Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another One Gone

On the eve of the 2011-12 NHL Season Preview, this bit of sad news crossed the wire a few hours ago.  Former NHL defenseman Wade Belak was found dead around 1:30 PM this afternoon.  No word on cause of death, but foul play is not suspected.  He had been scheduled to be on the CBC show "Battle of the Blades," the Canadian equivalent of the American show "Dancing with the Stars."  He was also slated to be a part of the Nashville Predators broadcast booth this coming season.

Belak was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round of the 1994 draft.  He would see time with the Colorado Avalanche (the ex-Nordiques), Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators before announcing his retirement shortly before the 2011 playoffs.  His claim to fame was dropping the gloves, and his time in the spotlight shone the brightest when he was a Maple Leaf.  Off the ice, he was, like most enforcers, a good guy who was more than just a fighter.  Belak parlayed his sense of humor into a segment with Leafs TV called "Wade a Minute," as well as a show on BiteTV called the "Wade Belak Show."

Last Stop Before the Preview

Tomorrow begins the 30 day preview of the 2011-12 season, and this has been a long time coming.  Today however, I get to write about a movie.  Creepshow 2 is the follow up to the original Creepshow.  However, this version is not directed by George A. Romero, nor does it feature an all-star cast like the original.  What the sequel does is hold its own with three stories that were Stephen King-inspired (sadly, King does not make an appearance in any of them).  "Ol' Woodhead" is your average cursed inanimate object come to life to avenge its owners' deaths.  The deaths are done quite nicely, but they are also done too quickly for my tastes.  "The Raft" is four teenagers who spend a day at the lake, only to be swallowed by what can best be described as an oil spill come to life.  Nothing outwardly spectacular, but decent enough to be here.  "The Hitcher" was the best of the three, with a woman trying to shake off a hitchhiker that she ran over.  The relentlessness of the hitcher adds a scare element that was sorely missing from "Ol' Woodhead," particularly when you line it up with one of the thieves from the first story trying to shoot the wooden Indian.  The segues are mainly animated, giving it more of a comic book feel, but Billy comes across as a total jerk.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Double Wide

The 2011-12 NHL Season Preview is just two days away (thank fuck), and Opening Night is October 6, which squarely puts it on the first full day of my week away from home.  Until then, today is a beer review, and from the Boulevard Company comes another in the Smokestack series.  The Double Wide IPA is one of the better beers in the series, as there is much flavor and the color is in line with what you would expect from an IPA.  It is also one of the more abundant beers in the series, meaning that it is more accessible if you're working within a budget.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Swastikas in Hockey

Before anyone goes off and complains about what will be written today, let it be known that the subject of today's piece has absolutely nothing to do with racism or hatred.  In fact, the subject of today's piece had in fact, existed long before the "swastika" was stigmatized after World War II.

In the time between 1905 and 1926, there were three hockey teams that were actually calling themselves the Swastikas.  Two of those teams were women's teams from Edmonton and Fernie, and a third originated in Windsor, Nova Scotia and was a part of the Western Nova Scotia Amateur Hockey League.  The male team operated from 1905 until 1916, when that operation ceased operations, as most of its players were fighting in World War I.

Edmonton Swastikas in 1916
Not much is known about the Edmonton Swastikas team, as there isn't much written about them.  However, the Fernie Swastikas were also in existence, and just so happened to be the last team to use the Swastikas name.  That team operated from 1922 until 1926, and almost two decades later, the "swastika" came to be symbolized with Hitler and Nazi Germany, and a symbol that is frowned upon in the Americas and is outright banned in Germany.

Fernie Swastikas in 1922

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Getting Closer...

Starting this Thursday, the 2011-12 NHL Season preview as seen by this blog's point of view will commence.  As you know, there will be changes, such as the Atlanta Thrasher becoming the Winnipeg Jets, the Nashville Predators having a makeover, and the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers, and Edmonton Oilers all having new jerseys, one way or another.  And Tampa Bay's new look will officially hit the ice after being first introduced in the middle of last season.  As to the theme of this blog's preview, I think the idea of horror movie deaths ought to work, so weak stomachs need not apply.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

6 More Days

The Summer of No Hockey is almost at an end.  After days of absolutely no hockey news to report, today marks less than a week before the 2011-12 NHL preview.  So, how can I make this preview interesting, you ask?  Last year, Yahoo did a pro wrestling themed preview, so that is out.  Horror movie themed preview?  Bank on long as I don't get bored midway through.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Green Men Victim Retires

Yes, it is a slow period in hockey, as this is the time in which the free agency signings come to an agonizing crawl and the preview is still seven days away.  So, this bit of news somehow qualifies as something worthy.  Dave Scatchard, who had played for Vancouver, Boston, Nashville, and St. Louis, among others, retired on Monday.  Why does it matter?  It offers me an excuse to have this video posted:

That game was the advent of the Green Men at the Vancouver Canucks home games, and it just never gets old...until the next set of hi-jinks that the Green Men pull.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Worst Jersey Ever?

Word on the grapevine is that the New York Islanders are wanting to introduce a new third jersey for the 2011-12 season.  As a team that desperately needs any good news, this proposed design that you see is not even close.  This design is pretty much an alteration to a proposed design that was leaked earlier this month.

 As you can see from both designs, the gray in the latest design has replaced the white, and the numbering and lettering are unconfirmed, as opposed to the outwardly horrid lettering on the player names, complete with clashing nameplates.  Now, as far as the latest leak goes, this isn't just bad, this is "worse than those Atlanta Thrashers home and alternate jerseys from last year" bad, which mind you, says a lot.  The best way to voice your opinion on this potential jersey besides "Dear fucking Christ, NO!"  With your wallet, particularly if this actually gets out onto the streets, as in don't waste your money on this garbage.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Nothing significant to say about today's hockey news, outside of the increasing unfunny bits that make up Yahoo writer Ryan Lambert's "What We Learned" section, so today is about beer.  As you can see, today's selection is from the Boulevard Smokestack series and is the Saison-Brett Belgian Ale. You will note the color, which is a golden tone, and the Boulevard people were careful in crafting this beer.  This beer is best enjoyed the longer you let it sit after pulling it out from refrigeration, but the taste (and the smell for that matter) seems to come and go at inopportune times.  The ABV is 8.5, which means you had better pace yourself if you're the only one drinking this beer.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eddie Returns

As you know, I am a fan of heavy metal music, and in a piece some time ago, I wrote about Roman Turek and his incorporation of the Iron Maiden mascot Eddie into the design of his masks.  Today, this fun little bit came across the wire, and it ties in with not only Eddie, but also the new Winnipeg Jets team.  As you can tell, this mask is the design that Chris Mason will be wearing for the 2011-12 season. Taken from the Aces High (single) album cover, it's a nice way to tie in two things that go together, and is also a cool looking mask on its own.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Drury Retires

The man you see in the picture is Chris Drury, and yesterday, he announced his retirement after 12 seasons in the NHL.  From his Little League Baseball days, which have been well documented, he was a winner, leading his Trumbull, CT team to the championship in 1989.  He was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, but would play four seasons of college hockey, where he would win the Hobey Baker award his senior season.  He made his debut in 1998 for the Colorado Avalanche, who had moved from Quebec in 1996, and won the Calder Trophy that year.  In 2001, he would be a part of the Stanley Cup winning Avalanche team.  The ill-fated trade (for Colorado) to Calgary in the 2002 offseason would see him play just one year there before he would be traded to Buffalo.  His best offensive years would be found there, as he played from 2003 until 2007.  This offensive prowess in his time would lead to a big contract with the New York Rangers after the 2006-07 season, where he ended up with his worst seasons.  Injuries in the 2010-11 season would force his retirement yesterday.  Drury's legacy in the NHL is one of leadership and the ability to play when the stage lights shine the brightest, most notably in the Avalanche playoff runs of the early 2000's and on the international stage with Team USA.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Timbers Thoughts

Last night was one of those rare moments when I could break out my Portland Timbers shirt and have it actually be relevant.  You see, they were in town last night to take on Sporting KC (I don't get all those who think that name sucks because it actually rolls off the tongue, but I digress).  Some of the personnel was actually in town the day before the game, and I was quite fortunate to procure an autograph from one of them (the goalkeeper coach).  The day of the match, I also happened to see one of the players at a coffee shop.  Given my nature, I didn't approach him, as I figured he was busy with whatever it was he was doing.  As luck had it, he approached me, since he had to notice the Timbers shirt I was wearing, and a few short words later, I wished him and the team luck.  Unfortunately, the Timbers didn't do so well, losing 3-1 and avoiding a clean sheet in the 81' minute.  The other big story out of the game: Bobble Head Gate.  Last night was Omar Bravo (a Sporting KC player) Bobble Head night, so some lucky fans that were there early enough received their own.  To make a long story short, two idiots (no word on who they were rooting for) decided to throw their bobble heads onto the pitch after a Sporting KC goal, one of which hit Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.  Neilsen would stay in the game, but the fuckwits who threw the bobble heads were taken out in handcuffs and are now banned from Livestrong Park (the Sporting KC venue).  As someone who has been to the new venue, I can say that hopefully, this incident should not take away from what truly is a great experience where every seat is a good one.  However, idiots like those who threw the bobble heads will not be tolerated, and the surrounding fans let that be known, so I give praise to those who are actually there to enjoy the game.  And how stupid must those two feel, to know that they can never attend another event at Livestrong Park and almost cost Sporting KC (their own team, for fuck's sake) a chance at making their playoffs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hockey Done Right

I've made it no secret that I would love to have hockey back in Kansas City.  Now, if that were to happen, I would certainly hope that the city and its ownership will follow the examples of the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes.  Neither place is what you would consider a hockey hotbed.  However, the single most important thing that both do well that the Atlanta Thrashers franchise never did was sell the game to the people.  Both Nashville and Carolina recognized this and in some cases, even went out of their way to educate the people about the game.  Both franchises also have stability on their side, with Nashville boasting the same GM and coach since day one and Carolina having the same owner and GM, both of whom were around when that team was still the Hartford Whalers.  Identity is also important, as the Predators have always preached a defense first, hard work ethic that permeates the entire team.  Carolina's identity is similar to Nashville's, which is one reason why they have been to two Stanley Cup finals and won one of them.  I won't harp on the reasons the Thrashers franchise failed, as it's been fairly well documented.  The point that I'm making here is that should Kansas City ever get a team again, they would be well advised to follow the examples set by non-traditional markets in Tennessee and North Carolina.  Nashville has expanded its fanbase to those in Mississippi and Alabama and Carolina has both North and South Carolina.  If Kansas City hopes to succeed, they should think to expand its fanbase to Kansas and Nebraska.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Doing eulogies is never an easy task.  However, this one undoubtedly hurts the most.  When I was looking through the ol' Facebook page, something came up in the feed from the Michael Grabner page that also happens to be linked to his Twitter feed (and if you wish to follow him, just look for grabs40). News that one of his former teammates, Rick Rypien, had died.  I didn't want to believe it, but given the source, I had to look around to see who else was breaking the news.  The moment that two of the local (Vancouver) stations and his cousin Angela Rypien said the same thing, my evening just came to a crashing halt.

I don't even know where to begin, but I will do my best here.  Rypien came to the NHL and the Vancouver Canucks from the Regina Pats as an undrafted free agent in 2005.  He managed to play five games in 2005-06, his first year in the league, and two more games the following year.  In 2007-08, Rypien began to establish himself as an enforcer, despite being only 5'11" and 190 lbs.  His breakthrough year was in 2009-10, when he played 69 games and amassed 126 PIM.  He would only play nine games the following year in a season filled with a grabbing of a fan that saw him miss six games and a continuing bout with mental problems that defined his career.  He would see 11 games in a conditioning stint with the Manitoba Moose (the Canucks' AHL affiliate until recently), a sign that he was on the road to recovery.  He signed with the Winnipeg Jets on July 4, and was slated to wear number 11, the same number that his cousin Mark Rypien wore while a member of the Washington football team.

If you were to ask me my favorite Canucks player, one of the first names mentioned wouldn't be Luongo, Henrik or Daniel Sedin, or even Ryan Kesler.  It would be Rypien because he was proof of the adage "It isn't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."  While he took on guys his size like Brandon Prust and Zack Stortini, he also took on guys like Hal Gill and Boris Valabik, guys who easily went above the 6'6" mark, which gave him the unofficial title of the best fighter pound for pound.  He wasn't the most gifted, but he was definitely a guy you wanted on the team to stick up for teammates.  Rest in peace, Rypper, and hopefully, you're in a better place now.

And here is the defining fight of Rypien's career in the NHL:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Isles' Fight Night...Revisited

Remember where you were on Feburary 11, 2011?  The New York Islanders sure do, and if you didn't see their game that night or would like to relive those nasty moments, then the Islanders have something for you.  On August 19 at 8 PM local time, MSG Plus will be re-airing that Islanders game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins in which many fights were had, and Matt Cooke was dethroned as public enemy number one (for all of about a month before Cooke reclaimed it).  That game, as you will undoubtedly remember, saw Trevor Gillies sucker punch a Penguins player and talk smack at him as he was lying on the ice.

Why is this being re-aired, you may be asking.  Well, it just so happens that the Islanders are having a viewing party of that game in Uniondale at the Marriott.  You're probably wondering why that bit of thuggery would even be glorified by a team that is perpetually in the dumps.  It's not a great way to get your name in the papers, but for a team that is desperate to remain relevant in New York, any little bit helps, and certainly, that game did in fact, help the Islanders' morale, as they played better towards the end of the season.  And truthfully, it got players like John Tavares, Michael Grabner, and Matt Moulson some attention, even if the first player to be recognized on the team was Trevor Gillies.  So, say what you will about Gillies, but he just might have helped his team in ways that actually brought a spotlight to the Islanders.

And if you're in the New York area, the Islanders do have something set up where you can get yourself into the viewing party.

UPDATE: MSG Plus has decided to not air the game after all.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rogue MOM Hefeweizen

Because there's nothing of significant note to speak about in hockey and because there's a backlog of beers that have been tasted, but not reviewed, today is a day to make a dent in the beer taster's category.  Today's beer is from the fine folks at Rogue, who you will undoubtedly know for making the Dead Guy Ale, one of the best beers around.  Rogue is much more than that, however, and the MOM Hefeweizen is a good beer.  Light in color, it has a ginger taste to it, and is even better the closer it gets to room temperature after being refrigerated.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Green Flash Imperial IPA

From the Green Flash Brewing Company in San Diego comes the Imperial IPA, which according to a place that sells it, is for the "hop-head" in your life.  Being that it is an IPA that carries a 9.4 ABV, it had better be worth it.  Needless to say, unlike most IPAs, the Green Flash Imperial actually held its own from beginning to end.  Hops can be tasted in every sip, and there's no "doughnut" effect in which things go flat in the middle of the enjoyment of the IPA.  Worth the money, but have some patience when trying it, as it does carry a high ABV.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Waffles and Goats

As you are aware, this blog has quite a slant towards the Vancouver Canucks.  However, today will be a venture into Maple Leafs land, where the talk is about finding a new player to scapegoat.  Thanks to Puckin' Eh, that answer just might be Mike Komisarek.  You might be asking yourself why the Leafs are always being Debbie Downers, and quite honestly, not winning a Stanley Cup since 1967 will do that for you.

As for how the blog came to that conclusion of Komisarek being the 2011-12 goat, here's their breakdown of candidates and their qualifications:

Jonas Gustavsson- A potential favourite if he still can't be counted on to protect a lead or continues to give goals in pairs. Gustavsson is probably excused from being the goat since Burke can just swing by a Home Depot parking lot and find a capable backup goaltender.

Jeff Finger- The 3.5 million dollar Marlie. He'd be a decent seventh defender, but his contract has earned him his whipping boy status, however if he's on the Marlies he's immune from the exercise.

Tyler Bozak- His role on the team reassessed it's unlikely that Bozak will have as many detractors as he did last season. His cap hit being $2 million less will probably reduce that as well. Of course if Bozak doesn't fill the third line center role he could start being treated as well as a past number 42 for the Leafs.

Tim Connolly- Since Connolly is at best a second line center and is the next coming of splodeybones there is some potential he'll disappoint a few fans who expect too much from him. If he doesn't pass the 60 point some "fans" will lynch him. Of course the $4.75 million cap hit will keep the bar set high for him too.

And here is a sample of why Puckin' Eh thinks Komisarek will be this season's goat:

Komisarek has filled this role to some extent in the past. His first season was lost to injury. His second season saw him reduced to the sixth defenseman role, and frequently had him paired with noted pylon Brett Lebda.

Komisarek is the perfect candidate to fill the role because of his history of failure, but also his cap hit. With one of the most unmovable contracts in the league he's a lock to disappoint all season long. His 13 and half minutes of ice time a night saw him earn $4,444.44 per minute of ice time last season. For someone recruited to shutdown forwards he has barely proven capable of shutting down 3rd and 4th lines, and his penalty killing abilities have also seemed to disappear.

The piece itself is slightly amusing, if not an insight as to why the Leafs fans are eternally agonizing after failed expectations.  Things are never dull in Toronto, and I for one, am quite thankful for that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rangers' Captain Dilemma

In recent days, the New York Rangers have been kicking around the idea of naming a captain.  This comes up because the previous captain, Chris Drury, was bought out over the Summer.  The names being mentioned?  Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, and Brad Richards.  Each player has a claim to that role, with Callahan being a leader of sorts when Drury was out with an injury, Staal being the most important player on the blue line, and Richards being the big name acquisition.  All three were alternate captains last year, with Callahan and Staal being alternate captains with the Rangers and Richards being alternate captain while in Dallas.  So, with that in mind, I will make a case for Brad Richards to be named captain of the Rangers, for argument's sake.

The captain of your team can sometimes be your best offensive player.  How else you do you explain the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Eric Staal, and Henrik Sedin being captains as of the end of last season?  You can even go as far back as the Oilers' glory days, and Wayne Gretzky being captain ahead of possibly the greatest captain in the last generation Mark Messier.  Why Richards?  He instantly becomes the best offensive player on the team, assuming Marian Gaborik can't stay healthy for a full season, and he has what few of the Rangers have: a Stanley Cup ring.  That experience under the bright lights of a playoff run should serve him well under the bright lights of Broadway.  While Callahan and Marc Staal can make the case for captaincy, you also have to remember that both are still relatively young.  I know what you're about to say, and yes, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Ovechkin are young guys, but neither Callahan nor Staal are the offensive engines that the trio are, and certainly, the best they have is Richards.  Richards can lead by example on the ice just by providing offense for a team that desperately needs it.

If you would like to make a case for either Callahan or Staal as captain, feel free to make your case in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Carbombing the Blackhawks

The man you see in the picture is a new Blackhawk named Daniel Carcillo.  Today's topic centers around him and recent comments that are sure to ignite the Blackhawks/Canucks rivalry to new heights.  Taken from a Yahoo article about him (paraphrased to get rid of the links in the article):

"I watched that series. I don't know … I'm actually pretty excited to play them, because there are a few guys there that play a little bit outside of their shoes. I think I can keep most of those guys in check when we play them this year. I'm pretty excited to play them," he said.
The follow-up question: Anyone in particular he feels "plays a little bit outside of their shoes?"
Carcillo mentioned uber-pest Max Lapierre, rugged winger Tanner Glass and hard-checking Raffi Torres.
"Lapierre's at the top of the list, through," said Carcillo, immediately becoming the most popular man in Chicago and Boston for a moment.

Before I get to the crux of his statement, it should be noted that both Glass and Torres are no longer on the Canucks, in case "Carbomb" wasn't paying attention (which he likely wasn't).  Now, certainly Carcillo has a bad penchant for taking penalties at the worst time, but one thing that you can say about him is that he is a valuable player when he is on the ice.  At his best, he could be a grittier version of "Public Enemy #1" Dave Bolland, but he could also be like Torres and cost his team with bad penalties.  One thing is for sure, this rivalry needs spice, and I for one, will be waiting for round one of Carcillo vs. Maxim Lapierre.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cashing in Already?

As many of you know by now, the Winnipeg Jets have unveiled their new logo for the upcoming 2011-12 season.  As of press time, the jerseys have not been unveiled.  Remember this as you read this piece.  Why?  Well, it should come as no surprise that there are people who want to make a quick buck on the new Jets merchandise.  Most notably, those people are making Jets jerseys...well before True North Sports and Entertainment have even announced the design.  Given that they haven't rushed to make any announcement over any leaks, it is obvious that many of the designs for the alleged Jets jerseys out there are in fact, fakes.  A quick word to everyone out there: if you could wait for the Jets logo to be unveiled, then you can wait until the Jets jerseys are officially unveiled by the team themselves.  Hockey season is only two months away, and there's no way the team will go into the pre-season wearing generic black and gray NHL jerseys.

And for further reference as to what to look for in a jersey, Third String Goalie is an excellent source.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Minnesota Sharks? San Jose Wild?

Since the offseason began, the San Jose Sharks seemed to have found a good trading partner with the Minnesota Wild.  First, it was Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle for Brent Burns.  A week later, it was Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat.  And just in today, James Sheppard was sent to San Jose for a third round pick in 2013.

All of these dealings make me wonder two things: are these deals designed to help the Minnesota offense while dumping salary (i.e. Sheppard) and is San Jose truly better after making these deals?  The first part will definitely  depend on whether Heatley can find the net more than 26 times, his goal scoring totals from last year.  Sheppard was a former first round pick in 2006, yet, like every other first rounder since 2004, never lived up to expectations.  As for San Jose, Burns will provide offense from the blue line and in many respects, take some of the pressure off of Dan Boyle.  Havlat doesn't have the offensive ability that Heatley does on his best day, but he does provide some speed and San Jose is obviously looking for performance in the playoffs, something Heatley never did in his two seasons in San Jose.  Sheppard will likely be a third or fourth line player who could benefit from a fresh start.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

King's Ransom

Today is August the 6th, and at this moment, the man you see is Drew Doughty, who is still unsigned.  No, it isn't because he isn't good, but rather because he is seeking the big bucks.  Because he is a restricted free agent, any team that wanted him would have had to sign him to an offer sheet, in which his current team, the Los Angeles Kings, would have the option to match.  However, no one has stepped to the plate and the Kings still haven't reached an agreement with him, thus why Doughty is still not signed anywhere.

What would an unsigned Doughty do for the Kings?  If he isn't signed by opening night, it would leave a significant hole on the blue line, one that would force Jack Johnson to be the guy.  Johnson is a pretty good defenseman, but he is no number one d-man.  Doughty's absence, would also temper expectations for a team that not only gets Anze Kopitar back from injury, but also welcomes Mike Richards to the fold.  All the firepower up front does a team no good if there isn't someone on the blue line to light the fuse, and that is exactly what Doughty does.  Despite a down year last year, he is still the top guy, and the Kings would be wise to find a way to get him signed soon.  Otherwise, it could be a long year.

Friday, August 5, 2011

An Open Letter to Seahawks Fans from "Al Davis"

I rarely ever talk about football because it's generally a four month coverage sport that already has many talking heads.  Obviously, that means I will leave it up to them to talk up the sport.  However, in light of recent developments involving the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, today is a little different.  In fact, I will turn this piece over to someone named "Al Davis."  Without further ado, here is "Al."

Dear Seattle Seahawks fans,

I know you're still pissed off that Matt Hasselbeck bolted your team and in his place is a medicore quarterback named Travaris Jackson, who mind you lost his starting job in Minnesota to an old man. I suppose you're wondering why I am writing to you if that development angers you.  As you may also know, your team has picked up three people who were once in my organization: Robert Gallery, Tom Cable, and Zach Miller.  First, I'd like to say that Gallery was someone who was woefully miscast as a tackle, but once he switched to guard, he became serviceable.  However, serviceable isn't good enough for me, as it doesn't jive with my motto "Commitment to Excellence."  Besides, he wanted out, so he's your problem now.  On to your offensive line coach Cable, who was my head coach last year.  All I have to say is hide your women and keep an eye on your assistant coaches.  And Miller, how the hell did he get away from us and sign on with your team?  If I ever find out who switched my medications, I will hunt you down!

In closing, I'd like to say enjoy missing the playoffs this coming season.  What's that?  You play in the NFC West?  Oh, crap!!!!!!

Not respectfully yours, 

Al Davis

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Over the Hill? No, Haven't Even Reached the Top.

While trying to come up with something to talk about, being that it's August and hockey season isn't for another two months, it only seemed like a destiny to talk about the arbitration ruling for Shea Weber and the Nashville Predators.  However, I'm not interested in salary cap figures, or any money articles, as the Islanders' bid for a new arena has dominated headlines for the last four days (in fairness, it's been two articles, not four, but stay with me here).  Instead, the angel that is has presented me with an interesting piece that doesn't involve money.

As you can tell, today's subject involves Gordie Howe.  More specifically, it involves Howe and everyone else who has reached significant milestones after the age of 35.  Before you say anything, it's nothing like baseball, where steroids helped to defy Father Time.  Here are some interesting notes from the piece that is currently circulating:

  • The number of players to have hit the 100 point mark after turning 35: four.  Gordie Howe did it in 1968-69 at the age of 41.  Ironically, for all of his career achievements, that season was the only time he scored 100 points in a season.  Johnny Bucyk did it in 1970-71 after just turning 35, Wayne Gretzky did it in 1995-96 at 35, and barely missed out in the following two seasons, and Joe Sakic did it in 2006-07 at 37.
  • Bucyk is also the only person to have scored 50 goals in a season after turning 35, doing so in 1970-71.
  • What about trophy winners?  Well, the Norris Trophy has been won by the 35 and over group six times, with Doug Harvey doing so in the 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons at the age of 36 and 37, respectively.  More recently, Nicklas Lidstrom has won the Norris Trophies in 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2010-11 seasons.  If you're keeping score, that's 35, 36, 37, and 40 (!) years old when Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy.
  • The Vezina Trophy?  Old guys have had a share of that, too.  Dominik Hasek won the Vezina in 2000-01 season at the age of 36, Martin Brodeur won it in 2007-08 at 35, and Tim Thomas did it this past season at the age of 36.  This is after 1981-82, as the Vezina was originally awarded to the goaltender(s) that allowed the fewest goals, which would also include Tony Esposito in 1979-80 at 36, Glenn Hall in 1968-69 at 37, and Gump Worsley in 1967-68 at 38.
Hockey is still a young man's game, but don't tell that to the older guys who can still go.  Teemu Selanne (40 years old) was the second leading point getter on the Ducks with 80, good enough for eighth overall in the league.  That's no small accomplishment, either, as the guy he trailed on his team: Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry.  And there was also a player who barely missed joining the 100 points after turning 35 club this year: Martin St. Louis, with 99 points at 36.

As you can see, talent can show up at any age, and whatever it may be in the form of, can also win championships.  Thomas at 36 was the most dominant goaltender last season, and Mark Recchi at 43 was the heart and soul of the Bruins team that won the Stanley Cup this past season.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Ascent of US Hockey in the 1990's

Lost in all of the rumblings about the New York Islanders and their possible move out of Long Island (whenever that may be) was the fact that Monday was also a monumental day for US hockey.  Chris Chelios, Keith Tkachuk (who is pictured), Gary Suter, Ed Snider, and Mike "Doc" Emrick were all selected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.  All five selected have on some level, impacted the state of US hockey.  Chelios, for all of his outspoken comments against Gary Bettman, namely during the lockout of 1994, was a mainstay on the blue line for Montreal, Chicago, and Detroit for two and a half decades (let's pretend the Atlanta experiment never happened for argument's sake).  Tkachuk was the power forward that was heavily leaned upon by the Jets/Coyotes, Blues, and Thrashers.  Suter, like Chelios, was a blue line stalwart, playing for Calgary, Chicago, and San Jose.  All three made their marks in international play, as part of the 1996 World Cup championship team for the United States.

If there ever was to be an announcer that goes perfectly with the three players, it would be Emrick.  His distinct voice was evident on Devils' broadcasts, and is currently heard on the NBC and Versus broadcasts.  Snider and Philadelphia are synonymous with each other, so it should be no surprise that both gentlemen are inducted for their efforts to make hockey visible in this country.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Escape from Long Island

The man you see in the picture above is New York Islanders owner Charles Wang.  As you will have probably read by now (and if you haven't, you will after reading this piece), the voters of Nassau County rejected the $400 million plan to build a new arena for the Islanders in the same area that the current Nassau Coliseum resides.  Rejected by a 56 to 43 percent margin, the plan was also to have included a new ballpark for a minor league team.

*Soapbox Alert: If you don't want to read my rant on bringing a team to Kansas City (and trust me, I do this when there's potential talks of a team in financial turmoil), then stop here.

Now, I know there are people that are going to be screaming for the team to relocate, with Quebec City being a likely destination.  I don't like to deal with rumors, but a source familiar with the Kansas City coalition to bring hockey to the city, NHL 21, says the major hangup is finding an interested owner.  I know not anyone from Kansas City who actually reads this blog, but if you are, I absolutely think this would be a great time to get on the ball and encourage someone to try and buy the Islanders off of Wang and do what you can to relocate the team here to Kansas City.  After all, the Islanders' on ice product would be an easy sell, as you can center your marketing campaign around the likes of John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, and Michael Grabner (And if any other city gets the Islanders, this goes for you, too.  This should be a slam dunk when it comes to marketing).  Those four can play on the top two lines on any team, given the right circumstances, and Tavares, at the very least, can be a true franchise player.  Off the ice, marketing the team is as simple as not doing what the ownership for the now deceased Atlanta Thrashers did, which is to say absolutely nothing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Non Ho Sonno

It's no secret that many of the great movie directors have periods in which their greatness doesn't quite show.  In the case of Dario Argento, it began in the 1990's.  Truth be told, he hasn't made any really terrible movies per se, but none of the movies made since 1990 have had the impact that his earlier works have had.  Non Ho Sonno, or Sleepless, as translated from Italian, was his 2001 movie that brought elements from his early giallo works to the forefront...perhaps too much.

The basic story of the movie is that a retired insomniac police chief and a son of one of the victims is trying to solve a murder that is being centered around a nursery rhyme that was written by a kickable (little person, in case you didn't get the idea).  Obviously, this detective work puts the loved ones in danger, and the duo has to solve the murder before it's too late.  The movie stars Max Van Sydow as the insomniac cop, and he provides the balance in the movie.  Once he's offed because of a heart attack, the movie seems to drop precipitously.  It's difficult to sympathize with the protagonist (Giacomo), as he comes across as a guy that looks like he ate some meat gone bad.  It's also difficult to sympathize with the murder victims, since they're primarily there as fodder for the killer and nothing more.  The ending is a little too much like Deep Red, and the explanation does sound a little far-fetched.  Not a bad movie, but it should have been much more.