Monday, August 31, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Pat Jablonski

Though this gimmick should be easier than it seems, the fact of the matter is there's times that I get stuck on who to put out there in the open. Luckily, the wonders of immediate social media allowed me to get some input from the Twitter fateful, with a rousing uprising over one Pat Jablonski. Both Leahy of Yahoo and Joe of Gross Misconduct brought up the right-handed catch sensation, who really lived up to his seventh round selection in 1985 from the St. Louis Blues.

While he did lead the OHL in shutouts with three back in 1986-87, Jablonski bounced back and forth between Peoria in the IHL and St. Louis, mostly heading to the Lou when Vincent Riendeau, Greg Millen, and/or Curtis Joseph went down for one reason or another. However, during the 1990-91 season, Jablonski went coo-coo in the IHL, going 22-3-3 for the season with the Rivermen, only to come to St. Louis when CuJo got hurt and was used to back up Riendeau. Even Guy Hebert took Jablonski's heat away, as Hebert took the back-up role to CuJo in '91-'92.

At that point, St. Louis traded Jablonski to the newly formed Tampa Bay Lightning, where he was the named starter for the inaugural season of the Bolts. The first year for the team was rough, though Jablonski got a majority of the starts over J-C Bergeron and Wendell Young. Jablonski and Bergeron shared the lead for wins with eight that season, though the final tally for Jablonski was 8-24-4 with a 3.97 GAA. The next season in Tampa was worse, as Daren Puppa came onto the scene and Jablonski was swept out to pasture, traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after going 5-6-3 with Tampa. Jablonski spent most of his time in St. John's of the AHL to keep fresh, going 12-3-1 in the AHL, but never played a game with the big club.

During the lockout in 1994, Jablonski bidded his time in the IHL, but only played seven games between the Chicago Wolves and Houston Aeros. Jablonski was claimed off waiver from Toronto by St. Louis, but only played on game before being traded to Montreal. In Montreal, Jablonski was put into the back-up role during the transition period of the Canadiens goaltending corps, as Patrick Roy was traded to Colorado and Jocelyn Thibault was the defacto starter. A season in a half in Montreal saw Jablonski go 9-15-8, before getting shipped to Phoenix, where he only played in two games because of Nikolai Khabibulin's presence in net.

During the 1997-98 campaign, Jablonski was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes, but again was placed into the limbo of the minors, where he stayed in the IHL, mostly with the Cleveland Lumberjacks. After pulling a .500 record with Cleveland and Quebec, coupled with a very subpar performance with the Canes; Jablonski settled up with the Chicago Wolves, going 22-7-7. It would be his last season in North America, as Jablonski set out to Sweden for the next two seasons, before ultimately retiring from pro hockey as a whole.

Jablonski made news late in 2008 as he almost had a tragic ending to his life. Jablonski nearly drowned after being hit by a wave during a vacation with his family near the Gulf of Mexico. While boogie boarding, Jablonski came across an 8-foot wave that he couldn't handle. He fractured two vertebrae and herniated a disc that dug into his spine. Upon impact, Jablonski couldn't feel his limbs, but regained that feeling during transportation to the hospital. Jablonski suffered that injury in September and he has sinced recovered nice enough after a couple months in a neck brace, and he came back to play in net at the Tampa Bay Lightning charity Fan Fest game, though-- I guess fittingly-- he took the lose.

Though he's been through many ups and downs, both professionally and personally-- but he seemed to have gotten through it with a smile on his face and an appreciation for the game, as well as getting the chance to play in the NHL. He seems to like the life of a family man right now, as he has two children with his wife and seems to stay out of the post-career commentator role many others have gotten into, for which he could have been good at or not so much.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Looking For a New Suitcase

With the retirement of Mike Sillinger, we are now on the look out for the newest player to receive the moniker of Suitcase. Of course, Sillinger played for 12 of the 30 NHL teams out there, as well as being traded nine times, holding the record with Brent Ashton. Now, the reasoning for Sillinger to be treaded was the fact that he was a great asset to the team, not only with leadership, but also for his role in the face-off cirlce and able to chip in a point or two here and there, which made him very desirable at the trade deadline.

Yet, with the departure of Sillinger, there's a void for the frequent flyer in the NHL roster list, via the trade list. You can pull the gimmick of who's been with the most teams, but in the age of free agency, it's a bit trite. In the salary cap age, to figure out who's been traded the most is a bit more interesting to look at. However, through the minimal research I've been doing (it's been documented before, I'm lazy), the fact of the matter is that there's not many big name guys or even role players with the street cred of Sillinger to really say that they are worthy of the suitcase moniker.

Just on a brief look at NHLers, Brandon Bochenski is leading the way, being traded four times throughout his short career (Ottawa to Chicago to Boston to Anaheim to Nashville), but you'd hardly call him someone who is very sought after or possess skills like that of Sillinger. Jim Vandermeer also has been traded four times (Philadelphia to Chicago to Philadelphia to Calgary to Phoenix), but in the same boat as Bochenski; not a Sillinger kind of player. The one guy who could come close to something of worth of a Sillinger could be Olli Jokinen, who also has the four-time ring (Los Angeles to Long Island to Florida to Phoenix to Calgary), which could be excelled to five depending on what Calgary does during the season and what they can do to try to get him re-signed to a new deal or trade him just to get something back.

The one name that pops up in the record amount of times is a man who is still playing, but not in the NHL right now: Anson Carter. Carter, who of course roomed with Jeremy Roenick, has been traded seven times (Colorado to Washington to Boston to Edmonton to New York Rangers to Washington to Los Angeles; then Columbus to Carolina) in his NHL career and has played on eight teams (Washington, Boston, Edmonton, Rangers, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Columbus, Carolina). Carter has the ability to be a decent role player, but as seen in Vancouver-- he can succeed in the right situation. We need a GM to get Carter out of Switzerland, where he plays for HC Lugano, and get him on their roster and trade him. Make the folklore continue on and make Carter the new "Suitcase."

However, the search continues. I don't know if we'll ever get the player the caliber of Mike Sillinger to receive the "Suitcase" moniker or deserve it, for that matter. Sillinger is a class guy and was always willing to do what was needed in order to succeed. If not for his injuries, who knows how many more teams he could have been with. Best of luck in Sillinger in his transition from playing to whatever else is out there. More than likely, he'll get offers to a coaching spot or a leadership role in some capacity.

EDIT: As brought up in the comments by "SL", Jon Sim name will have to be added to the list. Sim has played for eight teams (nine including the 20 minutes spent with Phoenix, never played a game with them though), but he's only been traded twice (Dallas to Nashville; Philadelphia to Florida). The other times, he was claimed on waivers by the teams during the middle of the season. Still an interesting stat for number of teams.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reinsdorf Done, Bettman Bids, Balsillie Threatens-- We All Win

We've had time to digest the whole ordeal that happened with the latest twist in the Phoenix Coyotes' saga, let's look at this bit by little bit.

First, Jerry Reinsdorf pulling his bid for the 'Yotes. You almost got the thought that he wasn't too keen on it in the first place, but he put his name there to be the guy for the NHL. However, on his way out-- Reinsdorf's "people" basically doing what the NHL has been doing and bashing Jim Balsillie for organizing a "publicity effort designed to provide negative and misleading information to interested parties." As well, the Reinsdorf group bashed Jerry Moyes for being an "unwilling seller." For the Moyes' issue, that's kind of true; as Moyes wants his money back that he dumped into this team and Balsillie's bid gives Moyes that money, whereas Reinsdorf bid wouldn't do that at all. In any case, it didn't seem like Reinsdorf was all into this bid at all and the NHL threw his name out there to be the "Great and powerful Oz" while they ran the show behind the curtain. However, when push came to shove, Reinsdorf wasn't able to belly-up to the Coyotes' table and get his piece.


Next, the NHL pulls the curtain back and puts in their own bid in order to make the Phoenix Coyotes into the Montreal Expos. That puts the bidders at the NHL, Jim Balsillie, and at the last minute-- Ice Edge Holdings-- for the Phoenix Coyotes. A team that no one seems to want. The NHL bidding is just showing how much they want to save face in this ordeal. Their biggest name bidder is gone, they are going against their archnemesis, and the other bidder wants to have games in Canada-- both regular season and some playoffs. If I'm the NHL, I cut ties and let Jim Balsillie do what he wants with this team because it's going to do no good at all fighting a fight they have a slim chance of winning.

Sure, they could win in terms of getting the team-- but they risk losing money that revenue brings in to run the fleeting franchise, they also lose face in the sports echelon for having to put their own bid in a team no one wanted to stay in that market. Most importantly, they risk losing a team as a whole-- not just from the US to Canada, but going from 30 to 29, which I don't think anyone wants because it puts players out of jobs-- though the owners wouldn't lose as much money in revenue sharing in that. In any case, if that were to happen when the NHL owned it, they would look really bad, especially in the public relations lexicon over sports leagues.


Finally-- Jim Balsillie speaking, saying that he's giving the process until September 14th to get a deal done or he's out of the running. This is four days after the auction is to take place and one day before the Coyotes first pre-season game. Balsillie wants to deal to be done and to move the team immediate or else he's gone and will lay low until the next troubled team pops up.

Now, I like Jim Balsillie, I think that he's a good owner for the NHL and would shake things up and get interest in the game, much like Mark Cuban in the NBA-- but to Jim Balsillie: SHUT UP!! Don't say anything, don't as much think of putting out a press release or comment until all is said and done. You can do nothing but hurt your cause by pulling this gimmick. It didn't help you back in July, it won't help you now. Especially when you looked like it was a slam dunk, you have to talk. Talking now would only hurt your case and make you look like the bad guy and semi-insane. Stay quiet, let the process happen, and you'll come out looking fine. The less you say, the better you look. Let the NHL attack and attack and attack, because they'll look like the petty ones and Judge RTB (Redfield T. Baum) will not buy what they are selling.


So that's what's up. We're no better off now than we were yesterday and just as confused. In the end, with the NHL and Balsillie bitching, Ice Edge Holding could be the winner in all of this, which could be the best of both world and maybe the lesser of three evils and not as many appeals when this is overwith. We can only hope this is over soon, but we're only just beginning, I'm sure.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wild-ly Dull

The leak is out for the third jersey for the Minnesota Wild by way of Icethetics. Essentially what the style is looks back to the Western Conference jerseys from the All-Star Game in 2004 when it was in Minnesota. However, it has a cursive script with Minnesota in the large letters and Wild at the bottom, which is the tail of the "a" in Minnesota....which doesn't makes sense because the end of the "a" has to double back in order to work. Also, it has the unneeded piping on the shoulders, which we all know I flipping hate.

As a whole, the style and look is classy. Minnesota is one of the area which is related to hockey and it's tradition. It's something that will keep the vibe there of a home-grown feel that the Wild seems to have with their organization and their fans. However, there's so much they could have done with the third jersey.

Of course, their last third jersey, which I like to think of as "The Christmas Jersey", morphed into their home jersey once the Edge came into play. This new jersey brought about the green feel they had when they came into the league. However, it doesn't have the pizzaz or eyecatching wonderment you often think about when it comes to third jerseys. The wordmark is overused and is a little "meh", especially when it looks just too streamlined when it comes to the color green. It's almost too much green in the scheme (poet and don't even know it) and makes me hate it. Green isn't my favorite color in the first place, but the Wild made it work with the gold and red accents they had in their old green jerseys. This just seems dull, out of place, and not something I will go crazy for.

Of course, this is just a leak and who knows if this is something to throw off the smell of the real jersey and what it could look like on the ice; but right now, I'm not a big fan of it at all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Corey Hirsch

In the same vain of daily Twitter tags and Opie and Anthony, I've decided to do a theme day. Goalies seem to be me the most interesting folks in hockey, whether it's the paint on the mask, the pads, the quirks-- whatever, there have been many that have been; goalies stand out in peoples minds. So, why not have a theme day like "Absurd Goalie Monday"?? And this won't be for goalies that are well known for their feats, but I'm going with goalies who are known, but maybe for how bad they are or just a name you'd never thought you'd hear again. We'll try it out for a while and see how it goes.

First up, a guy who created the FOHS's "Corey Hirsch Effect," as it lived in folklore due to his play in relief of Olaf Kolzig. More on that later though.

Of course, many Canadian hockey fans remember Corey Hirsch from the moment in the 1994 Olympic, getting schooled by Peter Forsberg in the shootout of the gold-medal game, which was immortalized in Sweden in stamp form, even. However, his promise was something that made him a big deal, with the Rangers hoping that he'd be the next in line, should Mike Richter falter. With his promising seasons in the AHL, many thought he'd be able to transition that into a full-time starters job in the NHL. With a 35-4-5 season in '91-'92 with the Binghamton Rangers, it almost seemed like it was a matter of time.

However, it wasn't to be be in the Rangers system. Mike Richter started to show his pure talent, which relegated Hirsch to the third-string, with John Vanbiesbrouck and Glenn Healy in the fold, which only ticked off Hirsch and made him strive to get out of the New York system. That chance came when Hirsch was traded in April of 1995 when the Rangers shipped him to Vancouver for Nathan LaFayette. While in Vancouver, he shared duties with Kirk McLean. Plus, Hirsch did so well at the end of the 1995-96 season and in the playoffs, he took over the starters role in the beginning of the 1996-97 season, but it was ill-fated with him as he lost that gig mid-season.

Hirsch was bounced to the Syracuse Crunch in '97-'98, playing 60 games there and only making one appearance with the Canucks. The next season, Hirsch played the back-up role to Garth Snow and only saw 20 games. After the '98-'99 campaign, Hirsch began to bounce around the IHL with Milwaukee, Utah, and Cincinnati. After starting the 2000-01 campaign with Albany in the AHL, the Capitals came calling on November 1st, and put Hirsch in Portland. Hirsch was called up for one game in a back-up role on March 11th, 2001, when Craig Billington was injured. Which leads to the start of the "Corey Hirsch Effect."

My radio partner Marc "with a 'C'" was in attendance for this game, in which the Capitals were down 5-2 going into the third period. With Olaf Kolzig getting shelled, Hirsch was called for duty in the third. It would mark Hirsch's only appearance with the Caps, but it was an exciting one. Hirsch only faced eight shots, but he kept the Caps in the game. In return, the Caps scored four goals in the third and won the game 6-5. It was one of the bigger comebacks for the Caps, as far as I can remember and I believe that it was due to Corey Hirsch.

After that, Hirsch bounced in the AHL with the Portland Pirates and Philadelphia Phantoms, finding a home with the Dallas Stars, albeit it in a minor league role for the most part with the Utah Grizzlies and seeing two games with the big club, once replacing Ron Tugnutt and then starting the next game. After the 2002-03 season, Hirsch went to Europe, playing in Sweden and Germany before calling it a career.

Currently, Hirsch is the goaltending coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs; which should help out Jonas Gustafsson in terms of knowing the differences between the game in Europe and North America. Also, Hirsch has done work with the Canadian national junior teams in 2007 and 2008, both producing gold-medals for the country.

He's had his ups and downs, but if nothing else; he will be remembered by me for the one game as a Washington Capital that will go down in infamy.......or not.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh Dany....Boy

The long awaited silence of Dany Heatley was broken today, with the Senators winger finally talking out about why he wanted a trade from Ottawa, why he didn't want to go to Edmonton, and what's next for him if nothing can get done.

However, when all was said and done, I don't know if there could have been a bigger letdown. Fact of the matter is that there are many questions left unanswered and new ones sprouting up, like those from the folks at Stay Classy.

A couple things stuck out to me when all was said and done from the phoner:

1. Heatley said that he wanted options when it came to where he wanted to go. Fact of the matter is this, when you're already rostered on a team and stuck with that team in contract form, you aren't going to get many options because you're not a free market asset. Teams cannot negociate their own terms with Heatley, but they have to work with what he's already signed to. In a salary cap world, this can't magically happen because you have to work within the perimeters of the cap and most teams now can't make the work. Plus, the teams have to give up some players in return, which many teams would want to do because they most likely would have to sell the farm, so to speak, when it comes to getting Heatley. Would it be worth it?? Maybe, maybe not-- depends on the system he's thrown into.

2. Which leads me to this point, Heatley was talking about his diminished role on the Senators, which as pointed out by the guys, he's still getting 20 minutes a game on average. Does he want to be like Bugs Bunny and play every position at the same time?? He's a big time player and will probably be put into positions where he'll be able to score and be a game-changer. However, the role of his probably diminished due to the fact the team was out of it and the team as a whole would have wanted to look at the future of the team. Just to see where they sit in terms of the who's coming up and what option there is out there if injuries happen. Plus, in case they need to trade off some guys, who would be expendable and what position they would need more depth in.

3. The questions about Edmonton were avoided like the plague. He said it wasn't about city or the team, it was lack of options. Listen, Dany if you're going to be the enemy, be the heel and totally destroy the city and how insanely cold it can get and why you wouldn't want to inhale all that cold hair, especially with your exposed nerve-endings due to your lack of tooth. Like seriously, Heatley said a lot about not choosing Edmonton by saying nothing at all. Like good buddy Erin Nicks said, I feel kinda bad for Edmonton.....but living in Calgary now, I don't feel THAT bad.

4. Stacey McAlpine is a bit of an ass. And I guess that's what he's supposed to do. I mean, not only did he cut off Don Brennan's question about relinquishing the alternate captaincy, but he tried to cut off the phoner early, only for Heatley to say he'd be able to take more questions. Honestly, great play by both. McAlpine seemingly gets the heat for trying to end it, while Heatley looks like an open guy by taking more questions and looking as if he has nothing to hide. Doubt it'll appear that way, but I think it was a decent ploy.

Well, that's that for now, I assume. Now that his silence is broken, there's nothing left here...right?? No, it's never over with this, let's be honest. Odds are that this won't be enough and it'll have people pining for more and hounding Heatley to get more in-depth answers. How he'll be when it comes time for training camp and he's still a Senator will be something that could make for great reality television. However, until he's retired and writes a book about it, we'll never get the true story at all. Kind of sad thinking about it like that, but it is what it is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Death of Creativity

If the above image is what the CCSLC and Adrian Dater are claiming to be the new third for the Colorado Avalanche....this could be the deathblow to the ideal of creativity of jerseys in the NHL and we shouldn't look forward to seeing any new, creative designs.

While I know that the "college" style of jersey and use of nickname/city name is in vogue for the NHL teams, I hate it. To me, it shows a bit of laziness on the part of the people who are putting together the jersey itself. I mean, not only is this lazy in terms of using a city name, but it's basically the Avalanche's old third jersey , but with color changes here and there. I loathe the Dallas Stars identity with "Dallas" on their jerseys; the Atlanta Thrashers atrocity speaks for itself, and while the Lightning and Senators hit it on the head in terms of jersey design, the use of nicknames when they could have done so much more with it makes me shake my head.

It just makes me wish for happier time where people were somewhat excited to see what a new third jersey could be. Recently, the use of nick/city name for the third jersey or a retro design shows that people within the organizations making up these third jerseys are just phoning it in and not really caring about what actually looks good, because they know it will sell. Once a third is on the market, regardless of how it looks, it will often sell hot when they reveal it and sell better than some other jerseys in the cartel. That's why we saw a lot of third jerseys become the regular jerseys in the pre-Edge NHL; like the Capitals black and coppers, the Senators reds, and the Stars star jersey to name a few.

Even the logos and jerseys that fail should be given credit for effort to think outside the box rather than be a cookie-cutter design or style. I mean, the Kings third jersey had a great logo for the Burger King, but the fact of the matter was that they were utilized horribly with the logo being on the top left hand side of the jersey. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks had Wild Wing bust out of the ice on the jersey and while it was campy and totally for kids-- it was something unique. In the same era, the Lightning's first attempt was something unique with rain and raging seas on their jersey. The Buffaslug was even something of a risk, which didn't pay off, but it tried to combine the era of the Buffalo Sabres to a hybrid, which has fallen short. While these jerseys aren't looked at highly in the court of public opinion, they took a risk and should be commended for trying something different and thinking outside the box. Hell, even the Blues un-used jersey was different, but horrendous at the same time.

While the marketing and creation (if they exist) departments of each teams should be definitely question in terms of decision making when making the final approval, you have to wonder how much input Reebok has on this whole process. It could be a long shot, but you have to wonder why we have gone from one extreme of teams taking a risk on something to just minimalist approach where it's just like creativity has gone out the door while we have much more technology and design tools than we did back then. It seems savvy to hate on Reebok for the Edge jersey and Nike for the Swift design.....but it could be a smoking gun.

I've spoke the praises of the CCSLC on FOHS and maybe on here, I can't remember-- but there are so many great designers with great ideas, why aren't their stuff picked up and ran with by the teams?? It's something that they may need to look into if things like this fail again. Especially with the notion that the Ottawa Senators may be changing their thirds to something that has been presented online from a designer making a mock-up.

If push came to shove-- I'd love to have 30 risks on the third jerseys and have all of them fail than one use of a wordmark if there's something that could be done. There's so much out there for some teams with their identity that they can create something spectacular, but more often than not they will play it much too safe and end up ruining something that could have been so great. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I'm getting tired of the laziness that recently has come about when it comes to third jerseys.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bubble Hockey Reality

All puck-heads, arcade nerds, and barflys know the joys of the Super Chexx bubble hockey table and the fantasticness the game can bring, as well as the rivalries it creates amongst friends and foes alike. It's great times, for sure.

Yet, in the dog-days of summer, it goes me wondering if the bubble hockey players were real, which NHL player would they most represent in their game. I mean, you have to have drunkenly or stupidly thought about it at one point in time when you're hanging around the bubble with your buddies. Just yelling out random player names each time you score to mock out your own team or your buddy's team. I just confused you more, I'm sure-- but I hope to gather you back into this whole discussion by the end of it. Hopefully they'll all be positionally correct, but you'll have some that's a little out of place positionally, but personality wise (as much as you can be with inanimate objects) they should be dead on.

Right Wing: The right wing is a unique player. You see, the right wing is the player with the longest stick (wocka) out on the rink. For some reason, he was given the luxury of having the long stick so he could play keep-away in his own end from the defender and be one of the only players to really be able to go into the other zone and steal the puck away from the opposing team. For that, Martin St. Louis is the guy to represent the right winger. It's truthful too, because it's been chronicled for years that the small St. Louis uses an absurdly long twig and always has. Plus, St. Louis is a master at control with the puck and usually likes to dish from the corners, which more of the wingers in the game does.

Center: What an annoying punk-ass this guy is. Let's be honest, the center is the guy people hate playing against, but love to go-to on their side. If the center gets the puck alone, he's got the perfect shot because neither defensemen can get to him and he can just wait all-day and stall the hell out of the goalie, making you insane with anticipation for him to get it over with. That's where the mistake is made and the center just taps it in, making it look easy and making the opposition tear their hair out. Perfect Sean Avery or Tomas Holmstrom (though he's a left winger) type player. They'll just annoy the hell out of you, but they get results at the end of the day. Plus, if you can find a table that's very used, the center can get in there and use his stick to stop the goalie's movement.

Left Wing: I'd say that this guy is the precision guy. He has the ability to be a sneaky scorer and do it time and time again. He's got the average stick-length, unlike the right winger, and can get around to snap one from the hash marks and below at an angle the goalie can't cover up to. It reminds you of that of the Russian snipers like Alex Ovechkin or Ilya Kovalchuk who can score at will and score at angles no one thought they could score from. However, unlike the right winger who would have an awkward time passing the puck with the long stick, the left wing can stop midway down the boards and make a solid centering pass for the center like Slava Kozlov, Ray Whitney, or Daniel Sedin to make that play. Very versatile player.

Defense: Now, unlike the NHL where defensemen are stepping up like it's going out of style, the bubble style of hockey only allows the defense to go to the red line. This way, they have to be responsible in their own zone. That said, if you have a defenseman who likes to step-up, they can score wildly from the red line, which is really a motto I've lived by when playing. With that in mind, you can liken it to a sort of Zdeno Chara or Nicklas Lidstrom player who is great in his own zone and pitch-in offensively. For the more reserved type, they can be compared to that of Mike Mottau, Rob Scuderi, or Willie Mitchell, cutting off the centering pass and getting it out of the zone. Just hope they don't end up like Scott Hannan, Derian Hatcher, or Brendan Witt player who gets scored on at will and blown by like they were standing still.

Goalie: The style of goalie is not that of the Super Chexx game, as it was when it first debuted. Nowadays, the goalies are always out cutting down the angles, playing the puck, not being tethered to their net (though some of them should), so there's not many guys you can compare the goalies in the game to. Maybe someone like Evgeni Nabokov, who plays a bit more of a stand-up game and doesn't wander as much as some others could do. In the past, you could compare the goalie to Sean Burke or Kirk McLean style that stood there and absorbed pucks.

The Fans: The bubble hockey game was unique in terms of the fact that not only did you have the crowd around you from the people at the bar or your clique there to cheer you on, but you had a magical button in which you have a virtual crowd booing at will. That's right, the always fantastic "Boo Button" is one of the greatest things to come out of the bubble hockey game since the pop-up face-off. With the boos, it makes me think of the fans in specificially Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia or New York to boo all over the player-- the opposing players, their own players, Santa-- anyone out there and that's what you do when you drink-- hit the boo button regardless.

So, that's what's up. The summer delirium continues, awaiting for hockey to begin, thinking about bubble hockey player personas.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Check-In

Hey all, it's been a slow and redundant week, so I spared you with the Coyotes and Patrick Kane speculation. However, I come baring links.

First, I did something for Cycle Like the Sedins about my first hockey memory. James and the gang offered an open invite to people and I took them up on it. I think it turned out real well and hope that you all enjoy it as well.

Second, you know how much I adore Princess Curl. However, today she raised the bar with her post of her Thursday treat....but this one was for the boys.

I've got something in mind for my next post, hopefully it'll be as swanky as my NHL '94 post, but it's doubtful.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Something Left To Prove, Apparently

With the news coming out about Theoren Fleury attempting to comeback to the NHL, coupled with Claude Lemieux's indifferent attempt this past season to come back; it makes you wonder what kind of epidemic this will create for past players who still think they have something left in the tank. While Lemieux's return seemed to be completely random, Fleury wanted to come back after playing semi-pro and got a trainer to help him out with getting back into shape, apparently.

While Fleury still has some hurdles to get past in order to get reinstated from his indefinite suspension for substance abuse, but with his new lifestyle of sobriety, I don't think that should be too much of a total problem. If those issues are behind him, the question for Theo becomes can he do it?? The question that will be reoccuring is who's next??

While Theo could be able to get himself into shape, he could be the exception to the rule. The more common case is like that of Claude Lemieux, where the heart and will is there, but the body as a whole is going to be the real struggling point to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the NHL style of play. With these two making it well known they are coming back, will this be the start of something that will become ridiculous in the next few seasons??

Let's be honest, both Fleury and Lemieux had nothing more to prove. Both had solid playing careers, both had Stanley Cup rings to their names-- so what was the point?? Was it to show people that they could do it like a hockey version of Jack LaLanne?? It seems a bit questionable as to why they are doing it. Sure, the end of both Lemieux and Fleury's careers were unceremonious at best, but it happened. Could this be a case of unfinished business at hand that both of them had to overcome in order to have closure?? Could this be a cheap way for Fleury to plug his autobiography....probably not, but I'm going for every angle right now.

Just who will take a chance on Fleury, especially in a cap era?? While his salary demands may be a slight bit more than league minimum, is there a team confident enough to sign Fleury and hope for the best?? While it may be early in the season, the old antics of Fleury may linger in some people's heads. Plus, who is to say that his playing style will be the same it was, minus the rage. If he can fit the mold of some teams plans, then it could be something worth watching, but I'm not so sure that there are teams with the space and the game plan to fit in Fleury.

Yet with Fleury's intentions out there, we look to see who could be the next old-timer to come out of their retirement and try their hand at the NHL ranks again. It's doubtful that Joe Sakic, Teppo Numminen, or Jeremy Roenick will come back. Both went out on their own terms and both don't have much to prove, though Roenick may want that ring-- it's doubtful a contender will give him a shot. Could we see Eddie Belfour pull a swerve and use his new gig as a goaltending consultant to get back into the NHL, even as a back-up. Hell, rumors of Ken Klee's retirement could be premature....or he could retire, then unretire within the hour and be the latest comeback story, though without the pomp and circumstances.

We will definitely have to see if this is going to become a big trend in the next few years. For one, I hope it's not because it's a little sad to see a once great player ruining their legacy in order to milk a paycheck or two to end out their careers. It'll be one thing for them to actually get onto a roster, but it's another thing for them to actually succeed in doing so by contributing to the greater good and not looking like a buffon out on the ice.

FOHS 8th Year Extrava-Danza

(L to R: Scotty Wazz, Marc "With a 'C'", Sean-O, and Jonny P)

With all due respect to Mr. Quentin Tarantino, I have to use this, with my own twist....for some reason:
"Four guys, sittin' in a garage, in Lanham. All wondering how the eff they got there. What should we do, what shouldn't we do, who's fault it'll be, is it my fault, your fault, his fault, all that bullcrap. Then one of them says, hey. Wait a minute. When we were planning this show, all we did was sit around tellin' effin' jokes!! Get the message?? Boys, I don't mean to holler at ya. When this show's going on-- and I'm sure it'll be a successful one-- we'll get down to the Hawaiian Islands, hell, I'll roll and laugh with all of ya. You'll find me a different character down there. Right now, it's a matter of business."
That's what kind of happened in August 8th, 2001. The day the Face Off Hockey Show was born.

To start off, it was quite the task we had to come up from. Sean-O and Jonny P had a hockey show prior to this gig, but it fell upon trouble times and broke apart. Enter myself and Marc "with a 'C'" to fill those third and fourth mics. We all gelled well together after having time spent with each other prior and know how each other ticked, we learned timing from each other and to this day, it works pretty well.

Of course, to start off a hockey show in August is absolute death and I think the actual show was going to be a variety show with hockey being the main focus once the season started. So, for the first couple of months, it was variety for the longest time until the hockey news started going about, but then it morphed into what you hear today-- hockey news with randomness added in. That first year also saw me go away from the studio setting for the first time, as I went to lovely Aston, Pennsylvania to attend my year at Neumann College. However, once we started to get phone interviews, I made the 90-minute drive back and forth to make the sound quality better. The end of the year was capped off by the start of the NHL Draft trips, many of which have grown with folklore year after year

As we started to catch our groove as a hockey show, we got more and more people on our air and started to establish ourselves. We were able to bring on now "lifer" Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey and occasional guest John Buccigross of ESPN, when ESPN was the hot-spot for hockey. We started to do weekly team segments with a bevvy of fan sites, some of which still linger around today, but we don't use it as often. We started having great times together, had plenty of enjoyable outings, and started to gain a following. We had moved to a new studio in Crofton with a nice bigger set-up with a better sound, we expanded from one hour to two hours, and the feel we could make this work on the bigger scale of things.

Then 2004 hit, which brought about some drastic changes for all of us involved. First off, I moved to Calgary.........Alberta, Canada, which is where I stay today. Also, the NHL was heading for labor hell, which ultimately resulted in the NHL Lockout to kill the '04-'05 season. The move was whatever, as we've done stuff via the phone before, but the Lockout really killed us. There were some irons in the fire which were killed by the Lockout, but that's in the past now and what's done is done. However, the Lockout made us wonder what to do-- do we stay or do we take hiatuses to keep fresh?? We soldiered on, found our spots and did what we needed to do in order to make an entertainment show with hockey involved. We made it work perfectly and kept sane somehow.

Once the Lockout was over, we got onto iTunes to establish ourselves as a podcast. We had been doing archived shows for people to go back and listen to, but they couldn't download it like the could in iTunes or Yahoo Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. We were ahead of the curve in some aspect and were able to get on the wave at the brink of hockey podcasts and were able to get a strong following from people outside of our immediate friends and those who plug from their websites.

To that end, here we are today; still rolling around and bringing about our randomness on a weekly basis. We've gone to another studio in both ends, we've gotten more and more listeners, while not really going back on our original slogan for the show: "A Show About Life, With a 30% Chance of Hockey." We've gotten quite the following with the likes of Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports joining us for debaucherous exposes like our Draft Show, along with good gal pal Princess Curl-- who's able to put up with our craziness and still want to come back for more. It boggles the mind. With the advent of social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter-- our show has been able to get an international following, one I don't think any of us could have thought of getting when we started this ordeal.

It's be a crazy seven years. We've gone from humble beginnings in a garage in Lanham to an entire house. We've dealt with moves, life changes, and just general craziness-- but we're still here. We haven't gotten to the point where we have sold out...because I don't think the opportunity has shown itself. We've stuck to our guns because we've held onto our own credo-- we're doing this for ourselves. If you don't like what we do, we're not going to force you to listen. Either you like it or you don't like it and we're not going to drastically change the format we have (that is known to work, mind you) in order to appease one or two people.

Through the years, there's have been plenty of players involved with FOHS and here's a little love to them:

-JonnyP, Marc "with a 'C'", and Sean-O: You are my brothers-in-arms and I don't think I could be doing a show with a better bunch of guys or have as much fun as I do with anyone else. The fact we can still flow without hesitation either over the phone or when I make a live showing, it just shows we are made for each other. We've gone this far and let's hope we can get ourselves a little further.

-Laura D-F: You were more behind the scenes player, but you have also contributed to some of the best radio we've done, like the Valentine's Day show and the lost tapes of the Draft. You also were a part of Team Media Riser, the greatest team on the Draft Media Risers ever.

-The Guests: There's far too many to list, but thanks to you guys for coming on the show and adding to the 30% we go for in terms of hockey talk. It also allowed us to see if you were down with our randomness....and more often than not-- yes, yes you were.

-The Fans: A lot of yous (to be all Jersey about it) interact with us on a deeper plane than just listener/presenter kind of role and we love you for it. You give us a lot of material, you give us a lot of laughs, and we feel great that you guys "get it" and actually enjoy it to the extent we do.

As we enter our 8th year (9th season if you're nasty), we can only see how far we've gone and how much we haven't given up on this thing. Here's hoping for eight more years and maybe even more success, hopefully in the near future.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Who's The Personality Now??

News broke today that Jeremy Roenick will be announcing his retirement on Thursday, ending a great career of over 500 goals and over 1,200 points. Not only that, he knocks another off the NHL '94 list (it's not so much me as it is Roenick, he's good), as well as leaves as the greatest personality the game has to offer. Always up for a quote, Roenick would never mince words and would often talk without his filter on....if a filter exists.

Roenick commanded respect from others and often was the guy to lighten the mood when needed and be clutch when he needed to be. He was a character guy and would battle to the hilt in any situation at all. He adjusted himself from a high-powered scorer to a grinder later in his career, a transition some players may not be too keen on doing and may not succeed when doing it.

He will no doubt get a TV gig somewhere because he knows how to handle himself on TV and won't have the awkward transition most ex-players have in terms of being comfortable on the set. I wouldn't be surprised to see JR's #27 raised to the rafters of United Center for his great Blackhawks' days and maybe his #97 in Phoenix or Hamilton or wherever the end up for his time in the Coyotes organization. He was a special player, a renaissance player, if you will. He could do his talking on and off the ice and made the game enjoyable to watch and follow. There was never a dull moment with him and will never be a dull moment on every broadcast he's on.

The question now is who will be the personality of the league right now that will be like JR's was.

At first, you have to look to Sean Avery as the guy who will be the personality. He goes on without a filter, he has a swagger like no other, and he's not a half-bad player. However, I don't know if he has the respect that JR had or if the NHL would even want to associate with Avery considering the things he has done. You have to say Avery does command the attention, not always in the good case though.

Then, you look to Alex Ovechkin. He has the flare, he has the excitement there to be the heir-apparent, but his English is what's holding him back to be the quote machine that JR has been. If Ovie can get some zingers in there or start to not be as reserved as he is in terms of saying what's going on in the league-- he could be the guy to slide right in there, but it's not to be.

Coming back in, Ray Emery is a guy who could be a personality within himself. In a town like Philly, a guy who has the swagger he does, draws huge attention to himself, plus isn't afraid to speak his mind; he could be the long shot candidate for this whole thing. Albeit, he's a loose cannon on and off the ice, but it's always seems like he's under the microscope regardless of where he is at.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see anyone sticking out nowadays in terms of straying from the company line of the league. Especially recently, it seems that the players coming in are cookie-cutter in terms of personality. There's no real brash personality coming into the league. They can play great, they do a lot of their talking on the ice; but it's nothing to exciting once you get them off the ice. They do the cliche bits, but no one is really standing out and maybe that's what's needed nowadays for hockey. Sure, Sean Avery is a great guy to be the next big personality, but so long as he keeps it within the boundries of good taste and waiting for the press to come to him and not the other way around.

While we wait and watch who's going to be the next JR, we will always remember him talking about Patrick Roy getting his jock out of the rafters of United Center (with old school ESPN hotness) and always remember the dancing, dancing, dancing.

We'll miss you, JR-- you were a class act.

Monday, August 03, 2009

C-ing is Believing

The IIHF's website has a good story up about the five vacancies in captaincy across the NHL. With trades, retirements, and just the general lack of captain in the first place leaves most of these teams without leadership. Of course, in some cases, the case could be made off the ice as well, but I digress.

To start off in Colorado, I have a bit of agreeance with the idea of handing the leadership over to Paul Stastny, who seems to be the heir-apparent anyway. Of course, you could make a case for John-Michael Liles being the top-dog, but you wonder if he could be around for much longer. As well, you could say that Adam Foote could take over for one more year before possibly heading into the sunset and then handing it over to Stastny. With the mess Colorado is in, you may wonder why they'd give it to someone as young as this to deal with the wreckage in front of them, which is why Foote or Liles could be a logical choice since they know the system just a little better.

With the Leafs, you wonder why they float out the idea of Luke Schenn. Sure, he's the future captain of the Leafs, but the fact of the matter is that it's another case of young players in a disaster zone. Tomas Kaberle is a choice, but you wonder if he could be a leader given him being floated out there as trade-bait, of course who knows how long he'll stick around. Jason Blake could be a last-ditch effort, but at the same time-- may as well give it to Schenn or leave it vacant once again.

I was surprised that Nathan Horton wasn't named captain last year. With Jay Bouwmeester out of the fold, you'd expect him to be the franchise player of the Panthers, since he's been highly touted by the team. He seems like he's older than his age dictates and could be in a solid roll as a captain right now. Horton seems to be well liked by Peter DeBoer, but the issue of healthy and dependability could come into play. With David Booth stepping it up in the last two seasons and playing very consistent hockey, he could be a darkhorse to come out with the "C" in FLA.

The Islanders have been given everything else to John Tavares, but I think the captaincy is a ways off, even for him. If you want to go in a transitional route, Doug Weight would be the guy you would go for, since he has been in that position before. Maybe you could go the way of Trent Hunter, someone who has been with the team and could have some leadership qualities still left in him. Mark Streit has a long-term deal and may be thrown into the leadership role, but who knows what kind of voice he'd have in the room. I'd throw Brendan Witt's name into the mix, but I wouldn't be able to write an explanation with a straight face.

With the most interesting draw, it could go to the Montreal Canadiens. While you may think right off the bat that Andrei Markov would be the heir to Saku Koivu's captaincy, who knows what the hell could happen when it comes to this team, especially with all changes they have made this off-season. Roman Hamrlik is a long-shot in the whole thing, but could be considered for the role. Doubtful that Scott Gomez will get a look, but you never know. Jacques Martin may look to the new guy in a new city with a new look team to be the face of the team for now.

This should be an interesting choice and I'm sure the leader will be beaten down, when choosen, if he can't lead his team to the big wins or the playoffs. Whether or not the pressure will be on them to succeed all depends on which market and the outlook from the start of the season based on last year. This is a fancy time for hockey now.......because nothing is going on and big speculations happen to pass the time.