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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gary Bettman: Happiest Man on Earth

Since a lot of you are new to this page and probably weren't keeping tabs with me last year for the playoffs, let me dust off something I said last year after the results of the First Round were completed:

The only real downside to the Capitals losing is that it prevents us from seeing Sid the Kid and Evgeni Malkin from taking on Ovechkin and Backstrom in the second round. Say what you will, but Bettman had the perfect opportunity to take what he learned under Stern and to put it to use to set up a real dazzler of a matchup.

Much like everything else, however, Bettman fails to put the hit out to guarantee this will happen.

Upon the completion of Washington's stirring victory over the Rangers in Game 7 that featured Sergei Fedorov dial up an Yzerman-esque ripper of a shot over the newly-exposed glove hand of Henrik Lundqvist, in my many posts on Twitter (you know, since I've got nothing else to do) I stated this:

Now let's see how (bad) Gary wants the fix. If the #Canes beat the #Devils we get Sid vs. Ovechkin.

In my head I had one of the greatest creative minds of the modern sports entertainment era, at least he was for a while, in mind as I wrote this. I thought about it last year when Washington stormed back against Philadelphia only to lose in Game 7 to the Flyers and there it was in my head again this time as the New Jersey Devils had a 3-2 lead on the Carolina Hurricanes in their Game 7.

Some say a man fitting this description was seen in the tunnel at The Rock shouting, "Just go down Marty!"

Would Lil' Gary put on his big boy shoes and put in the call for the Devils to lay it down or would it play out legendarily like this:

In a series that had so many great goaltending performances from both Martin Brodeur and Cam Ward and two teams that truly left it all out on the ice and given everything that I was able to witness all throughout this years NCAA Hockey Tournament, I didn't think the NHL had it in them to produce a finish to a game that so thoroughly stunned me as this one did.

Doc Emrick and Chico Resch from MSG+ with the call:


I mean... This is the New Jersey Devils, the team that made sitting on a one-goal lead the new black in the 1990s. This is Martin Brodeur - The Franchise - The Legend.

How in the blue hell did this happen? This stuff doesn't happen to the Devils. It never does... Well, unless you're the Ottawa Senators.

It's hours upon hours later now and this one just stuns me. Jussi Jokinen is the new cursed name in the swamps of New Jersey? The same guy that was waived by the directionless Tampa Bay Lightning? That Jussi Jokinen?!


What's more shocking about all of this is that Herr Bettman got his wish. With the Hurricanes beating the Devils, that set up a second round date between Sid the Kid's Penguins and Alexander the Great's Capitals - a playoff matchup that people have been dying to have happen.

Sure, it's not for the Conference Title or the Stanley Cup - but for the press and the attention and the real bad blood there is between these teams it might as well be.

Two of these four second round series are now set to be, potentially, the best series of the entire playoffs. Anaheim did their job and disposed of a gutless Sharks team to set up a date with the Red Wings and then you get the headliner between Pittsburgh and Washington.

This isn't to say that Chicago and Vancouver is going to stink, far from it, as that's going to make for an incredible tilt and the Wonder Boys in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are going to have their hands full in dealing with Vancouver's system all backstopped by the new stud Roberto Luongo.

Boston and Carolina would be a lot more fun if, say, Herr Bettman's Southern Conquest wasn't involved and the Hurricanes were wearing blue, green and white and celebrated each goal with some Brass Bonanza.

Then again, getting Ric Flair prominently involved in hockey really isn't so bad and given that it took the Hurricanes to overthrow the Devils to make Gary's Dream Match-Up come to fruition... Well maybe it's worth looking into.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Adirondack Phantoms: It's Official

It's official - per the AHL website:

“On behalf of our Board, it’s my privilege to welcome these three cities to the AHL family,” said Andrews. “We are looking forward to these new opportunities in Austin and Abbotsford, and we’re excited to be returning to the rich AHL tradition and history in Glens Falls.”

You hear that Gary? Tradition and history, two things you wouldn't know about if they sat on your face. It's also a couple of things that Austin, Texas and Abbotsford, British Columbia, don't have a lot of.

That's beside the point though.

I told you to get used to calling them the Adirondack Phantoms.

As I expected, this move was being made whether Glens Falls hit the 2,500 season ticket goal or not and as of the last update at the Post Star website on Monday, the total was a bit over 1,600. If they don't hit the 2,500 mark now after the confirmation of the team moving, I'd really worry if I were part of the Brooks Group, owners of the Phantoms. After all, if you can't get folks to pony up when it is a sure thing... I don't know what to tell you.

At the least, we now understand why the target date was moved up to today, the 28th. The AHL was ready to make the announcement regardless.

What remains to be seen is how long this remains the home of the Phantoms or if this is just Glens Falls' way of auditioning for another full-time gig when/if the Phantoms get their own place in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Monday, April 27, 2009

ESPN: Contra Cl-Owned

Being that this is a hockey site, we enjoy bringing up ESPN failures in hockey coverage. ESPN has provided a jackpot of hilarity today.

It started this morning when ESPN insisted that Mike Green and Donald Brashear were being looked at for potential suspensions for their actions in Game 6 against the Rangers.

I'm sorry... Mike Green?! The same Mike Green that isn't noted for his defensive prowess at all?


Turns out that was all part of a joke played on ESPN. ESPN retracted their story after a half hour.

The jokes haven't ended there today for the World Wide Leader.

If I might get my "Jump To Conclusions" mat out, it looks like ESPN has upset the space-time continuum courtesy of old-school 80s video gamers.

Code Of Honor: Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start

This afternoon, word started circulating around Internet forums that if you visited ESPN's website and entered in the Contra Code you would find an amusing result.

Obviously I'm an easy sheep to snare but this was worth it to give it a look-see. Click to enlarge it, of course:

It's like Napoleon Dynamite's Trapper Keeper crapped on ESPN's homepage.

I don't know what's funnier about this, NASCAR being front page material or the unicorns or the horse from 80s kids show Rainbow Brite being prominently involved.

Whoever the mad geniuses behind these presumably unrelated pranks are are hilarious and deserve a pat on the back.

That is unless they've hacked everyone's computer - which in that case I'd like them to be burned at the stake while tarred and feathered.

Like I said, this is loosely related to hockey but too hilarious to NOT share. I'll call this karmic retribution for being wholly ignorant of the NHL.

Wheel of Justice Strikes Again

Donald Brashear is a bad motherfucker, there's no getting around that. He's also a really lame fighter too on occasion, I guess some guys need proper motivation or to not be a complete wuss.


It's not always a knockdown drag out affair with Huggy Bear Brashear

Thanks to Colin Campbell's amazing and unpredictable Wheel of Justice, this:

Is worth a six-game suspension.

OK so it's not just that hit, it's the pre-game nonsense he instigated with the Rangers Colton Orr and... well, insert whatever other reasons you might want to toss in for having the suspension be six games. Dirk over at On The Forecheck has the hands-down winner on his Twitter page to this point:

It sucks to be Donald Brashear. He got 1 game for the pre-game shove, 1 for the head shot, and 4 because it's Ulysses S. Grant's birthday.


Truth is it's one game for the pre-game shenanigans and five for the hit.

Was Brashear wrong here? Absolutely. It's a reckless hit. It's a hit coming full force on Blair Betts while he's unsuspecting and that's not necessary in the NHL.

I find myself watching this over and over again and trying to figure out what the motivation is here for Brashear and if Betts is in the wrong at all (ie: head down, admiring his pass) and while Betts is caught flat-footed and somewhat admiring, it stands out to me as a prime example of everything in hockey happening a lot faster than in other sports.

Check out the YouTube video above once again. Betts gets the puck at the :12 second mark, has the puck away and down the ice at :13 and Brashear clobbers him at :14. I know there's big heaps of fractions of seconds involved here but that's a span of two seconds where Betts goes from safe to dismantled with a highly questionably timed hit.


Incredible. This does boil down to Brashear crossing the line between hitting a guy who has a basic idea the hit is coming and a guy that has no clue it's coming which gets into all sorts of grey area stuff as far as the NHL is concerned. After all, guys who get caught skating with their heads down get creamed and concussed the same as guys that are caught watching their passes as if they're Monet paintings.

Does this put Betts in a different category at all? Brashear was on the ice the whole time and, let's face it, he's not out there to score goals or play rock-solid defense. Betts was looking to dump the puck in deep to get the Rangers a line change and Brashear was looking to, for lack of a better phrase, light a fire under his team - a team that's been criticized all playoffs long for being physically soft.

Sending a message in a different sort of way? Probably, but now Huggy Bear is going to have to pay the piper for six games.

The Capitals aren't really going to lose too much not having a guy who has averaged about 3:25 of ice time in the four games he's played in this series. Brashear is so vital to the Capitals that he didn't suit up for the first two games of the series, the same two that Jose Theodore yacked away at home.

Betts, meanwhile, is likely out for Game 7 and the Rangers will miss him dearly. He's played an average of 10:44 per game before having his day shortened in Game 6 and logged over 13 minutes of ice time in Game 4 which the Rangers won 2-1 and held Washington's power play to an 0-6 performance, much thanks to Betts' work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Moving On Up To The Northside

Folks may not be too up on this unless you're a big fan of the AHL, but the Philadelphia Phantoms are about to become a homeless hockey team.

Their home in Philadelphia has been the famous Philly Spectrum which will be demolished once the Phantoms season comes to an end and with that comes a search for where the Phantoms will play in the meantime.

Adirondack Phantoms - Get Used To It

A couple of areas have jumped to the forefront of the debate to pull in the Phantoms, one close by to their current location in Pennsylvania and the other... Well, the other is a throwback to a bygone era of the American Hockey League.

First up is a location in the Lehigh Valley, namely Allentown, PA. There's some buzz about going here, but it appears there's not much in the way of current infrastructure (read: An arena to play in!) to make it happen right away.

The debate going on in Allentown taps into something more of a microcosm of what happens in the major metroplexes when it comes to building such places: Why spend public money for sports luxuries?

An interesting note made in that opinion piece that helps justify the cause for building a new arena is something that everyone can understand:

That said, if a local government is bent on building a new arena or stadium, now may be the time to do it, because costs are lower and the new construction can create jobs and a short term economic stimulus.

Well, duh.

All that aside, Allentown is at a huge disadvantage compared to their apparent competition for the affections of Phantoms management. After all, Allentown can't make the claim that they've once been home to a Calder Cup championship team or two the way Glens Falls, New York can.

OK now picture this with a hockey rink and fans decked out in purple and orange.

That's right, Glens Falls the former home of the Adirondack Red Wings, wants the Phantoms to come north in the worst way.

I could pick and snipe from a few articles from the local newspaper (hey, remember those?) The Post Star, but they've gone hog wild covering the Phantoms situation as well as the local efforts to lure them in by dedicating a full page of links and articles on their website.

Honestly, the media focus on its own is pretty impressive considering that Glens Falls is a city that is actually starved to get professional hockey back there. You know, honest to goodness professional hockey, not something that is fighting on ice skates like they had with former Civic Center residents the Adirondack Frostbite (out of the UHL) also known as the Adirondack IceHawks.

The last two seasons, Glens Falls made time and room for the former Adirondack Red Wings blood rivals, the Albany River Rats by having some regular season home River Rats games played at the Civic Center - a shrewd move by the city to show that they can still bring folks into the arena and support a local team - even if it's one that they may still hate for eventually chasing away the much beloved Red Wings.

The folks with the Phantoms have been smart about this though. The Brooks Group, the Phantoms ownership, have pledged to folks in Glens Falls that if they get 2,500 folks to commit to season ticket packages they will move the team to the city and rock their faces off with real, actual professional hockey once again.

According to the story, all it takes for folks to help bring a team back to Glens Falls is a $25 deposit and the good faith to drop between $320 and $760 for a 40-game season ticket package, prices that really aren't unreasonable at all.

Think about that, $8 a game to watch professional hockey? That sounds pretty awesome, especially since Glens Falls Civic Center doesn't have a bad seat in the building, you just have to make do without the super modern amenities available in many other arenas.

As always, there's a catch involved.

The goal of 2,500 season ticket pledges has a new target date of April 28 (it was April 30), less than a week from today, and currently sales are just over 1,000. The Brooks Group has made it known that the language in the lease agreement says that the date can be made negligible if they decide to go ahead with the city anyways.

I'm sure the Brooks Group would feel a lot better about things if they had 2,500 to go with right off the bat, but this is where reality sets in pretty hard. Glens Falls is a poorer city than Albany, and Albany has certainly shown they struggle bringing folks to the Times Union Center averaging just over 3,500 fans a game, third worst in the AHL.

While Glens Falls is a more hockey-centric and hockey crazy place than Albany, the residents there also come from a more blue-collar background and may not have the disposable income needed to plunk down the kind of money needed to keep the owners happy.

That said, Glens Falls hasn't had actual good hockey in the city in a long time (10 years gone now) and the Philadelphia Phantoms have been successful recently, including playoff runs the last two seasons.

The fans in Glens Falls are savvy and a good team will bring fans out in droves, at least enough to make the near 5,000 seat arena fill up and provide the home ice advantage teams in the AHL yearn for.

The Brooks Group is being quite wise and political about the process, however, and they don't want to burn a bridge in Pennsylvania, especially since the lease agreement with Glens Falls is so beneficial to them and allows them to use Glens Falls a temporary place to stay should they want to head back to the Lehigh Valley if/when Allentown, PA bends over backwards to get the Phantoms to come back home.

Brooks said Wednesday that the Lehigh Valley remains their first choice as a permanent location for the team.

“We’re working with Allentown and Bethlehem. We’re working on the financing of it,” he said. “It’s a market that we’ve been working on for several years.”

I don't know about you, but reading words like that don't really do a whole lot to inspire any feelings of potential loyalty I would have towards a team that might come to my home town.

I know it makes sense to keep a Flyers farm team near Philadelphia for logistical and hometown fan-cultivating needs, and I know it seems silly to have a farm team of a not-really local team in an area not known for having many Flyers fans in the first place. Hell, Glens Falls is still a Red Wings town to this day.

The city and the mayor want professional hockey back there in the worst way and everyone loves a winner and Glens Falls certainly loved the Red Wings. Should this pan out and the city gets its chance to be "big time" once again with the Phantoms, I'll be more curious to see if folks warm up to them right away - especially with both the "out clause" and potential short-term status Sword of Damocles hanging over them.

If there's something fans in this part of upstate New York don't like it's being jerked around by professional sports (see: Albany Patroons, Albany-Colonie Yankees, Albany Firebirds, Albany River Rats, Capital District Islanders, Albany Choppers), and investing time and money into a team that might bolt town in three to five years sets up potential disaster towards the end of that run.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Playoff Thermometer

Bend over everyone, it's time to take the temperature of the playoffs.

The Playoff Doctor will see you now.

I see the Canadiens, Blues and Sharks are already in position. How nice of you to be so helpful to myself and your opponents.

I know that Bruins fans want to think that they're exorcising playoff demons here, but considering how schizophrenic the Habs were all season long, how awful they played leading up to the playoffs and how beat up they were... Is this really a surprise at all?

Yeah, yeah I know - rivalries, history, magic, aura... All that crap gets brought up and its stupid. None of that has anything to do with how horribly overmatched the Canadiens were going into this series and now that they're on the brink of being shown the broom there's nothing incredible nor overwhelming about it.

The Bruins weren't the underdogs in this battle and they're certainly not a rag-tag bunch of kids going up against Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Ken Dryden Canadiens either.

Wait, what's that Jack Edwards?

Good lord.

Jack Edwards: Certifiably Insane

If the Bruins struggled at all in this series I would've been at a loss for words and then if you twisted my arm I might buy into that nonsense about never getting by the Canadiens ever.

Things change and this year things got a lot better for the Bruins and a lot worse for the Canadiens and its more than evident in this series.

The Bruins will get their first actual test in the next round...unless they face Carolina (trailing New Jersey 2 games to 1) or Philadelphia (trailing Pittsburgh 2-1), then forget it it's a walk to the Eastern Conference Finals in that case.

If they get either the Rangers or the Penguins in the second round, things get shaky for the B's since the Rangers (leading Washington 2-1) would have a goalie that can carry them far and steal games and the Penguins have offense to burn and give Tim Thomas fits.

In the Western Conference, I want to say that there's rhyme or reason for why the Sharks are failing so hard, but I can't even begin to imagine what the hell their problem is.

Presidents Trophy jinx? Get lost and stop reading my website.

Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau aren't clutch enough in the playoffs? If you believe that kind of nonsense I'm going to find you and fire you into the sun.

Demotivated team whose boredom carried over into the opening round? Ehh...

That would make sense if they weren't playing a team they hate in the first round, and let's face it, San Jose hates Anaheim and there's no way around that.

You want the truth of the matter? Here it comes:

San Jose went sputtering into the playoffs and then got the worst possible opponent they could draw in Anaheim - a team that was on fire since the trade deadline, a team that didn't have a favorable schedule to close out the year when it came to making the playoffs.

Yet, here they are and they're on fire and they've got that savvy veteran leadership that the playoffs was meant for.

Oh yeah, and they've got a team that plays sick defense. Remember the 2007 team that won the Cup much to everyone's chagrin? Yeah, they're just like that team was only this time they've got a lot of younger guys up front, a lot of whom came up in the Ducks system and they know it backwards and forwards.

The Niedermayer brothers are still there. Teemu Selanne is still there. Physics egalitarian Chris Pronger is still there. Hell, even Jean-Sebastian Giguere is still there and he looks dashing in a baseball cap while Swiss freak Jonas Hiller backstops the Water Fowl.

They're not your normal eighth seed - these guys are good and they're happy staying under the radar. They're also still douchebags - so they got that going for them.

Should the Ducks move on, and with the way San Jose is playing it seems foolish to think that it won't, a potential match-up with Detroit (who is busy schooling Columbus on the finer points of how to play hockey) in the second round will go down as the best series in the entire playoffs.

Bank on it.

Then you've got the St. Louis Blues...

Let's face it, I got Andy Murray's team all sorts of wrong here back in October when I said that they didn't need to even show up this year because they weren't going to make the playoffs.

No, really, I did say that.

What I didn't get wrong though was about Andy Murray himself. Let me cite noted hockey blogger Hockey Joe, author of Gross Misconduct about what he had to say about Andy Murray:

The best part of this team, however, is the head coach Andy Murray. Murray is a smart enough guy and is always able to get the best out of his teams. He did very solid work with the L.A. Kings until things turned horribly southward there and it's that experience Murray will have to draw on for handling this Blues team.

Such grace in those words - someone should give that guy a pat on the back. Of course, the next phrase after that was:

The Blues will have a spurt or two in them where they're able to man-up and pull a few surprises out and goaltender Manny Legace, or presumptive backup from Nashville Chris Mason, are more than capable of stealing a couple games throughout the season, but don't buy what they're selling. This team is bad.

Damn it all.

I should've been wiser to Manny Legace having a meltdown at some point this season and I should've stuck to my guns about Murray as a coach. I also should have been smarter about the youth on the Blues roster and respecting what they could bring to the table right away in a situation that would demand they do it sooner than later.

Some how, some way the Blues managed to end up sixth in the Western Conference and their reward for that was Roberto Luongo and the Freaky Swedes with their Bore You Into Submission brand of hockey.

Any other time in my hockey life I'd be openly rooting against Vancouver because they're like ether on ice.

Not this time.

I'm spiteful.

I'm angry.

I'm vengeful with my words and my middle fingers.

The Blues screwed me out of going five for five on my pre-season prediction and now they're paying for it.

Hey St. Louis! I got two words for ya!

Suck it.

As for Vancouver, a tune up agains the Blues in what basically boils down to a rough scrimmage is just what they needed. Hell, the Canucks are even getting over on trashing the Blues verbally too:

Embarrassing - glad to have the Canucks on my side in this one.

The Canucks are getting hot and they're destined for a second round match-up with either Chicago or Calgary (Chicago leads the series 2-1) and that works out just fine since those two teams are going to beat each others brains in for a while, or at least be cheap-shotting pricks:

That sets things up rather nicely, eh?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Snap Judgments Blow

I know that a lot of folks want to make their judgments on how the playoffs will go after one game, which is really fucking stupid.

I know I don't usually swear around you guys but the fucking hockey media is fucking making me do it.

Denis Leary approved that rant and theft of his act because I write about hockey, assholes.

Sure, I could come out now and say that I think that there's ZERO point in having any more games of the Penguins-Flyers series because the Flyers looked beyond putrid and that all they're going to do over the next three games (yeah, I feel that confident) is take cheap shots and try to purposefully injure people.

You know, like Daniel Carcillo.

I could go that route very easily.

I won't.

I could also talk about how irrevocably inconsistent the NHL is in that it suspended Carcillo a game for that for "message sending" but won't do the same to Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames for doing THE EXACT SAME THING to the Blackhawks Martin Havlat.

Yet, Cammalleri will not be suspended by the NHL because, apparently the only difference between these two cheap and brutal shots to the head (Hey, remember that whole initiative Gary? How about you Colin?) is when they occurred during the game.

Actually the NHL's actual reason is even more worthless than timing: It's because it's Cammalleri's first offense.


Other snap judgments I could make after Game 1 are:

How the playoffs could be the undoing of Mike Green's campaign for Norris given how he allowed Sean Avery to play him like a chump. Save the complaints, I know the awards are based on regular season play. I'm sure the voters are really on top of these things. Right...

How the Blue Jackets look terrified of being in the playoffs and should've faced off with the San Jose Sharks just to see if an NHL series could end with neither team moving on.

How the Anaheim Ducks are reaching back into the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs playbook for how to get away with murder on the sneak.

How the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks series will make wish to meet up with Dr. Kevorkian if I watch any more of that crap.

I don't care if Vancouver is playing dirty or if St. Louis is too busy crying about getting abused like a teenage girlfriend from her 'roided up football player boyfriend.

I don't care, it's boring and the Sedin Twins freak me the fuck out. They remind me of something I saw in a movie once...

Just jump ahead to the 0:25 second mark of that bad boy and you'll laugh your ass off for a week. Or vomit. Either way, it's a winner.

I won't make those snap judgments though because they're classically stupid. Expect better analysis than that after the weekend because even I'm a bit spooked by Chris Osgood's outstanding goaltending against the Blue Jackets. Does that mean we just throw away everything that happened in the regular season now?

My head hurts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stupid As Hell

I don't expect much from the NHL nor from the Versus Network, and frankly that's a good thing, it saves me a lot of aggravation.

Thanks to Wyshynski at Puck Daddy though, I've gotten my mojo back.

How else can you explain that the lowest of the low amongst hockey bloggers gets the call to help out Versus, the American network of hockey?

That's right, Versus has hired the infamous Eklund (that link is a MUST read) to be their voice of the hockey blogosphere.

I provide you the link to the Versus site merely to prove that it's not some jerk-around that Versus did something this stupid and I do NOT encourage anyone to visit Dwayne Klessel's page either at Versus or his own kingdom of stupid.

I'm not going to pile on about Klessel because, let's face it, if you're familiar with him at all you know his site is a joke and that the man himself is a poser of the highest order and a phony. If you don't know him, don't bother getting to know him or his joke of a hockey blog full of terrible rumors.

What's got me amazed here is that there is information galore all over the Internet about what a fraud he is and Verus still found him to be their go-to-guy for web analysis of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


This is an amazing level of carelessness on the part of a network that has not improved much since Day One of their contract with the NHL. I can't believe that it makes me this angry especially when there are at least three kings of the hockey blogosphere that could have been/may have been contacted about this instead.

Any one of Paul Kukla, Greg Wyshynski or James Mirtle would've lent a lot more credibility to Versus on this one, even adding any of the numerous folks who are acolytes at any of their respective big time sites would have done the trick as well.

Instead we get a heaping dose of continued failure from a network that insists on continuing to treat their core audience like children who have never been to a game.

Versus: The Official Network of the Failboat

I've heard back from all three blogging gurus about this and Mirtle reports that he was not approached at all. I have to wonder if that has more to do with James being from Toronto and Versus folks not really being aware of where or what Canada is.

Greg Wyshynski adds in a similar tale in that he was never approached about such a thing either. Wyshynski also has a distinct pedigree having come from both Fanhouse and being featured at Deadspin.

Paul Kukla, on the other hand, was approached by Versus at the beginning of the season and tells me that while he was flattered and intrigued by the offer he didn't want to lend his and his website's name to something that might be "tied in with other less-reputable bloggers." Versus said they could not guarantee this would be the case, a response that opens up another entirely insane can of worms regarding the network.

Interpret that how you wish, but apparently Kukla's response was taken seriously enough that he wasn't approached about doing the same for them for the playoffs and obviously Versus decided to go with, perhaps, the least reputable guy on the Internet.

What an awful network and what an awful set of decision makers. I can't say how happy I am that the NHL is tied up with them until 2011.

Coming Soon

I'm a slacker, I get it.

I spent too much time in D.C. drinking and carousing with friends and treating it like the end of the year party it's meant to be and now I'm paying for it in the form of illness.

Whether it comes from spending a day and evening in Baltimore and breathing the air or from getting too close to some of the hippies from Vermont, is up for debate but there is going to be a cure for this maniacal head cold soon and with it will come:

The NHL Playoffs are coming up? Why do I not feel at all excited by this? I suppose I will analyze something about them at least. There's only a few series that I find honestly intriguing this year and I'll zero in on those.

Crosby haters/lovers be ready.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cinderella Dreams

I'm a slow packer, and I'm dragging ass doing so but wanted to get one more story posted, and yes, it's beaver-centric.

I can't help it - I love the beavers.

Found in my e-mail today was this story from the D.C. Sports Bog and Dan Steinberg.

It looks like the Cinderellas are sticking together in a fine mid-major alliance as Bemidji State is getting a helping hand in the way of a rental pep band.

From who though?

They're getting some help from the local Patriots.

Yes, the George Mason University Patriots.

As Steinberg finds out, it turns out that pride in the beaver runs wild all over the country, especially in Washington, D.C. where George Mason's "Green Machine" pep band resides.

The wacky truth, though, is that Mason's pep band was chosen neither for the school's underdog connotations nor for its Green Machine name and blingy-greened-out accessories. The Mason kids were chosen because the Red Line Swingers--who usually represent the Beavers--had other commitments and were unable to make the trip, and because the school was scrambling to find a band, and because Caps employee and Bemidji Super Fan Rachel Becker had an in with Mason.

It's all about who you know, obviously, and with the Capitals having a Bemidji alum working for them, it seems like too much of an inside job to be true, but there it is.

It also works out pretty well that the "Green Machine" won't have to alter their wardrobe to support the green and white clad team from Bemidji, although hiding the yellow might come in handy lest they be confused for being the band from the University of Vermont.

Then again, I'm doubting very highly that the band leader for UVM's band looks as cool as Doc Nix of George Mason does:

(photo: John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

If I had a suit like that I don't know that I would ever take it off. Then again, there's no way that I'd look as bad-ass as Doc Nix does either.

Such is life.

I get it that Beaver Fever is running wild now, especially in D.C. Even in the political hell that is Washington they love an underdog story, but having some well-placed alumni can do a lot for a school looking to bring some of the flavors from home and it's paid off well for Bemidji on the national scene and in D.C. itself now.

Bemidji State isn't the only princess looking for the glass slipper in Washington, however.

I know there are plenty of Miami University fans are feeling like the red-headed stepchild here and I honestly feel bad for them because not only is Miami the other #4 seed that upset their way to D.C. but now they have to face off against the biggest Cinderella in the tournament and become the instant villain because of it.

That's not fair at all and it definitely sucks to be Miami in this case. The last two years Miami's been the team with the lofty goals and fell one round short of the Frozen Four with much more talented teams, bowing out to Boston College in the regional finals each time.

The look on the face fits pretty well given the lack of Cinderella attention for Miami.

This season the expectations fell off a bit with former power scoring stud Ryan Jones playing for the Predators and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff signed away in the Los Angeles Kings system. Miami has gotten their comeuppances and truly earned their way into Washington knocking off the top two seeds in their region.

Miami has to feel that their uppances have finally come after getting stung by the Eagles two years in a row and that now is their time to take advantage of the "golden road" to the finals set before of them. After all, one would like to think that facing off with Bemidji State instead of either Notre Dame or Cornell would have to be a bonus.


One way or another, Cinderella is getting a shot at the National Championship. The only question here is whether or not Cinderella is going to be happy-go-lucky full of warm-fuzzies or really, really pissed off and out for their deserved recognition.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Preparing For D.C.

Short and sweet here.

In preparing my gear to head to D.C. on Tuesday, I figure it's in my best interests to show off exactly who I'll be there to rep for on Thursday at the very least.

Those of you who have followed me on Twitter probably won't be shocked by this, but going into my bag for the trip will be this:

Thanks to the great local suppliers (well, if you're in Bemidji, Minnesota that is) at BeaverSporsWear.com I was able to land a Bemidji State jersey to sport around in D.C. on Thursday for the National Semifinals.

Call it bandwagon, call it Johnny-come-lately, that's all more than fair and extremely accurate. I won't deny any of that.

That said, how do you not love Bemidji's story?

They're the worst team in the tournament (they're not in the top 25 in the PairWise Rankings and 37th in Ratings Percentage Index) and yet here they are, two wins away from a D-I National Championship.


There'll be more tomorrow, but I just wanted to recognize the elephant... Make that the beaver in the room.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sean Avery Is A Genius

I know that I promised to not get sucked into talking about Sean Avery and his media circus anymore, but I heard a loud cry go up from Boston this afternoon and you-know-who was the source of the uprorar. Take a look with Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley's commentary:

Now, don't get me wrong here, if you look at this for what it looks like on the surface, this looks like the same old Sean Avery antics where he's a reckless, out of control hooligan making a mockery of the game of hockey and taking a piss on Toe Blake's grave.

I don't condone what Avery does, but what Brickley takes issue with here is that it is apparently Avery reverting to his old, reckless ways of playing hockey.

Sure, that's one way to look at it and for what it's worth, Brickley could be correct... But I don't buy it for a second.

Believe it or not, Avery's a smart guy and he knows exactly what he's doing at all times. He is always looking to give himself and his team an edge. Sure, he goes over the top and creates more problems than not at times, but what went down today wasn't one of those moments.

For the game itself today, Avery didn't create a disadvantage for the Rangers, he got himself and another Bruin player taken off the ice on matching minors for nonsense. More room to skate for a couple of minutes helps out against a team like the Bruins that are very defense-minded.

I'm sure everyone noticed how calm and reasonable Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas reacted to this situation as well as he was the player that got booked for the retaliatory minor for roughing. Thomas went out of his mind bonkers going after Avery and ended up blasting Ranger Fredrik Sjostrom in the face with his blocker as Sjostrom skated in to intervene.

This is where Avery's evil genius comes into play.

He's the kind of genius that Lanny Poffo would be proud of.

Avery and just about everyone else around the NHL by now knows that Tim Thomas has a bit of a short fuse. He's shown it off on a couple of other occasions this season and Avery had the opportunity to light a fire today and certainly did that. The worst that happens? He gets sent off on a two-minute penalty and looks like a complete jerk for short-changing his team while they're down 1-0.

The best that happens? Thomas gets thrown off of his game, gives up a goal or two and allows the Rangers to get back in the game. Avery then proudly wears the bulls-eye the rest of the game and allows Bruins players to retaliate at him at will. At worst, Avery gets a matching minor for being involved in these shenanigans but at best, his team gains a power play giving the Rangers a final window of opportunity to get back into a game they have to earn points in.

There is a bigger picture to be seen here, however. Avery wasn't working just to make this game closer, he was sending a message that won't be forgotten.

Remember the uproar over Avery's antics in front of Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur last season? Sure you do...

The Devils certainly didn't forget and that annoyance carried over into this season as well, so when the Devils and Rangers met up last week, the Devils players went out of their way to send a message to Avery that his antics wouldn't be tolerated. The Devils lost that game 3-0, much in part to their obsession with taking shots at Avery who did everything in his ability to both resist retaliation and bring it out of the Devils even more.


Sean Avery is the Petulant Cerebral Assassin of the NHL and it's a role he plays perfect. Yes, he's got skill. Yes, he plays a physical game. Yes, he's a trash-talker with the best and worst of them.

Yes, he plays on the edge - but that's his world and he's set up the Boston Bruins in his way. I'm not saying that it's how the Rangers will find a way to beat Boston in the future, but if you think that today's incident will be forgotten... Well, you're crazy.

What makes this even better still?

These two teams might just meet up in the first round of the playoffs. Avery's tactics have managed to make him Public Enemy #1 in New Jersey and the Devils can't help but run around and try to kill him whenever they meet up and that's all because he made their legendary keeper look like a jerk by embarrassing him in the playoffs.

Will there be another round with the Bruins and Rangers? We don't know yet, even with just the handful of games remaining in the season. You better believe Sean Avery's shadow has been cast for any meetings in the future, however and it's up to the Bruins to stop themselves from trying to even up the score with him because in doing so, they might find themselves getting behind the 8-ball with the rest of the Rangers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Picture Pages - Leaving ManchVegas

Vegas, baby. ManchVegas.

My pictures from Sunday's Regional Final between Boston University and University of New Hampshire is severely disappointing. Since there's only one game to be played, there's not a lot of time to dick around and snap photos and since college hockey fans are generally more discriminating, there's not much, if anything, in the way of jersey fouls to be seen through the arena.

Thankfully whenever I make a trip, odd things or people seem to just appear in front of me or around me so I can fill in the blanks with something truly bizarre or amazing or just completely out of left field.

Yeah, I know, the Department of Redundancy Department would like to pay me a visit.

Shut up.

Since the pictures aren't as fun, here's cartoon Bill Cosby.

Pregame time, I mill about on the concourse behind the goal chatting it up with friends and fans alike, picking up some souvenir swag as well since, truly, this was already a memorable weekend given what went down in the UNH-UND game the day before. I also had a really good feeling about this game between BU and UNH.

These teams know each other inside and out, they've played each other enough this year and now this game was for all the marbles, to go to Washington, D.C. and have a shot at the National Championship and to make it even more intense, the game is set in New Hampshire 30 minutes from the UNH campus and 45 minutes from Boston.


The BU fans I spoke with were a bit nervous but mostly at ease feeling confident about their team and why not? They were the only #1 seed to survive the first round of the tournament and did so convincingly over Ohio State. Facing off with an opponent in UNH that they were familiar with helped them with figuring out where they matchup with them and that seemed to sit well with many of the BU fans.

UNH fans, however, were nervous. Really, really nervous. Their team won an epic overtime game the day before and were poised to have a true home ice advantage against BU. Fate was shining down on all the underdogs elsewhere in the tournament with Vermont and Miami-Ohio already punching their tickets to D.C. the night before.

But still, the nerves of anticipation of the game, the nerves that come with worrying about what team will show up that day and the nerves of knowing that a shot at the Frozen Four wear on some fans, and that's certainly the case with many UNH fans.

The game: Beautiful.

BU dominated the latter part of the first period and were rewarded for their efforts as Corey Trivino put away a rebound to give BU the lead 1-0 after one period.

UNH flipped the script in the second and really outplayed BU, especially after getting the crowd back in the game with Bobby Butler's tying goal early in the period. UNH rode the momentum swing through the rest of the period and on into the third.

Through all this I noticed the man sitting to the left of me, who I had apparently scared off on Saturday instantly by texting updates to Twitter, has stuck around for the entirety of the day. I figure the larger crowd made him stay locked into the seat he bought. How nice.

He was a quiet man and I could best describe as looking like a stereotypical townie. Any of you who have been to college are drawing the best picture possible in your head and it probably fits.

I really don't want to put the guy down too much but there was something about the guy that I found odd as the puck was dropped for the game. He reached into his pocket and pulled out something.

Not a camera.

Not a phone.

Yup. Chaw.

Now I've had friends and acquaintances in high school and through college that liked to dip. That was their thing and "it sure beat smoking."


Seeing it go down like that right there though totally threw me for a loop, a curveball of epic proportion. Those not familiar with chaw, well, you gotta spit when you do it.

A lot.

So rather than spit on the floor and ruin everything around you, you spit into a bottle and call it a day and make sure to not spill it or, God forbid, end up mistaking it for a soda later in the day.

This guy did have a ritual though, something I was able to figure out easily and not because I was obsessed with him or looking to rat the guy out to security (Remember, "Live Free Or Die!") but he wasn't exactly hiding that he was dipping during the game. At the conclusion of each period, the dippin' was done and had to be disposed of.

Right under his chair.

Don't have a spittoon? Under the chair will work fine.

Once the period kicked off, in went a new wad and he was quiet and happy. Hey, rock on man - it's still fucking gross.

The third period was played in epic fashion. Scoring chances up and down the ice. BU started the third period on a power play and UNH compounded the problems by getting hit for another penalty shortly after the previous one expired. Then BU gets hit with a penalty. Fair trade.

Time winds down and the pressure to get one before time expires and potentially avoid what would be a legendary overtime amps up. Big time.

UNH trades chances with BU. BU finally establishes pressure in the UNH end and we're under a minute to play when a BU forward gets room and an open lane towards the net. UNH defenders appear to do a great job to chop the puck off his stick and the BU player hits the ice.

The referee's arm goes up. Play stops and there's a penalty against UNH with 45 seconds left in regulation.


James van Riemsdyk gets sent off for hooking. van Riemsdyk is UNH's big gun forward, a first round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers and just like that, he's gone for hooking. What I couldn't see from my seat was the hook and instantly thought that the officials had blown the call.

I felt crushed. This game was bordering on an instant classic and had it reached overtime... Its legendary status would've been solidified.

Instead? The inevitable.

UNH was flustered by the call and BU smelled blood. BU squeezed in on the goal closer and closer while UNH's penalty kill unit desperately tried to keep the puck from even reaching the net - so much so that BU's Jason Lawrence was able to throw the puck off of a sprawled out defender and into the goal at 19:45 of the third period and the game-winning goal.

Someone cue up Jim McKay on the Wide World of Sports.

Sweet Euphoria

Class Act

After the game, I met up with my UNH pals and grumbled about what we thought was a ticky-tack penalty at the end of an epic game, myself having to play it off that they were ECAC officials that have been doing that sort of thing all season long. I felt deflated and just worn out by having a game end like that. Of course, after I returned home and watched a replay of the play I felt better, even relieved, to see that van Riemsdyk did indeed hook the BU attacker on the play... I just had a terrible angle to see it happen.

Crisis averted. Well, hockey crisis anyhow - another of my travelling moments, like getting the rough introduction to Chaw Man awaited me.

I parted ways with my friends and wished them well until the Frozen Four when I'd be seeing them all again and decided to heed nature's call before the long, rainy drive home. Upon entering the bathroom in the lobby I realize that its well after the game is over and its empty aside from the pair of feet sticking out from under the stall and the loud grunts coming from said stall.

Now, we've all had moments in our own privacy when sometimes nature doesn't want to cooperate and there's some trouble in letting things happen and far be it from me to get freaked out by someone trying to hurry up and get off the commode.

This was not one of those times. You see, the feet in the stall were facing the wrong direction for this to be the case when more fiber in the diet might be helpful. This... was something different. These weren't grunts of discomfort, they were grunts of another kind. The kind of grunts that make someone think twice about spending any more time in the bathroom than you've already spent in there and need to get the hell out of there as soon as possible.

The horror...

And you better believe that I did. I figured that holding it in until I was safely away from the Verizon Wireless Center would be best and I really don't even want to know what may have been going on in there but the fact that I saw only one pair of feet sends a chill down my spine.

I guess some folks have different ways to celebrate a win - and that's not really the way I figured I would ever celebrate my team's big victory. Beers with friends, shots until I black out, backflips into a snowbank... Any of those things would've come to mind instantly.

But that though...

Only in Vegas, baby.


Back on the Frontier

It's time for more synergistic goodness with my friends over at Hockey Wilderness in the SBN Family of awesomeness under the Lord and Ruler of the mayhem, James Mirtle.

Show some love for the denizens of the State of Hockey and for yours truly by paying them a visit today and check out my incredible change of heart as far as the Wild management goes. It's earth-shattering news that I would only share with buddhafisch and neide and everyone else in M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A!