Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Why FOHS Won't Be At The Draft


It would take something pretty big for me to resurrect this blog, if only for a fleeting moment. I would think this is considered big-- especially considering the response I got from this whole thing.

The Face Off Hockey Show was not credentialed by the NHL for this upcoming Draft in Philadelphia. While, to some, it's not a big deal and it's a privileged to get into a league event-- it's not as if we are a fly-by-night organization. We have been credentialed by the NHL for events like the Draft, All Star Games, and Winter and Heritage Classics-- so for us to be denied entry at this event is quite mind-boggling.

More over, it could be a bigger problem; at least as far as I'm concerned. We have never been part of a big conglomerated corporation and maybe the fact we don't have a bigger business to be held responsible to, we aren't looked at as serious media and we're given the shaft because of it. We came across problems in Pittsburgh when we weren't even given confirmation about us being in. It took us to actually going to the credential trailer in order to find out that we were put "On Hold" and no decision was made at all.

The system of hoops that the credential process has become has been quite convoluted, too. At first it was send in via fax, then email, then third party systems that requires you to sign-up to a whole new system, which was even more a headache. This year especially when the credential process started quite later than past years (around early-mid May rather than early-mid April) and the closing date was May 30th when it was usually early May. Because of that, hotels have already been booked, flights been booked, other plans been put into place because it was something we didn't expect to happen happened. If you're going to reject someone from going to an event-- why are you going to put it that late to accept or reject because it is even tougher for people to actually get plans together for said event??

Maybe it was a bad assumption on our part to believe we would be let in, but with a track record of 12 years being approved; we wouldn't think otherwise quite honestly.

But, back to one of the main points is whether or not this is the NHL shutting out and up the media that is considered independent upon itself. You would think, for a league that gets such flack from the United States mainstream media-- they would want to enlist most any entity in order to get good word of mouth out there and to expand the brand and expand the game. With a Los Angeles/New York finals, maybe the league can get the attention it wants, thus pushing out smaller people due to the new flood of media types that would want to be around the game because it's the new hot thing out there.

We have been loyal to the NHL and the NHL product when no one else was around to. When blogs and podcasts and the widespread influx of hockey media wasn't even blooming into what it is now. It seems that the same loyalty was not given back. Since 2002, we have gone out of our own pockets in order to get to the Drafts and other events and up until now-- the NHL was very courteous in order to allow us access to the events to get interviews, get experiences, get to be a part of a bigger thing. Now, it seems like because we don't have a bigger name or brand ourselves, they don't feel like they need to be loyal to people who were there when no one else was.

Don't get me wrong, it is great that there are so many great people covering the sport out there (many whom we've met from attending the Drafts for as long as we have), I just feel that when you give the time in effort into it for as long as we have been doing it, we should get some modicum of respect for sticking by this league the way we have for as long as we have.

You can call it sour grapes because...well, when I step back it is. As I said from the start, it is a privilege to cover the game I love on the scale that I have been afforded. From Drafts to World Juniors to Top Prospects Games to Calder Cup games; it's been a helluva ride for me, one of which I never expected. However, to have the rug pulled out from under you as unceremoniously as it has been for myself, Jonny P, and Marc-- it's going to sting and it's going to sting big time.

Where does this leave us?? Well, my plane ticket is pretty much not refundable, the hotel rooms I don't think are refundable, but we're without credentials and tickets and any reason to go. However, maybe in the next few days it'll become clearer. Maybe some things will present themselves and plans changes. Or maybe things stay the same. Only time will tell I suppose.

Now back to my regularly unscheduled writing hiatus.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Indefinite Hiatus


After much thought, consideration, and soul-searching-- I think it's time for me to give this whole thing a break. So, like many of my favorite bands, I've decided to put this blog on an "indefinite hiatus" and see how long it takes in order to get my feeling for this whole blogging thing back.

Part of the reasoning for it has to be just the ideal that this has become more of a chore for me to do rather than an outlet to get my thoughts and stuff out. Due to personal and "professional" frustrations in my life-- it's better to actually let go of this for a while rather than beat myself up over not posting on a normal basis and not putting up stuff that I actually believe is good. Granted, none of the stuff I deem "good" ever gets the credit I think it should-- but that's probably me being too hard on myself through all of this.

Thanks to the people who did read, link, and gave feedback on the stuff that I have written. It's always nice to get some kind of recognition for a hobby like this. Plus, the people I have met and interacted with because of this blog has been pretty cool, too. Not to mention the opportunities it has afforded me, it's been a crazy ride.

I won't be completely gone, as my Twitter will live on in its randomness, as will Face Off Hockey Show every Wednesday (and on Facebook and YouTube). It's also not to say I won't create a new project and go on from there, but as it seems right now-- The Strangest One of All blog will lay dormant until something I feel is worthy enough to post here comes about.

Take care of yourself and someone else.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Absurd Goalie Monday: Alphonse "Frenchy" Lacroix


When it comes to goalies, it's always a rough task to come on in an emergency situation like an injury. Even worse back in the olden times when only one goalie dressed at a time as the concept of a back-up hadn't been invented as of yet. However, this week's AGM had the task of going in for, at the time, one of the most heralded teams in the NHL to that point with only an amateur background to boot. This week, the profile of Alphonse "Frenchy" Lacroix.

Lacroix started off as a 16-year-old with Newton High School in Massachusetts in the 1914-15 season, going 5-1-1 in seven games, while in the 1915-16 season; Lacroix would post a 5-2-0 record. In his final high school season, Lacroix went 7-0-1 in eight games.

Post-high school, Lacroix would play in the amateur ranks with the Boston Navy Yard in 1917-18 and posting a 7-4-0 record in a 11 games, as well as playing exhibition games for the Navy Yard in the 1918-19 season. Begining in the 1919-20 season until the 1923-24 season, Lacroix would play for the Boston AA Unicorns across different amateur leagues. Lacroix would go 15-4-0 in the 19 games played in that time-frame and 4-3 in seven playoff games.

Playing in the amateur ranks allowed for Lacroix to be selected for the 1924 Olympics by the USA, where Lacroix went 4-1-0 in his five games played and helped the US to a silver medal. Lacroix would return to the Unicorns for the 1924-25 season, playing in 21 games and ending up with a 15-6-0 record.

In November of 1925, the Montreal Canadiens signed Lacroix as an emergency goalie. When Georges Vezina started to cough up blood on the ice due to an undiagnosed tuberculosis; Lacroix would play in five games and going 1-4-0 before yielding the crease to Herb Rheaume for the duration of the 1925-26 season. Lacroix would spent the 1926-27 season under contract with the Canadiens, but not play a game with them that season.

Lacroix returned to the amateur ranks, playing with the Providence Reds of the Can-Am League in the 1927-28 season, posting a 1-3-0 record in four games. Also that season, Lacroix played for the Lewiston St. Doms in the Northeast League and went 8-12-2 in 22 games played. Returning to the St. Doms in the 1928-29 season, Lacroix went 3-1-0 in four games, then 2-1 in three playoff games. Lacroix would return to the Can-Am League in the 1929-30 season with the Reds again, playing in only one games-- which was a win. In the 1930-31 season, the Boston Tigers would use Lacroix in net for four games, where Lacroix went 1-3-0 before he would retire after the season was over.

Having to come into the NHL with no professional background and take over for a legend like Vezina is a taunting task for someone who actually had professional games under his belt. However, with a silver medal in tow and a decent amateur background-- Lacroix did what he could in the emergency situation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kovalchuk Russian Back Home; Will Others Follow??


With Ilya Kovalchuk retiring from the NHL to return to the KHL, it not only shocked the hockey world in their reaction to it all, but it also made people question about if it was about being homesick or something more to it. While Kovalchuk could make $15-20 million a year, he did express interest in staying over in the KHL even after the lockout was resolved-- so the money may not have been the true issue. The factor of Olympics could be another factor, as the NHL and PA haven't decided yet on participation.

This whole scenario could spring up a much more interesting conundrum in the future when it comes to Russian superstars. For a while now, the KHL has been an alternative for many minor league players and some players at the end of their careers. Yet, with Kovalchuk going over to the KHL in his prime age, would this be the thing that finally makes the KHL a viable option for other players to ship off to and maybe leverage their NHL team into contract demands??

Sportsnet's Jeff Marek did bring up the idea of Kovalchuk being the modern day Bobby Hull, though rather than bringing free agency into the NHL fold-- Kovalchuk's move could make many NHL teams force their hands and their wallets in order to keep their talent from jumping ship. Though many have reviewed the KHL as not well run, especially the lower tiered teams, if enough talent can come over-- the money will be found one way or another.

Not only that, but with the league expanding into Croatia this season, as well as Finland and Italy in 2014-15 and Norway, Poland, and Switzerland for 2015-16; there should be a lot of money and a lot of variety to go around in terms of where some players want to play. Even if the top North American players don't go over, the role player threatening to go overseas could cause much overpayment to the players that won't live up to it and will make fans and pundits alike sweat heading towards this CBA's ending.

Going the other way, the crop of Russians have hit a lull when it comes to those who have played in the NHL. Some of that is due to mismanagement, some of it due to not being the right fit; but you can definitely see that the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin aren't too much on the horizon. While the jury is still out on Nail Yakupov, it's probably safe to say that he could be the last of this generation to come over and have a bit of success in the NHL.

With the KHL influence on the National players, it has made many NHL leery over selecting a Russian in fear that they may never come over, which is probably why Valeri Nichushkin dropped in the Draft due to his adamant feeling about playing in the NHL or else he'll go to the KHL to make the big money. That's also a reason why Evgeni Kuznetsov has stayed in the KHL, though the Caps are confident he could be over next season. That KHL money and the influence to the younger players that this is their league to take over when they get older and they should have pride in their national league, as much as the North Americans have with the NHL.

As this whole thing will completely settle itself out, it does give a lot more to talk about than just development camps, lingering free agents, and upcoming arbitrations. Not only that, it makes some fans worry about what their top player could do with this development. Kovalchuk could be the first domino to fall or just the exception to the rule of Russian players.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Absurd Goalie Monday: Don Head

After a week off, the AGM this week focuses on a goalie who stayed to his amateur roots for longer than most in order to play in the Olympics. After that, he took another less taken road by going out west. This week, the profile of Don Head.

Starting in the Junior B system with the Weston Dukes during the 1950-51 season, Head would move forward during the 1951-52 with the Toronto Marlboros for 37 games, winning the Dave Pinkney Trophy for goalie with the best goals-against average for his team. Head would return to Weston for the 1952-53 season to end out his junior career.

Going the amateur route with Senior Hockey, Head played for the Stratford Indians from the 1953-54 season until the 1955-56 season, playing in a total of 74 games over that span. Head moved to the Windsor Bulldogs in the 1956-57 season, where Head would go 30-17-3 in 50 games, six wins by shutout. During the 1957-58 season, Head moved to the Chatham Maroons of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association and would play there for two seasons for a total of 96 games. Returning to Windsor for the 1959-60 season, Head used it as a tune-up for his role for Canada in the Olympics.

Head would pilot the Canadians into a solid position in the Olympics, going 5-1-0 in the seven games he played in, but they were upset by the United States, relegating the Canadians to take silver.

Starting in the 1960-61 season, Head moved onto his pro career with the WHL's Portland Buckaroos, where Head went 38-23-9 in his 70 games, then going 10-4 in the playofs to help Portland to the WHL title-- the Lester Patrick Cup. Head would win the WHL's Rookie of the Year award and Outstanding Goaltender Award for fewest goals-against on the season.

Portland would trade Head to the NHL's Boston Bruins ahead of the 1961-62 season, where Head would play in 38 games for Boston, posting a 9-26-3 record. Head would also spend five games in Portland that season on loan, going 3-1-1 in those games.

The Bruins traded Head back to Portland before the 1962-63 season, where Head would rebound from his NHL downside with a 43-21-6 record in 70 games, then 3-4 in the playoffs-- which was enough for another Outstanding Goaltender Award. Injuries hampered Head for the 1963-64 season, playing in only 16 games and having a record of 6-9-1; but Head would get back to play a majority of the games for Portland in the 1964-65 season, posting a 26-20-4 record in 51 games played, then 8-1 in the playoffs; helping Portland to another Lester Patrick Cup as champions.

Head's workload would decreased starting in the 1965-66 season, playing in only 36 games and finishing with a 20-12-3 record, sharing an Outstanding Goaltender Award with teammate Dave Kelly. During the 1966-67 campaign, Head played in 44 games for Portland, going 26-13-5, then 0-3 in four playoff appearances.

Portland traded Head to the Seattle Totems before the 1967-68 season, where Head would go 23-19-4 in 46 games and then posting an 8-1 playoff record to help the Totems to the Lester Patrick Cup, the team's second in a row. Back for the 1968-69 season, Head played in 44 games for Seattle and compiled a record of 22-13-4 (0-4 in the playoffs), while in the 1969-70 season; Head went 8-10-2 in only 20 games with the Totems. The 1970-71 season would turn out to be the last for Head, going 4-7-3 in 16 games before he would hang up the pads for good.

Head was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame thanks to his time and achievements with the Buckaroos.

Though he had a cup of coffee in the NHL (which resulted in a Sports Illustrated cover....sort of) and Olympic glory, Head's contribution in the the semi-pro side of things made him a memorable aspect of Pacific Northwest sports lore. Though it might not be the big time for most, Head make the most of it and succeeded quite well due to it.

Friday, July 05, 2013

On the Topic Of Alfredsson's Departure


At the end of the day, you cannot blame Daniel Alfredsson.

The emotion of everything that has happened today with the news that Alfredsson is leaving the Ottawa Senators for the Detroit Red Wings; the thing lost in all of this has to be the idea that with the departure of Alfredsson, they actually need to have someone pick up the pieces for contribution. It's a time for Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and the other players to step up their game and hopefully find a way to stay healthy in order to contribute more.

Not only that, the void left in the locker room for the Senators is something that won't be as easily replaced as the scoring contribution. For a core of young players, it's a huge hit in trying to turn to someone, but for guys like Erik Karlsson, it will make them grow up a little more and actually learn to become a leader and get the experience by being fed to the fire. Not only that, it'll be a big thing for Paul MacLean to be the motivator that he has shown off to the world with his Jack Adams Trophy campaign this past season.

Yet, the biggest sign this signing to Detroit brings is that Alfredsson doesn't believe himself to be the primary contributor to the Ottawa Senators, as he was being called upon to do. Getting up there with age, it just shows that Alfredsson is at the point of his career where he wants to be able to ride shotgun and let the others actually be the superstars of the team and he can lay back and be the secondary scoring and the leader on the ice by example.

With this, the Red Wings will get some experience they have lost in the past few years with the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, and the like. Alfredsson's voice is something that's respect around the league and is someone who could teach Henrik Zetterberg how to be a leader off the ice, as well as on. Sure, the teaching of that is often futile, but if Zetterberg is willing to learn a thing or two from Alfredsson; it couldn't hurt to get some pointers here and there.

Plus, they get a little bit of consistency out of Alfredsson, who won't bring big goals or assists; but all of his points are very timely and will add more punch to the second power play unit, especially on a big one-timer chance. While it may not completely fill the void and drop-off from Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk's points contribution; Alfredsson could give a shot in the arm to the top-six guys.

Most importantly is what the fans of the Senators will do when they meet their new division rival Red Wings this season. They will be mad, regardless of what Alfredsson says his reasons are for leaving Ottawa. The wounds of this signing is going to be hard to make heal with time or at all. I'm sure long after Alfredsson has retired, he will be welcomed back by the Ottawa faithful as Mr. Senator-- but for now, there's bitterness, tears, and a lost feeling trying to find out what went wrong between the Sens and Alfie.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

On the Topic Of Vindictive Reporting


Morning Radio Zoo co-host and part-time sports writer Eric Francis had a gem of a column today when it comes to what he's been able to put together. In his recent piece, Francis said that Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff should have been more forthright with the Flames about his impending retirement rather than have the news break thanks to the Finnish media. Also, Kipper should have done more of an exit for the organization, fans, and community.

Of course, Francis forgets that whole thing about Kipper saying he wouldn't show up if moved at the trade deadline, but who needs to remember that to put out a story about how he personally feels let down that Kiprusoff didn't make a bigger exit.

And forget that on April 16th, Eric Francis knew that this was Kiprusoff's last home-stand and on April 17th reviewed Kipper's last game and wrote, "The end is near ­-- one day away in fact. Kiprusoff may not go out with much fanfare, but he seems focused on going out in style -- something he certainly did Wednesday night as the game's shining star."

Yet, it seems that Francis was shocked (SHOCKED) by Kiprusoff not giving a big farewell. Luckily, a Calgary writer named Eric Francis (yes, the same guy) knew that when he wrote on the 16th:
After rounding out the season -- and most likely his career -- on the bench watching Joey MacDonald audition for Kipper's old gig, the bearded Finn will no doubt punctuate garbage-bag day by doing his annual backdoor dash.  
No sayanora (or however you say goodbye in Finnish) news conference thanking the fans, city or organization for embracing him and his family over the years. After years of fishing pucks out of his net with a stunningly calm sweep, swig and stare at the Jumbotron, far be it for Kiprusoff to get all misty-eyed at the prospect of perpetual anonymity, peace and quiet in Finland's remote lake district.  
He'll leave just like he arrived; under the radar.
The fact that Francis thinks that he was let down by Kiprusoff not giving the Flames, their fans, and the media more of a send-off is just another example of writers thinking it's a little more about them and a little less about the facts of the story that have been out there for a while. Even written by Francis himself.

This is one day after Randy J. Miller of the South Jersey Courier-Post went on a Twitter tirade about Ilya Bryzgalov's antics in the locker room were the big thing that got him bought-out by the Flyers and not the media scrutiny that Bryzgalov had implied during the season-closing interviews.

Even with the traditional media bashing the new media of blogging and podcasting as something that is not needed in hockey media; the traditional media themselves may need to take a step back and not make themselves a part of the story as much as referees and linesmen shouldn't make themselves a part of the game with false face-offs and penalty junk.

No player or coach or GM owes writers much of anything. Even if there's something pressing, just because the information isn't put out there doesn't mean the writer has to take it as a personal insult and then try to actually embarrass the organization by airing out their own personal gripes because they didn't get exactly what they wanted. This isn't the toy store and writers don't need throw a tantrum just because the overseer doesn't allow them to get something because the writer thinks they deserve it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Here's To You, 2013 Chicago Blackhawks


From start to finish, the Blackhawks were the team to beat. With an impressive start to the season, to dealing with injuries in their key positions, to dealing with a rough playoffs-- the Blackhawks used their core to get back to the promised land and get a second Stanley Cup in four seasons.

Corey Crawford was the breakout star of the playoffs and the season for the Blackhawks. While some people draw parallels to the 2010 goalie star, Antti Niemi; Crawford did draw plenty of criticism for his inconsistent play, despite keeping the Hawks in many games. However, next year will be the litmus test for Crawford with a full season ahead, but the confidence he has to have now is going to be amazing.

Upfront, the best offensive players were the best for the Hawks, with Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane leading the charge and Jonathan Toews being the leader by example. The biggest thing for the Hawks is Brandon Saad coming into the line-up and contributing like he did. For a franchise to have the model to bringing up young players and getting them to contribute quickly, Saad just falls into line of what Kane and Toews did for the Hawks.

Outside of the top two of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya became the surprise for the Hawks, playing solid defense and contributing when needed on the offensive side, especially during his slide during the Atlanta/Winnipeg years. Nick Leddy contributed for the Hawks in the regular season, but did have some shaky times during the playoffs; which I'm sure will come into play during contract talks this summer.

And speaking of contract, the Blackhawks may have to break-up some of their team as they did in 2010. With only $2M in cap space going into next season and two more players to sign-- not to mention UFAs and RFAs; the Hawks may need to do something creative in order to get some breathing room going into the season. Luckily, two amnesty buyouts are available and may have to be burned this summer rather than having to wait for next off-season.

You can bet they won't think about that now. The party is on in the Windy City, the Second City, That Toddlin' Town, City by the Lake, City with a Lot of Nicknames-- and it won't be rained on today.

Thanks For Coming Out, 2013 Boston Bruins


With a team who was hidden in the fourth spot in the East, the Boston Bruins overcame a first round scare and had the whole city on their back for the ride as they got to the Stanley Cup Finals, but the counterattack was a little too much for the Bruins, but a lot to build off of.

One big bright spot is David Krejci's production in the playoffs, only seven points off his regular season output in 25 less games. With his budding performance, you can bet that Krejci will be the focal point along with Patrice Bergeron for the Bruins offense, despite them being a primarily defensive team. On the flip side, the snake-bit nature of Tyler Seguin's post-season is something that could be a worry going forward if he can't shake it off.

The play of Tuukka Rask definitely made the Bruins fans forget about Tim Thomas's off-ice wrangling; though many though Rask was more than ready when Thomas was already there. Keeping the Bruins in many games and facing a ton of shots, Rask is showing that he could be considered a top-tier goalie, so long as his temper and focus are kept in check.

The young guns on the defense, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton, are going to be maturing more and more as the summer and into next season comes. Krug had an early showing of what he could do in the playoffs to start and should be able to build off that, while Hamilton got a taste of the experience though he didn't play all that much. It is still Zdeno Chara's defense, though the Blackhawks seemed to have a game plan that worked against Chara's size and strength.

For the Bruins, it's a bright future and continues to have a nice little feeder system working for them that allows their younger players to get into the line-up quickly and the system that's in place allows them to succeed on the big stage and allows them to get noticed quickly. While this defeat hurts, the fact is that they'll be able to learn from it on the fly and adjust as needed.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jim Pettie


This installment includes a goalie who has his own attachment to a certain Bruins/Blackhawks match-up, though it was in the beginning of the season rather than the end. For a man they called "Seaweed" due to his hair, he had a small shelf-life, but he'll live on thanks to that and being a main part in a well-known novel. This week, the profile of Jim Pettie.

Starting in the 1972-73 season, Pettie played in the OHA for the St. Catherines Black Hawks for 31 games and registering a 5.04 GAA in that span. It wouldn't deter the Boston Bruins from picking Pettie in the 9th Round of the Draft in 1973.

Pettie made the jump to the pros during the 1973-74 season, playing in the IHL with the Dayton Gems, playing in 118 games between the 1973-74 season and the 1975-76 season (no record provided). During the 1975-76 season, Pettie went 12-3 in the Turner Cup playoffs to help the Gems win the Turner Cup. During that run, Pettie played in the North American League for the Binghamton Whalers for five games.

The Bruins gave Pettie a boost in the 1976-77 season, placing him in the AHL with the Rochester Americans, where he would play 43 games and have a record of 26-15-1, then go 6-5 in the playoffs. Pettie was called up to the Bruins and won his only game; which was the first time a Bruins goalie would play against Bobby Orr-- who was with the Blackhawks at the time.

At the start of 1977 training camp, Pettie was roomed with author George Plimpton as the latter was doing research for his upcoming book, "Open Net." Because of that, Pettie was referenced in the book plenty of times. Pettie returned to Rochester for the 1977-78 season, posting a 16-12-4 record in 32 games, while losing his only game when he was called up to the Bruins. During the 1978-79 season, Pettie was up with the Bruins for most of the season, going 8-6-2 in 19 games as the back-up. Also that season, Pettie went 0-7-1 in nine games with Rochester.

Before the 1979-80 season, Pettie was signed by the New York Rangers, but was placed in the AHL with the New Haven Nighthawks, going 16-13-3 in 33 games; then 1-1 in the playoffs. For the 1980-81 season, Pettie played with the Central League's Birmingham Bulls, playing in 21 games with a GAA of 5.50, while also playing one game for the Eastern League's Richmond Rifles, which was a loss. After that season, Pettie would retire.

Not for long in the NHL or hockey in general, Pettie does live on in a well-known book and has the distinguished honor for being the first Bruin to play against Bruins legend Bobby Orr, so despite not much of a stat-line, he'll always have those things to hang his hat on.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sakic Not Keeping Up With the Jones


If the reports out of the Denver Post saying the Colorado Avalanche won't take Seth Jones with their 1st overall pick are true, we could see the Avalanche making a once model franchise become the punchline of many jokes to come. While there are many who think Sakic could be using this in order to get a better offer in a trade, odds are that they are serious about taking a forward because.....well, I really don't know why.

While the debate rages whether or not you should pick for need versus picking for want, it seems the Avalanche are taking the latter, thinking that it could boost their offense to pick either Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, or Alexander Barkov. Any of the top-three skaters would help out the Avalanche for the short-term and for personal numbers, the long-term vision may be skewed. Sakic saying the forwards are too good to pass-up is one thing, but on his first months onto his job; it seems that he didn't take a full vision of his roster.

Any of those players will be projects, but it seems that the Avalanche are looking more towards a quick fix with a forward who can blend in with the crowd rather than take the time to build up a franchise defenseman like Jones is projected to be. While Erik Johnson is the top guy on the Avs roster, the depth behind him isn't the best. Jones would be a franchise player and help the offensive output for the defense. With the free agent market being somewhat unspectacular-- the trade market could be the only way for them to improve their blue line this summer.

This whole report is adding to the reunion of the better years that the Avs have put in the front office and behind the bench. It almost seems that, instead of trying to improve the team, the Avalanche are trying to bring the shiny names from the past and preach patience to the fan base as they go through some clunky times. There was a small light with the Avalanche's 2010 performance, but since then it's been quite shaky and doesn't look to be going too much better in the long-term. Not to mention that Greg Sherman is still the team's GM is another target for ridicule for this team, but the bigger legend names who used to be with this team coming on board with the front office mask that as much as the struggles during the season.

Yet, in the end-- Sakic could be swerving everyone and trying to get more talk for a trade for the first pick to leap over the 2nd and 3rd picks to get Jones and make sure other teams don't get there. Of course, if Sakic is misleading people-- especially after saying they wouldn't hire a coach out of the major junior system-- you have to wonder if it's good to have a guy who has no front office being so quick to lie about what's going on with his franchise.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Absurd Goalie Monday: Roberto Romano


This week's AGM is a guy who almost gave up before his career was able to take off. With the pressures of a young starting goalie in a certain market, it was almost too much for this week's goalie-- but he was able to level himself off a bit and made a decent career for himself. This week, the profile of Roberto Romano.

Romano started off in the QMJHL playing for the Quebec Remparts in the 1979-80 season, going 20-14-3 in 52 appearances, then 1-2 in the post-season. During the 1980-81 season, Romano would play in 59 games for Quebec and post an even 24-24-2 record (1-2 again in the post-season), while playing only one game for Quebec in 1981-82, which was a loss. Romano was traded during that season to the Hull Olympiques and played in 56 games and finished with a 34-17-2 record and then 6-7 in the playoffs.

As an undrafted goalie, Romano finished his junior career as a free agent. The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Romano before the 1982-83 season, playing most of that time in the AHL with the Baltimore Skipjacks. With Baltimore, Romano went 19-14-3 in 38 games, then finishing with an 0-3-0 record with the Penguins that season. For the 1983-84 season, Romano went an impressive 23-6-1 with Baltimore before being called up to the Penguins and going 6-11-0 in 18 games. It wasn't a stellar 1984-85 season, as with Baltimore, Romano posted a 2-8-2 record; but in Pittsburgh-- the record of 9-17-2 was enough to make Romano think about retiring after that season.

Trying to earn his teammates and his organizations trust back, Romano fought back in training camp and was somewhat better in the 1985-86 season, finishing with a 21-20-3 record. It was a hectic split season in the 1986-87 season for Romano, spending five games in Baltimore (0-3-0) while also spending 25 games in Pittsburgh (9-11-2) before adding some other destinations to his resume.

On February 6th, 1987, Romano was traded to the Boston Bruins for Pat Riggin. Romano played one game in Boston that season (a loss) and appeared in relief for one game with the team's AHL affiliate, the Moncton Golden Flames, but didn't figure in the decision. The 1987-88 season saw Romano play for the Maine Mariners for 16 games and ended up with a 5-8-1 record.

After that season, Romano went international and went to Italy to play. From the 1988-89 season until the 1992-93 season; Romano played with HC Merano, HC Bolzano, HC Milano Saima, HC Milano, and Romano gained his Italian citizenship; which allowed him to play for Italy in the 1992 World Championships.

Returning to North America in the 1993-94 season, Romano signed again with the Penguins and knew that the IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks would be the destination of choice. With Cleveland, Romano went 2-7-2 in 11 games; but due to injuries, Romano was called up to Pittsburgh for two games and went 1-0-1 in that times. After that season, Romano hung up the pads.

For a player who was on a subpar team and almost quit because he wasn't playing up to snuff-- Romano was able to actually rebound (all things considered) and make a steady career for himself. It also allowed him to actually get outside of North America and experience his Italian heritage side and representing that nation.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

MOCK!! YEAH!! DRAFT!! YEAH!! 2013 Edition


As we await the rest of the Awards and Game Two to start, we must be reminded that we're just two weeks from the annual NHL Draft. While it's only one day this year, many say it's the DEEPEST DRAFT EVER!!! They also say that about every other year, but that's besides the point. Because of the organizational depth, what's on the board, what's on the rankings, and some comments made by prospects about wanting to only play in the NHL, it could cause some havoc after the top three picks.

Now, I will make a note of this-- these picks are how I think some things will play out if the draft board is to remain the same. With the Blue Jackets and Flames carrying THREE first round picks, you can bet they will barter a deal here and there in order to get rid of them and get some roster players to fill out their team. Also, with picks 29 and 30 still undetermined because of the Stanley Cup still going on, I'll put out what the team will do rather than the positioning.

1. Colorado: Seth Jones
2. Florida: Nathan MacKinnon
3. Tampa Bay: Jonathan Drouin
4. Nashville: Elias Lindholm
5. Carolina: Aleksander Barkov
6. Calgary: Darnell Nurse
7. Edmonton: Sean Monahan
8. Buffalo: Valeri Nichushkin
9. New Jersey: Curtis Lazar
10. Dallas: Alexander Wennberg
11. Philadelphia: Ryan Pulock
12. Phoenix: Adam Erne
13. Winnipeg: Max Domi
14. Columbus: Robert Hagg
15. NY Islanders: Andre Burakowsky
16. Buffalo (From Minnesota): Nikita Zadorov
17. Ottawa: Bo Horvat
18. Detroit: Mirco Mueller
19. Columbus (From NY Rangers): Josh Morrissey
20. San Jose: Hunter Shinkaruk
21. Toronto: Samuel Morin
22. Calgary (From St. Louis): Anthony Mantha
23. Washington: Kerby Rychel
24. Vancouver: Rasmus Ristolainen
25. Montreal: Ian McCoshen
26. Anaheim: Jacob De La Rose
27. Columbus (From Los Angeles): Michael McCarron
28. Calgary (From Pittsburgh): Ryan Hartman
--. Boston: Frederik Gauthier
--. Chicago: Zachary Fucale

So there's that. All purely speculative and shows I could have as good a chance as any to pick them all right. The crazy thing is that with most teams, you won't be able to figure out their mindset from some picks (Mark Jankowski at 21st over anyone??), but I think this year could be very straight forward with many team playing by the book at least in the first round.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stanley Cup Prediction: (1W) Chicago Blackhawks vs (4E) Boston Bruins


It's come to this. We've all waited nine six long months for the Stanley Cup to be presented and the Finals are just a day away. Why not be like the other cool kids and actually make a pick that will be a 50-50 shot because I'm either right or wrong.

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Out of the East are the Boston Bruins, who were pushed to the brink in the first round; but since then have been world beaters. You can almost sense that the first round scare could have been a wake-up call this team needed to stave off the likes of the Rangers and Penguins.

But the Bruins are a scary bunch. They have all the tools to be a successful playoff team and are a team that will battle for every piece of land out there. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic have lead the charge with their hard-nose play, while David Krejci and Nathan Horton have produced fantastically for the Bruins this post season.

When it comes to defense, you can't bet against Zdeno Chara, who provides pleny of intangibles, but with Torey Krug coming on like a house of fire this post-season has been a great surprise. With Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid holding down the fort in their own end, the Bruins seems impenetrable.

And even if they get past them, Tuukka Rask shut down one of the most prolific offenses in the NHL today last round and has had plenty of support to help him along the way. One big thing is that he has been strong mentally, not letting the junk in front of the net or a bad goal get to him and making him bust out into his rageful mood.

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Out of the West, the team that has been one of the top teams from start to finish-- the Chicago Blackhawks. Much like the Bruins, they've had to come back from a series-- granted they were down 3-1 and not up--and have showed their guile and depth, especially with their top players not filling the net as many would have hoped.

In that, I mean that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane haven't been setting the scoresheet on fire, sans Kane's last game in the Conference Finals with a hat-trick. That said, the scoring has been spread around, making the offense a decent threat regardless of the line out there.

Defensively, the Blackhawks have had it a little rough, with Brent Seabrook not having the best playoffs-- but Johnny Oduya coming up clutch for the Blackhawks in their own zone, as well as making that first pass to create offense. Michal Roszival has also played rather well on the third pairing. Duncan Keith, despite the one-game suspension, has been the offensive leader on the defense.

In net, Corey Crawford is looking like Antti Niemi did when he was in net for the Blackhawks' Cup run in 2010 (observation by Lyle Richardson). While he hasn't been extremely extraordinary-- he has gotten the job done and been able to get the wins needed to get the Hawks to this point. He's not the most flashiest and may give Hawks fans fits, he has gotten the job done in a big way.

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So, prediction time: Boston is very scary. They have all the tools needed in order to actually take this series handily, but Chicago won't let their record start be tarnished with a pathetic showing at the end of the year.

With that all in mind, I feel the Blackhawks will take Lord Stanley's Cup in six games.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jack McCartan


While many of the past goalies have toiled at their craft to be successful, this week's AGM took an unusual route. While he may not have been outfitted from the start, he lucked into the position and thanks to his baseball background, he was able to excel in net with a solid glove hand. This week, the profile of Jack McCartan.

McCartan fell into the goalie position, playing the spot in youth hockey when all the players too rotations in net, but didn't have the proper gear for it. McCartan acquire the gear of a friend, which enabled him to play for St. Paul Marshall High School and while his team was often defeated, McCartan played well enough to be name to the All-City Team in his senior season of 1953.

While he was recruited for a baseball scholarship, McCartan was lured back into hockey when at the University of Minnesota by hearing the puck bang against the boards when going to ball practice. After playing for the freshman team to start, McCartan played with the Golden Gophers for 67 games from 1955-56 until 1957-58, being named to the WCHA First All-Star Team in 1957 and 1958, and named to the NCAA First All-American Team in 1958.

McCartan continued his amateur aspirations in order to try out for the Olympic team, playing for the US National Team in the 1958-59 season for 29 games. McCartan did make the 1960 Olympic team, playing the unlikely hero for the underdog team that won the Gold Medal, as McCartan went a perfect 5-0-0 during the games and being named the Best Goaltender for the Olympics.

That exposure was notice by the New York Rangers, who signed him to a try-out contract following the Olympics, where he would play in four games and go 1-1-2 before being sent down to the Central League's Minneapolis Rangers for five games. The 1960-61 season had McCartan play only eight games for the Rangers (1-6-1), then being sent to the Eastern Pro League's Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers for the duration of the season, finishing with a 25-21-6 record in that span and 3-4 in the playoffs. Staying with the Beavers for the 1961-62 season, McCartan played in 70 games and posted a 36-24-10 record, then 3-4 again in the playoffs.

The Rangers would trade off McCartan to the WHL's Los Angeles Blades in the inter-league trade. McCartan played with the Blades for the 1962-63 season, putting up a 31-27-2 record, then 1-2 in three playoff games.

The Chicago Blackhawks would claim McCartan in the inter-league draft before the 1963-64 season, being relegated to the Central Pro League's St. Louis Braves and went 31-30-6 and 2-4 in the playoffs. McCartan only played in five games for the Braves in the 1964-65 season, going 1-4-0 before being on the move again.

The Blackhawks traded McCartan back to the LA Blades for the rest of the 1964-65 season, going 8-22-2 in the last 32 games of that year. McCartan stayed in the WHL for the 1965-66 season for the San Francisco Seals, going 23-27-3 in 53 games, while in the 1966-67 season for the California Seals; McCartan put up a 25-26-10 record, then 2-3 in the playoffs.

The 1967-68 season had McCartan playing in the CPHL again, this time for the Omaha Knights, but would go 9-25-7 in the 43 games he played.

After some summer shuffling, McCartan landed with the San Diego Gulls before the 1968-69 season, posting a 20-14-6 record in his first season there. Coming back for the 1969-70 season, McCartan got more games under his belt, finishing with a 21-20-9 record then 0-3 for the playoffs, while during the 1970-71 season, McCartan finished with a 24-20-11 record and 2-4 in the playoffs. Finally in the 1971-72 season with the Gulls, McCartan played in 36 games and posted a 14-16-2 record, then 0-2 in the playoffs.

With the WHA coming along, it gave McCartan another shot at the pros, as he was picked up by the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the 1972-73 season, playing in 38 games and having a 15-19-1 record, but only saw two games of action in the 1973-74 season for the Saints, but only in relief. McCartan went to the Southen League during the 1973-74 season for the Sun Coast Suns for six games (no record provide) as well. McCartan came back to the Saints for the 1974-75 season for two games, going 1-0-0 before hanging up the pads for good.

Post playing career, McCartan was a scout for the Vancouver Canucks for a time before he retired to Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

For not directly wanting to play goalie, McCartan got a lot of mileage from his career thanks to being able to get equipment from a friend and being lured back into hockey just from the sound of the puck hitting the boards in college. Though he toiled in the minors, his amateur career was more than enough for him to be remembered for the long run.