Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ending an Outdoor Ty Tradition

While the snow is starting to fall in Boston, creating a nice allure at Fenway Park; there is a bit of emptiness. Sure, the NHL thinks this could help things-- setting the scene that they had created in their promos for this event, there's something missing. Something that we have come to expect with an outdoor game. With this piece not being there, I'm sure that things will never be the same because of it.

That's right, this year-- Ty Conklin will not be a starter for an outdoor game in the NHL. I'll give you all a minute to recover.

Unless something is pulled off in the next few hours, Conklin will still be part of the St. Louis Blues and will be missing out on his first outdoor game; a tradition that is rooted in his appearance at the 2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton. Since then, Conklin was the starter for the Heritage Classic and the first two Winter Classics in Buffalo and Chicago, both times for the opposing team (Pittsburgh and Detroit respectively). It would have been perfect for the Flyers to pick up Conklin because he is going to be playing an away game (where he's 2-0-0 as opposed to 0-1-0 in home outdoor games) and because they needed a goalie.

It was in 2003 when Conklin was filling in for an injured Tommy Salo and braved the cold Edmonton weather to take on the Canadiens. While he did lose, he make his mark. You have to lose before you learn how to win. Move onto Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo when he put on the baby blues for the Pittsburgh Penguins and beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout, which was one more step for the great Conklin Classic. It moved onto Chicago's Wrigley Field where he went in as a late-fill-in for the Red Wings, as Chris Osgood tweaked his groin. Conklin got plenty of support and finally won in regulation as the Red Wings took down the Blackhawks.

Plus, Conklin has been know to create good mantra to be in the the Stanley Cup Final, as he was there the past two seasons with Pittsburgh and Detroit and was there for Edmonton, which created the amazingness of Knob Hockey for all of us. For a team like the Flyers, that kind of mojo, even with Ray Emery coming back soon, would be huge for a confident boost on that team.

Granted, all the stadiums prior (sans Edmonton) were home to teams who were so close to championships, but just came up short. The Red Sox have won recently, which may throw off his game because he's not used to seeing championship banners from this century.

But alas, it is not to be. Conklin (as far as we know) won't be at this year's Winter Classic and will break his streak of outdoor games. I still hope for a run-in with a steel chair or something like that. Doubt it'll happen, but maybe he can get there an just watch on the sidelines seething waiting for his chance and maybe putting a voodoo curse on the goalies so he could come in and be the guy who saves the game by being the goalie waiting in the wings.

The Winter Classic will miss Ty Conklin.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

UPDATED: My Team Canada and The Real Team

A couple weeks ago, my buddy J-Rock and I were making up our Canadian Olympic hockey team during our breaks at Safeway overnights. Here's the list he and I came up with and I'll test them against the actual team announced in a few hours here.

Martin Broduer
Roberto Luongo
Marc-Andre Fleury

DEFENSEMEN (5 for 7)
Robyn Regehr
Jay Bouwmeester
Chris Pronger
Duncan Keith
Shea Weber
Scott Niedermayer
Brent Seabrook
Drew Doughty
Dan Boyle

FORWARDS (9 for 13)
Jarome Iginla
Rick Nash
Sidney Crosby
Joe Thornton
Dany Heatley
Patrick Marleau
Ryan Getzlaf
Dustin Penner
Martin St. Louis
Marc Savard
Brad Richards
Brendan Morrow
Jonathan Toews
Eric Staal
Mike Richards
Corey Perry
Patrice Bergeron

So, there it is with our sleepless list. Granted, if we gave it a couple more weeks-- we would have been solid for the picks now, but we stand by it. If we get 50% of them right, we'll be fantastic. This post will be updated after the announcement.


The real selections that we didn't pick are in italics. We ended up going 17 for 23, shooting at 74%, which isn't half-bad for two night-clerks at Safeway.

The one thing I don't get is the inclusion of Patrice Bergeron. Especially over someone like Marty St. Louis, Marc Savard, or Brad Richards. It seems like it's something because he has had good chemistry with Crosby or whatever-- but I don't think Bergeron is the best Bruin that could have been there. It also seems that Mike Richards may or may not be worthy of the spot, but GM Steve Yzerman seems to like him for his grit, I suppose. Whether he's better than the four that were mentioned-- time will tell.

The Doughty selection is something I wasn't too surprised at, but it's a good thing for him. He's a young player and has done a lot of good things for himself. It is a surprise that he was able to push out the likes of Robyn Regehr and Jay Bouwmeester. Without Regehr and Bouwmeester, it puts a cramp on the Flames claiming to have a strong defense, as they tout themselves to have.

It should be interesting how this all shakes down, especially if they tank on home ice. There's a lot of familiarity on this team, however. There's a lot of guys who played together before, which creates great chemistry. The question is whether or not this chemistry can hit at the right time for the two week long tournament.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Who's Left From NHL '94 Revisited

UPDATED MAY 26, 2011

When I was young, I often got my video games for Christmas. One of them being NHL '94. Luckily for me, I had a lot of time on my hands for this Christmas and decided to revisit my "Who's Left From NHL '94" post. Thanks to, I was able to get a hold of the manual, which had the roster sheets to it. I went down one-by-one and looked up every player on that list this time.

Some of the things I found out is that most of these guys' fame was thanks to this game. Many of the players on these rosters are in hockey management in some capacity, while a good amount of guys have gotten into the financial sector of the world. The rosters of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Florida Panthers are included in other teams since the roster engine wasn't as advanced as today. Six players have unknown status, as they don't have a contract, but haven't officially retired as of yet. Philadelphia has the most players still left with four, while only four teams (Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, Washington) don't have any players left. Also, the Vancouver Canucks' line-up has two spelling errors as Garry Valk listed as Gary Valk and Sergio Momesso as Sergei Momesso.

On a sad note, five players have passed away from this game: Gaetan Duchesne, Steve Chiasson, Andrei Lomakin, Bryan Fogerty, and Peter Zezel.

So, without any further Apu, the list of who's left from NHL '94. Players with unknown statuses are going to be in parentheses.

UPDATED MAY 26, 2011

BUFFALO: Brad May, Detroit Red Wings [September '10]; Dominik Hasek, Czech Republic (Alexander Mogilny)

CALGARY: Robert Reichel, Czech Republic [August '10]

CHICAGO: Chris Chelios, AHL [August '10]

DALLAS: Mike Modano, Dallas Stars; Mike Craig, Austria (Richard Matvichuk)

DETROIT: Sergei Fedorov, KHL; Slava Kozlov, Atlanta Thrashers; Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings

EDMONTON: Doug Weight, NY Islanders [May '11]; Todd Elik, Austria

HARTFORD: Mikael Nylander, AHL; Robert Petrovicky, KHL; Zarley Zalapski, Switzerland (Geoff Sanderson)

LOS ANGELES: Rob Blake, San Jose Sharks [June '10]; Alexei Zhitnik, KHL; Darryl Sydor, St. Louis Blues [July '10]

MONTREAL: Mike Keane, AHL [July '10]; Mathieu Schneider, Vancouver Canucks [September '10] (Sean Hill)

NEW JERSEY: Bill Guerin, Pittsburgh Penguins [December '10]; Janne Ojanen, Finland [April '10]; Scott Neidermayer, Anaheim Ducks [June '10]

NY ISLANDERS: Darius Kasparaitis, KHL [April '10]

NY RANGERS: Alexei Kovalev, Ottawa Senators; Sergei Zubov, KHL [April '11]

PHILADELPHIA: Mark Recchi, Boston Bruins [June '11]; Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes [June '10]; Josef Beranek, Czech Republic [August '10]; Dmitri Yushkevich, Finland

PITTSBURGH: Jaromir Jagr, KHL; Martin Straka, Czech Republic

QUEBEC: Owen Nolan, Minnesota Wild; Martin Rucinsky, Czech Republic; Adam Foote, Colorado Avalanche [April '11] (Chris Simon)

SAN JOSE: Ed Courtenay, England [April '10]; Sandis Ozolinsh, KHL

ST. LOUIS: Igor Korolev, KHL Curtis Joseph [January '10]

TAMPA BAY: Roman Hamrlik, Montreal Canadiens

VANCOUVER: Petr Nedved, Czech Republic; Jiri Slegr, Czech Republic [August '10]

WINNIPEG: Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks; Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues [April '10] (Igor Ulanov)

So that's that. I'll continue to update this as they drop one-by-one. We'll have to see which one of these 46 players is the last one standing for this, the first of the EA Sports/NHL series. I'm sure we're all on the edge of our seats for this one......or not.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Mikhail Shtalenkov

In honor of the Russian team being one of the biggest countries to announce their Olympic rosters, we'll profile a former member of the gold medal roster for the Unified Team in 1992 (six of the 15 former Soviet countries) and silver medal in 1998 in Nagano. While he held his own internationally, he could never crack stardom in net coming to North America. We give you this week's AGM, Mikhail Shtalenkov.

Shtalenkov started off his career in 1986-87 with Dynamo Moscow over in the Soviet Union, playing the first six seasons with the powerhouse of Russian hockey. Shtalenkov was splitting time with Vladimir Myshkin until the 1988-89 season when Myshkin got more time due to his excelling play, while in the 1989-90 season, Shtalenkov was behind Myshkin and Andrei Karpin. However, but the 1990-91 season, Myshkin had departed and Shtalenkov had regain the trust of the Dynamo team, surpassing Karpin and getting starting gigs. Yet, things came to a change both for Shatalenkov's career, and the landscape of Russian life.

By 1991, the Soviet Union started to crumble and before the end of the year, would be disestablished. Shtalenkov would be getting plenty of time with Dynamo and getting enough exposure to actually get the call for the Unified Team for the 1992 Olympics, getting all of the starts for the team. The team itself consisted of members of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Armenia for the team, but most of them still played within the Russian hockey realm. During the qualifying round, the Unified team only lost to Czechoslovakia, but it would be their only defeat in the tournament. During the medal rounds, the Unified Team knocked off the Finns, the US, and then Canada team on way to the Gold Medal. Shtalenkov only allowed 12 goals in his eight games played and got plenty of exposure by the NHL scouts.

The Olympics were a springboard for Shtalenkov, who went from Dynamo to the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL for the 1992-93 season. Shtalenkov continued his stellar play, posting a remarkable rookie year and a 26-14-5 record, garnering the Garry F. Longman Trophy for the IHL's Rookie of the Year. With Shtalenkov's stock on the rise, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim decided to draft the now 28-year-old Shtalenkov in the fifth round of the 1993 Entry Draft.

Despite a few call-ups, Shtalenkov spent most of the 1993-94 season with the San Diego Gulls of the IHL, playing in 28 games and posting up a 15-11-2 record. For his 10 games with the Ducks, he had 3-4-1 record with a decent 2.65 GAA in those games. The 1994-95 season was shortened, but Shtalenkov was up for the entire season, putting up a 4-7-1 record in 18 appearances. Success continued to allude Shtalenkov with Anaheim, as he would continue his struggles in the 1995-96 season, despite getting more time in net, he would only put up a 7-16-3 record, though his 3.12 GAA wasn't the best, but could have been worse. Shtalenkov would see less games for the next season, but a respectable record of 7-8-1 and a 2.89 GAA and .904 save percentage. Shtalenkov would get some playoff time in the 1997 playoffs, losing three of the four games he was in, twice replacing Guy Hebert; getting the last two starts of the series. Thanks to his performance in the playoffs, Shtalenkov would get split time with Hebert, seeing 40 games for the season and going 13-18-5 for the 1997-98 season. One of those wins was the first regular season game outside of North America as the Ducks beat the Canucks 3-2 in Toyko. He would also get a call from the Russian Olympic team, this time getting a Silver Medal after going 4-1-0 in his five games played.

During the off-season of the 1998, Shtalenkov was left unprotected in the Expansion Draft and was selected by the Nashville Predators. However, he would never play a game in Nashville, as Shtalenkov and Jim Dowd was traded to Edmonton for Eric Fichaud, Greg de Vries and Drake Berehowsky.

Shtalenkov would get a good amount of time with Bob Essensa in Edmonton, splitting time. In the 34 games with Edmonton, Shtalenkov would go 12-17-3; but he would get dealt to Phoenix at the trade deadline for a Draft Pick. In only four games, Shtalenkov would go 1-2-1 and with both teams, Shtalenkov would have 2.62 GAA. Shtalenkov would get more time in the 1999-2000 season, with Nikolai Khabibulin holding out for Phoenix. Shtalenkov made the most of his starting time going 7-6-2, though four of his losses came in his last four games with Phoenix.

I say last four games because with Trevor Kidd going down to injury, the Coyotes dealt Shtalenkov and a draft pick to the Florida Panthers for Sean Burke and a draft pick. Shtalenkov's tenure in Florida would only last the rest of the season, as he played 15 games for the Panthers, as they traded for Mike Vernon. Shtalenkov would go 8-4-2 in his 15 games with a fantastic 2.31 GAA and .908 save percentage. It couldn't get him a job for the 2000-01 season, so Shtalenkov would go back to Russia and play with his former club, Dynamo Moscow. Shtalenkov played two seasons with Dynamo, 25 games in the 2000-01 season with a 1.95 GAA and 28 games in 2001-02 with a 2.02 GAA. Shtalenkov would retire after the 2001-02 season.

While his international play and Russian league play was fantastic-- it never translated to success in the NHL. Whether it was due to lack of good talent surrounding him or just not being able to pick up the North American game, Shtalenkov did what he could. At least he has the medals from the Olympics to talk for him should anyone question his prowess in net.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Snag Could Be a Red-Flag

With the news coming out about Ilya Kovalchuk's contract negotiations with the Atlanta Thrashers hitting a snag; this could be the end of the Kovy era in the ATL. Granted, there's plenty of time before Kovalchuk hits the open market, but the idea of a snag is something that could cause panic for the Thrashers' die-hard. All five-dozen of them.

While Kovalchuk is saying a lot of the right things about wanting to stay and liking the organization he's with, but says that the business is what it is-- which basically puts the heat on GM Don Waddell to get something done. Now, Waddell's excuse is that the Kovalchuk camp wants fixed-years with money, but the organization is thinking differently. I don't know how you can get different from what the Kovy camp wants, but it'll be interesting to see what's going on in the organizational standpoint side of things when all is said and done.

Of course, this will be the smoking gun to maybe deal Kovalchuk towards to deadline in order for the Thrashers to get some kind of assets for it; especially if they aren't going to sign a long-term extension for the undeniable face of the franchise. To that end, it may sign the beginning of the end of the Thrashers in Atlanta. Sure, this old gag again-- but with the declining attendance despite a decent team, craziness in the ownership ranks, and plenty of markets looking to get a team relocated to their city....the lack of signing Kovalchuk could be the nail in the coffin.

Yet, what could be garnered by Kovalchuck?? I'm sure with the talent he has, the Thrashers could command a lot, but would they want to part with Kovalchuk even with the influx of talent they could get?? Especially with them fighting for a playoff spot, why would you want to even think about getting rid of your star?? You have to believe that the thought will be there. The options of getting into the playoffs or getting assets for the future will weight heavy, but the former will outweigh it.....I hope. Plus, the Thrashers could look to deal their captain at the Draft or before it hits July 1st, 2010.

Albeit, the snag could just be semantics in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time-- you can't ignore it being a big deal. Especially with a player the caliber of Kovalchuk and him possibly being on the market-- the intrigue is going to be there, even if it's a red herring to get the news onto the Thrashers and get their star's name out there in the media....more so. This is going to be one of the stories under the microscope, even with all of the posturing that has been going along with these contract talks. Fun times ahead, for sure.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Tim Cheveldae

When you think Michigan and mainly Detroit, you often think about the automotive industry and the Red Wings. That couldn't have been hammered home more by this week's AGM. While his nickname coincided with a major player in the auto industry, his play was anything but solid. His career went from zero to 60 back to zero in no-time flat, it was a display of how "what have you done for us lately" is put into effect. This week, we put out the career of Tim "Chevy" Cheveldae.

As Cheveldae grew up in Melvillie, Saskatchewan; Cheveldae plied his craft with the Yorkton Mallers in midget hockey and then onto the Melville Millionaires in junior "A" hockey. His play was good enough to get noticed and picked-up by the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. Cheveldae started with the Blades in the 1985-86 season splitting games with Mark Reimer. While Reimer got more starts, Cheveldae impressed in his first season with the Blades going 21-10-3 for his first year in juniors. Even as a back-up, Detroit took a shine to Cheveldae and selected him in the fourth round of the 1986 NHL Draft. The 1986-87 season saw more of the same with the Blades, but Cheveldae got less starts to Reimer; as Cheveldae got 33 games in and went 20-11-0. The 1987-88 season would see a big shake-up as Cheveldae was given the reigns to the Blades net and played an astonishing 66 games for the Blades, going 44-19-3 with a 3.71 GAA and seven assists on the season. After that season. Cheveldae got WHL First All-Star honors and would leave on top of his game in juniors.

Cheveldae would go straight to the AHL with the Adirondack Red Wings and would have a solid first pro season playing in 30 games behind Sam St. Laurent, going 20-8-0 in his appearances. His play would allow him to see two games in Detroit, losing both of them. The 1989-90 season would see Cheveldae split his season between Detroit and Adirondack. While in Adirondack, Cheveldae went 17-8-6 before turning the reigns over to former teammate Reimer as Chevy went up to Detroit to back-up Glen Hanlon from February of 1990 and on. Cheveldae went 10-9-8 in his tenure up in Detroit. That end-of-season push from Cheveldae gave him the starter's role for the next season.

It's was the Cheveldae era starting 1990-91 in Detroit, which was mediorce at best. While he showed spurts of hope, Cheveldae had a so-so year going 30-26-5 in his 65 games played in. That season, his GAA was solid at 3.55, but his save percentage was an atrocious .875 on the year. It would turn around for Cheveldae in the 1991-92 season, with Chevy playing 72 games for the Wings, playing better for a 38-23-9 season with an improved 3.20 GAA and .886 save percentage. His play in the first half of the season was enough to get him into the All-Star Game in 1992. The good time would continue for a bit for Cheveldae in the 1992-93 season, going 34-24-7 and improving his save percentage to .889, while his GAA was up a bit at 3.25. Yet, his luck would all change in the 1993-94 season.

The start of the 1993-94 season was an auspicious one, as almost 17 minutes into the season, Cheveldae went down to a knee injury. He would miss the next sixteen games and would come back after spending two games (1-0-1) in Adirondack. Cheveldae would spend another 29 games in Detroit going 16-9-1, but the Red Wings were unsure of their goaltending down the stretch, so they needed to make some changes.

On trade deadline day in 1994, the Red Wings dealt Cheveldae and Dallas Drake to the Winnipeg Jets for Bob Essensa and Sergei Bautin. Cheveldae would play 14 games that season with Winnipeg, going 5-8-1 to end out the 1993-94 season.

Because of the shortened season, Cheveldae got the nod as the starter for the 1994-95 season. In those 30 games he played, Chevy had a dismal 8-16-3 record with a so-so 3.70 GAA and "meh" .881 save percentage. The 1995-96 season saw Cheveldae step aside for Nikoali Khabibulin in net, which saw Cheveldae get only 30 games in, going 8-18-3 for the season.

Cheveldae was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in February of 1996 for Dominic Roussel, but Cheveldae would only see time in the AHL for the Flyers' affiliate in Hershey, going 4-3-0 in his eight games in Chocolatetown, USA.

In the off-season, the Boston Bruins signed up Cheveldae, but loaned him to the IHL's Fort Wayne Komets to have as an insurance policy. Cheveldae backed up Mike Torchia in Fort Wayne, only seeing 21 games for the season and going 6-9-4 in the process. Cheveldae was called up by the Bruins for two games, going 0-1-0 in those games. The 1997-98 season would see Cheveldae stay in the IHL for the Las Vegas Thunder, but it would be more woes as Chevy went 9-17-5 to end out his career.

After his retirement from pro hockey, Cheveldae jumped right into coaching with his old junior team, the Saskatoon Blades from 1998 until 2000. Chevy then went to the Moose Jaw Warriors to be the goalie coach starting in 2001. Currently, Cheveldae is the head coach of the Saskatoon Blazers a Midget AAA team in the Saskatchewan Minor Hockey Association.

While he had his time in the sun in terms of fame and notoriety, Cheveldae is now giving back to the system that gave him the chance to make a name for himself. Seeing the highs of junior hockey and then getting some kind of fame for a short time in the NHL, Cheveldae dealt with adversity in the limelight of his career and seems to have come out of it with a level head and look towards the future of things.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dangling Hope to the Masses

I've said it once, I'll say it again: The Phoenix Coyotes are like the girl who only wants to be friends. She builds you up thinking there could be something more, but then crushes your dreams by dropping that bombshell onto you.

That seems to be the same way it's going this year for the Coyotes, which is the same way they did it last year, and years prior. The Coyotes are playing an insane brand of hockey, even with the issues that are going on off the ice. They don't have that one stud player, but a lot of unknown guys going out there and playing as a team and succeeding. It's the same script as last year, though. At that time, the Coyotes were something like 5th in the Western Conference, but when the calendar year turns; they seem to turn to crap.

It's not like this team is as horrible on the ice as people portray them. Sure, they've only had one over .500 season since the lockout, it's not like they've had the people who really wanted to come to their place in order to get to that next plateau. Before, free agents would go there because it's a nice place to play in the horrible winter months, which really distracted from playing to win. Even throughout their time in Phoenix, they have been a better than .500 team more often then not. Their craptasticness in the playoffs has been the real breaking point for the club. While they haven't made the playoffs since 2002, the team this year looks like they could be a force to be reckoned with. Granted, we thought the same thing this time last year and that went south, but there's a big change behind the bench that could put them over.

The fact remains that the hiring of Dave Tippett has been great for the Coyotes thus far, making people remember what it's like when the Coyotes had a true coach and not a great player masquerading as a head coach. While Gretzky brought some appeal and buzz to the Coyotes, the team really didn't gain much in terms of how to make it through the rough spots of the year, like how to get out of the slump. Should the Coyotes get into that condition this year, Tippett could be the guy used in order to get the youngster out of it without going into a complete tailspin to ruin a solid season thus far. This is where the experience would be needed, not only to lead a young, somewhat inexperienced team-- but to deal with the ebbs and flows of the hockey world. Should they get into the playoffs, Tippett has plenty of experience in the playoffs and should be able to lead the team if the time happens.

But they have to get to that point first. They are putting themselves in a good position, but they need to hope history doesn't repeat themselves. The organization is a tease when it comes to how far they can go, because they always look like they can make a big move in order to go to that next level, but are somehow stifled in every attempt. Maybe with some finality in their fate coming up on the horizon, the focus can be put on how the team can succeed on the ice rather than on the spreadsheet. It'd be nice if the game played on the ice for the Coyotes would matter rather than the game played in the boardroom-- but that's the business we live in now in sports. Here's hoping for the fans that the team can be successful, whether they show up or not.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why Baltimore Wouldn't Work

According to sources from Dennis Bernstein's Twitter account, Baltimore is going to announce a new 18,000 seat arena and could be in the running for relocation for an NHL team should the topic come up once the arena is complete. Of course, if this is true-- which I wouldn't doubt right now with the past buzz about a new arena in the Baltimore area and the fact that it's just a Tweet-- then they would join Kansas City, Quebec City, and Hamilton as front runners in the relocation race.

However, even as cool as it would be for my hometown to be in consideration for an NHL team, it's never going to work. It's not just because the Caps are 45 minutes away from the Baltimore metro area, either. It's because hockey hasn't really worked out for the Baltimore area in the past. While that's not always due to the teams on the ice, marketing for a team is a huge part of the game today. I don't think you could market hockey to Baltimore and make it work with the Caps so close and so established in the area.

Truth be told, Baltimore is a football town first, baseball town second. I don't even know if you could consider hockey in the top five-- since they could be beat out by indoor soccer, lacrosse, and basketball. Sure, you'd be pulling from the suburbs and it'd be a little easier to deal with then trying to get the DC core, but after the allure of having a team out there is gone to start-- how will the people keep the fans when you have to deal with a team like the Caps only miles away-- with arguably the best player in the world playing there for the next decade??

Which makes me wonder how much Ted Leonsis would seek in order to have a team even be considered coming to Baltimore. I'm sure there'd be some kind of money exchanging hands for anyone wanting to head into Baltimore, especially when it's 45 minutes away-- downtown to downtown on the open roads late-at-night. If there's a debacle between Toronto and Hamilton and former issues with LA and Anaheim-- there's bound to be something between DC and Baltimore.

In addition, hockey has been a hard sell (outside of the Skipjacks, of course) in the Baltimore area. The Blades in the WHA didn't last long, mostly due to ownership, of course. The Clippers name was in and out of hockey for some decades, but it took a while to really catch on. The Bandits were a horribly run team and was a disaster from the get-go. Oddly enough, the last failure in Maryland hockey was when the same ownership group as the Bandits got an ECHL team and was turned into the Chesapeake Icebreakers; which-- like the Bandits-- only lasted two years.

While it would be easy for some people to deal with a pro team in Baltimore-- the whole thing probably won't last when you have a team down the way which is more establish, has more allure to it, and would probably lay claim to the territorial rights if the new area is being considered. The sport itself is popular to play for the youngsters, but who knows how that will translate in attendance; especially since the Caps are an established brand in the area and the hockey region isn't exactly a huge hot-bed to warrant two teams in the area. It's a great thought, but if put into motion-- doubtful it'll have successful results.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ice Edge's Dedication.....or Delirium

With the story of Ice Edge Holdings signing a letter of intent to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, it's something that was expected all along. As you may or may not recall, Ice Edge was a part of the bidding war, saying they would hold five home games in Saskatoon as a hook. Somehow, between all of that-- it disappeared when they signed the LOI this past week, apparently. Though it may have not disappeared forever, it seems to have faded when this whole thing went down.

Yet, Ice Edge signing the LOI comes with a lot of eye-brow raising remarks to come from it all. First off, they will apparently be paying $140M straight-cash to cover the NHL's payment, I think it is. That alone makes you wonder if they're going to give that transaction in the alley behind the NHL offices in Manhattan with briefcase in tow. Second off, Ice Edge is claiming that they aren't re-working the lease that is in place between the City of Glendale and Coyotes, which still has 26 more years left on the whole thing-- with not out-clause in it. Thus, that would keep the Coyotes there until the end of time, it seems.

Now, I've been alive for 26 years and that's a damn long time when you think about it. Especially when you have a slumping team in a slumping market, this could be the worse decision in their short tenure of being in the race for the Coyotes. They started off well in trying to Montreal Expos this thing, moving them back and forth between countries-- but to all the sudden say they are definitely all-in to the Phoenix hockey community for the next 26 years is a bit insane. Of course, the City of Glendale and NHL seems to have given out the vibe that if the prospective new owner doesn't commit to the area (read: keep the lease as it is), they wouldn't get accepted as an owner. It's a strong-arm technique, but at the same time the NHL wants this whole ordeal to work come hell or high water. It may be headstrong thinking, but at least the devotion is there-- which has rubbed off on Ice Edge it seems.

The big question I want to know is whether or not the games in Canada will be in the equation for all of this still or not. It would be interesting to see how that is handled if they are called out in this during the time of the sale. How would that work into the whole sale, as well as the lease details in all of this. Would the NHL be willing to do this for a regular season game?? Could that be a deal-breaker for it?? Was the Canadian games just a politicking to make themselves get over a little better to the court of public appeal?? Maybe we'll never know at all and this whole issue will probably fade into the background like it never happened.

Even when you have all this information, the fact that they believe that the Coyotes are going to be financially viable for those 26 years seems a bit off. Of course, saying that; they're paying $140M straight cash to start off with, so it seems these losses could be just a drop in the bucket to have a hockey team to call their own. If this, in fact, does go down; the Coyotes fans need to come out in full force, regardless of where the arena is at and regardless of how hard it is to get to the place. The Coyotes are last in attendance at an average of 9,825 through 17 home games, filling up to only 56% capacity of the Arena. Because, if the fans don't come out with new owners in place with a commitment to the team.....we could be in this same position five years down the line when Ice Edge starts to become part of the Bluth family and realized they made a huge mistake.

Absurd Goalie Monday: Brian Hayward

While most of the AGMs have been known for their play in juniors or college, then into the minors-- this inductee was pretty much known for his one unique mask and his work in the broadcast booth more often than not. We now turn to look at the career of Brian Hayward.

Growing up in Canada, junior hockey is the big thing. However, Hayward saw the bigger picture and wanted to get an education to further it if hockey didn't pan out. Being past on the junior draft after playing in midgets and Junior "A" helped his cause as well, but to get into an Ivy League School shows how smart he was, which showed why he went the education route as well.

Hayward jumped right into the the Cornell Big Red line-up as the starter for the team in 1978-79 and did very impressive with a 18-6-0 record in his 25 appearances, which got a bit of buzz on him. His sophomore season, Hayward felt the heat from a young Darren Eliot and got his starter's role usurped from him, only making 12 appearances and going 2-7-0 and having an inflated 6.02 GAA. During his junior season in 1980-81, Hayward got split duties with Eliot. Hayward got 19 games in and had a 11-4-1 record and got his GAA down to 3.54. In his senior season, Hayward got the majority of the starts, but his record was a little sloppier, going 11-10-1, even though he had a 3.17 GAA for the year; which got him a First-Team ECAC All-Star and NCAA All-American for his troubles. After his tenure at Cornell, Hayward left with those individual awards, as well as a degree in business management.

However, even with this business management degree; it couldn't get Hayward selected in the NHL Draft, which made him a free agent. The Winnipeg Jets saw something in him and signed him to a contract. In his rookie year during the 1982-83 season, Hayward split time between the Winnipeg Jets and Sherbrooke Jets of the AHL. In Winnipeg, Hayward got 22 appearances and went 10-12-2, while in Sherbrooke he went 6-13-3. The 1983-84 season was the same, but spent a lot of the time in Winnipeg with 28 appearances (7-18-2) and only 15 showings in Sherbrooke (4-8-0). Hayward would take over the reigns of the starter's role when the incumbent starter for Winnipeg, Doug Soetaert, was traded to Montreal. The 1984-85 season saw Hayward got 61 games for the season; recording an impressive 33-17-7 record with a 3.84 GAA, getting the Jets into the playoffs, but losing in the first round. The 1985-86 season was a slumping year for Hayward, going 13-28-5 and having a stint in the AHL with Sherbrooke (2-0-1); who had renamed themselves the Canadiens. It would be a foreshadowing of things to come.

Foreshadowing because Hayward was dealt in November of 1986 to the Montreal Canadiens for Steve Penney and the right to Jan Ingman. The Canadiens were coming off a Stanley Cup and Hayward would once again take over for Soetaert, who bolted for the Rangers that off-season. Hayward had great stats over his Canadiens years, thanks to not only backing up Patrick Roy, but for having a great team defensively in front of him. The 1986-87 season saw Hayward get 37 games in with a 19-13-1 record and a stellar GAA of 2.81. The next season, more of the same-- playing 39 games and putting up a 22-10-4 with another sub-three GAA of 2.86. Finally, in the 1988-89 season, Hayward got into 37 games and went 20-13-3 with a GAA of 2.90. All three of those seasons, Hayward won the William Jennings Trophy with Roy for fewest combined goals against for the season. However, it wasn't too last, as the wheels fell off of sorts for Hayward in the 1989-90 season, going 10-12-6 in only 29 games with a 3.37 GAA. His time in "La belle province" would reach its end.

After not being used by the Canadiens for the start of the season, Hayward was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars in November of 1990 for Jayson More. Hayward would take over the task as back-up as the Finn tandem of Kari Takko and Jarmo Myllys couldn't get the job done. Though Hayward wouldn't fair much better, he was plenty consistent, going 6-15-3, but with a 3.14 GAA. Hayward was sent down early to the IHL and the Kalamazoo Wings, going 2-0-0 in his two appearances. It was a short lived stay in Minnesota, however.

Hayward was put into the dispersal draft for the newly formed San Jose Sharks and was promptly picked up second behind Shane Churla. Hayward was thought be a great addition (and not just for his bitching mask), being deemed the starter and got off quick on a horrific Sharks team, winning the franchise's first game in October of 1991, but it would be his last as a back injury put him out for the season just 7 games in, with Hayward going 1-4-0 with a 4.92 GAA on the season. It wasn't much better for Hayward or the Sharks the next season. For Hayward, he got more games thanks to coming back, but went only 2-14-1 with a 5.55 GAA; while the Sharks came close to becoming the worst team in NHL history, but luckily went 11-71-2 with only 24 points on the season; behind the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and tied with 1992-93 Ottawa Senators, points wise.

During January of 1993, Hayward underwent season and career-ending back surgery. During his recovery time, Hayward would occasionally do color commentary for the Sharks. When realizing he wouldn't be playing any longer-- Hayward picked it up and would go on to have an impressive display. Hayward worked that season with the Sharks and would go on to work with ESPN (and ESPN 2), ABC, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, as well as working the 2006 Olympics for NBC. Currently, Hayward is the color commentator for the Anaheim Ducks.

Hayward made a conscious decision to get into a good school and learn more about life after hockey, which seemed to help him. Hayward has been on the best of the best, the worst of the worst, and the middle of the middle. He's had his ups, downs, but came out with a solid career, some memories, as well as some hardware. Also, yet another goalie to be a color commentator for television, which would go on become a big trend once he started.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Bett and Bals": French Quarters

I've been pondering what to do next with B&B and thankfully-- news of a Quebec City meeting has come out, as has rumors of the NHL wanting to move Atlanta to QC in the next five years, even if it is a Tweet from a random person. Now, I been pondering what is going to happen if I had $20 million....
(We start out with Balsillie pacing in front of the couch, peeking at the TV waiting for Bettman to come back from wherever he went. Bettman has been gone for a week, never telling Balsillie where he was headed.)

Jim Balsillie: I hope Gary gets back soon. Man, do I have some questions for him.

Gary Bettman: (On phone) Merci, merci, ciao. (Hangs up) Oh, Jim....ummm....hi.

JB: Don't "hi" me, you're killing me here. I've got tons of questions and you bolt on me without telling me what's going on. You don't think I'm not onto you, you don't want me to have this do you??

GB: Look, Jim-- it's just business. But, I think you can ask and I'll be open with you.

JB: Fine-- where's the bottle opener??

GB: What?? Nothing about Quebec City?? Nothing about expansion or relocation??

JB: No, why the hell would I want to to know about that. I'm drinking tap water like a dog because I can't find the bottle opener for the liquor.

GB: I think most are twist offs....but I've been in Quebec City for the week talking to them about getting a team out there.

JB: HAHAHA-- that's a riot. Why would play a cruel trick on them like that?? I mean, honestly Gar; that's just mean. Everyone knows that I'm going to be the next guy to get something in Canada.

GB: Yeah....about that....

JB: You're serious?? What did those Frenchies do to you mind, Gary?? They had a team in Quebec City and you allowed them to move out of there. I mean, you look at Atlanta and they get a team back and looks like they'll be mind soon enough.

GB: Well, that's just it.....


GB: Funny, but there's rumors about them move up there if they can't get their asses in gear. But Quebec just failed due to the economy; because they had great fan support before they moved out. They just couldn't deal with a team due to money. If they want to get the Winter Olympics up there like has been rumored, they're getting a new arena in place, which could put them over the edge.

JB: Gary, Gary, Gary-- at what point do you think that this will all go down the crapper for them?? Do you think the economy will last for them up there and think they'll be viable?? They don't even speak English up there, what kind of chance do they have with all the Anglo folks we have around??

GB: You do know a lot of players speak French, right??

JB: Who, the real Frenchy Cristobal Huet-- he doesn't count-- he's from there.

GB: No, you moron-- there's plenty of French Canadians from Quebec who are playing in the NHL and can speak French. I mean, Montreal is a hub for French speakers who are a demanding market. I'm sure with you going to school in Canada-- you had French classes as well; it's a bi-lingual country, Jim.

JB: Whatever, Gary-- the only French I know is what I drop on game telecast. Fact of the matter is that they aren't going to be getting the government support if they start to fail-- which was shown back when they first had this issue. I don't think it's going to be a solid idea to give it to a troublesome place like that, which so much more political going on that meets the eyes. And so what if they have an arena being made-- look at Kansas City-- that things just sitting there looking like a giant disco ball with no one taking up residence.

GB: Kansas City is a great choice, but they aren't showing the interest like Quebec City. Plus, you get your seventh team like you marched for, right??

JB: But it's not MY team, Gary-- it's someone elses. And I mean, come on-- Quebec?? No one outside of Quebec cares about them or thinks of them as Canadian-- remember those separation votes??

GB: Politics, smolitics. They're putting out the money, they have an untapped market of QMJHL fans who have enjoyed the NHL in the past, and it's Canada. Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money!!

JB: That's the last time I buy you any early 90s sketch-comedy DVD sets. Look, just take your coat off and stay awhile-- we have more pressing issues; bottle opener.

GB: I told you, they're twist-off. (Opens up closet)

Judge Redfield T. Baum: (Jumps out) T-BOMBED!!!!!!

GB: AHH!!! (Passes out)

JB: God, I love that-- thanks RTB.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

HHOF Discussion 1,245: Mats Sundin and Pierre Turgeon in the Same Breath??

In the industry I work in, there's a phrase that holds tried-and-true: "This one will get some letters." It's my believe that this could be one of those times.

The reason I write about this is when I saw it in The Hockey News in their "Snapshots" section. For those not familiar, the section is a small blurb with some informative news from around hockey with possible some kind of zinger or smart-ass comment to it at the end. In this one blurb, they mention something along the lines of if Mats Sundin gets into the Hockey Hall of Fame, so should Pierre Turgeon. They cite Turgeon putting just as many points as Sundin in a shorter amount of time.

At first, I kind of laughed it off; but the more I thought about it-- the more I think it should be something seriously considered. Neither of them have a Cup, both were pretty consistent season-by-season, but of course the edge of the thing would go to Sundin for playing as well as he did in the market he did. Turgeon played consistent until his last few seasons, but aside from those-- he'd often be at the top of the team leaders in points, often being at the top of that list.

Yet, at the same time-- you look at where Turgeon played and where Sundin spent most his career. How much does the media exposure help out the player in situations like these?? You look at what was going on with Sundin and how well he played on a decent to subpar team, but would he get the same high-praise if he played in the markets that Turgeon did?? Granted, Turgeon did play in Montreal for a season and led the team for his full season, but it wasn't enough to get a gauge on whether he would get the treatment Sundin got in Toronto by the media, as well as the fans.

Sure, the International play is no-contest in favor of Sundin, who was amazing for Sweden, so the edge is obviously there. But look at points per game (Turgeon 1.03, Sundin 1.00) and goals per game (Turgeon 0.40, Sundin 0.42), the two are exactly the same in stats ratio. If you're going on stats alone, then you can actually mention both in the same breath and not be looked at as totally insane when it all boils down to it.

While Sundin should be assured to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame; you have to maybe put Turgeon into consideration. Not first-ballot, maybe-- but sometime before he loses his chance at it. There's a lot less deserving guys in the Hall (depending on who ask, of course), so why not throw a guy like Turgeon in there who did so much for teams that seemingly had little to help him out at the time. Of course, we all will remember the hit Turgeon took from Dale Hunter; so why not give us another reason to roll that footage once more??

Monday, December 07, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Daren Puppa

Oddly enough, this week's inductee could have been a big time major junior goalie, but decided to go the college route. For that, he was hardly scouting and was considered a big time sleeper. Yet, his name alone was something for people to remember, if nothing else about his career stood out. Ladies and gents, it's Daren Puppa.

Puppa grew up in a small town of Kirkland Lake, Ontario; Puppa was little known outside of his local rinks. He did make enough of a splash with the Kirkland Lake Intermediates to be touted as a prospect for a big OHL career. While Puppa was drafted by the Belleville Bulls, he never played in the Major Juniors as he wanted to be a scholarship athlete in the US. Enter RPI, which was also home to a young stand-out named Adam Oates who was the stud on the RPI Engineers' team.

Yet, before he got a chance to go to RPI, the NHL came calling as Puppa was selected in the fourth round of the 1983 Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. Scotty Bowman had hear stories of Puppa from then University of Denver coach Ralph Backstrom when Backstrom talked about not being able to lure Puppa to Denver. Bowman took a shot and hoped the sleep pick paid off for him, unlike the legend of Taro Tsujimoto.

So, the pressure was on Puppa to perform at RPI. Puppa was thrown into the starter's role right away for the Engineers and didn't disappoint. His first year in the 1983-84 season, Puppa went a stellar 24-6-0 with a 2.94 GAA. Yet, the second season for Puppa was the most notable. Puppa went an astounding 31-1-0 for the year with a 2.56 GAA and helped lead RPI to their second NCAA Championship in 1985, their first in 31 years and their last one to date. That year, Puppa became the first ECAC goalie to win more than 30 games in a season. With nothing more for Puppa to prove in the NCAA, he left school to go to join the Sabres organization.

In his first pro season, Puppa was in a dog fight with Jacques Cloutier to be the back-up to Tom Barrasso. Puppa started and ended the season with the Rochester Americans, but would be called up in November for seven games. With the Sabres, Puppa was respectable with a 3-4-0 record with a 3.14 GAA and one shutout to his name. Yet, even in Rochester, Puppa was back up to Mike Craig and only got 20 games in that season of the AHL, going 8-11-0 with a disappointing 4.34 GAA in the AHL. During the 1986-87 season, Puppa took a full season in Rochester as a starter and got the swagger he had when he left RPI. Puppa went 37-14-2 with a 2.80 GAA, but when called up by the Sabres he went 0-2-1 with a 4.22 GAA. Odd how two seasons in two leagues create such bi-polar results. Another split season for the 1987-88 campaign, but more time in Buffalo was rewarded for Puppa. With 26 games in Rochester (14-8-2) and 17 games in Buffalo (8-6-1), it was proven to management that Puppa's time was ready.

After waiting, Puppa was thrown into a partial starter's role in the NHL with the departure of Tom Barrasso to Pittsburgh in the 1988-89 season. And while he played in 37 games for the season and did hold his own going 17-10-6, Puppa's season ended abruptly in January when he broke his right arm (his catching arm) and it ended his season. Yet, the 1989-90 campaign was one to remember for Puppa as he reached many milestones for his career. Not only was Puppa put into the NHL All-Star Game (and getting the victory), but he was second behind Patrick Roy in Vezina Trophy voting after a 31-16-6 season.

However, the higher they raise, the harder they crash-- because that's how physics works. The 1990-91 season saw the start of his back problems, as Puppa missed nine games in November to a back injury. Also, Puppa was lost to a groin pull in February of 1991. In that season, Puppa only got 38 games in and finished with a 15-11-6 record. The 1991-92 season saw more injury woes as Puppa fractured his arm and missed 16 games in November and for the season, Puppa went 11-14-4 for the Sabres and 0-2-1 for Rochester when he went there to rehab. While the 1992-93 season saw a bounce-back by Puppa, he had been usurped by Dominik Hasek and even with a 11-5-4 record, Puppa was expendable.

In February of 1993, Puppa was traded with Dave Andreychuk and a first round pick to Toronto for Grant Fuhr. Puppa played eight games for the Leafs and went 6-2-0 with a 3.58 GAA for his tenure there. His stay in Toronto was short-lived as he was left unprotected for the Expansion Draft.

It was an interest Expansion Draft for Puppa, as he was picked by the Florida Panthers in the Phase I of Draft, but then was unprotected again and was then picked up by the Tampa Bay Lightning during Phase II of the Draft. He went to Florida either way, at least.

In a new town, new franchise-- Puppa was the starter for the Bolts and kept them in it for the most part. Though in his 63 games, Puppa went 22-33-6, his GAA of 2.71 showed it wasn't on him for losing the games that they did. The shortened-season in 1994-95 got Puppa closer to making the Bolts a contender with a 14-19-2 record and 2.68 GAA and in the 1995-96 season, Puppa's efforts were rewards. That season, Puppa was able to get the Bolts in the playoffs with his play, even with the injuries he had during the season (sprained wrist, knee surgery, back issues). The record of 29-16-9 aided the Bolts to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. However, Puppa's role was diminised in the playoffs thanks to back spasms at the end of the season and often would come in relief of Jeff Reese for three games. However, this was the beginning of the end of Puppa's strong reign.

The 1996-97 campaign was a huge wash for Puppa as he underwent back surgery in November and missed the majority of the season. He played in only six games, going 1-1-2 with a stellar 2.58 GAA. The 1997-98 season started off well enough health-wise, with Puppa playing 26 games, but going 5-14-6 for the season; yet his back issues flared up and caused him to miss the season of the season from December onward. The 1998-99 season saw only get 13 games (5-6-1) in before a groin injury put him out for the rest of the year in November of 1998. The final straw was when Puppa had another early season injury in November of 1999 after playing only five games (1-2-0) and forced Puppa to retire.

Puppa left the Lightning and still is the leader in franchise goaltender's games played, minutes, saves, ranked second in wins and fourth in GAA.

In his career, there were plenty of ups, but one thing or another got him down. While he was able to play out of slumps and deal with different situations in front of him, his own body is the true enemy for him in the end. But yet-- still one of the best hockey names out there in history.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Looking at the Olympic Threads

Thanks to the talented Sean Leahy via the IIHF website, the Olympic jerseys were unveiled to the masses. While there was big to-do about the Canadian jerseys, since countries were able to put their Hockey Federations logo as the crest; not much else was brought to the table in terms of what these countries are going to wear. Since I like jerseys and aesthetics of things-- here's my take. You can follow along with the link above, which will pop into a new window.

BELARUS: They keep the same scheme per usual, which is a good way to use the green and red combination without making one color look completely out of place....right Minnesota Wild?? Can't go wrong with the country crest.

CANADA: Probably the biggest topic over the summer, the Canadians got with the traditonal maple leaf with a Native design within the leaf, to tie in the appeal to Vancouver. The jersey remains the same as the past few World Championships, however.

CHINA: First off, I didn't know they even qualified for the Games, but they keep your basic red and yellow design the country uses with a simplistic wordmark on the front. You don't see much of the red/yellow scheme and I believe it looks damn sharp.

CZECH REPUBLIC: You don't get much of a change, but for some reason the bicep stripe irks me. It almost looks like a football kind of gimmick and they look like Ole Miss.

FINLAND: While the white jersey seems a little off with the streaks from the shoulder to the elbow, the big deal with the red crest on it. The crest in the past has been blue, but they went a little radical in terms of changing up the color as a whole. It's pretty out of place, when all is said and done.

GERMANY: The coolest part of the jersey is the sublaminated eagles on the sleeves below the forearm. The Germans designs are always awesome for the color scheme and the crest of the eagle. Could be the best of the bunch.

LATVIA: The template approach is alive with these maroon wonders, but at the same time-- they keep a nice look to them. The crest is saying solid and should be a solid look for them out on the rink.

NORWAY: The biggest tragedy could be the Norwegians, who had a simple, but classy design and have been resigned to the diagonal wordmark. It's too much of a plain design, even with the call-back to their heritage jerseys.

RUSSIA: The craziness of the blue on the white jerseys are odd to me. Especially considering they have used plenty of red in the past with their jerseys-- it seems a touch out of place. However, it works with their flag having the blue in it and creates a bit of uniqueness to it.

SLOVAKIA: They Slovaks keep the same scheme they always have. Not much of a change at all, in all honesty.

SWEDEN: They keep the triple crowns and really didn't change much. Have to love the simplicity working in this essense.

SWITZERLAND: This is where simplicity goes wrong in all of this. A small cross on the top left corner where the captain's letters should go, then move the captain's letters going next to the next. Probably the worst jersey out there, especially when they had a simple wordmark from past Olympics.

USA: The US jersey harks back to the 1980s jerseys, plus they get back to the 1960 team with the only third jersey out there. It works in the sense that they could pull off simplicity, like Sweden, and make it work out well.

While it's easy to take shots at the Nike Swift design and the templated gimmick, it's a given. Ready the past post about all of that and you'll be saved. There's what you have to look forward to when the skates hit the GM Place ice in February.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Winter Classic 2010: Battle of the.....

We're less than a month away from the Winter Classic and it's time to figure out what to call this battle. Throughout the years, we've had epic outdoor match-ups in the NHL.

It's started with the Heritage Classic with the Edmonton Oilers facing the Montreal Canadiens. That was the Battle of the Dynasties, with the Oilers' coming from the 80's and the Canadiens prior to that. It was an epic battle that came down to the last five minutes and Richard Zednik getting the winner in the end. It started a trend for games outdoors on New Year's Day of all times.

The Winter Classic in 2008 saw the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins. It could have been a Battle of Young Gun teams, what with both teams having a lot of ammo in their prospects, but thanks to the cultures in each city; it was the Battle of the Blue Collar, which worked because the Pens introduced their baby-blue jerseys in that epic game, which saw Sidney Crosby score on Ryan Miller in the shootout to set the tone for the NHL outdoor game.

In 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings. The obvious approach would be the Old Guard vs. New Guard; but you have to go deeper for this. The Battle of the Sound-- the Detroit Motown scene against the Chicago blue's scene. Seemed that Motown was back in a big way with the Red Wings taking it to the young Hawks 6-4.

Yet, with the 2010 it's kind of hard to place how to deal with these two teams. You could the route of the Original Six vs. the Next Six-- you could go the Battle of the Overrated. However, we at Face Off Hockey Show have dubbed it....

....the Battle of the Cheesesteaks!!!

That's right, folks-- you all know about the legend of the Philly Cheesesteak and the battle in Philadelpha between Geno's and Pat's for cheesesteak supremecy, but little do people know of the Boston Cheesesteak. In fact, we didn't know about it until we went to Boston Pizza in Calgary and checked out the menu. Lo and behold-- there it was: The Boston Cheesesteak. Here's a description of the Boston Cheesesteak, which is kind of like a Philly cheesesteak; but Bostonized...I guess.

So, while it's a reach-- it's also a start. We never said we were geniuses, but we could come up with some clutch in the process. Stay tuned for more on what we have in store for the Battle of the Cheesesteaks. Plus, you can think of match-ups in the comments section for the 2011 Winter Classic.