are fewer double-digit contract years for players since Kovalchuk, and the Devils still need to account for Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, two players who just so happen to be good offensive options.  And don't forget that Martin Brodeur will eventually retire, and the Devils don't have a solid future plan in goal.  If the Devils make the playoffs this coming season, it will be a surprise, given the Devils' problems trying to field a team within a salary cap.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Wizard of Os(good)

Here's a question: can you name the 10 players who have the most wins in NHL history?  (waits a few minutes)  What if I told you that Chris Osgood is in that list?  Don't believe me?  I don't believe it, either, but with a total of 401 wins in his career, that puts him 10th on that list of all-time winningest goaltenders.  As of today, Osgood has officially taken a position with the team he has had the most success with in the Detroit Red Wings.  Despite the 401 wins in the regular season, it was in the playoffs that he made his mark, as the 2.09 GAA and 74-49 record can attest.  Despite all of that, he hasn't gotten the attention that the likes of Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur have gotten.  Of the top 10 in wins, only Curtis Joseph is not in the Hall of Fame, which naturally begs the question of whether Osgood belongs in the Hall when his time comes.  He's hardly ever been mentioned in the same breath as those above him in wins, but he has also been a winner, and three Stanley Cups (he was a starter for two of those) is a difficult thing to argue.  It's been a wonderful career for the goalie with the now-odd looking helmet/cage mask combo, and he has certainly earned every win, even if he doesn't get any credit for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Yesterday, Japan won the Women's World Cup and congratulations are in order for both Japan and the United States for a great game yesterday.  However, it is only a coincidence that I cover today's movie, Ikiru.  The movie is a 1952 classic from Akira Kurosawa, who you will undoubtedly remember for Seven Samurai and Rashomon.  This 1952 classic was in many ways, an atypical Kurosawa movie, as the central story revolves around Kanji Watanabe, who only has months left after learning he has stomach cancer.  There are two parts to this movie: Watanabe trying to find meaning in his life and the people who knew him trying to make sense of his actions after his death.  The main purpose of this movie is not the life and death part, as that is set in stone.  Instead, Ikiru focuses on Watanabe's attempts to find a way to leave some kind of legacy for others.

There are many questions that can be picked from the movie, including why it takes a life threatening event to motivate a person to live, the state of Watanabe's relationship with his son, which seemingly was a one way street until the elder's death, and how exactly a change in hats can, if at all, change the way a man lives.  The movie is in black and white (no surprise, since it was made in 1952), is in Japanese with English subtitles, which is optional (it's a good idea to watch it without, but if you must, the subtitles are there to help you along), and runs over two hours.  The existentialist style in which this movie runs is obviously not for everyone, but if you have the time and patience to sit through this movie, then it is worth every second.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wojtek Wolski

The end of the Poland Adventures brings us to present time, and a Polish-born player by the name of Wojtek Wolski.  Born in Zabrze, Poland, he would move to Toronto in 1989 with his parents and his brother.  He would play his junior hockey with the Brampton Battalion of the OHL.  In 2004, he would be a first round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche, and play his first season in 2005-06.  A trade to Phoenix at the deadline in 2009-10 season would be followed by a trade midseason to the New York Rangers the following season.  To date, he has scored 91 goals and 155 assists, numbers that aren't exactly becoming for an offensive force that has been in the NHL for six years in the face of an offense-friendly league since the lockout of 2004-05.  This coming season, the Rangers will be looking to him for some secondary scoring behind Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Krzysztof Oliwa

Today's player is the definition of "Polish Power" when it comes to the NHL.  Born in Tychy, Poland, Krzysztof Oliwa was drafted in 1993 by the New Jersey Devils and made his NHL debut in the 1996-97 season.  In his career, Oliwa's legacy in the NHL was that of enforcer.  He parlayed that into a Stanley Cup in 2000 with the Devils.  He was taken by Columbus in the Expansion Draft after the 1999-2000 season, but only suited up for 10 games before going to Pittsburgh midseason.  He would spend a year and a half with Pittsburgh before going to the New York Rangers the following season.  He would make one more Stanley Cup Final appearance with Calgary in the 2003-04 season and finish his NHL career with New Jersey in 2005-06.  17 goals and 28 assists for a player that was in the NHL for a decade isn't impressive, but almost 1,500 PIM should tell you all there was to Krzysztof Oliwa's game.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mariusz Czerkawski

Born in Radomsko, Poland, Mariusz Czerkawski is perhaps the most successful Polish-born NHLer to date. He was also the first Polish-born player to have also been trained in the country, playing with GKS Tychy prior to being drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1991.  He would spend three years after that playing in the Swedish leagues before making his debut with Boston in the 1993-94 season.  The lockout-shortened 1994-95 season would be his official rookie year, one that would see him amass 12 goals and 14 assists.  Midway through the 1995-96 season, he would be traded to Edmonton, where he would spend a season and a half.  The New York Islanders would acquire him in 1997, and from 1997 through 2002, he would put up his best offensive numbers, topping the 30 goal mark twice.  The 2002-03 season was split between Montreal and its minor league affiliate in Hamilton, ON.  He returned to Long Island the following year and posted 25 goals.  His last NHL season was in 2005-06, where he split time between Toronto and Boston.  He would play two more seasons in the Swiss Leagues before retiring.  His NHL totals included 215 goals and 220 assists; respectable numbers and good enough to be at the head of the Polish line.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Peter Sidorkiewicz

Today's trek to Poland takes us to the more recent times of the late 80's and early 90's, and to a goalie named Peter Sidorkiewicz.  Born in the small town of Dabrowa Bialostocka, Poland, he would move with his parents to Oshawa, ON, where he would play his junior hockey.  Drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1981, he would not suit up for the parent club, and he would eventually be traded to Hartford in 1985.  In fact, he would not see NHL action until the 1987-88 season.  He would become a regular the following season, and would be the undisputed starter the season after.  In 1992, he would be claimed by the Ottawa Senators in the Expansion Draft, but only play one season with the team.  Though he was an All-Star in his only season with Ottawa, he was also in most of the games when Ottawa had its worst season ever, with Sidorkiewicz being on the hook for 46 of the losses and a 4.43 GAA.  He would be traded to New Jersey in 1993, but would only see four games in the rest of his career (3 in 1993-94 and one more in 1997-98), as most of his time was spent in the minors.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nick Harbaruk

Day 2 of the Polish Invasion brings us to right winger that played five seasons in the NHL and two and a half more in the WHA by the name of Nick Harbaruk.  Born in Drohiczyn during the time of World War II, he would immigrate to Toronto with his family at the age of five.  Prior to the 1969-70 season, Harbaruk would toil in the AHL, CPHL, WHL, and CHL before being acquired by Pittsburgh.  He would spend four seasons with the franchise before being traded to St. Louis prior to the 1973-74 season.  A year later, he would sign with the Indianapols Racers of the WHA and play two and a half seasons with the team before finishing his playing career in 1976-77 with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the CHL.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Joe Jerwa

Part one of the NHL players born in Poland series begins with the first player to play in the NHL that had origins in the Kielbasa capital of the world in Joe Jerwa.  Born in Warsaw in 1907, he, like many other Polish-born players who followed, would move to North America as a child.  His first NHL season was in 1930-31 with the New York Rangers.  In that season, he would split time between the Rangers and Springfield Indians of the CanAm League.  A trade to the Boston Bruins the following year began a time in which he spent most of the four years in the Bruins system playing for the Boston Cubs of the CanAm League.  He would suit up for the Bruins for a time in the 1931-32 and 1933-34 seasons.  In 1935, he was traded to the New York Americans, where he would spend a year there before going back to the Bruins the following year.  His return to Boston was short-lived however, as he went back to the Americans in the middle of the 1936-37 season.  His last NHL season was in 1938-39 with the Americans.  He would finish his playing career with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL.  In all, he would go on to play over 200 games in the NHL, and his best year would be his first stint with the Americans, amassing 9 goals and 12 assists.  For more information on Jerwa, the Hockey Hall of Fame site is a good place to go.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Off to the Land of Kielbasa

Summer is traditionally a slow season for a lot of things, and being that this is mostly a hockey blog, it is doubly so for the sport.  No dramas about where the big fish will sign (read: Ilya Kovalchuk and his adventures last year), no impending doom scenarios (NBA lockout this year), and nothing of major note to talk about (my own adventures).  So, how does one fill time and space for this blog?  Why, take a (virtual) trip to a land that doesn't produce many NHL players, past and present, of course.  This week, it just so happens to be the country of Poland, as you can tell by the flag that is being shown, and if you didn't know that, now you know.  Despite being in the Eastern Bloc of Europe, Poland doesn't quite churn out the NHL players that their counterparts in Russia do, but they do field a team for international play, and like many who do field a team, there are a handful of players who have, at some point or another, played in the NHL.  Through the magic of research, I will do my best to write something about the players who have Polish origins this coming week (and longer, if needed).

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Today, the band Motörhead lost a member of  its extensive family with the death of Würzel.  Born Mick Burston, he would be best known as one of the guitarists in Motörhead from 1984 until 1995.  The pinnacle of his time in the band?  See for yourself:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Anaheim Everywhere

Going through the closet of the franchise now simply known as the Anaheim Ducks, the wordy logo that adorns the front of their current jerseys doesn't exactly leave much to the imagination...other than the webbed "D."  If you want to look for something to blame for that, look no further than the picture you see here.  What you see here is Corey Perry, long before he became a Hart Trophy winner, wearing what was the last alternate jersey the Ducks would fashion before dropping the "Mighty" from their name.  Considering the team's history with alternate jerseys until 2006, this was sadly the best looking one of the bunch, with the "Wild Wing" and the far too busy threads that followed after that debacle, as you can see in the picture below (the two on the right).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The New Jersey Blues

Last year was to have been St. Louis' breakthrough year as far as being perennial playoff contenders go.  A funny thing happened along the way, and it was an all too familiar refrain for the Blues: injuries.  The prized acquisition from last year Jaroslav Halak struggled with injuries, both personally and to his teammates around him, and the Blues ended up missing the playoffs...again.  The Blues hope this year is different, and to that end, signed two players who have a lot of miles on them, as well as a few Stanley Cup rings in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott.  Both are coming off of down years, which if you were watching the New Jersey Devils last year, is not surprising, but both will provide veteran leadership that was missing when Eric Brewer was traded at the deadline and a winning mentality that was sorely lacking everywhere except in goal. What does this mean for the youngsters on the Blues?  Plenty, if they want to know how to win, and given the talent potential from players such as Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart, and David Backes, St. Louis has a lot of ability, but needs a way to harness that potential, and that is where Langenbrunner and Arnott, both former captains (and one of them could be named captain for this upcoming season), will figure into the equation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Carolina Man

What does three years and $12.75 million buy you?  If you're the Carolina Hurricanes, it buys you a Stanley Cup winner who has posted good numbers from the blue line, which is exactly what Tomas Kaberle happens to be.  The long time Maple Leaf was traded at the deadline last season to Boston, where he didn't exactly light up the stat sheets like he did in Toronto, but he did get to raise the Stanley Cup, something that another long time Maple Leaf Mats Sundin never did, despite having that chance when he was given an opportunity to play for a contending team at the deadline in the 2007-08 season.  Kaberle will now join the team that his older brother Frantisek used to play for and won a Stanley Cup with in Carolina.  Though he is 33, Kaberle could be the power play quarterback that Carolina needs and one that he wasn't in his short time in Boston.  Carolina is also less of a pressure cooker than Toronto or Boston, which should be a good thing for a guy who is used to the pressure and (mostly) succeeding.  The only issue: the dollar figures for the contract.  $4 million a year (on average) sounds a little excessive, but given that most teams seem to overpay for talent this year (and every other year), this deal sounds relatively sane.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

Since the hockey news is mostly limited to free agent signings, and many of them aren't significant enough to even dissect here, that leaves a pretty big hole to fill for things to post here.  So, for your amusement (or not), here's some really bad poetry:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wild Days

I've been absent for a few days while the free agency period has begun with owners overpaying for players (read: Brad Richards' 9 year, $60 million deal with the Rangers and James Wisniewski's 6 year, $33 million deal with Columbus) and fans of their teams scratching their heads at some of the signings (see: Jaromir Jagr signing with Philadelphia).  In an attempt to keep everything rational, I have not put thoughts to the blog and other than the small update on favorite players leaving the Canucks (both Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien signed with Winnipeg over the weekend, which actually increases my like for the new Winnipeg team), have said nothing about the signings.  Today, that changes, though today's thought subject is actually a trade.

This morning, the San Jose Sharks made a trade with (wait for it) the Minnesota Wild, where Dany Heatley and Martin Havlat switched places.  What does this mean?  Well, the Wild get a player who can score goals and is looking to redeem himself after a so-so last season.  The Wild get a second-tier star who was actually an All-Star last season and can set up goals for the likes of Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton.  That is not the reason why I am writing this piece, though.  No, it's about Heatley, and the potential that has still yet to be realized.  Sure, you know about his playoff failures in recent years, but it goes beyond that.  It began with his first three seasons in Atlanta, where his potential was first realized in his rookie year, where he edged out then-teammate Ilya Kovalchuk for the Calder Trophy.  The following year, he was the MVP of the All-Star Game and looked well on his way to superstardom.  Then, one fateful night in late September, the car he was driving was involved in an accident that killed teammate Dan Snyder.  Heatley would miss half of the season while recovering from injuries in that accident.

Prior to the 2005-06 season, Heatley was traded to Ottawa in a deal that saw Marian Hossa go to Atlanta.  His goal totals in Ottawa were 50, 50, 41, and 39 in his time there.  The last season, however, saw him clash with coach Cory Clouston over playing time.  While asking for a trade, he nixed a trade in the offseason that would have sent him to Edmonton.  He would eventually be traded to San Jose prior to the 2009-10 season. In his two seasons with San Jose, he amassed 39 and 26 goals.  In San Jose, the numbers don't tell the whole story, as he was demoted to the second line in favor of Devin Setoguchi, who ironically, was traded to Minnesota a week earlier.  Questions about his skating also came to surface last season, as he was eventually demoted to third line duties in the playoffs.

Going to Minnesota, he won't have the likes of Joe Thornton on the same line, but he should definitely be motivated because Minnesota is as hockey mad as the people in San Jose and Ottawa, and clearly, this trade was performance related, and despite having a few more points than the guy he was traded for, the Sharks wanted better skating, which to them, necessitated his trade.  Heatley has a chance to be the face of the Minnesota Wild, and I would love to be able to see that happen, but he has to help himself, not just on the ice, but also off of it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Market Time

With the turn of the calendar to July, this is when the hockey talk slows to a total crawl.  It is also the day in which the free agency period begins, and before this year's free agency market even began, a few potential names were taken off.  You know the names that will be up for grabs, so today's piece will be about those who were supposed to be on the market, but were signed prior to today.  To that end, the list of players signed prior to today and how it impacts the team they signed with will be listed below.

Kevin Bieksa: What a strange season it's been for Bieksa.  From being rumored to be involved in a trade to Columbus to his Gordie Howe hat trick against San Jose in the playoffs, he is now signed to the Canucks for five more years at what can be best described as a "hometown discount."  He was the best Canucks defenseman last year, and with Dan Hamhuis as his blue line partner, Bieksa will offer some offense and will even drop the gloves.

Maxim Lapierre: When it comes to the bottom two lines on the Canucks, none fit the description better than mid-season acquisition Lapierre.  The definition of "villain," he was a great fit for the team, particularly in the playoffs.  Two more years of Lapierre is great for Vancouver and bad for everyone else.

Ilya Bryzgalov: Traded to Philadelphia before he hit free agency, he was signed to a nine year deal by the Flyers.  To do this, the Flyers traded away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in separate deals.  Seemingly, the Flyers are not done dealing, but nine years is way too much for any goaltender, let alone one who doesn't have the playoff pedigree a playoff contender like the Flyers covet.

Christian Ehrhoff: Traded twice, to the New York Islanders and then to Buffalo, he was eventually signed to a 10 year, $40 million dollar deal by Buffalo.  Buffalo still needs forward help in terms of offense, but Ehrhoff will be a good addition to a blue line that has a shutdown defenseman (Robyn Regehr) and a promising tower of power (Tyler Myers).

Brooks Laich:  Signed to a 6 year deal by Washington, he is the heart and soul type of player every team would love to have, and Washington was wise to keep him before he hit free agency.

Dwayne Roloson: Tampa Bay will still need someone to spell him for at least a game a week, but Roloson is exactly the player Tampa Bay needs while they develop their young players in goal.  And he can still steal a game or two if needed.

Tomas Kopecky: Overshadowed by the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, Kopecky was traded to Florida before free agency, and was signed to a deal by the Panthers.

Jussi Jokinen: Carolina needs offense, and Jokinen has scored 30 goals in a season recently for the Hurricanes.  Not on the level of Eric Staal, but a definite solid second line player, and a wise re-signing.