Saturday, December 31, 2011


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

Swift Current Tragedy: 25 Years Later

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seeing 2011 Out the Door

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

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Jolly Panther

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

David Gold

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Parlez vous Francais?

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Sutter King

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Turris Chunka

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Cunney-ng Move

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011


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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


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

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coaching Carousel News

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

Missing Since February 2011

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Playing with Fire Revisited

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Retro Kits

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


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

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tri-City Americans

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

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

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

Buck Up!

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

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

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Duck Season

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