Gross Misconduct... HAS MOVED!

Wondering why there's nothing new? That's because you can find me at: WWW.GROSSMISCONDUCTHOCKEY.COM

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Inexcusable: CCHA Votes Down Alabama-Huntsville

Today saw news that should make college hockey fans across America and parts elsewhere really upset:

CCHA Denies Alabama-Huntsville for Conference Admission

The CCHA has denied Alabama-Huntsville’s application for admission, putting the program’s future in even more jeopardy.

The Chargers are members of the CHA, which is set to disband after the 2009-10 season. The three other members have found other conferences, and UAH targeted the CCHA.

But the CCHA Council, a body made up of athletic administrators and faculty athletic representatives, on Tuesday voted by acclamation to deny UAH’s application for membership.

Well isn't that nice.

The CHA is disbanding because the other three members of the conference have found more convenient homes for the 2010-2011 season. Bemidji State, an enjoyed program of this blog, is moving to the WCHA with soon-to-be former CCHA patron Nebraska-Omaha. Robert Morris University and Niagara University of the lame-duck CHA will move along to the alive-yet-weak Atlantic Hockey Association.

This situation left Alabama-Huntsville on the outside looking in. Given that they're the only college hockey program located in the deep south, their program is one that has always raised eyebrows with casual observers of college hockey.

Hell, even long time college fans weren't always aware of the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers - that is until 2007 when the bottom-seeded Chargers took top seeded Notre Dame to double-overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before ultimately falling to the Fighting Irish 3-2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Coincidentally enough, it was the same Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids that saw soon-to-be former CHA mates Bemidji State upset Notre Dame and Cornell just this past year in the NCAA Tournament earning them their first Frozen Four appearance as well as the acceptance of the WCHA to join their "exclusive" club of teams.

Fate is one cruel bitch.

"Et tu... All of you?!"

What's fun about this announcement is that the CCHA decided to vote by acclimation so that no one school has to take the heat from the rest of the college hockey loving world for basically sending Alabama-Huntsville's hockey program out to pasture.

Yes, that's right, their hockey program is in a very bad spot right now. Other conferences that could have had UAH join up with them have already filled their ranks. That's not to say that the WCHA was even a possible destination for the Chargers, but at least they were one of the conferences looking to expand.

Atlantic Hockey and the CCHA were it as far as geographic common sense and flexibility go. Atlantic Hockey made their move by bringing aboard the two logical CHA squads in Robert Morris (Pittsburgh, PA) and Niagara (near Buffalo, NY). Both the ECAC and Hockey East are much too far out of the way in the northeast and are set with their number of teams.

UAH is now looking at life, once again, as an independent team. They spent their first year back in Division I hockey as an independent in 1998-1999 but then joined the CHA after that. Previous to that, they were a Division II team for six seasons and a damn good one winning two Division II championships, thus making their jump back to Division I (after spending five years there from 1987-1992 as independents) one that made a world of sense.

Now? Limbo awaits the Chargers. Life as an independent team in Division I hockey is one that doesn't lend itself well to any kind of success, be it on the ice or financially. Having no conference affiliation means there's no conference tournament to play in and win a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Having life as an independent should, ideally, mean that scheduling gets to be easier as you can pick and choose from any of the other 58 D-I schools. Problem with that is, everyone else is playing in a conference and subject to their own conference schedule dominating their weekly lives and having to live by the scraps of open dates the schedule allows to make games with other schools.

D-I football is perhaps the best high profile way we can look at how UAH may have to handle their new lives, should they choose to keep it up. In the past, there had always been a rather large handful of teams amongst the Independent ranks in college football.

Now there are three: Notre Dame, Army and Navy. What these three teams have in common is playing against each other as well as a hearty mix of cream puffs and menacing world beaters. Hell, even Army football gets a game against VMI each year so they're guaranteed to not go winless.

Obviously Notre Dame sticks out here as the "shining example" of how to be a successful independent program. Then again, Notre Dame football is a beast unto itself having NBC carrying all their home games and a ridiculous legacy that is eternally fellated whether the team is any good or not.

Alabama-Huntsville hockey won't exactly have any of these luxuries. There is no lucrative television contract to give the school money nor are there well-placed media pundits out there to proclaim the wonder and glory of Chargers hockey. It's just how it is but the future is certainly very bleak for the sole Division I hockey program in the deep south.

For what it's worth, the 2012 Frozen Four being held in Tampa, Florida is set to be hosted by none other than the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Given that this location has already been beset by bad press, most of which centered around the owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning bailing out of a college hockey tournament set to be hosted in Tampa last year, Alabama-Huntsville having their program potentially folding before the Frozen Four even arrives in Florida would be a tremendous black eye on college hockey.

For now though, UAH hangs on while the CCHA will have to take their much-deserved lumps for leaving a program out in the cold with little to no explanation:

“The league completed its due diligence of the application for membership submitted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville with careful consideration and discussion of various issues,” CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos said in a news release. “At this time we have chosen to maintain our membership at its current level.

“The CCHA will remain focused on maintaining and strengthening our existing members to ensure the conference’s continued success and long-term viability.”

There's a lot of buzzwords in there but what this boils down to for the CCHA is that they're playing wait-and-see, which in this case, amounts to a game of chicken where they're not risking a damn thing for themselves.

At stake here instantly is the future of Alabama-Huntsville hockey but there are some other things that come into play here. Whether it's the imminent failure of another of its member teams in Bowling Green or the rise of a program out of the club ranks with a huge name to lend further credibility to both the CCHA and college hockey will remain to be seen.

If the CCHA has the ability to see the future and those situations do arise, I am sure they can also handle the responsibility of having the blood of potentially two (or maybe more) programs on their hands while allowing college hockey to become an even less-relevant niche sport on the collegiate landscape.

A year from now we could be just laughing at all of this as an incredible overreaction when the CCHA votes to allow UAH to join up with them after Bowling Green and other struggling CCHA members all find ways to prove their commitments to college hockey for the future and its all fun and games.

Then again, a year from now we could be looking at this vote to exclude UAH from the CCHAs reindeer games as the first domino to fall in what could prove to be a herd-thinning situation in college hockey.

Friday, July 31, 2009

RPI Plans To Take More Money From Fans

One of the collegiate guilty pleasures you're going to have to get better accustomed to if you're a follower here is my fandom of the ECAC's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI, if you're nasty). The majority of my college hockey watching takes place at Houston Field House and I can virtually always be found there taking in an RPI game during hockey season.

So if you want to get into stalking me, enjoy beautiful Troy, NY.

So if you're curious as to why this latest bit of information from RPI found its way onto my radar, well, there you go. It reads like the standard "season is approaching, get ready to buy tickets" type of news, but this year there's a new spin.

The general public price remains as it has been in recent years for 14 home games, while four games feature premium pricing. The majority of contests will cost $10 for adults and $7 for children & seniors, while the four premium-priced games are $13 for adults and $10 for children & seniors.

The games with premium pricing are those against Cornell University on December 4, Union Coll
ege on December 9, Clarkson University on February 6 and Princeton University on February 20.

That's right, premium ticketing comes to ECAC Athletics. At long last fans can feel like they're part of the big time as they'll pay up more for tickets to the games they REALLY want to be at.


What do you think of this Dr. Horse?

Hmm... No sir, I don't like it.

OK so I'm having some fun here because being dreadfully serious is dreadfully boring and this isn't a topic that deserves to be lambasted, but it is a bit troubling for the future.

Premium ticketing for certain games is something that's not new to sports fans in general (many NHL teams already do this including the Sabres) and, let's face it, the cost for RPI games isn't outrageous by any means. A weekend homestand will run you $20, there's no price for parking and you'll get a good night out of hockey in, at the least, a semi-festive college environment.

What's a bit disturbing about this is, of course, the timing. RPI appears to be a team headed in the right direction.

After a poor regular season, the Engineers found their way in the playoffs upsetting and sweeping sixth seeded Dartmouth in the ECAC tournament first round and then taking ECAC Tournament finalists Cornell to three games in the quarterfinals before losing.

This year, the Engineers bring in two 2009 NHL Draft Picks with forwards Brandon Pirri (2nd round 59th overall to Chicago) and Jerry D'Amigo (6th round 158th overall to Toronto) as well as other forwards C.J. Lee and Marty O'Grady to join an already very young team. RPI has struggled and head coach Seth Appert has, for all intents and purposes, rebuilt the program in the last three years at the helm.

Whether the progress continues to bring success hinges a lot upon what this new crop of players can do immediately and with that the folks at RPI have apparently decided that folks will pony up no matter what, especially for certain games. The games they've got picked out are the traditional big ticket games each year taking advantage of the opponent or the situation.

Puckman wants to see you in Troy... And make you pay for it.

In the case with the game against Cornell, RPI is looking to capitalize upon the swarm of visitors that descend upon Troy from Ithaca each year and looking to make a few more bucks off of the fans from Cornell... Well really, paying more to come to Troy will really stick in their collective craws and that's just fun to make them upset.

Much is the same with the fans coming from Schenectady from Union College. Making those folks pay a few bucks more for the pleasure of visiting Troy makes me laugh because they hate to do it.

RPI's games against Clarkson and Princeton in February actually are premium tickets as far as RPI fans are concerned.

RPI and Clarkson are big time rivals in the ECAC, at least they are from RPI's standpoint. Clarkson tends to have more rivalry-like hate for the likes of St. Lawrence and Cornell. In this case, RPI has chosen their game against Clarkson to be Alumni night and they'll be honoring the 1985 National Championship as it'll be the 25th Anniversary of RPIs last national title and hey, you don't need a good excuse to bring Adam Oates and Daren Puppa back to town now do you?

Putting this event the same night as their game with Clarkson is a really nice coincidence though.

The game with Princeton is a convenient double-whammy as Princeton, traditionally, brings very few fans on the road which will not help them as this game is RPIs annual Big Red Freakout as well as senior night.

As that link explaining the Big Red Freakout says, fans can thank RPI for the NCAA rule banning noisemakers at games as the gift given out to fans in 1987 were horns and well... Wild, rambunctious and boozed up college kids with horns at a hockey game? I can't see how that ever turned out badly.

RPIs record in the Big Red Freakout is something quite remarkable (18-9-5 since 1978) and they'll be looking to get off a three-year winless streak in 2010 as well as avenging their Freakout loss to Princeton two years ago that saw the Engineers lose 4-0 in a game that wasn't even as close as that score indicates.

Four premium ticket games, two of which are actually premium games that will very likely be sellouts. It's a shrewd financially-driven decision by RPI to do this and, let's face it they're going to get the money they're looking for here. It is a choice that I worry will be taken advantage of in future seasons and leading to ticket prices going up.

After all, RPI does have a nice new athletic facility to show off and try to make money off of (not that it has anything to do with the hockey program) but since RPI has made headlines locally for cutting jobs and talking about financial hardships making a few bucks off their only Division I men's athletic program should be no surprise.

That's a whole 'nother rant entirely however.

I wanted to really tear ass about this more, but I can understand why RPI is doing premium ticket pricing for these games, I just hope that this isn't a harbinger of doom for the future.

Sure, college hockey ticket prices are a bit higher in the midwest (Denver University's single game tickets range between $17-$35 for example), but the demand out there is much higher as well so it makes sense. If RPI starts winning again, the long lost dormant RPI fans will come back and the students will be out in force if for no other reason than to be seen at the games.

As it is, the exhibition game with Prince Edward Island on October 3rd is a date most RPI fans cannot wait for just so they can finally get a look at guys like Pirri and D'Amigo on the ice in cherry, white and black.

I'm sure the coaching staff is hoping that the new class is able to inspire more goals and victories and make the fans want to come to Troy on the weekends once again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Most Interesting Free Agent In The World

Free agency season has died down and while there are still quite a few intriguing names left floating about while teams figure their cap situations out, there's one man out there who remains and his legend now grows as the pickings get slimmer.

His reputation is expanding faster than the universe you might say.

He's a man who has played in the NHL for nine seasons, almost all of them healthy... Except for his most recent when he got injured more seriously just to see how it felt.

He's never scored more than 30 goals in a season but passes with the greatest of ease despite being a left wing.

His blood smells just like cologne.

Darryl Sutter once traded for him because he was intrigued by how he might work with Jarome Iginla.

His hairless face has experienced more playoff success than the San Jose Sharks.

He's been known to cure a struggling offense just by walking into the room.

If you're the GM of the Coyotes, Panthers, or a host of other NHL teams perhaps you too would be interested in the most interesting free agent in the world.

When Alex Tanguay drinks, he prefers something with an umbrella in it.

Or perhaps you'd just rather have a shitty Mexican beer.

Alex Tanguay is certainly getting a lot of attention and sure, much of it is deserved. He played 50 games for the Canadiens last year and scored 40 points. Not bad. Not great, but not bad either. Teams that are in the hunt for him, the aforementioned Panthers and Coyotes could sure use a big point producer to help out. Florida in particular would make for a great destination with the emerging David Booth and the host of snipers situated in Miami right now.

These teams in the hunt for Alex Tanguay had better know what they're getting though.

They're not getting a big goal scoring winger.

Tanguay is a set-up guy and would fit in ideally on a team that has a center that likes to score goals (well hello Tampa Bay) or on a line with enough offensive talent to make sure that Tanguay's short comings (doesn't play physical at all) don't short-circuit the entire line (Ottawa, Dallas, even Phoenix perhaps).

Alex Tanguay is the ideal support piece for a team's offense but he's not the main event scorer. Of course, now that just about every main event scorer is off the market, Alex Tanguay is the last guy out there who has put up big offensive numbers in the past and will, likely, be able to get (over) paid by someone desperate.

Buyer beware because the Most Interesting Free Agent In The World is a lover not a fighter... But he's also a fighter so don't get any ideas He's a total pansy, have at it.

Stay thirsty, GMs.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bettman's Stick Gets Caught In The Spokes

A tip of my cap to Andrew Bucholtz for tipping me off to a brief footnote in a Globe and Mail column by Bruce Dowgibbin providing me with some more cannon fodder for our dear diminutive NHL figurehead.

Let's just cut to the quick:

Has Lance Armstrong become the Tiger Woods of cycling? The controversial American has been away from the Tour de France since 2005, but is making a comeback this year. For the first 10 stages of the 2009 Tour de France, ratings for Versus’ coverage are up 77 per cent through the comparable point last year. That includes an 85-per-cent rise among men 18 to 34 and 132 per cent for men 18 to 49. The 479,800 viewers for the Tour de France tops the 442,300 viewers Versus averaged for the first round of the ’09 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Yeah, I know the off-season is tough so we're reduced to cycling news and talking about Lance Armstrong and...

Wait a second, what was that?

The 479,800 viewers for the Tour de France tops the 442,300 viewers Versus averaged for the first round of the ’09 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Cycling is doing better than the NHL on television when the cycling takes place while most Americans are supposed to be at work and away from television sets.

Un. Freaking. Real.

Suck it Gary, this one's for you!

Remember, the NHL airs during prime time hours and they attempt to cater at will to anyone and everyone, meanwhile dudes in spandex riding a bike (RIDING A BIKE) do better TV business than the NHL on the SAME DAMN NETWORK?!


I can see the visionary changes with Versus and the NHL now.

Games played at 11 in the morning on a mountain in Europe and changes to the uniforms to make them even tighter than they are now and more expensive for fans to purchase just so the league can cash in on this cycling craze that has the ratings all abuzz.

Leadership: You're (Still) Doing It Wrong

Better yet, let's just get right down to what this means for the NHL.

Bicycle Ice Polo.

Get ready for it - it'll be the most difficult sport ever created and it'll come to Versus because some inept boob can't make his current sport more popular/noticeable/marketable/affordable.

How can this leadership failure be allowed to continue? It'll be fun when the salary cap falls by $5 million dollars after this upcoming season and teams start to really cry foul about money. Good thing the NHL extended that non-lucrative TV contract with NBC recently because, really, who needs TV money to survive anyway?

Future NHL Ticket Purchases: Doing It Really Old School

Not Herr Bettman and certainly not the NHL - they operate in a world without money. They operate in the South Pacific islands where bartering is legal tender. Make sure you brought enough chickens and volcanic stones to the ticket office so you can see a game this season.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Faces In New Places: Smorgasbord

After what a rousing hit the last set of premonition photos were with Tampa Bay and Washington...

...Wait, what's that Professor Frink?

Ahh, yes, good to see yours is working. Well played, sir. Glavin!

Since folks aren't overly entertained by the Lightning nor the Capitals it was high time to step it up in a big way. Again big thanks to EA Sports and XBox Live for providing the means to whet all of your appetites for the upcoming season.

This time the top pick in the 2009 NHL Draft makes his (sort of) video game debut, the New York Rangers unveil an entirely new lineup, Professor Pronger dons the black and orange, Nikolai Khabibulin does his best Andy Moog impression and a guy lets his new paycheck commit to the Indian in Chicago.

I'm going to let these photos appear to be a bit smaller on the page here because there are A LOT of them, but as always, feel free to click on them to make them reasonably life size on your screen.

2009 #1 Draft Pick Jonathan Tavares slips around 2009 #3 Draft Pick Matt Duchene.

This will not end well for virtual Marian Hossa as Chris Pronger steps up in the slot to greet him.

Professor Pronger stays in form: Elbows up at all times

Poise. Grace. Steadiness. Ray Emery. Wait, why are you laughing?

It's John Madden doing what he does best.

Ian Laperriere was called in as a witness in Daniel Carcillo's assault case (background) against Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Tomas Kopecky deals out some beach justice to Chris Pronger.

Marian Gaborik shows how far into the defensive zone he'll ever go.

Nikolai Khabibulin stones Marian Gaborik in close. Gaborik pulls groin in process.

That's just Donald being Donald.

Matt Gilroy shows the rest of the team how to play defense correctly. Take notes Roszival!

How do you know its a video game? When Ales Kotalik is trying to play some defense.

Christopher Higgins is just playing it out until the post-game party starts.

Hey look! It's those two guys that got traded for Ryan Smyth!

What Dwayne Roloson doesn't know is that he's wearing Tommy Salo's number and he'll have to start more games than not. Let's see how he reacts...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Faces In New Places: Washington vs. Tampa Bay

Yesterday we debuted, with great help from EA Sports and XBox 360, a fun summer series to help us kill time and show off what all of the new free agent acquisitions and top draft picks will look like in their new duds.

Speaking of duds, today's photo shoot features one team who played like duds all regular season and another one that played like duds, eventually, in the playoffs.

That's right it's time for the, perhaps, much improved Tampa Bay Lightning and the happy-to-stand-pat Washington Capitals.

Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman excuses himself away from new Capitals forward Brendan Morrison.

Kurtis Foster unleashes the beast towards goaltender Simeon Varlamov.

New Capitals forward Mike Knuble dares to deke past Vincent Lecavalier.

Mattias Ohlund tries to escape the pursuit of Alexander Ovechkin.

Stephane Veilleux shows how to celebrate best on an empty net.

Now here's where you folks come in. Who do you want to see next? Red Wings exiles donning the Indian in Chicago? Marian Gaborik in Ranger blues? Ryan Smyth and his mullet in Los Angeles?

You make the call and the top two choices get featured next - just make sure the teams you select have, you know, actually made a move or two. Leave your suggestions in the comments or find your way to Twitter to let me know. I'm pretty easy to find there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Faces In New Places: Montreal and Toronto

Because I'm a video game dork, in particular with NHL games (well, OK EA Sports' NHL game) and the summer leaves a dearth of fun NHL news to talk about, it's time for me to flex my video game photo taking skills and give you an idea of what some of the new players in new places are going to look like in their snazzy new uniforms.

I'll do a few of these photo galleries because I'm that bored and I have that kind of time. Suck it.

This gallery will feature two teams who have done quite a bit this off-season. It also helps that they're huge rivals with each other.

I bring you the newest Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. Feel free to click the photos to enlarge them at your leisure.

Scott Gomez slams on the brakes in front of Matthew Stajan and Colton Orr.

Brian Gionta celebrates a goal he didn't score.

Mike Cammalleri lets a shot rip from the slot while Mike Komisarek sprawls out to block it.

Paul Mara skates head to head with Colton Orr.

Mike Komisarek lurks behind the net while Garnet Exelby defends. Jonas Gustavsson holds down the fort.

Jaroslav Spacek races through the slot to let a wrist shot fly.

Hal Gill does something other than stand around.

Travis Moen celebrates like a douchebag after scoring a back-breaking shorthanded goal. Francois Beauchemin stands by stoically.