Monday, October 31, 2011

Sundin the Leaf

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

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

As the Turris Turns

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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Movember to the Extreme

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bringing Back the Black

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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nightmare Fuel

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

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

Your Newest Canucks

The player you see in the picture above is David Booth, who as of last night, is a Vancouver Canuck.  Along with Steve Reinprecht, he was acquired in a trade with Florida for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm.  Booth is a former 30-goal scorer, having done so in the 2008-09 season, and is 26 years old, which will play well for the Canucks' second or third line.  Yes, there is the concussion issue from the 2009-10 season, but if healthy, he can do for the Canucks what Chris Higgins (another ex-Panther, what a coincidence) did for them in the stretch run to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Reinprecht is a depth player at best, and AHL material at worst.  He bolsters an already strong center position and provides some veteran help.  Samuelsson is 35 and coming off an injury from the playoffs last season.  He can still provide offense, but how he will deal with playing on a bad team bears watching.  Sturm didn't last too long after signing with the Canucks in the off-season.  Injuries ravaged his career recently, and it looked like he wasn't over the injuries.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hockey Thoughts

Hockey season began two weeks ago, and I hadn't been on here to really give some thoughts about it in the early going, plus the Portland story.  So, to make it up...sort of, here's my take on some of the teams that I'm following:

VANCOUVER CANUCKS:  Yes, there is a Stanley Cup hangover, but no, it won't mean anything in the long run.  Remember, the Canucks didn't start too hot the past two seasons, yet they still won the Northwest Division.  No need to panic here.

CALGARY FLAMES: Until their 2-1 victory over Edmonton, the Flames had played well for the first two periods, yet failed to turn it on in the third period, as evidenced by the loss to the Maple Leafs last Saturday.  All hands need to be on deck as far as offense, and clearly, this is a make or break year for Jay Bouwmeester, who hasn't lived up to expectations since a trade in 2009.

EDMONTON OILERS: We know they're going nowhere this season, but you have to admit, you didn't see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins getting a hat trick this early in his career.  If he sticks around for the whole year, look for big numbers from Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, if they stay healthy.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: Okay, raise your hand if you thought the Avs were going to win all five games of their recent road trip.  *waits a second* Put you hand down, liar!  This is what the Avs can be if Semyon Varlamov can stay healthy, something he couldn't do in Washington.  Of course, having Peter Mueller healthy again will also be a big factor here.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: So, James Reimer is continuing his great play from last season and Phil Kessel looks like a lock for 50 goals this season.  Whoa, there!  Let's see if both can keep up the pace by the All-Star Break, then we can talk.

MINNESOTA WILD: It's going to be another long year for Minnesota.  There's nothing here that suggests the offensive problems that have existed since the beginning of the franchise's tenure have been fixed.  Dead last in the division is possible, even with the Oilers occupying the same division.

OTTAWA SENATORS: They've been hemorrhaging goals in the first two periods, and yet, they could have taken at least one of those games with some great third period play.  This speaks more to the opposing team's penchant for letting the foot off the gas than the team's resiliency.  Ottawa has issues on defense, but that can be solved as the kids on the team (i.e. David Rundblad and Jared Cowen) learn the speed of the game at the NHL level.  They won't get far this season, but look out for this team in the future.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Portland: Wednesday and the Way Back to KC

Wednesday was a relatively low key day, with everything building towards the Alcest/Enslaved show that evening at the Hawthorne Theater.  A couple of stops at the antique stores and an Everyday Music in northeast Portland (quick geography lesson about Portland: north and south are divided by Burnside St. while east and west are divided by the Willamette River) before food and a stop at the Fred Meyer across from Hawthorne Theater.  The show got started about 7, with Olympia, WA band Christian Mistress starting things with a fairly straight-forward rock vibe that is at odds with the rest of the lineup for the evening, but is also really good.  Junius was next to hit the stage, and while their music is more reminiscent of newer Katatonia, the vocals are just simply too hard to get into, as it seems to undo a lot of good that the music provides.  Alcest were making their first appearance in North America, and they were everything that was advertised.  A strong set made them the highlight of the evening.  I only stayed for a part of the Enslaved set, as a friend of mine was still not feeling too well, so after a few songs, we left for base, but not before getting one more beer.

The trips back to Kansas City always seem to bring some sadness, no matter where I make the return.  The morning ride to the airport via the Rail was a peaceful as advertised, and it offers a nice scenic ride through the city.  Then, there's the airport, where no matter what, there's a sense that the temporary peace will vanish once back home.  Maybe it's the staleness of Kansas City...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Portland: Tuesday

Tuesday in Portland was essentially a screw around day, since one of the people I was staying with got sick, and did his best Froggy impersonation.  So as not to get what he had, I made the decision to bus it to downtown, and hit JELD-WEN Field to check out the Timbers' team store inside.  From there, it was a brief exploration of downtown before hitting the Rails for the Rose Quarter, where the Rose Garden and Memorial Coliseum are located.  Two more treks with the Rail later, I was back downtown, first to the Happiest Place on Earth, otherwise known as 2nd Avenue Records.  Picked up a few CDs, and then went on to a Vietnamese food cart to pick up a sandwich.  It started raining, so I ducked into Bailey's Taproom for a drink.  After finishing the drink, I braved the soaker to head into a vintage clothing store and an Everyday Music store downtown before hitting Rogue Ales Public House for a Portland St. IPA.  I find out that there's a reason the servers and a few of the patrons are wearing Hawaiian shirts: wear a Hawaiian shirt on Tuesdays, get a free beer.  I know what I'm doing on Tuesday in Portland.  A quick stop into Ground Kontrol Arcade followed, as did another stop into Voodoo Doughnut for a racist doughnut before walking across the bridge to where I was supposed to be that evening: East End.  First, I decided to hit the Lovecraft Bar a couple of blocks down from the East End, and as the evening progressed, I found myself at the Lovecraft Bar longer than the East End.  Both were interrupted for a brief stop into Sizzle Pie for a pizza slice.  Pizza shops that are open late at night are great, and if you're in Kansas City, there's one in Joe's Pizza.  After the food, I decided to stop back into the Lovecraft Bar, since I figured that I had nothing to lose with a burlesque show going on there. Sure enough, it ended up being better than the show at the East End, which I likely shouldn't have dropped the money for, since the sound wasn't that good, and the ambiance was a major turnoff.

Portland: Monday

Monday was an afternoon and evening in the Hawthorne District of Portland.  It began with the friends that I was staying with providing a little tour guide action for their friends who had recently moved into Portland.  Stops included a Goodwill store, video gaming place, a couple of vintage stores, and Powell's Books.  Lunch was had at a Mexican eatery right next door to the Hawthorne Theater, were Boris was playing that evening.  Once everyone went their separate ways, it was a couple of bars, including a soccer-themed bar way out on 18th and Hawthorne, before heading into the venue for the show.  As for the show itself, the opening band Master Musicians of Bukkake (Why not just name yourselves Bukkake and be done with it?) did an Arabian themed set that was interesting for all of five minutes before I bailed to the lounge area of the venue.  The band that followed was Tera Melos, who have an even worse name (yes, worse than Master Musicians of Bukkake).  Their music was alright, but was way too indie rock in its nature.  Boris was the last band to hit the stage, and clearly, they were the reason most in the crowd were there that evening.  Good set, complete with gong.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Portland: Sunday

Sunday in Portland was considered an off day, which meant getting out and exploring some of the city on my own time.  This also meant getting familiar with the city's public transit system, which isn't so bad once you do get some familiarity with it.  The day began with church, which admittedly can be a chore, but I know what I signed up for when I did pick a religion.  Inexplicably, I forgot the stop for the earlier service, and as a result, had one full hour to kill before the next one at a different place.  After that was a stop at Voodoo Doughnut (where the beer was not served, as you will find out later).  One Marshall Matters doughnut later, I walked around the downtown area and screwed around a bit with the rail system.  Nothing of true significance happened until 4 PM, when a stop at the Rogue Ales Public House was in order.  The most important order of buisness?  Trying the Bacon Maple Ale that was inspired by Voodoo Doughnut.  Verdict?  If you like the Bacon Maple Doughnut, then this beer isn't too far off in terms of taste.  A stop in at Ground Kontrol Arcade followed before heading back to base.

I suppose the biggest regret of the day was not hitting the Winterhawks game that evening.  Then again, I lost track of when the game started, as I had also lost track of the start of the Winnipeg Jets' home opener that was on television.  Time sure does fly when you don't keep track of it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Portland: Friday and Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the week in Portland were also the second and third days of Fall into Darkness. They were also the two primary days of book hunting, as in hitting the used book shops for good deals.  Friday began with lunch at a buffet place called Sweet Tomatoes, which is primarily a soup and salad buffet.  I found this place to be pretty good in many respects, but I could have picked a better soup than the baked potato soup.  From there, it was on to the Tigard Library for the book sale.  A couple of books and a Pogues and Helloween CD later, it was on to a couple of Goodwill stores and a used book store for more good deals.  A pit stop back at the home base followed before heading out to the Branx for Agalloch.

Saturday began with breakfast (read: part of a footlong from WINCO, beef jerky, and Bridgeport Highland Ambush) before heading out east for more book deals.  This day was relatively uneventful in the time leading up to day three of Fall into Darkness Festival.  The "real fun" would begin on Sunday...

Friday, October 14, 2011

We're Talking about Practice.

I'm taking a short break from my story of the Week in Portland to bring you this funny and sad story at the same time.  This player you see is Rick DiPietro, and during a practice on Wednesday, he took a puck off of his mask (yes, the same one you see in the pic) and suffered a concussion.  Now, the reason why he was wearing this style of mask stemmed from the fight with Brent Johnson last year, which as you will also remember, was what set off the February 11 fight night between the Islanders and Penguins.  It's been a star crossed career for DiPietro, who was a former first overall pick in 2000, and was actually a good player for a stretch in the mid-2000's.  What many will remember him for however, is the fact that he was the first player signed to a double digit year deal.  It would be roughly about that time that he began to experience a litany of injuries, with this concussion on Wednesday being the latest in the long line of injuries.

As for a lighter side to this most recent health issue, well, here's my excuse to put this up:

Week in Portland, October 6

As many of you know, I was in Portland for a week, which would in fact, explain the lack of updates on this blog.  So, to make up for this, I have decided to make a piece that will likely take up some spots.  How would I go about this, you ask?  Why a recap of my week in Portland, of course.  This part will cover my time from 6 PM on October 5 (the time I left KC) up until the evening of October 6.  If you're looking for any show reviews, they will come in due time, but you will have to wait for the Fall into Darkness review that will get posted on Metal Psalter (cheap plug alert).  The flight from KC had some turbulence heading into Las Vegas, NV, which more than shook a few folks on the plane.  Once at the airport, I made a fairly mad dash to where I had to catch a connecting flight while getting a bite to eat at  a Pizza Hut.  As for the airport, it is exactly how you would picture the city of Las Vegas: complete with slot machines (for fuck's sake).  I arrived in Portland around 11 PM local time, and before making camp at the friend's apartment, stopped in at WINCO foods for a sandwich.  The place where I stayed is situated southwest of downtown Portland, and like most of the Pacific Northwest, is very scenic.
Thursday didn't have a great deal of things going on, besides the first day of Fall into Darkness.  This was the feeling out process day, as it was a general readjustment from the previous place to stay, which was in the northeast part of the city, but after a day, things do fall into place.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good Seats Still Available

This article came up (courtesy of Yahoo) regarding the Dallas Stars and their Phoenix Coyotes-esque fall into irrelevance yesterday.  Their game yesterday versus the Phoenix Coyotes had an announced attendance of 6,306.  No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that was the actual announced attendance for that game.  Yes, there was a baseball game going on about the same time and the start time of this game was 5 PM local time, but that hardly excuses the Stars for this pathetic of a turnout.  To not even make 10,000 fans in a game is an embarrassment.  Obviously, the ownership situation will bear watching, as it could help them out, as will their past history of winning, although that feels so long ago.  Should relocation talks be circling around the Dallas Stars?  No, but with attendance like this, it could be a reality, just ask the Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes, the latter of which has always been mentioned as a candidate to move.  If the Stars want to make hay soon, this season is it, as the NBA is looking at a lost season, and the Stars would be the only game in town once the Rangers and Cowboys finish their respective seasons.  An honest effort will go a long way in helping the team get back a few of its lost fans, but ownership must be settled before it can go further.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sabre Leader

This player you see in the picture is the new captain of the Buffalo Sabres.  His name is Jason Pominville, and this news was first reported by Buffalo News.  This development comes just before the Sabres hit the ice in Finland for their opening games against the Anaheim Ducks, and this will be Pominville's first full run as captain, as he had previously been captain in a rotation for the 2007-08 season.  He is not the superstar that Ryan Miller or Tomas Vanek are, nor is he an up and comer that Drew Stafford is, but he is a dependable player that you can pencil in for at least 30 goals a year on an average year.

As of this writing, only Colorado and Florida have not named captains.

Captain Parise

On the eve of Opening Night, the New Jersey Devils have made it official with Zach Parise being named the ninth captain in the team's history.  Given that Parise becomes a free agent next year and could possibly be dangled as trade bait if the Devils get off to a poor start, one could question this move.  However, Parise makes sense in that he has been the team's best player outside of Martin Brodeur, and he has earned this right.  The Devils are gambling that they will be able to re-sign him, and naming him captain is confirmation that they are at least, thinking of him.

With Parise being named captain, that leaves as of press time, Buffalo, Colorado, and Florida as the only teams without a captain.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Avery: The Musical Closed

In the final roster cuts for the New York Rangers, one of those players left off the roster was the guy you see here.  Yes, Sean Avery will not be in a Rangers uniform this coming season, and no, his antics on the ice and his mouth off of it will not be missed (for the Rangers anyway) .  Fear not, because he will likely be signed to a different team in the NHL...that is, if he is willing.  You know, Vancouver has a great shot at winning the Stanley Cup this season, and if that is what Avery is ultimately after, both Avery and the Canucks would be wise to make this deal happen.  Why?  In the playoffs last year, the Canucks were considered the bad guys, and Avery is largely considered a bad guy in the NHL.  It isn't like either image is going to change this season, plus, Avery would still have a large stage in which to spout off.  If there is a problem, it would be Vancouver's depth, and given that they would like to have at least a spot open for Cody Hodgson, Avery's arrival could be a problem in that regard.  At the very least, Vancouver should think about Avery, if only to make things even more interesting.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stumptown Tart

I leave town Wednesday, so the updates here will be infrequent, but I will do the best I can while I'm away.  Before I get to the beer of the day, I pick the Canucks over the Penguins in seven in the Stanley Cup Finals this year.  Now, today's drink is the Stumptown Tart Starwberry Ale from Bridgeport Brewing Co.  With an ABV of 7.7%, it is relatively easy to drink.  The strawberry aftertaste isn't evident until the end.  Overall though, it's a nice beer to have if you're looking for something light and money isn't an issue.