Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jawing About Jarome

There has been a lot of heat on the Calgary Flames (pardon the pun) when it comes to them losing leads recently. Considering the fact they're 11 games into the season and already have had two closed door team meetings; it almost seems like this is a team divided amongst itself. The main focus on this team is definitely Jarome Iginla, many wondering if he would waive his no-movement clause to get out of the situation he's in and start anew.

The main point about people against Iginla is that he's off to a slow start. Yet, if you look at Iginla in the month of October, he's not too overwhelming. Sure, he's had spots of greatness, but in the grand scheme of things-- the first month of the season hasn't been too kind to him with 61 goals and 138 points in 153 games in October throughout his career. The Flames as a whole aren't usually stellar in October either, but still-- when you look at a guy like Iginla, who is the figurehead for that team-- he'll get most of the attention regardless of who or what's going on around him.

That said, Iginla has said in the past that he would be willing to waive his NMC if it would help himself and the team in the long run. All signs point to the ownership of the Flames not looking to move him, but you almost have to look at it and see if it's going to be worth it. It's hard to not look at that $7M cap hit for the next two seasons after this one and wonder what you could do with that and how you could develop a team with that free space. Sure, the team would lose someone who has been an institution for the team throughout his career, but there's a time where you have to let go of the past and look towards the future.

For Iginla, the change of pace could do him good. He'd probably be shipped to a team that has other stars and offensive threats, which would take the primary pressure off of him; plus he'd be able to play his game as an aggressive winger more freely and not have to worry too much about being the leader and trying to spark the team in one swoop. He'd have the aid that he had craved for so long in Calgary and probably have a better chance at a playoff run with someone else.

When you look at the October 30th game against the Capitals, Iginla was somewhat invisible during the game, occasionally popping up to try and give a hit or what-have-you, but he seemed to blend into the crowd during the eventual routing. As a captain, as a team leader, you would think that he'd be more prominent in trying to change the tide, especially when it was still close. Of course, if he tries to get into a fight; that takes him off the ice, which isn't where you want your star player either-- he's in a rough spot in that instance. That said, when you're invisible, people take notice (ironically) and rumors and questions like these shall arise.

This will be a wait-and-see situation that will probably go nowhere. Iginla is dedicated to the Flames through thick and thin and the ownership is dedicated to Iginla. Even when the going gets tough, Iginla doesn't seem to budge off his stance, nor should he if he has faith in his teammates, coaches, and management. It could be a bad decision in the long run for his career, yet he seems ready to go down with the ship and not having any second thoughts.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Five: Lingering Over the Panic Button

It was kind of a slow week writing on TSOoA, but that's the breaks some week. Luckily, we can round out some of the stories in one fine package here with the F5.

1. Lou Lamoriello said that John MacLean doesn't have to worry about getting fired. Coming from Lou, how worried are you about this vote of confidence??

The "Vote of Confidence" is almost always a death kiss for some coaches, but I think this could be genuine for least from Lamoriello. He's the guy who really put MacLean in a roster squeeze with his deals. Plus, he's a first year guy still trying to get the hang of this thing, so to fire him after 10 games seems a bit extreme. Not saying that owner Jeff Vanderbeek couldn't overrule and get rid of them both, but it'd be pretty crazy to do that knowing how rough it is to deal with a team that's flying so close to the salary sun on paper wings...or something.

2. If not MacLean, who would be the first coach in the hot seat for being replaced??

There's not one coach out there who I think could be in-danger, but not saying a team couldn't pull one out of left field. There's a lot of guys who are under pressure, but I don't know if 10 games is really the starting point to be threatening jobs. That said, I believe that after ten games, the kid gloves are going to be taken off and that the coaches are going to have to adjust on the fly very quickly and start to produce results or else risk getting the ax.

3. As it stands right now, all the Central Division teams are in the playoffs in the West. How long can this hold up for this division??

You have to expect the Columbus Blue Jackets to really drop off if any of the Central teams drop off, but they have a strong division. Home of the Cup champion Blackhawks, the Blues are looking like a team off the fringe loop with Jaro Halak in net now, the Red Wings-- regardless of age-- always seem strong, and the first-place Predators seem to have found their stride and really look like they are going to make a strong run, if they can stay healthy. With a lapse in other divisions, you can say that the Central is the hardest division to play in right now.

4. Is there ever going to be a chance where all five teams from a division make it into the playoffs??

It could happen this year, if the Blue Jackets can keep stride for stride, but it's a difficult task. The other teams definitely have to really tank out in a conference for a single division to run the table and have over 50% of the playoff teams. If that does happen, you have to wonder if the NHL would worry-- they want parity and having all teams in a division in the playoffs-- I don't see that as having too much parity. Of course, that division could rightfully claim the best division in the league-- so that's something.

5. With some people claiming victory in the Tyler Seguin/Phil Kessel trade; when can you actually declare victory in any deal??

It's definitely silly to battle on a trade after one game, but in the long-run the overall numbers could be a factor, but you should have to factor in head-to-head in all of that. Luckily, both Seguin and Kessel are young enough and will face-off against each other a lot while being in the same division, but I don't know how you can truly gauge a trade unless you use WhatIf Sports in order to put them in different scenarios with the team they would have been on if the trade didn't happen; but it's tough to definitely value a trade like that.


That's another week in the books, if you have any topics or whatever, email to put your two-cents in or something. Like I say, if you don't like these topics and didn't contribute.....well, you should have done more to contribute. Jerkstores.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Infomercials Tactics for the Panthers

Today, the Florida Panthers posted a release on their website that the best party in South Florida is, in fact, a Panthers home game-- which has earned "rave reviews" in the first three games of the season; which includes attendances over 15,000 on two Saturday wins including a sell out for the opener. After a small synopsis, the Panthers put out commentary from ticket holders about their experiences at the BankAtlantic Center.

There's a couple interesting things about this whole PR move. First, the Panthers are averaging 14,563, which is 23rd in the league with Carolina not having a home game yet (though it happens tonight). The BAC holds 19,250, which doesn't include what they have tarped off for Party City ads and to not have as many empty seats there. Second, you're going to sell out on opening night in most instances, so it's should come as a surprise. Third, you have played three home games and to tout something big like that is as silly as people getting crazy over their team being top in the conference after six or so games.

What really bothers me, though, is just the testimonials that they have on their release. It's something that I'd expect if they were hawking Sham-Wows or any other product you see at 3:45 AM on a cable channel that doesn't want to replay anymore of their craptastic shows. While I get the idea they're trying to sell the actual part of going to the game to the people who look at the website and don't attend the games, but it seems like a tacky way to go about-- especially on the official site of the team. Odds are, the demographic that is visiting the site are the ones in the seats.

If they were to do this release and have it widespread into the mainstream media, it'd be a better looking thing for them and it's something that could get a buzz going for the team. However, with the Panthers playing head-to-head against the Miami Heat and the trio of terror they signed this summer-- they're going to get lost in the sports pages because they don't have that kind of allure. If you're going to throw out Tomas Vokoun, Bryan McCabe, and Rostislav Olesz against Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh....the Heat win out, even without Bosh.

You have to like the effort the Panthers trying to do anything through any means in order to get people constantly in the seats, but it seems a bit hacky to do it after three games and within the team website. Especially with the quotes, it's a desperate move by a desperate team. If anything, the Panthers are probably as bad or worse than the Phoenix Coyotes and could be the next team with the heat on them to move if they can't improve their appeal. The appeal is winning and the Panthers have missed the playoffs for nine straight seasons, which won't bode well for the box office. It'll take more than quotes (which I find suspect anyway) to sway some people to spend their money watching a mediocre hockey club. It takes results-- and the Panthers don't have that now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Wendell Young

Last week, I mentioned THN's 100 greatest players by position and they do make a valid case, but when it comes to decorated in all of hockey, this week's AGM could be in the running. As it stands, he's the only goalie in hockey history to win the Memorial Cup in Major Juniors, Calder Cup in the AHL, Turner Cup in the IHL, and the Stanley Cup. While he might not be memorable to some, the accolades speak for themselves. This week, we look at Wendell Young.

Young's career started in Junior "A" with the Cole Harbour Colts, where the young netminder played in 25 games sporting a 3.90 GAA. When old enough, Young transitioned to the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers, where we played well behind a good enough team to be the starter at 17 in the 1980-81, getting 42 games in with a 19-15-0 record, but would truly shine in the playoffs. Young and the Rangers would roll through the OHL playoffs, as Young would go 9-1 in 14 games; leading the Rangers to the Robertson Cup and then into the Memorial Cup. In the Mem Cup, Kitchener would fall in the final to the Cornwall Royals. Because of his play, Young got drafted in the 1981 Draft by the Vancouver Canucks. With plenty of confidence, Young returned to the Rangers, getting more time in net, playing 60 games with a record of 38-17-2; setting up more domination in the playoffs with the Rangers, as Young had a 12-1 record in 15 games; setting up back-to-back Robertson Cup crowns. The Memorial Cup was a different story this time, as the Rangers beat the Sherbrooke Castors to take home the 1982 Memorial Cup.

That Memorial Cup team for the Rangers had a great roster in front of Young, including Scott Stevens, Mike Eagles, and Brian Bellows, all (sans Eagles) went to win Stanley Cups.

The 1982-83 season would see Young stick in Kitchener and dominate in the regular season once again with a 41-19-0 record in 61 games, but the Rangers would be knocked out in the second round of the playoffs, thwarting the dynasty the Rangers had.

Young would be going pro for the 1983-84 season and would get his travel money worth for that first year pro. Young would split the season between three teams in three leagues-- first with the Fredericton Express in the AHL (7-3-0 in 11 games), the Milwaukee Admirals in the IHL (4-1-1 in six games), and the bulk of it in the Central League with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles (11-6-0 in 20 games, 0-2 in four playoff games). It would settle for Young in the 1984-85 season, where he would stay with Fredericton for the season, playing behind Clint Malarchuk. Because of that, he would only get into 22 games, going 7-11-3 for the season.

Starting in the 1985-86 season, Young would be splitting between Fredericton and Vancouver, starting with Fredericton, playing 24 games going 12-8-4 before getting the call-up to Vancouver to back-up Richard Brodeur. While with Vancouver, Young would get 22 games with a 4-9-3 and getting in one game of playoff action, a losing effort. For the 1986-87 season, Young would continue his cross-country venture from Fredericton to Vancouver (almost a 3,600 mile trek, mind you), though he would spend the bulk of his time in Fredericton, playing 30 games with a 11-16-0 record, spending only eight games in Vancouver with a 1-6-1 record.

In the summer of 1987, Young would get traded from Vancouver to Philadelphia for a third round pick in the 1988 draft. While Young would get a call-up to Philadelphia for six games (3-2-0), Young would continue to ply his craft in the AHL with the Hershey Bears for the 1987-88 season, where he would have a career year. Young would play 51 games, going 33-15-1 for the regular season, but in the playoffs-- Young and the Bears would go a perfect 12-0 in route to the Calder Cup championship; beating Young's old team in Fredericton in the Finals. Young would be the 1988 Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner for Playoff MVP, Baz Bastien Memorial Award for top goaltender, as well as first team all-star.

With his stock high, Young was traded from the Flyers to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the September of 1988 with a 7th Round choice for a 3rd round choice in the 1990 Draft. With the Penguins, Young would be the starter to begin with, but an ankle injury derailed his starting role. Despite a stop in Muskegon of the IHL (1-0-1 in two games), Young would play 22 games in Pittsburgh, going 12-9-0 for the year. For the 1989-90 season, Young would get a chance at the starter's gig again, playing in 43 games with a record of 16-20-3. However, for the 1990-91 season, Young would lose his gig to Tom Barrasso, so he would only 18 games of play in. Part of that was also coupled with a shoulder injury, but Young would go 4-6-2 in those 18 games. Though he didn't play in the playoff; Young would be along for the ride to be a member of the 1991 Penguins' Stanley Cup championship team. The 1991-92 season would see Young riding shotgun again to Barrasso, again with 18 games of play in, which also coupled with a fractured right hand late in the season. Young would go 7-6-0 in the regular season and be a part of the Stanley Cup championship team again.

Despite those things, Young was left unprotected in the 1992 Expansion Draft and holds the title of being the first ever member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. From Cup champs to a new team would be a change for Young and it showed. Young played only 31 games for the Bolts in the 1992-93 season, bothered by shoulder injuries in the process, and would go 7-19-2. Young would also play for the IHL's Atlanta Knights going 3-0-0 in his three starts. It was not a kind 1993-94 season for Young, as a shoulder injury in training camp sidelined him for 53 games. When he got healthy, Young would go 2-0-0 in his two games with Atlanta, but would play only nine games with Tampa going 2-3-1.

Before the lockout, the Bolts loaned out Young to the Chicago Wolves of the IHL for the 1994-95 season. Young would play 37 games for the Wolves that season and have a 14-11-7 record. However, the Bolts would trade Young back to the Penguins for future considerations. Young would play 10 games back with the Penguins, going 3-6-0 in what would be his last NHL action.

In the summer of 1995, Young would sign with the Wolves for some IHL action and the start of a solid relationship between the two. Young would take the starting role for the 1995-96 season, playing 61 games with a 30-20-6 record, but when the playoffs came around, Young would only go 4-5 for the Wolves. Though his games would cut down in the 1996-97 season, Young would still play well, going 25-21-4 in 53 games, but would have the Wolves bow out early again as Young would go 1-3 in four playoff games. It was different for the 1997-98 season, as Young would go 31-14-3 in 51 games, but he would finally break through the playoff slump with a 5-3 and helping to win Turner Cup with the Wolves, thus adding to his mantle. For the 1998-99 season, Young would have to share the net with former AGMs Pat Jablonski and Glenn Healy coming through, which would see him get in 35 games and a 20-10-4 record. Despite a championship, the Wolves would bow out early with Young going 4-3. Young had a bounceback year for the 1999-2000 season, getting more time in net with 48 games and sporting a 32-12-4 record and would help the Wolves in the playoffs with a 5-3 record, aiding in another Turner Cup championship for the Wolves. In what would be his last season, Young would only play 35 games in the 2000-01 season and have a 17-16-3 record, but only 2-4 record in the playoffs, were the Wolves would lose to the Orlando Solar Bears in the Turner Cup Finals.

Young would hang up the pads after the Finals, with quite the resume to follow him into his next ventures. He still leads the Wolves franchise all-time in games played (322), wins (169), saves (8,467), minutes (17,912) and shutouts (16). Young's #1 is the first ever number retired in Chicago Wolves history.

After retirement, Young would be the goalie coach for the Calgary Flames from 2001 until 2003. Young would return to the Wolves in 2004 as an assistant coach and assistant GM, until recently were he took over the role of GM for the Wolves. Young was behind the bench for the Wolves 2008 Calder Cup championship, adding to his accolades. Young also runs a goaltending school in suburban Chicago.

Though he did get his Stanley Cup titles as a back-up, Young did the rest of the work on his own for his other titles and stayed in there long enough to have the chance to get these kind of accolades. Proof that hard work and dedication can pay off if you're patient enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Five: When Fans Get Attacked

It's time for the F5, where I question some of the week's happenings and then answer them and then huzzah-- filler blog post. And there's been plenty to talk about, or at least on one topic.

1. So....Rick Rypien, huh??

I haven't talked much on it, because....well, everyone more greater than me have already tackled it. In the end, all sides are stupid: Rypien for actually going after the fan; the fan for actually saying something while that close to the guy and then going the legal action route in order to milk the 15 minutes; and the NHL for not doing enough to send a message to the other players for it all. It's a bad situation all the way around and no one looks good.

2. With the smallish suspension, does this really stop any players from going off the hook??

In the end, I don't believe it will happen again for the short-term, but it's not a complete deterrent and it shouldn't be. If they did something heavier, it would show that, yes, the NHL is doing something to send a message; but it would give the fans the wrong message that they are infallible and can do anything and feel safe. The fans need to use their own discretion and actually not think they are innocent in this whole ordeal. While these guys should be professional, the fans should put themselves in their shoes and wonder how they would react in the same situations.

3. There has been sub-10,000 crowds in Columbus, Atlanta, and Phoenix this week. There's some people tired of harping over the situation, are you??

At least that's less for players to attack. But seriously, I'm not done harping because it is news. It's not new, though-- but it's something to talk and something that needs to be talked about. The fans of those teams hate it because they know how they are going to be roasted, but if they don't show up; they deserve to be roasted. While it's not the fans fault wholly, the team should see this and adjust their marketing and sales process accordingly. However, it's the fans who are going to have to buy into what's being sold and if not-- they have no right to bitch and complain if they were to move.

4. Big talk was Rick DiPietro's pink pads for "Hockey Fights Cancer" month, though he didn't use them yet. Can we look forward to see other gear going into the pink form to follow what the NFL does??

We've seen the pink sticks over the years with guys like Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist, and the rest of the TPS Hockey roster; but outside of that, I don't think we'll see much equipment being pink, aside from laces. You'll see a lot of major junior teams and minor league teams do a special jersey night were the teams will wear special pink uniforms on the ice and auction them off. While it'd be something to see the pink gloves and all of that, it's something that doesn't need to be done. You can wear whatever to create the awareness, but if you don't actually donate (either time or money)-- it's meaningless.

5. Apparently, the Edmonton Oilers are going to be the first Canadian team to have cheerleaders. Huh??

Well, are cheerleaders and ice girls different, because the Flames have their own ice girls already. In any case, the ladies and some of the hardcore fans will complain about this not being a part of the game and it needs to be taken out-- but it's not something bad about it. The game should be an event, especially for all the money you're paying for the game. If they aren't distracting the game-play, then I don't see an issue with it. It's a bit better than watching the players stand at the bench during a TV stoppage.


That's another week......huzzah. If you want to chime in with a topic, email me at for your question/topic/ranting. If you don't and you hate this-- then change it, dummies-- be dialin'!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

THN's Top-100 Hits The Mark

The latest special edition of The Hockey News is their look at the top 100 players to play in the NHL by position. You get 20 per position (G, D, LW, RW, C), which is quite the exhaustive task. In the grand scheme of things, it's a very good representation of the players who have played in the league.

However, the biggest thing that impressed me was the fact that they were able to blend the eras together. Most of the time, these sort of lists have issues when it deals with the modern day players. The modern players really get too much credit if only because they are very much instilled in our short-attention spans. Sure, you have the guys who are always in there regardless of the era, but nothing this hardcore.

For instance, THN has Terry Sawchuk as their top goalie of all-time, with Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Jacques Plante, and Dominik Hasek rounding out the top five. Also on the goalie list, George Hainsworth (9th), Frank Brimsek (12th), and Clint Benedict (16th) mixed in with Ken Dryden (7th), Grant Fuhr (13th), and Ed Belfour (18th). For a position that has had the most change in style and equipment, it's quite the fine representation of everyone involved.

Defensively, the list is very interesting, with the old school players like Dit Clapper, King Clancy, and Eddie Shore being on the list, Shore being the 3rd overall. Granted, you did have a lot of the modern guys like Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens, and Chris Pronger on the list; with Ray Bourque and Nick Lidstrom being in the top-five.

The forwards is really were the modern guys are prominent, especially in center and right winger. The left wing position is really out there, proving it's the most shallow position out there in the league. You have a nice mix of Luc Robitaille (7th), Alex Ovechkin (8th), and Henrik Zetterberg (20th); but you have the likes of Busher Jackson (6th), Cy Denneny (9th), and Sweeney Schriner (16th). The latters are ones you have to Wikipedia to find out when they actually played, as all of them were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame before 1971.

While we all know that these lists are all really subjective to who's voting on this whole thing, but the point is this: The Hockey News did it right. They actually were able to make a list like this and incorporate all the eras of the NHL and didn't really buy into the hype of the modern era being the best era of all time. It could be, but you can't disrespect the past like some outlets do when making these all-time lists.

Don't believe me?? Go ahead and pick it up on your newsstands now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brodie's Number Plight

With the demotion of TJ Brodie from Calgary to Abbotsford, many Pittsburgh Penguins fans were rejoiced, as they saw Brodie wearing #66 as blasphemy. While it's no secret my dislike for some Penguins fans, this one is what really gets my goat. Sure, Mario Lemieux was a special player and really means something to the revitalization of the Penguins organization many times over. But Bob McKenzie put into words what many outside of the Lemieux fan club believe.
I don't get the fuss about TJ Brodie wearing No. 66. If players can wear 4 (Orr) or 9 (Howe, Richard, Hull), they can wear 66.
And he's right.

While many will say that Lemieux was second to Wayne Gretzky in iconic personalities of hockey in the modern era, but I believe that he was great for the Penguins; but the league wide-appeal wasn't there like it was for Gretzky. Gretzky brought hockey to the unrelated market of Los Angeles, thus expanding the game to what we see today.....while that's not a glowing endorsement, it exposed hockey to areas that no one had thought and created a buzz that the sport didn't have in the longest time.

And you know what-- Gretzky's number shouldn't have been widely retired, because it's a slippery slope. Then, when will people say that other numbers like #4, #9, or even #19 be retired. Hell, Ron Francis, Mark Messier, and Marcel Dionne have more points than Lemieux; so when should they retire their numbers?? It should be a case-by-case basis and by the teams they played on. They shouldn't put it in the league's hand to make these decisions because different numbers mean something to different people/teams.

I, for one, support Brodie wearing the #66, if for nothing else but to pester Penguins fans. Plus, why should he change it?? There has to be some reason why he picked the number and to be honest-- why are people trying to take this possible sentimental number off his back and give him a number that won't mean anything to him. Sure, it's a silly explanation-- but so is league-wide number retirement.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Mike Sands

Considering we're past 60 AGMs, we're definitely going to get into the deep tracks of things. We're getting a bit more absurd, especially with guys some people haven't heard from before. This week, we'll start that part of the trend with a guy who seemed to look like he was about to emerge as a solid back-up, but lost it due to one decision he may or may not regret. At least he had some kind of back-up for his hockey career being over. This week, we discuss Mike Sands.

Sands began his career in the Ontario Junior "B" system with the Streetsville Derbys, which could be one of the best names out there. Sands played 20 games with the Derbys in the 1979-80 season, finishing with a 3.26 GAA. Sands would get a call-up to the Junior "A" Dixie Beehives for four games, going 2-1-0 with a 3.55 GAA and a one shutout.

Sands would start his major junior career with the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL in the 1980-81 season. Sands would be the starter for the Wolves, playing in 50 games and going 15-28-2 on a dismal Wolves' team. Even so, the Minnesota North Stars picked Sands in the second round of the 1981 Entry Draft at 31st overall. Sands would continue on with the Wolves for the 1981-82 and they would continue to be a bit of a bad team, going 13-33-1 in his 53 appearances-- though he would have six assists on the season. Also in 1981-82, Sands would go to the Nashville South Stars of the Central League, where he would play in seven games going 3-3-1.

For the 1982-83 season, Sands would again be on the Wolves and again they would be a bit horrific, as he would go 11-27-0 in his 43 games; but it would be able to gain a spot on the 1983 Canadian World Junior Team, getting the starting gig over Mike Vernon in the tournament. The Canadian team would pick up a bronze, while Sands went 2-2-1 for the Canadians. After his junior season was over, Sands would go to the Birmingham South Stars of the Central League and go 0-4-0 in his four games he played there.

For his first full foray into the professional game was in the 1983-84 season when he took to the road with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Central League, playing 20 games alongside of Jim Craig and Wendell Young. Sands would go 7-12-1 in the rotating system. He would have a good enough camp to start the 1984-85 with the North Stars, but would only play two games (losing both) before he was sent down to the AHL's Springfield Indians. Sands would get plenty of time and actually succeed, going 23-17-3 with a 3.24 GAA in the season. He would be called back up for another game for the North Stars, which was another loss. He would play in the playoffs for Springfield where he would lose all three games he would play in. For the 1985-86 season, Sands would get a limited time while playing in Springfield, only getting 27 games in while going 8-15-1 for the year. As the 1986-87 season rolled around, Sands would go on to be a back-up starter Don Beaupre, as former AGM Kari Takko was out of the line-up. Sands would get three games in going 0-2-0 before he was shipped back down to Springfield, where he would play 19 games, going 5-10-1 for his season.

The real issues came for the 1987-88 season with Sands. He was sent down to the AHL again, this time to the Baltimore Skipjacks. Sands would play in four games, losing all four, before he would leave the Skipjacks without the permission of the Skipjacks or the North Stars. He was subsequently suspended by the North Stars and then released in March of 1988 by the North Stars. Sands would be picked up by the Kalamazoo Wings of the IHL, playing three games and going 0-2-1 in those appearances.

Without a professional job in his sight, Sands would play for the Canadian National Team in the 1988-89 season. He would split time between the other goalies, Warren Skorodenski and Randy Hansch, and get in 21 games-- where he would go 6-13-1 in his games. After that year, Sands would hang up the pads and move onto other ventures at the age of 26.

After his playing career, Sands would go into the scouting realm. He had worked with the NHL Central Scouting Bureau and would then move onto the Calgary Flames staff, first as an amateur scout; then to the Director of Amateur Scouting. However, during the wholesale changes before the 2010-11 season, Sands would get sacked by the Flames during the summer.

Even though he didn't have the best records, he always seemed to get some good things fallen into his lap at times. He did have a bad falling out with the North Stars' at the end of his pro tenure, which probably shortchanged the career he could have had. Albeit, he did get held back in the minors for the longest time, he didn't have the chances to really show his worth. His confidence could have broken become of it, which probably let to him leaving the Skipjacks and the professional ranks in the end.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Five: Injuries Akimbo

It's time for a Friday Five again....because, well, it's Friday. That's how gimmicks go. We're only a week old into the season and we have injuries out of the wazzoo. Shocking how quick it's all going this way so quickly. We'll looking into that and some more fun stuff.

1. If you're the Ottawa Senators, how much of a failure is the Pascal Leclaire experiment??

It's only a failure if you thought that Leclaire was going to be the game-changer the Sens hyped him up to be. He's a fragile guy and really hasn't done much to really warrant being a solid goalie, aside from one good season. Though one season is usually all it takes (right Jim Carey??), but for people to think he'd be a franchise goalie is insanity. The Houses of the Hockey have a great expose about Leclaire's injury history, so with that-- it's not a shock at all it's a failure. I mean, Damian Rhodes was the goalie of the future for this team at one time. That tells you all you need to know.

2. Last week was fighting, now it's concussions. The concussions are running rampant, is there anything to do to limit that??

Hockey helmet companies are doing all they can to limit the concussions, but it doesn't seem to actually be working just yet. With the game run on emotions and what-not, there's not much you can do to limit or deter players from playing the game they've always played. It's a shame, but the honest truth is that unless you take hitting out of the game, not will limit concussions. You look at the John Tavares hit and his was a whiplash occurrence, so it's not like it takes head-shot for these guys to go down; just happenstance.

3. Speaking of head injuries-- is it all that crazy of these Leafs fans to be crazed about their 3-0 start??

I'll be the first to say the Leafs (a team I loathe) have been off to a surprising start and could be a playoff team if they can keep this up. The problem is that it seems the Leafs are the most prepared team and with that advantage, should be having and enjoying the success they've gotten. However, they still have 79 games left to keep up this pace and whether or not they can sustain a healthy pace is yet to be seen. If other teams start to catch up and pass the Leafs-- then you'll see the true will of this team.

4. It seems that the Coyotes are thinking about finally ending this fiasco....again. Will it happen or won't it??

Depends on if you believe reports that Matthew Hulsizer is going to finally purchase the team. If you think he's legit, then it could be over soon. That's bad news for the "Bett and Bals" series. However, we've been through this dance before and nothing has come out of it. While there's been reports of a deal being in place, it's the same song and dance we've heard before. I won't believe the team being safe until they are sold, the papers are signed, the team starts selling 2011-12 season tickets and they drop the puck in October of 2011 at Arena-- then it's something that I could believe.

5. Speaking of teams in trouble, the Florida Panthers are having "retro" nights to celebrate 1996. How soon is too soon for retro nights?? (Bottom of this page on Icethetics)

The Panthers need to do something to get the butts in the seats and remembering the old 1996 Stanley Cup team is the one way to remember the glory the Panthers had. But, it's far too early for a retro night. If there's rules, you should have to be in existence for at least 25 years before you start going all retro on people. It's not like the Panthers have had too drastic of a change in the uniform, unless you count those hideous third jerseys that they have now. Yet-- it seems that if the Colorado Avalanche is going to celebrate their 1996 team-- why not the Panthers; why shouldn't they cash in??


That's another week. If you didn't like this or have some suggestions for next week's F5; toss me an email at to give your two-cents in there and maybe....just maybe...your question will show up here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Should They Stay or Should They Go??

While it's not time to panic about the season just yet, it is time to panic when it comes to what to do with some of the junior-eligible players. You see, the rule is that the junior eligible players can play up to ten games in the NHL without their contract going into effect. However, if they do play that 11th game, they will have their entry-level contract "activated," while after 40 games, the player will have one-season under their belt and be closer to UFA status down the road.

This isn't so much a question about Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, both whom are pretty much guaranteed to stay up with their NHL club, it's more a question on whether guys like Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes, Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks and Nino Niederreiter of the New York Islanders will stay up with the club after that 11-game mark is achieved.

For a case like Niederreiter, I think it's a case of him being kept up because he does have the ability to stay with the club, he has the skill-set to stick in the NHL, plus-- injuries to many forwards on the team is something that helped rush his arrival in the NHL. While the Islanders seem to have the worst luck this year, you have to see the long-term goal of it all. If you keep a kid like that up for the entire year, can he contribute for the whole season or is the fact he's healthy and can play very well going to shade the fact he's still 18-years-old and may need time to season?? The Islanders are a wild-card team, so you never know what's going to happen over there.

When you talk about guys like Skinner and Fowler, it's definitely a different scenario. Reports on Skinner are that unless something goes horribly wrong, Skinner will stay in Carolina for the entire season.

With Fowler, he has been playing big minutes on a very thin Anaheim defense. If they continue to look as bad as they have been, do you want to keep a kid up on the roster, getting burned out on a team when he could be playing in juniors and keep getting better. Fowler is a case where the AHL age restriction is something that is idiocy for NHL teams. Fowler is too good, so to speak, to play in the OHL and it could be a hinderance than a help; but the NHL game could burn him out in his first season if the team around him continues to be craptastic and if he carries too much weigh on his shoulders in his rookie season. If he could get to the AHL, he may not get as burnt out on the workload, learn the system of the team more, and not be a big fish in a small pond. In the end, I think the Ducks will keep him around, but it may not be the ideal situation to be in.

This could be a class of junior players who could have a great output when the end happens. While you have the top two, the deeper picks could be the ones making the most noise and being closely looked at more than what Hall and Seguin are doing. The only way they should stick with the main club is when the development of the players is good enough and they're able to fit into the team dynamic without changing their style of game. If they can't do that now-- they shouldn't be up in the NHL and develop more elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yet Another Outdoor Game

As I was cruising the CCSLC message boards and I came across this thread and it made me shake my head.

That's right, it's another outdoor game, this time in Finland. I guess I can get into this one more than the flock that seems to be happening in Western North America. I mean, Jokerit and HIFK are two of the more notable teams to come out of Finland and this should be more than just a novelty. It's a season game and the game poster is pretty bitchin', I won't lie.

However, that said-- I'll always be against regular season games outside. Sure, it's nice and all; but it could be an important game in the end for the standings and you could lose a big name player because the ice is messed up. Granted, that could happen from a regular game at a control rink-- but if you want to make it special; do it like the KHL does and make it the All-Star Game, where players know that it's not going to be intense and it's not going to be for anything in the standings-- less of a chance for injury. Plus, you get all the stars in one place and not just two teams fighting it out.

This is just another in a long line of games that will be held out in the elements and it could work out better in Finland than other places because it always seems cold there, even in summer.....or not; I've never been-- would like to, though. In any case-- enjoy it Finnish folks, it should be a riot.

Short Changing the Coach Due To Short Bench

While this whole thing with the Devils only suiting up 15 players is definitely something that is going to bring a lot of heat to Lou Lamoriello and his mismanagement of the salary cap; which it should. For a guy to do all he did in order to get Ilya Kovalchuk under contract; he deserves this mess he's gotten himself into. He sacrificed the team for one player.

Yet, there's one person to feel bad for in all of this and it's head coach John MacLean. Here's a guy who has clawed his way to this spot in the coaching ranks, being passed over for the head coaching job a couple times and when he finally reaches the pinnacle...he has to deal with this mess. It's hard to coach in this league in the simplest of times, but to have a literally shortened bench because of it all-- what a rough issue for a rookie head coach to be put into.

That said, the good side to all of this is that he doesn't have to put out his fourth line because...well, he doesn't have one. He can actually play the top guys and know he'll be getting the most out of them. The downside is that the other team knows they won't have much energy late in the game if they power them with a dump-and-chase game early. It's hard for MacLean to coach from an advantage, even if they go up early-- because if they "blow their load" (I expect to be suspended for that one) early in the game; they'll be tired and be susceptible to a late-game comeback. If they lay back and get down early-- they may not have the juice to get back into the game.

It's one thing to have a mass of talent in order to justify the team having a rough time filling out the roster and staying under the salary cap; much like the NBA's Miami Heat. It's another thing to be like the Devils who have almost $32M tied to six players-- four of which have no-movement clauses-- and have issues trying to get a full team for another 12 players for $28M, especially since these guys had contracts prior. This is the backlash and almost karmatic result for the whole Kovalchuk situation.

It's obviously taking it's toll, as the Devils are 0-2-1, already short players via injury and not having the cash, and it seems Martin Brodeur is off his game, letting up 11 goals in three games and a .857 save percentage to boot. But, like I said during my post yesterday-- it's Chicken Little stuff right now. The bigger problem is what can be done to fill an entire team and actually win. They'll have to trade someone or shoot them in order to have the money in order to fulfill an entire roster and give MacLean the chance to actually coach a full team and show that the Devils should have hired him sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken Littling the Winless

While we're just about three games into the season, it seems that some people have decided to inch closer to the panic button when it comes to their teams. Most of it has to do with teams like the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators, both are winless in their three games, both with craptastic goal differentials, and both in tough because of some kind of turnover that hasn't allowed the team to gel.

When it comes to the Ducks, they'll get better, but to adjust to losing someone like Scott Niedermayer is going to take any team who doesn't have the adequate replacement for a star like that. Nothing against Andy Sutton or Lubomir Visnovsky; but they aren't Niedermayer. Once they adjust to that, the whole team will get better-- but the confidence is still not there when they look down the bench and not see him around. Also, Jonas Hiller seems to have the post-big-contract-blues that haunt a lot of players in most cases. Once he shrugs that off, he should be able to regain the form that allowed the Ducks to move J-S Giguere. It's going to be a big overhaul for the Ducks and I have to agree with Jonathan Willis over at Houses of the Hockey in saying that Cam Fowler should be sent back to juniors to get more seasoning. However, I don't see them as being the worst in the West at the end of the year.

As far as the Senators go, it's rough being a fan of this team, I won't lie. A lot of blame is being put onto Pascal Leclaire not being as good as the Sens thought-- and that could be true, but the fact they aren't getting any pop from the rest of the team doesn't help too much. The Sens are 27th in the league in shots-for in the league and only the Ducks (29th) are worse and not registering a win, though the Oilers are the worst in the league-- but have two wins. In any case, the big guns aren't firing for the Sens, as Jason Spezza has been dealing with injuries, Daniel Alfredsson seems to have age catching up to him, while Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil are tied for the team scoring lead. Let that last part settle in a bit. Luckily for the Sens, they could turn it all around and maybe actually realize they're better than they are playing.

The Devils have to be a bit peeved too, but most of that has to deal with the fact they have run out of money. They're playing with nine forwards and pretty much trying to stay above the minimum roster in order to stay under the cap. Marty Brodeur seems to be a bit rattled and with the injuries mounting-- it's going to be a long year for the Devils if they can't figure out what they need to do in order to fill out a full roster and have some cash to be able to field a full squad night-in and night-out.

Luckily for the Sens and Devils, the East could very well be a clear-cut loss for the Florida Panthers, who are dealing with a lot of other issues-- including their lack of crowd support and trading one of their top players, Nathan Horton, during the summer. Plus, Tomas Vokoun hasn't been playing well at all and only three goals in their two games. This is a team that'll be struggling for goals and will be the worst team in hockey.

Like I said, we're not a week into it and there's a lot that could change. Hell, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers are undefeated and they were the worse two teams in the league last year. Odds are, once we get out of October; then the panic can actually be legitimate. However-- it's just a bit of worry and just wondering when the entire team will get traded or the coaches, general manager, and owners all fired. Until then, it's just waiting out the rough waters until things actually get set straight.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Tom Draper

This week, we look at a guy who definitely went with the most unique experience before getting to the NHL that we've probably had before. Despite being drafted, going to NCAA, he chose to go overseas before touching the ice of a NHL rink. Yet, much like all the other AGMs; he had some struggles despite success before heading into the NHL ranks. This week, we look at Tom Draper.

Draper first got noticed while playing midget AAA hockey in Quebec with Lac St-Louis Lions, going 17-4-4 as a 15-year-old in 25 games. When he got to his 16-year-old age, he got 28 games, but with a 15-8-5 record over the season. In the 1983-84 season, Draper started his freshman year at the University of Vermont, where he would see 20 games in his debut season, going 8-12-0 in those games. His sophomore year was a little shakier, with a 5-17-0 record in 24 appearances. Even with that shaky season, Draper was selected in the 8th Round of the 1985 Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets. Draper would continue with Vermont, shaping up in his junior year, playing 29 games and posting a 15-12-1 record, which got him a spot on the 1986 ECAC First All-Star Team. His senior season was a crowning moment, where he would put up a 16-13-0 record in 29 games, once again getting First All-Star Team honors, and got Vermont in the ECAC playoffs, even though they got smoked by St. Lawrence.

While Draper could have went to minor pro, Draper decided to take a European vacation, heading over to Finland with Tappara Tampere for the 1987-88 season. Draper got accustomed to the difference of play, going 16-3-9 in his 28 games in the regular season, while going 7-3 in the playoffs leading Tampere to the 1988 SM-Liiga title.

Draper would move back over the Atlantic Ocean to play in the AHL first with the Moncton Hawks of the AHL to start the 1988-89 season. He would play well with Moncton, getting 57 games in, going 27-17-5 in those games while going 5-2 in the playoffs; despite Moncton losing in the Division Finals. Draper would also get a call-up to the Winnipeg Jets late in the season, going 1-1-0 in his two appearances. The 1989-90 season saw Draper start the season with Winnipeg, but would only play six games with a 2-4 record before heading back to Moncton. While in Moncton, Draper would play 51 games and go 20-24-3 in those appearances. The 1990-91 season was an odd one, as Draper would start with Moncton; playing 30 games with a 15-13-2 record.

In February of 1991, Draper would be traded from Winnipeg to the St. Louis Blues for future consideration. Draper was sent to the IHL's Fort Wayne Komets for 10 games, going 5-3-1 before being sent to the Peoria Rivermen for 10 games, going 6-3-1, while going 2-1 in four playoff games.

The summer of 1991 was an adventure one, as Draper was sent from St. Louis, back to Winnipeg for the same future considerations. Then Draper was sent from Winnipeg to the Buffalo Sabres for even more future considerations. Draper would start of with the Rochester Americans in the 1991-92 season, playing in nine games with a 4-3-2 record before being called-up to the Sabres to back-up Clint Malarchuk. Draper would see 26 games in the NHL with a 10-9-5 record, while being the go-to guy in the playoffs, going 3-4 in seven games in the post-season. The 1992-93 season would see Draper bounce from Rochester to Buffalo and have to deal with some injuries. Draper would only play five games (3-2-0) in Rochester and 11 games (5-6-0) in Buffalo for the year.

Before the start of the 1993-94 season, Draper was traded from the Sabres to the New York Islanders for a conditional draft pick. He would start out with the Islanders, but would go 1-3-0 in seven games before being shipped to the IHL's Salt Lake Golden Eagles, playing in 35 games and ending with a dismal 7-23-3 record to show.

Draper would return to Manitoba for the 1994-95 season, but with the Manitoba Moose of the IHL. He would play in 53 games for the Moose with a 25-20-6 record and went 0-2 in his two playoffs games.

Draper would stay in the IHL for the 1995-96 season, playing with the Milwaukee Admirals. He would appear in 31 games, with a 14-12-3 record. Draper would get to suit up in the NHL once again, as the Winnipeg Jets signed him as an emergency goalie for one game in December of 1995 and would get a no-decision in relief of former AGM, Tim Cheveldae.

As no other NHL jobs would come, Draper would stick with the IHL, playing with the Long Beach Ice Dogs in the 1996-97 season. Draper would go 28-7-3 for the year and get the Ice Dogs withing a couple games of the Turner Cup championship, but lost in six games to the Detroit Vipers. The 1997-98 season saw Draper head to Quebec to the play for the Quebec Rafales for 43 games with a 15-22-4 record before he was shipped to the Cleveland Lumberjacks. With the Lumberjacks, Draper played nine regular season games with a 4-2-2 record while going 5-5 in 10 playoff games.

For the 1998-99 season, Draper would jump back onto the Rochester Americans roster to back-up Martin Biron. Draper would see 26 games of regular season games and chalk up a 14-9-3 record, while playing in two playoff games with no-decisions in either. Biron and Draper would collect the Hap Holmes Trophy for fewest-goals-against during the season.

Without much in North America, Draper would head back to where it all began in Finland, playing the 1999-2000 season with Lukko Rauma. With Lukko, Draper would get some spark back, going 27-17-7 with six shutouts. After a year with Lukko (insert Suzanne Vega reference here), Draper would head to the Espoo Blues for the 2000-01 season, but would see his playing time reduced to only 35 games with a 13-15-6 record. Draper went back to where he started with Tappara Tampere for the 2001-02 season and would have a career year. Draper would play 50 games and post a 29-13-8 record with nine shutouts for the season, while going 7-3 in ten playoff games. It was another team for Draper in the 2002-03 season, as he would join HIFK Helsinki for seven games, going 2-2-2 before heading back to North America.

Draper would get a chance in the UHL first with the Adirondack IceHawks, where he would play five games with a 3-1-0 before going onto the ECHL. Draper would play with the Toledo Storm for four games with a 3-1-0 record before moving on the Augusta Lynx, playing in 17 games with a 6-5-2 record to end out the well-traveled 2002-03 campaign. Draper would play one more game with the UHL IceHawks for the 2003-04 season, which he would win before hanging up the pads for good.

Currently, Draper works as an Account Manager for Coca-Cola Enterprises while he also worked as a goalie coach for the Binghamton Junior C Senators. Apparently, he is quite the character to his family, as he freestyles while in front of them. There has been no official confirmation or denial of said free-styling.

It seems to be quite the interesting travel schedule that Draper had, especially heading to the European route before heading to the North American pro ranks. But, Draper did get to experience every facet of the hockey world both domestic and abroad. Plus, he got to know many teams as he did play with many teams in his short professional career, which could have been something that is high on the list of what he was able to take away from it all.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Five: So It Begins

Another week and another season has started for the NHL. We've got the European games, the domestic games, and other games....I think....or something. Anyway-- we'll get into my Friday Five questions and some awful inane answers to contribute.

1. Is there a time where the European games don't make sense??

The time is coming soon, especially when you don't have many "sexy" teams heading over there this year. The downsides to this is just the teams lose a home game, which loses revenue for the team-- even though it could help some teams because they won't lose money because people won't come to the rink anyway. The problem is, with the fact Rene Fasel is still the head of the IIHF, that there's issues in North America with teams having troubles-- the NHL in Europe is just for show and if you want to do anything; go back to the old school times where one or two teams do a tour of a country and use that as their pre-season and to get the league out there. The Caps did it in Russia in 1989, the North Stars did it in France in 1990; set it up like that. Don't put regular season games there because it's not going to win anyone over.

2. It seems youth is being served early: Brandon Sutter and Jeff Skinner in Carolina, Sergei Bobrovsky in Philly, and the Edmonton Three. How long can this last for them?? (Assist to Captain Hammer for the idea.)

For the Edmonton triad of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi (SVENSSON!!)-- it could last all season. Hall seems to be the real deal, Eberle should have been there last year, and MPS is the great compliment to those two. In Carolina, it looks like Skinner is ready to get things going-- but it could be just no one knowing how to play him, time will time. Sutter has the alternate captaincy, so he could be ready-- but because he plays where he does; no one is onto him.

Bobrovsky could be the wild card. We have always seen goalies get off to the quick start, then falters when people catch onto them-- right Jim Carey and Blaine Lacher?? That said, Bobo could be the guy who stops the goaltending carousel for the Flyers. He couldn't do any worse than the guys they've seen come in and out of the door. If nothing else, he's a guy that could keep the confidence given and parlay it into a solid season and beyond.

3. With Raitis Ivanans getting knocked the eff out by Steve MacIntyre, is this a record for people like Bob McKenzie to rag on fighting??

It could be, but I understand McKenzie's point of the game being out of hand and it being a worthless cause for this to happen. Yet, at the same time-- you try to get some kind of momentum into the next game if it's a lost cause-- whether it's a flurry of goals or a fight. Granted, Ivanans getting KTFO isn't what the Flames wanted, but he made a stand. If that could have happened earlier in the game with a different result-- who knows what could have happened. Yet, we'll see how much of a backlash this gets if something happens again.

4. What opening ceremonies thus far have been somewhat meaningful??

Though I very much dislike the Penguins, having Mario Lemieux put some of the melted ice from Mellon Arena on the Consol Energy ice was pretty snazzy. Not as cool as what the Montreal Canadiens did when they closed down Forum, but what do you expect from a team that has the history the Habs do??

Other than that, it seems like it's by the book for most teams. The Leafs bringing out their alumni for the opener, the Europeans bringing out their stars, teams just going through the elaborate opening announcing the team. It's nothing that's out of the ordinary, but it seems to have the same excitement factor behind it all.

5. What would be the perfect opening ceremony for a team that you were in charge of??

For one, you need fire-- that's a must. Have the mascot come out of the sky and hopefully not get stuck in the rafters. I'd go by the book and get the introductions and have the players do a victory lap to thank all the fans. Put replays of last year's season up there, good or bad, and then hype the team up about how well they're going to do and they're ready for a big Cup run.

All the while, I'm counting the money and trying to sell off some of the team's stuff like Charlestown Chiefs owner Joe McGrath or be like Howard K. Duff VIII and look for a way to move the team to Albuquerque and not let anyone know about it.


And that's another week. If you have any ideas of questions-- I'll answer them. Email and I'll put into the upcoming F5 and you can join in. If you don't like this and didn't submit-- you have no room to complain about this craptasticness.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Team Wazz 2010-11 Predicitions

While the season has already started, I figured an inventive way for me to pick who's coming out of each conference. Let my kid pick the teams.

That's right-- mostly because it's a crapshoot anyway-- why not get little Kaity Wazz pick out the two teams to face off in the Cup. Of course, another gimmick way is to get some "Match 'Em Up" memory blocks from the fantastic Mascotopia company to make it even more of a crapshoot.

So, there you go. It's just as good as any; albeit the picks could be a little bit off, that's for sure. Plus, it shows how lazy I am.

Even if I did do some, odds are it'd be the status quo with everyone else-- so why waste my time and yours in doing something that everyone else is doing. Goes with the old adage of if everyone else is doing it; why should you, or something like that. While it is great fun to go back and mock or celebrate the picks made, it just seems a bit meaningless for me to do.

But, since people like it-- I'll pick.....the San Jose Sharks and.....let's say....New Jersey Devils. As much as I would like to pick the Capitals; I always seem to do that and jinx them. They shan't fool me this time. Though, if I don't pick them, maybe they'll actually do something. We'll see.

The games are afoot.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Sorry So Souray

As you know by now, the Edmonton Oilers assigned troubled defenseman Sheldon Souray to the Hershey Bears of the AHL, the affiliate of the Washington Capitals. The Capitals shipped their troubled player by the name of Michael Nylander to the Flordia Panthers AHL affiliate Rochester Americans a couple weeks ago. This could be karma for those crazy Caps....or something.

In any case, the thought of Souray in the AHL is a little bit of an interesting scenario. While we all know of his public blow-up against the Edmonton Oilers, is there going to be a backlash if he doesn't think he's properly used in Hershey?? Is there going to be a case where he poisons another franchise's youth with his tales of mistrust and telling the kids to maybe be on their guard when dealing with front office people?? While I doubt that'll happen, the fact is that he's going to be in a better place than he would be in Edmonton.

Even so, the addition of Souray is going to create less time for some of the younger guys in the Bears line-up to grow and develop and all that fun stuff. That could create some kind of tension, especially if he's there for an extended amount of time-- which could be a good possibility considering the fact that his contract is a good amount against the salary cap. But, if that creates a logjam on the blue line in Hershey, when do the Caps say that's enough and convince the Oilers to take him back??

But, since Souray is going to the land of Chocolate, here's some possible tips for Souray on his adventures in the AHL, the first time since 1998:

-DO enjoy the time in the small community of Hershey and enjoy the relax style they have there.

-DON'T say that you're richer than the chocolate while driving around the tram at the Hershey's Chocolate Plant tour.

-DO decide to venture around the area. There's Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania; while Washington, DC and Baltimore are only a couple hours away. Plus, York is the home of the that's something.

-If you do go to Baltimore-- DON'T mock and talk bad about people on Edmondson Avenue. While it may sound like Edmonton, there's very high odds you could get shot.

-DO play like you want to get back into the NHL and DO show you're a team player.

-DON'T run down Reese's Cups because then you'll be hated throughout the world.

Alright-- so that's that. Now, we get to see what happens with Souray and how he's able to cope with being sent down. Obviously, he's taken his lumps and has a lot to prove to be in the good graces of the NHL executives to take a flier on him-- but Hershey could be the best place to put him-- being TWO-TIME, TWO-TIME defending Calder Cup champions.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Peeves with Nicknames

There seems to be something happening with hockey nicknames. Albeit, the trend of shortening a guys name and adding "y" at the end has been going on for a while, as has adding the "y" at the end of someone's entire last name. Also, adding "er" to the end of a name has caught on in some circles. However, it seems there's a new trend going around-- but I think it could be just contained to the Washington Capitals-- so I've seen.

That trend is taking a player's initials and their number, throwing it together, and boom, there you go. Like Karl Alzner is KA27, Marcus Johansson is MJ90, and Semyon Varlamov is now SV1, though you can bet that the number and spelling could change for Varlamov at any given moment. I don't know if it's more Twitter friendly or just a lack of anything better; but it's bugging the hell out of me.

Yes, it's a bit clearer when it comes who someone is talking about, but at the same time-- where have all the good nicknames gone. We had a time were you had Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion, and Jimmy "The Blonde Bouncer" Fowler. To be honest, I don't think we've had a unique nickname since Ray "Chicken Parm" Ferraro; thanks to the center-turned-analyst's love for the entree of the same name. Sure, you have some inventive nicknames that are seemingly inside jokes, but there's not many out there that stray away from the formula of adding the "y."

If anything, the initials/numbers scenario is much more creative than the normal formula. That said-- has the era of nicknames died, not just in hockey-- but in all sports. I honestly can't think of many nicknames that really stand out to me in any of the lexicons of sports-- that are widely known, mind you. You can have cliques who call a player something, but it doesn't catch on to the masses. Is that just a mark of the laziness of this generation of players or is having a nickname just not that important anymore. If it's the latter, then it's a sad state for sports and maybe in 10-15 years, someone can really bring it back. If it's the former-- I can understand that, actually and I'll let it pass.

Plus, it seemed that once you got a nickname, you were welcomed into the fraternity of a team. It's like "Top Gun" but not as many fruity undertones....or just as many-- I can't remember. While it gives you a bit of a persona, as unfriendly as it may be when given, it's a bit of an endearing thing and an acceptance onto the squad. It's something that is earned for one reason or another and not just given out willy-nilly because you made the team.

Granted, I'm sure I'm wrong and I need to get out more and learn more teams and how they work with the whole nickname ordeal. If that's the case, just shows how little research I care to do for these bits. Bottom line is that even if I'm a bit wrong with one or two players, the fact remains it's not at rampant as it once was, which could also show why we don't have as many unique personalities/characters in hockey due to lack of creativity when it comes to labeling a guy.

For now, we'll just have to wait and hope something can change and some names start coming out of the wood works. Also, not too long before the regular season starts and most of this filler ends. This is SW97, signing off.....oops....dammit.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Zac Bierk

While some of these AGMs are known for having one good year or being a notable back-up or even being the first for something, this week's AGMs is known for being a part of a famous family. Granted, his brother is the most notable of the family-- his does have some very interesting linage. Of course, that didn't translate too well on the ice, but still-- this week, we profile Zac Bierk.

To get it out of the way, Bierk's family is led by his late father David Bierk who was an accomplish painter in North America, while four of his brothers went on to become artist, his sister becoming an actress, and his other brother becoming Sebastian Bach, former lead singer of the band Skid Row. Thus, to say Bierk went off the beaten path is an understatement.

Bierk's career started off with his hometown junior team, the Peterborough Petes in the OHL for the 1993-94 season. While he would only get nine games in as a back-up to Chad Lang, he got his first taste of what it'll be like on a big stage, but went 0-4-2 in those games. Bierk would see more time behind Lang in the 1994-95 season, with 35 appearances and a 12-15-5 record; including getting the bulk of the time in the playoffs, going 2-3 in six games. With Bierk's performance, he would be selected in the 9th Round by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1995 Draft. That would boost Bierk's confidence, as he would get the starting role in the 1995-96 season, which would lead to great things in his 58 games, finishing with a 31-16-6 record. Bierk also let the Petes to the OHL Championship, going 14-7 in his 22 games played. As the Petes would go to the Memorial Cup, they would get to the final, but lost to Granby of the QMJHL. In the 1996-97 season, it would be hard to top for Bierk, but he did his best; going 28-16-0 in 49 games, but went 6-5 in the playoffs, losing in the second round. Bierk would win the OHL Goaltender of the Year, Leo Lalonde Trophy for best overager, and first team OHL all-star.

With the success he had the previous year, Bierk would hope to parlay that to the pros in the 1997-98 season, heading to the Adirondack Red Wings for 12 games in the beginning of the season, going 1-6-1 before getting recalled by the Lightning in January of 1998 and would see 13 games, mostly as a replacement, going 1-4-1 for the year on the dismal Bolts team. The 1998-99 season would see Bierk in the IHL with the Cleveland Lumberjacks for the majority of the season, backing up Derek Wilkinson. Bierk would play in 27 games and come away with a 11-12-4 record, though he had a .914 save percentage for his troubles. Bierk would be recalled by Tampa and see one game of action, taking the loss. The 1999-2000 season would be up and down season for Bierk, as he would split time in both Tampa and in the IHL with the Detroit Vipers. While in Detroit, Bierk would play 15 games with a 4-8-2 record, while he would fare better in Tampa, going 4-4-1 in his 12 games there.

Though he did shoe promise, the Lightning left Bierk unprotected in the Expansion Draft and he would be picked up by the Minnesota Wild. However, Bierk would only see on game in Minnesota (a loss) and would spend the majority of the 2000-01 season with the Lumberjacks again. He would get a bulk of the games, playing 48 games and winding up with a 24-18-5 record, leading the Lumberjacks to the playoffs, but he would go 0-3 in the playoffs.

Bierk would be a free agent and get signed by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2001 off-season. It would back to the drawing board, as Bierk would wind up in the ECHL with the Augusta Lynx, getting only 30 games in due to hip surgery. Yet, in those 30 games, Bierk would go 16-9-3 and get a call-up the AHL's Springfield Falcons for a game, a loss. Bierk would bounce back and forth, racking up miles between Phoenix and Springfield (Mass.) for the 2002-03 season. While in Springfield, Bierk would go 6-4-1 in 13 games there, then going to Phoenix and compiling a 4-9-1 record in 16 games-- though the one tie is one for the books.

It was Bierk's second game with the Coyotes as he went up against the Chicago Blackhawks on January 8th, 2003. At the other end, Michael Leighton, who was in his rookie season. Both goalies played amazingly and the game would end in the 0-0 tie. It was the first time in NHL history that two goalies would record their first shutouts in the same game. Just another little AGM fun fact.

Bierk would be hampered with more hip issues, being sidelined for 50 games in the 2003-04 season due to a strained hip flexor. That would only allow him to play two games in Springfield (0-1-1) and four games in Phoenix (0-1-2) before he would hang up the pads at only at age 28.

The last known whereabouts for Bierk was the Team Shutout Goalie School in Brampton, Ontario, where he was coaching the students there.

If nothing else, Bierk took the road less traveled by the rest of his family members and did very well heading into the professional ranks. Then, he kind of got stuck with some not-so-good teams and then hampered with injuries, thus making him retire before the age of 30. Though, if nothing else, he can get into his brother's shows whenever he wants to-- so that's something.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday Five: Up Again, Down Again

This week was quite uneventful in terms of news outside of some of the cuts and injuries to some of the teams, so why not go ahead and discuss that in a nice little place, for sure.

1. With the injury to Josh Harding, can the Wild survive with a rookie back-up??

First, Josh Harding has some of the worst hockey luck ever, that freak injury cementing the argument, for sure. Second, I think that the Wild will wait and see what happens with Niklas Backstrom and how he's able to get back into the groove after a bit of a down year for him. Should he falter a bit, then they'll see what Anton Khudobin is able to handle-- and I think he'll be able to get some chances before the Wild go out and get someone like Jose Theodore or try to trade for a goalie at that point. It's very possible that Khudobin can carry the limited load he gets, but it also depends on how the rest of the team is doing in order to properly gauge what to do in net. If the team isn't doing much to help out, then they may as well stay with what they have because regardless of what happens; it won't help much if the team isn't doing much.

2. Is there anything good that can come out of all the injuries the Islanders have suffered??

It's not like all is lost, but losing Kyle Okposo for half a season and Mark Streit for mostly all of the season; it's a hard hit from it all. Sure, they already have John Tavares to anchor most of the offense, Josh Bailey, Rob Schremp, and Matt Moulson will chip in here and there, plus Nino Niederreiter will get a nice look, but it'll be interesting to see if the Isles will use up a year on his contract for this year or play it safe and send him back to the WHL. If nothing else, the Islanders could play spoiler; as no one is suspecting them to do much of anything and be the underdogs who come up big.

3. Is there anything that can get Jonathan Cheechoo back into a wanted player on any team??

Personally, I believe it's a mental game for Cheechoo to get over before he can be free-wheeling again. He had a Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in a season under his belt, but since then-- his goals and points stats have gone down. There has to be some kind of block because it wasn't like he was a scrub while developing to have one good year of glory; but if he gets a comfortable situation and actually has chemistry with his team-- then he should be golden. However, I don't think he'll be able to get a fair shake due to the buzz around him and the microscope. Dallas could have been a great fit, but it seems they didn't think the same-- especially since they have one underachiever in Fabian Brunnstrom to deal with.

4. Any surprises so far from the first couple of round of cuts??

In Phoenix, I was taken a-back that Mikkel Boedker was sent to the AHL, but he'll most likely be a shuttle player for a bit until someone gets injured. But there's not much in terms of shock value in terms of cuts. Teams are going to go by the book and with the guys they have signed just due to most of the cap issues (self-imposed or league-imposed) and you won't see many guys who will be a surprise and crack the line-up unless they're on a lesser team. You can see the guys in Edmonton and Toronto doing it and making noise, just because they're the stars of the future-- today!!

5. Who returns to the NHL first: Sheldon Souray or Wade Redden??

That's a tough call, as both are really shunned by their teams and the rest of the NHL it seems. However, if I'm going to go out on a limp, I'll have to say Redden is going to be the guy who shows back in the NHL first. He seems like a guy who's accepting of his position being sent down and really not making a big commotion about how he's been received and treated by the Rangers brass. Whether it be through trade or re-entry waivers; he'll be back well before Souray because it seems Souray will cost a pretty penny for a bigger risk (injury and personal), even though he could provide a bigger reward. Redden should be back before Souray because he seems more willing to just go with the flow.

That said, if the contract issue was something to look at, Souray would be a better bet because he has two less years on his contract and the whole upside on him will outweigh the downside....if you think that's a good fit for the team and if you treat him good enough that he doesn't run the organization down during the summer.


If you have an idea for questions or a theme for the F5, don't be afraid to email me at to get your ten-cents in (your two-cents is free) and be an interactive part of TSOoA. Plus, if you don't like what you read and didn't contribute-- you can't really complain because you slacked in participation. So there-- I'm not responsible for the F5 sucking.