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Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Winter Classic Game Time Change

The NHL has just announced that the 2011 Winter Classic game start time has been moved back to 8 PM Eastern.

Rain and warm temperatures threatened the game if played at the originally scheduled time of 1 PM.

The latest Pittsburgh weather forecasts call for morning and afternoon rain clearing up in the early evening.

The delayed start gives the league a better option and keeps the game showcased in a prime time slot.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trade Brodeur? Why It Doesn't Make Sense

We've mentioned it here before, the New Jersey Devils are a mess... and we aren't the only ones who have noticed it.

In November, Larry Brooks compared the Devils situation with that of the 2006-'07 Flyers.  Speaking about the Flyers GM that season:

Holmgren had one ace to play, and that was Peter Forsberg as a rental. His trade to Nashville that ultimately brought back Scottie Upshall, Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell represented the underpinning of the immediate 2007-08 revival.
Brooks notes that New Jersey could follow the Flyers path by trading their remaining blue chip.
Lamoriello doesn't quite have that ace. What he has on his team are nine players with no-trade clauses who would have to be massaged in order to be moved -- impending free agents Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott are worthy -- and what he has is Martin Brodeur.
He then suggested that a Marty trade to say perhaps... Washington, might fetch a "John Carlson or Karl Alzner -- or Mike Green? -- plus a young forward along with a critically needed No. 1."

Just yesterday, Scott Burnside of ESPN revisited the idea of Sean Avery's friend "fatso" being moved to re-secure the future of the franchise.
... But, what is the team's most valuable asset? Is it not Brodeur? The game's greatest goaltender is back from an elbow/arm injury but has played poorly, a function perhaps of rust and the team in front of him. He has another season left at $5.2 million in salary and cap hit. Hard to imagine he would play beyond the end of his current deal with the team in such dire straits. Would Brodeur waive his no-trade clause for another shot at a Cup? Who knows, but what would Brodeur's value be to a Cup-hungry Washington team that has two promising young goaltenders and a bevy of young prospects? Or to Tampa? What was once unthinkable (Brodeur in a jersey other than the Devils) now must become part of the discussion for a team at the bottom of the well.
For real?

We ask the question because it begs it on a number of levels.

Grant it the list of top contenders that are in need of goaltending help is short, but why would it work out so simply?

The short answer is: It wouldn't.

Martin Brodeur IS the New Jersey Devils.  He is the main reason the franchise has had any success at all.  Positively, he was the backbone of their Cup teams. He owns every goaltending record there is to own, and is a certain Hall of Famer.

We made the trek to lovely downtown Newark once this season.  The Devils were taking on division rival and premier visiting draw, Pittsburgh.  The announced crowd was 11,000 at the Devils sparkling "Rock Center" arena.  The actual butts in the seats, were closer to 1,100. About 987 of them were wearing Sidney Crosby sweaters.

What kind of PR hit would the team take trading away their most enticing product?  If watching Brodeur re-write history with every victory can't bring Devils' fans to the rink, what makes anyone think that Mike Green and a 1st-rounder will in his stead?

On the flip-side, should a team like Washington or Tampa consider making a deal, what would they be willing to part with in return?

Consider that as much as Brodeur means to Jersey, both past and present, to a rental/buyer franchise, he represents a netminder that has fallen early in the post-season recently, even when backstopping good Devils teams.

Brodeur has also encountered injury problems the past few years; and has not performed well for most of this arduous first half.

If you are George McPhee or Stevie Y, do you swap a number one, along with some top talent for the 2011 version of Marty?

Does Brodeur put a Caps team over the top despite their frequent defensive lapses?  Remember he couldn't get past the the first round when Jacques Lemaire had the Devils playing 60 minutes of defense.

Does he help Tampa go all the way?  Not if they have to disrupt the current NHL roster by giving up a key young player to acquire him.

Not to mention that there is another goaltender who has significant experience and recent playoff success out there.  His name is Evgeni Nabokov... and no trading of draft choices, prospects or NHL talent would be required to obtain him as a free agent.
If you must make a trade, Tomas Vokoun is in a similar salary slot and has played lights-out behind a poor Florida team for years.

Why roll the dice with Marty on either side?

As badly as the Devils need help they won't find it in dealing away the franchise cornerstone.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pittsburgh Penguins Marc-André Fleury: How Ya Like Me Now?

A few weeks ago we asked the question: "What Is Wrong With Marc-André Fleury?"

After reviewing his play and watching video of the goals against, our answer to the question posed was: "Nothing... It's just hockey.  Sometimes you get the bounces... sometimes they get you."

Well, it doesn't happen often, but it seems that we were correct.  As you might have already guessed, the gloating will now commence.  

In all seriousness, Fleury's atrocious start has been followed up with some very solid play and a touch of brilliance here and there.

The credit for the turnaround doesn't belong to us, it belongs to Fleury. After a dismal start, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about his struggles "with goals and confidence".

Fleury is 1-6, owns a goals-against average of 3.55 that places him 36th in a 30-team league and a save percentage of .853 that is the worst in the NHL.

There's no disputing those figures, or what they say about Fleury's performance in his first eight appearances this season.

Since then, Fleury has posted an 8-0-1 record, with a GAA south of 1.70, and a save percentage in the .950 area. The "Flower" is blossoming.  

Anyone calling for Brent Johnson now? Not so much.

So what's the secret? A double dose of The Heavy and Kool Moe Dee?

Has he just had a nice run against inferior competition? 

Consider that he has beaten the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Tomas Vokoun and Roberto Luongo along the way, and had to win a few one-goal games, including a shutout in Buffalo, it stands to reason that Fleury has had great focus against other high caliber goaltenders.

Note that during this streak, MAF has enjoyed the benefit of excellent team defense, and consistent offensive support.

The Penguins have a 9-0-1 record over their last ten games.  They have outscored opponents by a margin of 31-16, have had decent success on the power play; and are nearly perfect on the PK.  

So when we say the credit belongs to Fleury, we mean the Penguins as a team as well.

What is he doing differently?

It's been recognized that Fleury has tried to keep himself in better position by cutting down on his attempts to poke check the puck. THAT, combined with diligent team defense equals increased confidence and certainly, positive results.

In the end Fleury is just playing a well-rounded game and getting the bounces. Pucks that eluded him before seem to find him.

It's still the same game of hockey, he just looks better doing it now. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Time For Hockey Thanks

Before Ricky Bobby sits down to pray to the dear Lord Baby Jesus to thank him for a wonderful meal, his two beautiful sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, and his red-hot, smokin' wife, Carley, why don't we as hockey fans take a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I'll go first.  My top nine. Yeah, that's right, nine!

9. Hockey Sites

Want to know when Mike Richards' contract ends, or how much cap room exists for the Leafs in 2013?  Visit  They do an excellent job of keeping up with all 30 teams and cap transactions.

Dead bored?  Take a visit to Click on the "Trade Rumors and Free Agent Talk" tab to read some of the most ridiculous trade proposals ever imagined... it also leads to some extremely witty banter.

8. There Is No Winter Olympics in 2011

The 2010 Games in Vancouver were entertaining and provided plenty of dramatic finishes, but it really took a fat chunk out of the NHL season.  Too many players seemed distracted by the whole "playing for country" thing and never got on board for the regular season.

7. Dino Ciccarelli HOF Induction

After a career that included more than 1,200 NHL games, 608 goals, 1,200 points, an indecent exposure charge and a day in jail for a hatchet job over Luke Richardson's head, the wait is now over for one of the leagues most colorful characters.

6. Legit Contenders 

Proving that last season was no flash in the pan, up and comers Phoenix, Los Angeles, Colorado and Montreal continue to play like they belong on the short list of claimants to Lord Stanley.

 They are doing it in different ways, but are getting it done despite roster changes, injuries and higher expectations.

5. All Star Game Changes

It may not prove to be a perfect formula, but it is something. Nearly ever sport has struggled to maintain interest in their All-Star formats.  The NHL is no exception.  Brendan Shanahan, the league's VP of Hockey and Business Development, masterminded a new formula for putting on a new show.  Even if it doesn't re-invent the game, it's much better than the same old dog and pony.

4. Big Time Rookies

It hasn't been the names that we were expecting to see, but there have been some great performances put in by first year players.  Forwards Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, Tyler Ennis and defensemen John Carlson and P.K. Subban have been outstanding. Netminders Michal Neuvirth and Sergei Bobrovsky have not only battled for the lead in wins for rookies, but for the NHL lead as well.

3. Kovalchuk

Ah, Ilya Kovalchuk.  The guy has been the story for two years now.  Last season was about if he would re-up with Atlanta or become the biggest UFA in a long time.  This year has been all about his new contract which cost New Jersey dearly, not only in dollars, but in fines and draft picks too! The Devils salary cap nightmare and his every misstep (shootout fails) keep his name constantly in the news.

2. Stamkos

When the Lightning made him the top overall pick in 2008, much was expected of Steven Stamkos... but not this much.

Last season he tied Sidney Crosby for the most goals scored, unveiling a wicked one-time slap shot in the process.  This season Stamkos is showing that he can score from anywhere. He is making converts in each NHL arena he visits that his name belongs in the breath as Sid and Ovie.

1. Winter Classic & HBO 24/7

The Winter Classic is it's own institution among hockey fans.  It's the NHL's showcase.  This season the league is making use of it's two biggest marketing options in Crosby and Ovechkin to be sure. 

However, the game will get another boost when cable giant HBO features the game and a behind-the-scenes look into the month leading up to it. May it expose the world's greatest game to a whole new audience.

Also due to a binding endorsement contract that stipulates I mention Powerade at each grace, I just wanna say that Powerade is delicious and it cools you off on a hot summer day and we look forward to Powerade's release of Mystic Mountain Blueberry. Thank you, for all your power and your grace, Dear Baby God, Amen~

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marian Hossa and the Pittsburgh Penguins: A What If Story

It can be debated that the struggles this season of perennial contender New Jersey Devils, may be, or may not be a result of their insistence on retaining star winger Ilya Kovalchuk this summer.

What cannot be debated, is that his contract saga cost them dearly, and it has wreaked havoc upon their cap situation.

New Jersey's mess got us to thinking... (I know, we should have stopped there.)

Following the 2007/08 season, the Devil's division rival Pittsburgh was in a very similar situation.  At the deadline, they had pulled the trigger on a trade with Atlanta which netted them a high powered, pending UFA winger in the form of Marian Hossa.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Skills of the Infuriating Sean Avery

Sean Avery has skills.  Not Napoleon Dynamite's coveted nunchaku skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills, but skills nonetheless.

Deciphering just what those skills actually are, is a matter of debate.

At his best, Avery scores timely goals, throws his body in harms way and rattles the opposition.  Various media outlets have more than once tabbed him as an "Evil Genius".

Sadly, all to often, he is at his worst.

Succinctly, Sean Avery's worst consists of taking pointless penalties, making tasteless remarks to the media, unseemly cheap shots and aggravating/embarrassing his teammates.

Let's take a look back at some of Avery's career lowlights:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ilya Kovalchuk. Just How Much Will He Cost The Devils?

The New Jersey Devils are flat out awful right now. Que the jokes: "The Devils are in hell."  "Their play is bedeviling to their fans.", etc...

Sure they have some key players injured, but when they come back, just how much better will they be?

After several attempts by both the Devils and Kings, Ilya Kovachuk was finally re-signed by New Jersey.  The result for Lou and crew was that the Kovy signing created a  laundry list of issues that New Jersey will have to overcome, not only for this season, but also in the near future.  That list is a daunting one.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What Is Wrong With Marc-André Fleury?

Just what is going on with "Flower"? Marc-André Fleury is one of the more divisive players in the NHL today.  Divisive not because of his personality or attitude, but because of his play.  Fleury has never been a stats guy.  He has not posted stellar save percentages. He has never wowed anyone with his GAA.  However, the one department that Marc-André Fleury has nearly always impressed is in the win column.  

There are two camps in the MAF battle.  The Critics/Haters, who have always believed that Fleury surrenders too many soft goals, and has been the beneficiary of playing with a talented cast of skaters.  Then there are the Loyalists/Apologists.  This group clings to the Stanley Cup runs, his incredible athleticism, Pittsburgh's offensive-focused style of play and the "Secret Service Save."

Regardless to which camp you belong, Marc-André Fleury has begun the '10-'11 Season with a 1-4-0 record, a slightly scary 3.41 GAA, and an abysmal .861 save percentage.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Adam Burish Backs Off Post Game Pronger Comments

Moments after the Chicago Blackhawks had defeated the Flyers in the 2010 Cup Final, a NBC reporter tracked down one of the more colorful characters on the Hawks, Adam Burish to ask him to divulge his true feelings regarding Chicago's new public enemy Chris Pronger.

In case you have forgotten, here is what was said:

Unless you are a Flyers fan, it made for great tv; and it certainly opened a floodgate of discussion. 

Then, Sunday night on NHL Network's "NHL On The Fly", Burish talking to host, David Amber: (as transcribed by Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey)
Amber: What's the significance of February 5th?

Burish: February 5th. I have no idea.

Amber: Alright, well let me tell you. It's your first game against the Flyers and Mr. Chris Pronger. How would you characterize your relationship with Chris Pronger at this point?

Burish: You know what, I said some stupid things I probably shouldn't have after that game. It was just a spur of the moment thing and I'm not gonna sit and make an excuse about it because what's said was said. I've got a lot of respect for the guy. I think he's a Hall of Fame defenseman, one of the best that's ever played the game. Probably one of the hardest d-men to play against. He does everything well.

I really, truthfully didn't mean anything personal by it. It came out personal but it shouldn't have been said. I was embarrassed about it. I got a lot of respect for the guy and that team is so dangerous. They will be again this year. It was a heck of a series, it was a heck of a Final. Whatever happens moving forward happens but for me, I don't try to mean anything personal by it. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing.

Amber: No sweat.

Burish: I've moved on and hopefully, I'm sure they have too. I'm don't think a guy like Chris Pronger, a Hall of Fame d-man, is really too worried about a guy like me has to say at the end of the day.

Amber: Well, we'll find out on February 5th. *slightly maniacal laughter*
So Burish stated that he regretted what he said, then went on to establish Pronger's credentials, etc... Why?

Burish was so "embarrassed" by his own, not-so-off-the-mark comments, that he had to practice Pronger's HOF presenters speech?

Come on! Burish should have felt perfectly within reason for his remarks.  He should have hated Pronger.  The guy who stole the game winner pucks from Burish's teammates in the first two games of the Cup Final.  So what if Burish was a "black ace" for the Cup clincher?  Any spectator could assess that Pronger was indeed "terrible" in the games that Philly lost. What was he? A minus-bazillion in those loses?

Does anyone think that Pronger will apologize for his comments about Burish?

We have never been impressed with Pronger's "leadership" tactics and media manipulation.  However, we will freely admit that Burish was correct in his "...Probably one of the hardest d-men to play against. He does everything well..." remarks/apology.  

Regardless of his success, Pronger's skill and grit has always been marred, and to a degree, overshadowed by, cheap shots and distasteful behavior. Which, when his career comes to a close, should land Pronger somewhere between Dino Ciccarelli and Chris Simon in the NHL's pantheon.

By design, Pronger is a divisive character. Burish is doubtlessly not the only guy in the league to express a dislike for the guy.

Pronger is also entering the twilight of his career. After 16+ seasons on NHL punishment, guys, regardless of how talented they might be, are going to have some bad games.

After the shenanigans and verbal sparring of the Finals, Chicago players were entitled to think Pronger a big "idiot".  After some poor games, they were entitled to call his play "terrible".  It's part of competitive sports.  It's part of a game of aggression.What was so wrong with Burish's verbal jabs?

We say Burish did the wrong thing by trying to do the right thing.

Adam, the next time you feel "embarrassed" by the healthy hate that exists in this game, take some advice from Jay in 40 Year Old Virgin:
Of course it don't feel right! What has felt right for you doesn't work! You need to try some wrong, dawg!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rippin' Rypien

It's the story everyone is talking about.  Rick Rypien of the Vancouver Canucks "attacking" a Minnesota Wild fan in the stands. Reactions around the media range from Rypien should be burned at the stake to he lost his cool for a moment and should not be suspended for much more than the minimum five games.

At the moment, Rypien has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL.

If you haven't already watched the incident:


As he left the ice surface, Rypien interacted with his coach, and there was an attempt by his captain Henrik Sedin to talk to him.  Rypien was clearly worked up, but with all that was going on around him, he would have had to consciously chosen to focus on the apparent heckling fan he grabbed. It also appears that he shoved Sedin aside to lunge at the fan.

A big time no-no!

Watch it again and you see Sedin is really the only one of his teammates with a clear look at what Rypien did.  While Malhotra and Bieksa further exacerbate the situation, Sedin gives a look of frustrated disgust and skates off camera.

On Wednesday, Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reported:

Just got off the phone with 28-year-old James Engquist from Mendota Heights. He is the fan who Canucks forward Rick Rypien grabbed last night as he was leaving the ice...

Engquist attended the Wild-Vancouver game with his brother, Peter, getting seats directly behind the visitors' bench as a gift from their father: "I was just standing straight up applauding as he was getting kicked out. He was out of control. And then I said, 'Way to be professional,' and he obviously didn’t care for that comment and decided to grab me and almost dragged me over the rail. If my brother wasn’t grabbing me and the other player wasn't grabbing him, he probably would have dragged me over the edge."

As Mike Chen very astutely pointed out in "From the Rink":
I bet what the Minnesota fan said to Rypien is nothing compared to what Sidney Crosby hears in Philadelphia.
Chen, it seems, was correct in his assumption.

Again we say, Rypien was agitated. It is human nayure to get caught up in the moment, but he chose to lash out like he did.  It could not be more evident that Rypien does not respect the line walked by a professional.  The League would be wise to sit him until he learns better.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Gag On Wisniewski's Suspension

If you haven't already seen it, here is the vid of Wisniewski not-so-subtly telling Sean Avery what he thinks of his manscaping and Vogue Magazine internship:

For his effort at some modernized vaudeville Wisniewski received a 2-game suspension, which caused a bit of a minor stir around the interwebs.

The backlash centered around the fact that it was "more than was enforced on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton during pre-season action, when he made a throat-slashing gesture in the direction of a Tampa Bay Lightning player." ... and the idea that "It's not a safety issue; it's an image issue".

There is no fault in the reasoning of those who question the severity of the Wisniewski's punishment.  However, more important than how this is viewed by fans and "impressionable" youth is how this kind of sexually explicit taunting is view by the NHL's sponsors.

Anytime that an incident like this occurs there is surely an automatic call to the League offices by Verizon, Geico, etc... "THIS, is what our name is attached to?"

Thus a suspension is warranted...  Add to the list of don'ts.  Don't hit a player in the head. Don't hit a player in the knees.  Don't swear on TV.  Don't question the officials.  Don't threaten the Commissioner's life (that's you Chelios), and don't mess with the league's sponsorship money.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...and the (dirty) Hits keep on Coming

The last few years have seen a major crackdown on dangerous hits to the head and knee, which have even instigated a few rule changes and a myriad of suspensions.

However, just like the real world, the criminals always remain one step ahead of the law on the ice.

The '10-'11 season has now had it's first questionable hit on Monday, which resulted in an injury:

Clearly it was a hit against the rules. Hjalmarsson received a 5-minute major for boarding, and a game misconduct for his part.

Although he doesn't have a cheap shot history, Hjalmarsson, according to TSN "is scheduled to have a hearing with NHL disciplinarian, Colin Campbell at 1pm et."

"Everything happened so fast,"  he said after the game, but as the Buffalo announcers point out in the broadcast, Hjalmarsson saw nothing but the numbers on Pominville's back as he approached him.

On the video you can see that Hjalmarsson starts toward the area where that hit occurred from the blueline.  He coasted toward Pominville before he propels into him for the hit.  How fast could it have happened while gliding 20 feet or so while looking at the guy's back?

In no way does it look like a malicious hit, but careless plays endanger other players just the same.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FWR Feature Videos: Ovechkin's Car Commercial, Carey Price is a Cowboy

See below for Jeremy Roenick's much more sensitive side.

As the 2010-2011 NHL season gets underway tonight, let's check out some of the more recent NHL-related videos from television and around the web:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 - 2011 NHL Predictions

The 2010-'11 season begins tomorrow. Woooo! Seems like the Hawks hoisted the Cup forever ago.  We want to kick off the new season with our own set of predictions by conference.


 1. Capitals - Washington brings same offense. They win a lot of fun and gun contests, but not by the margin they did last season.

 2. Penguins - Pens got better on defense and may have solved their wing issues by moving Malkin there and adding even more grit with Asham and maybe a big surprise in Comrie.

 3. Sabres - Essentially the same team from last season.  Not much better, but not any worse either.

 4. Flyers - Flyers will compete for a top spot in one of the best divisions in hockey.

 5. Bruins - Boston is already dealing with injury issues and the season hasn't even begun.  Otherwise we would have liked them to take the division.

 6. Devils - Jersey invested too much in Kovalchuk and Arnott, but will still have scoring issues. Volchenkov will give them a Scott Stevens-type impact on the blueline, yet they will take a step backward in the division and conference too.

 7. Rangers - The Blueshirts were eliminated by the Eastern Champion Flyers on the last day of the regular season in a shootout.  They were that close.  They won't miss out this year.

 8. Thrashers - Chicago South with make it to the post-season for only the second time in franchise history, but will have even a tougher time gaining the franchise's first playoff win in round One.

 9. Senators - Ottawa isn't getting any younger, and certainly not any better.  They will miss out which will cause a major stir in the nation's capital.

10. Canadiens - What Montreal fans already know: Carey Price is not as good as Halak.  What they don't know yet: No Halak means no post-season.

11. Maple Leafs - The Leafs will be improved from last season's debacle, but not enough to get the team back into the playoffs... next year!

12. Lightning - Yzerman won't get them back to Cup contention overnight.  However, he may make us regret picking Tampa to finish this low in the standings.

13. Islanders - Big injuries to Streit and Okposo will cost the Isles any chance to improve on last years' finish.

14. Hurricanes - The Canes went with youth.  They will be tough to play against, but won't win much.

15. Panthers - Florida will flat out suck from the start despite Vokoun's acrobatics each night.


 1. Red Wings - Jimmy Howard will be even better with a season under his belt.  The Wings have an embarrassment of riches at nearly every position.  Only catastrophic injury issues keep them from the top spot.

 2. Canucks - Vancouver added to their strength on the blueline and got rid of some dead weight up front.  They will be in command all year long.

 3. Sharks - San Jose will find out quickly how much Evgeni Nabokov was worth to them.  Their tandem in net will be inconsistent, but they have too much forward firepower to fall far.

 4. Kings - The Kings will be right with the leaders all season, but may just wait in the weeds until playoff time to do their real damage.

 5. Blackhawks - The Hawks kept their core intact, but the won the Cup last season because of the peripheral pieces they just sold off during the summer.

 6. Coyotes - Phoenix might be even better than they were the season prior, but without the regular season fanfare.  The guys they added in the summer were playoff players.

 7. Blues - The Blues added the piece they needed to get them over the hump.  They got very good goaltending last year, but Halak gives them a miracle worker in the pipes.  St. Louis is back in.

 8. Flames - Calgary added some retro-fits, nothing more, really.  But they get back in to the post-season because the teams in front of them last season will regress a bit.

 9. Predators - Nashville is always under estimated, and they most likely will be our regret pick in the West.  Where will they get the goals from?

10. Avalanche - The Avs surprised a lot of people last season, even though they faded down the stretch.  Their rookies from '09-'10 hit the sophomore slump, and so goes the team.

11. Ducks - The Ducks just couldn't be as bad as they were for much of last season, could they?  We just don't see any improvement from them this year.

12. Wild - Scoring will still be an issue in Minnesota.  Bad news for a team that wants to play an up-tempo Pittsburgh style game.  They are the Penguins without Crosby and Malkin... it doesn't add up.

13. Oilers - Edmonton will be much improved thanks to their super rookie trio of Hall, Eberle and MPS.  They all will battle for the Calder and the rookie scoring crown.

14. Stars - Dallas is a mess financially and it will probably translate into getting worse on-ice, before it can get better.

15. Blue Jackets - Columbus needed some fresh faces to improve.  They didn't get any.  How many ping pong balls will they get?


President's: Detroit Red Wings

Art Ross: Sidney Crosby

Rocket Richard: Alex Ovechkin


ECF: Penguins over Capitals

WCF: Canucks over Kings

SCF: Penguins over Canucks

There ya go.  Have at it!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Michael Peca - Jay Bouwmeester... Battle Stations!

From the Calgary Herald:

Let the record show the Calgary Flames clashed with the New York Islanders Wednesday night in pre-season action in Saskatoon, but the real fireworks in the last 24 hours came off the ice.

The whole drama erupted Tuesday night when TSN panelist Michael Peca said he used to look forward to playing against Jay Bouwmeester, because he coughed the puck up so much.

Strong words, to be sure. And it didn't die there.

On Wednesday afternoon, in a radio interview with Rob Kerr and Dean Molberg on the Fan 960, Flames president Ken King lashed out at the audacity of Peca, a former player, saying such things.

“I think it was out of line,” King said in an interview with The Fan 960. “It was a guy talking about his peer. His colleague. Someone who he has played with.....To diss and take such a low-brow approach to laughing at or ridiculing one of the premier defencemen in the league, I just think is completely inappropriate."...

“We're not going to let Jay Bouwmeester or any player on the league be talked about in that manner by a colleague or a peer without challenging it,” King said. “That's just inappropriate....

“I think he ridiculed him. I think he laughed at him....You bet I'm sticking up for and defending our guy.”
Sure King is gonna stick up for his guy, but what does that leave for Don Cherry?  He's a former coach.  He's never criticized anyone he ever coached against?

Here is the video from TSN of what Peca said. 

Essentially Peca said that Bouwmeester doesn't play tough, and is casual with the puck.  Not complimentary? Certainly not.  But is it "low-brow", disrespectful or the character assassination that King portrays it as?  No way.

Studio analysts receive criticism for being too soft on contemporaries, or if they are to vanilla.  Peca seemed to express an honest opinion on a career underachiever. Grab the torches and pitchforks!

Bouwmeester himself "shrugged off" Peca's comments on Wednesday.
"I don't care. If he wants to say that, that's fine. He's not playing anymore, so I don't care," Bouwmeester said Wednesday. "I'll probably have a different opinion of the guy that said it. Those guys on TV are what they are."
 Bouwmeester knows that the only way to silence his critics is to go out there and prove himself on the ice.  We applaud King for coming to his defense, but we didn't see Peca "laughing at" anyone.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Is It Always Bettman's Fault?

The refs missed a call that would have given your team a power play chance in the playoffs.  Blame Bettman.  You favorite sniper on your fantasy team just missed an open net.  Blame Bettman.  Your team is over the cap.  Dammit Bettman! 

...and so it goes for the embattled commissioner of the NHL.  Whenever a hockey fan sees something that they don't like, the fall guy is always that diminutive, ex-NBA lawyer, Gary. 

He's hockey's top exec. He supposedly hates Canada, looks out for only his U.S. based pals, ruined the league by insisting on putting teams in Miami, Atlanta and Nashville, makes up rules to punish the teams he doesn't like, and was/is willing to cheat every other team in the league to help Pittsburgh win the Cup every year.  There is also insider rumblings about how this little, evil-genius is planning to make all regular season games into 20 minute-long shoot-outs, with glowing pucks for Prime-time, American (East Coast only) TV audiences!

Take a look around the interwebs. You will find examples everywhere of all the horrible things that Commissioner Bettman has done, is doing, or is planning to do.

Bear in mind, most of this is all based on misinformation and speculation... but who cares? It's Bettman's fault for not being a former player, or Canadian, or something.

A prime example can be found courtesy of two very fine sources.  Abel to Yzerman via Kukla's Korner, "Well Gary?" Please, please, please don't get me wrong, I read these blogs on a regular basis because they are good stuff.  I point it out because I strongly disagree with taking the Commish to the wood shed every time someone gets injured.

The following except says it all:

Knee-on-knee, knee-to-thigh, forehead to lower back. Whatever the case may be, the Franzen/Orpik thing is being ignored by the league.  Professional sport’s most inept commissioner has opted to do nothing and the reason he’s made that choice is because it was a Pittsburgh Penguin who attempted to injure a Detroit Red Wing.
Is that the truth?  It makes no difference whether it is or not because perception is everything in the eyes of the fans.  And the fans are the people you continue to alienate Gary.  When’s the last time a knee-on-knee wasn’t at least addressed?  Why no statement?  Why not at least announce that no suspension is in order? Why not tell us that since no video of the incident occurs, an accurate assessment can’t be made?

Because Little Gary Bettman is running the show and I’m here to tell you that this show sucks and continues to get worse...
Why shouldn't a Red Wings fan be upset at the hit that endangered one of the team's biggest stars?  Especially after reading what  Franzen and Coach Mike Babcosk had to say about the collision after the game:

Orpik was given a five-minute major for kneeing Franzen.

"It's terrible," Franzen said. "Stupidest play I ever seen. He lifted his foot up and put his knee inside of my leg.... I just put the puck back down deep and was trying to go get it, and he threw his knee out." 

Orpik's actions did not sit well with Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, who stood up for Franzen and immediately pounded the Penguin. Bertuzzi picked up 17 minutes in penalties -- five for fighting, two for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct. 

Franzen, 30, didn't skate today. He said he hoped to skate in the next day or two. 

Does Orpik deserve to be suspended? 

"Yeah," Franzen said. 

Wings coach Mike Babcock wasn't happy about the hit. 

"I didn't think it was a very good hit," Babcock said. "I don't think they'd be happy if one of our guys did that to Sid (Crosby) or (Evgeni) Malkin. It's one of those things that in the league we like to look after each other's knees."
Yet, why isn't the Commissioner all over this?  Why isn't he investigating this and cracking down on knee-on-knee hits that threaten all players?  Maybe because it wasn't a knee-on-knee hit?  What a lot of media outlets have not focused on: Franzen's injury...
Franzen suffered a charley horse...
I'm not a doctor but... I am pretty sure that a charley horse is not a knee injury.  Therefore I am led to believe that Orpik's knee hit Franzen's thigh, not his knee.

Babcock also said this after the game:
"We think more of his thigh, but we'll get him checked out," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We hope he'd going to be fine."
Regardless of what you believe Brooks Orpik's intent to be, the League doesn't have a long history of suspending guys for knee on upper leg shots... nor should they.

Can Gary Bettmen catch a break here?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What the Devil? NHL Penalizes New Jersey

On Monday the NHL announced that the Kovachuk saga was over, but they were gonna tack on a little extra something to the New Jersey Devils' tab for their trouble.
The National Hockey League and the New Jersey Devils on Monday resolved the dispute over Ilya Kovalchuk's League-rejected 17-year, $102 million contract. The rejection of that contract was subsequently upheld by an independent arbitrator.

The Devils will sacrifice a first-round draft pick in one of the next four Entry Drafts as well as their third-round draft pick in 2011. The Devils will determine in which year between 2011 and 2014 they will surrender their first-round pick, and they are to advise the NHL the day after the Stanley Cup Final ends in that calendar year.

The NHL has also issued the Devils a fine of $3 million, but per the terms of the global settlement reached between the NHL and NHLPA earlier this month the Devils will not have to sacrifice any salary cap money.

As part of that global settlement, which set guidelines for contracts of five years or more, the NHL retained its right to impose penalties on the Devils for the ill-fated Kovalchuk contract. The League announced its rejection of the contract on the basis of circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, citing Article 26, on July 21.
Yes, it sets a guideline and a precedent for future deals.  Yes, the league possesses the authority to impose a penalty on New Jersey...

However, like most of the chapters in this story, this reeks of ex post-facto enforcement by the NHL.  Over the past couple of seasons, the NHL supposedly "investigated" long-term deals for Henrik Zetterbeg, Johan Franzen, Chris Pronger, Roberto Luongo and Marian Hossa.  Although it was clear that the league did not like the structure of their deals, they did approve their contracts.

Then came Kovalchuks's contract.  The NHL rejected it.  An arbitrator upheld their rejection... and then suddenly the league was up for re-investigating many of the aforementioned contracts again.

The Devils accepted the ruling, re-worked another contract and it was approved, after a bit of negotiation.

Yet, buoyed by their recent CBA loophole victories the NHL added penalties to the Devils, despite the fact that they agreed to "grandfather in" the near-violation contracts of Luongo, Hossa and Pronger.

Evidently, the NHL was intent on making an example of New Jersey from the beginning.  Do we agree the league had to close the current CBA contract loophole?  Absolutely.  But... they really took out their frustrations on one perpetrator, while the others get off scot-free.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sidney Crosby Hits Home Run at PNC Park

The Penguins have many off-season pursuits.
PensTVonline covered the action as a few Penguins players took their turn at being a Pittsburgh Pirate.  Crosby took a few swings, and not only hit a home run, but hit it out of the ballpark!

If you were not sure that hockey players are the best athletes in pro sports, here is more evidence.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

NHL/NHLPA Move Closer To Clarifying Kovy (and others) Contract Parameters

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports the league has "given the NHLPA an ultimatum regarding the contested front-loaded contract of not only the Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk, but Vanocuver's Roberto Luongo and Chicago's Marian Hossa, as well..."
A well placed source reports that the league has informed the Players' Assn. that the league will grandfather the recently submitted Kovalchuk 15-year, $100M contract, Luongo's 12-year, $64M deal that is entering its second season and Hossa's 12-year, $63.3M deal that also is entering its second season into the CBA under the following conditions:
1. That the cap hit on future multi-year contracts will not count any seasons that end with the player over 40 years of age. The cap hit would be calculated on the average of the salary up through age 40 only.
2. That the cap hit on future contracts longer than five years will be calculated under a formula granting additional weight to the five years with the highest salary. 

The league has given the PA, which is being directed by Donald Fehr, until Friday at 5 pm to accept these conditions. If the PA refuses, or if negotiations fail to yield a common ground, the league has informed the PA that:

1. It will reject the Kovalchuk contract.
2. It will move to immediately devoid the Luongo contract.
3. It will move to immediately open proceedings for a formal investigation into the Hossa contract.

The NHL owns sweeping punitive powers against teams and players judged guilty of circumvention under Article 26 of the CBA.
Regardless of what happens in this situation, closing the cap loopholes is a process that has been long overdue.  The only thing that we disagree with in this whole drama is why did the league wait until the Devils pushed them to the brink before they took action?

This action by the league is a necessity to rid the cap rules of further ambiguity, but the re-opening of investigations that supposedly had already been investigated and ratified (Luongo, Hossa, etc...) is bound to leave a bad taste behind. 

With this recent development, our sources tell us that the $1 billion / 1,000 year Sidney Crosby extension is now on hold!

Monday, August 30, 2010

If Devils Add Kovalchuk Whom Do They Subtract? Abra Kadabra Holmes!

Say goodbye to some of those guys Kovy
The most interesting side story to the Kovalchuk contract ordeal is the speculation regarding what player(s) the Devils will have to move to get back within the parameters of the salary cap.

Should Kovalchuk's new deal be approved, and if it is the $6.66m cap hit that it is speculated to be, the Devils would be roughly $3.6m over the cap.

If that is the case, they could use the Blackhawks' Huet/cheat-the-system method and simply send a player to the minors to hide their cost against the cap.  Although it is the simplest method, it seems very un-Jersey like, and there are few candidates to choose from.

Many, including the New York Post's Mark Everson believe that the Devils will make a trade or two to free up space.

It's difficult to fathom, but rumors are floating that Travis Zajac may be among the players the Devils will eventually sacrifice to get under the salary cap if Ilya Kovalchuk's $100 million, 15-year contract is approved by the NHL. 

Conventional wisdom suggests Bryce Salvador ($2.9 million) and Dainius Zubrus ($3.4 million) are the obvious candidates to surrender for the $3-5 million in cap space the Devils would need to clear by the start of the season if Kovalchuk's deal is approved. 

Zajac, 25, signed a new deal last summer that has a cap hit of $3.89 million for the next three seasons. He is coming off his best season of 25-42-67.
With all due respect to the honorable Lou Lamoriello... and remember I said "with all due respect", but with each player that the team sacrifices for the sake of the additions of this summer, the luster of those acquisitions fades.

Particularly the Jason Arnott deal.  For $4.5m??? He "ain't worth a painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin' it on" especially when you consider that he will cost the team talent in addition to the unattractive salary!

As crazy as the suggestion of trading Zajac is, it may be the reality.  I mean, who really wants Salvador or Zubrus at their price?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Arbitration Spurned Clarke MacArthur Signs With the Leafs

Clarke MacArthur won his arbitration hearing with the Atlanta Thrashers when he was awarded $2.4 million in salary for the upcoming season.  As a result, the team walked away from the payday, making MacArthur a UFA. 

The Leafs snatched him up today as TSN reports:
The Toronto Maple Leafs have added some depth at forward as the team announced the signing of Clarke MacArthur to a one-year contract on Saturday worth a reported $1.1 million...

The 25-year old MacArthur split time between the Buffalo Sabres and the Atlanta Thrashers last season, scoring 16 goals and adding 19 assists in 81 games.

In 208 career games, the Llyodminster, Alberta native has 44 goals and 44 assists.
As one astute commenter mentioned:  "zero risk, high reward signing... same goal total as Scott Gomez for 6 million less."

MacArthur fits what the Leafs have been trying assemble in T.O.  He is a team guy that is a hard charger.  He is not afraid to mix it up, but also has some skill too.  

At this point he also represents a bargain for Toronto, so... why not?

We were a bit disappointed that he didn't end up going back to Buffalo, as the whole General MacArthur, "I shall return" theme would have been so necessary!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kovalchuk Drama Nearing End

Just in time! This story is just that close to nearing "Koval-who-gives-a-flying-chuk" status! TSN, ESPN and Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record are all reporting that the Devils have submitted a new signed contract for league review and all parties expect it to be ratified by the NHL.  

Just yesterday it was reported that Kovalchuk's Russian agent, Yuri Nikolaev had set a 48-hour deadline for the NHL to resolve his client's contract issues or Kovalchuk will likely play in the KHL for next season.

Really?  As if (as previously discussed here) Eastern European players don't have enough of a negative stigma, here is Kovy's agent demanding that the NHL fix contract issues that are between the Devils and his client! Lunacy.

It certainly seems like this deal will be approved, speculated to be worth $100m over 15 years, minus the dramatic salary drop off that the first contract involved.  The new deal would count a devilish $6.66m against the cap each season.

Please be done. Please be done.  We are certainly done with this lame soap opera.

btw NJD:  It will be an albatross contract in 5 years... just need to pay him 10 more years after that! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kings Sign Willie Mitchell

The L.A. Kings further bolstered their roster today:

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms with free-agent defenseman Willie Mitchell on a two-year contract worth $3.5 million per season.

Mitchell's 2009-10 season was derailed by a concussion, limiting him to 48 games where he posted four goals and 12 points. 

The former eighth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 1996, the 33-year-old has compiled 19 goals, 119 points and 621 penalty minutes in 586 NHL games with the Devils, Wild, Stars and Canucks.
When healthy, Mitchell is one of the better defenders in the league, and he also brings his share of the nasty stuff to the table, something the Kings didn't have in abundance.

Don't look now, but the Kings have built a Cup worthy defensive corps to go with their well rounded forwards.  Flying a bit under the radar has been good for the Kings this off-season.  Staying away from the temptation of signing Kovalchuk secures the long-term future of this team... which by the way, is bright!

The Kings are looking forward to re-signing their franchise defender, Doughty; and have one of, if not the best, list of prospects in all of hockey.  L.A. raked 9th in the NHL in both goals scored and goals allowed. 

The addition of two-way forward Alex Ponikarovsky and today's addition of the defensive minded Willie Mitchell does nothing but enhance their chances of making a legit run at the Cup this season and beyond.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Let's Talk Some Good Ol' Fashioned Hate. Part II

We continue our 2 part hate series today!

Ty Domi - The Albanian Assassin. Domi was a flat out nasty cuss.  Cheap, ugly, evil... he always seemed to be on the prowl.  You could make a list of his transgressions on a per game basis. Most memorable scum bag move: It's debatable. Any time a Philly fan gets his head beat in, you could say he deserved it, but Domi used his on ice guile to ensnare a simpleton, so we will call it a mismatch... he pummeled a fan while in the penalty box.

Bryan Marchment - The guys was pure evil. Marchment served  13 suspensions in a career of 12 seasons, nearly perfecting the knee on knee collision. Most memorable scum bag move: You name it. He injured the likes of Mike Modano, Paul Kariya, Pavel Bure and even Mike Gartner!

Marty McSorley - For a long time he was Wayne Gretzky's personal bodyguard on the ice.  Wherever #99 was, so was McSorley.  During that time he was know to do whatever it took to keep guys off of Wayne.  However, towards the latter stages of his playing days McSorely became a poster boy for cheap shots and controversy. Most memorable scum bag move: McSorley thought Donald Brashear resembled a long Northwestern pine and decided it was time to chop him down.

Chris Pronger - "Captain Elbows". The guy doesn’t have eight career suspensions for being an honest checker. Pronger is especially detestable when he cracks a joke after a low-life move and all of his jock-carrying media pals swoon afterward because he's a good quote. Most memorable scum bag move: His Simon-esque stomp of Ryan Kesler.

Jarko Ruutu - Ruutu is a premier agitator, and to his credit he will stand there and take his punishment.  However, Jarko is all too willing to take it to the next level.  Which for others, isn't good.  Most memorable scum bag move: Rutuu in a scrum with Andrew Peters decided it would be a good idea to bite his hand.

Honorable Mentions: Ulf Samuelsson, Colby Armstrong, Matt Cooke, Mike Ribeiro, Darius Kasparitus, Brian Bellows, Chris Chelios, Dino Ciccarelli, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Carcillo, Scott Stevens

There will always be those guys who are disliked for off the ice reasons, or for simply committing the crime of being good and not on the other 29 teams. But, honestly they don't count as most of that hatred is based on misconception and flat out fan fiction.

Classic examples include Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, etc...

However, we have a special place reserved for:

Eric Lindros -  Where do we begin?  He started his career off by being daddy's little puppet allowing his parents to make an ass out of him by orchestrating not only which junior team he played for, but also his NHL draft team.  Lindros would refuse to play for the Quebec Nordiques who drafted first overall in 1991.  The Lindros family forced a trade to Philly.  It ended up being the best thing that could have happened to Quebec. However, the sentiment began there that Eric Lindros was a very talented player with an incredibly un-hockeylike measure of self importance.  As advertised, Lindros could score, but he also fancied himself a hard-ass.  He played with an edge, but found out that it came back to him many times... often much worse than what he dished out.  Lindros' demeanor was so distasteful to fans many cheered when he got "knocked-the-eff-out!"

Courtesy of Darius Kasparaitis:

Courtesy of Scott Stevens:

Lindros never learned to keep his head up no matter how many times he had his bell rung.  After the Stevens hit above essentially ended his playing days, Lindros was not through being an a-hole.  Twice now he has been involved with the NHLPA's corrupt coups of legit leaders, continuing their history of disorganization and cannibalization.

Keep it up Eric!  Here is to seeing Stevens lay you out one more time on the Avenue of the Americas!

In case we were too subtle, Lindros wins our most hated player of all time award.

Give us your feedback.  Who do you hate, and why?  We already had one vote for Ray Emery.  Thanks for weighing in Kerry!