Monday, January 31, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Bob Froese

With the All-Star Weekend come and gone, we touch into the archives for probably one of the more unheralded winning goalies from the annual display of stars. That same year was his best year to date, but he was also considered disposal and led the way for the start of Ron Hextall's career. From being denied credit for a goal and being the first NHLer to sport a water bottle on the net; this guy had plenty of ups and down. This week, the career of Bob Froese.

Hailing from St. Catherines, Ontario, Froese started his road to the NHL in the OHA (modern day OHL), playing in 146 games between the St. Catherines Blackhawks, Oshawa Generals, and Niagara Falls Flyers from 1974 to 1978. Though he didn't sport the best stats, which included a 5.01 GAA, he was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the 10th round of the 1978 NHL Draft.

As you can tell, not many stats were recorded for Froese during his playing career before he went into the NHL, which showed during his tenure in the IHL starting in 1978-79 with the Saginaw Gears, where he would play 21 games with a 3.31 GAA, then he would be loaned out to the Milwaukee Admirals for 14 regular season games (5-5-1, 3.52 GAA), then seven playoff games. Froese would return to the Gears for the 1979-80 season, playing in 52 games with a 3.38 GAA, also getting a call to the AHL's Maine Mariners, losing the only appearance he had. Froese would play in 43 regular season games with Saginaw in 1980-81, sporting a 2.98 GAA. Froese would also go an amazing 12-1 in 13 playoff games in 1981, helping the Gears win the Turner Cup.

After that Championship performance, Froese signed with the Philadelphia Flyers and was moved up to the AHL with the Maine Mariners to take part of a trio of himself, Sam St. Laurent and Pelle Lindbergh. Froese would get 33 games with the 1981-82 Mariners, going 16-11-4 for the year. For the 1982-83 season, Froese played 33 games in Maine, going 18-11-3 before getting the call to move up to Philadelphia, where he would play 25 games and going 17-4-2 in his stead.

Froese was who the Flyers turned to in the 1983-84 season, where he would be the starter with Pelle Lindbergh as his back-up. With 48 games that season, Froese was able to put up a 28-13-7 record. However, the 1984-85 season saw Froese start off well, going 7-0-0 before he strained some ligaments in his knee, sidelining him for 18 games. He would make an appearance in the AHL as rehabilitation for four games (1-2-1), before being called back up to Philadelphia-- but by that time, Lindbergh surpassed Froese in play, relegating Froese to only 8 more games for the season, finishing 13-2-0 on the season.

The tandem of Froese and Lindbergh was something of solidarity rather than competition. Lindbergh suffered from dehydration, which caused him to bring a water bottle to the ice. Froese was credited for being the first NHLer to strap it to the top of the net with velcro during the playoffs, though Lindbergh was the first to many people to start the water bottle feat. Yet, from prior AGMs we know that Chris Terreri and Scott Gordon were the first to both have water bottles on the net.

In any case, the 1985-86 season was a heartfelt one for the Flyers. While Froese lost out on the top spot to Lindbergh. However, that changed when Lindbergh tragically died in a motor vehicle accident in November of 1985. It was Froese who had to fill the skates that Lindbergh had left, and he did the team proud, going 31-10-3 with a 2.55 GAA. He won William Jennings Trophy for least goals against with Darren Jensen, was the winning goalie in the 1986 All-Star Game, plus he was named to the NHL's Second Team All-Star after the season.

The 1986-87 season was an interesting turning point for Froese. He would start with the Flyers, but would only play three games (all wins), but would be pushed out by the emergence of Ron Hextall and signing of Glenn "Chico" Resch. Froese was expendable and shipped to the New York Rangers for Kjell Samuelsson and a second round pick. With the Rangers, Froese would play 28 games behind John Vanbiesbrouck, going 14-11-0; plus an invite to play for Canada in the Wold Championships, where we would go 1-3-1 in five games. Froese would once again be behind Vanbiesbrouck in New York for 1987-88, getting into 25 games, but with a disappointing 8-11-3 record; while in 1988-89, Froese's workload would increase to 30 games, but a 9-14-4 record would all he have to show for the increased games. Froese would only see 15 games in the 1989-90 season, as Mike Richter would come from the Rangers system to play amazingly and usurp the back-up position. After going 5-7-1, Froese hung up the pads.

Currently, Froese found God and is the head Pastor at the Faith Fellowship Church in Clarence, New York.

Froese did a great job while in his playing career, especially when trying to overcome a tragedy that shocked the entire team and city. With 128 NHL wins, an All-Star appearance and victory, his career isn't anything to be ashamed of. While he may have dipped out of the hockey spotlight, he continues to lead his life to a higher calling; which seems to suit him just fine.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Five: Weekend of Some-Stars

The weekend is upon us and it could be used to dig out for the vast majority of you or you could hunker down and watch the All-Star festivities. Both are tasks that could be worse than death, depending who you are; but which is the lesser of two evils-- that's what you have to ask yourself.

1. What's the event of this weekend that's really what you're looking forward to??

I think the new addition of the player draft is something that is a great idea and is what I think I'll be waiting for what turns out. To be honest, this goes with the retro route the NHL has taken with the outdoor games and the modernized retro jerseys many teams have instilled in their set. It could be one of the better changes that the NHL has put into an All-Star Weekend since the Skills Competition was put into place in 1990.

Also, can't wait to hear from the group of media people that I follow on Twitter to post pictures of sights, sound, and savory foodage which they'll partake in while in Raleigh. (Like Greg Wyshynski, Sean Leahy, Craig Custance, and Joe Yerdon)

2. What's your favorite moment of the All-Star Weekend from the past??

As a Caps fan, Al Iafrate's 105.2 MPH slapshot in Montreal was pretty bad-ass, with is Skullet flowing through the air. Nowadays, you can get guys constantly throwing out 103's with the technology of sticks, but with Iafrate carrying that ancient wood stick, it was a thing of beauty. More modern, Dany Heatley's performance in his first All-Star game was fun, if only for Jeremy Roenick's commentary while he was playing alongside Heatley.

3. Why is everyone so down about the All-Star Game and hunger for competitive games??

The All-Star Weekend is really just a mini-summer vacation for hockey fans, especially on Twitter. It's almost like people don't have hobbies outside of hockey; which is fine if that's your deal-- but sometimes people need a break, players need a break, and then sanity can be restored. This isn't as bad as from the Free Agency period start until training camp, but it's getting a bit more aggravating to deal with.

4. Is there any chance that Evgeni Nabokov doesn't show up to Long Island??

This past week on Face Off Hockey Show, we had our "Na-Back-On Pool" when he'll return and I said it'd be by Valentine's Day. He's going to have to swallow his pride if he's wants to get off of Long Island during the summer, because he still belongs to Long Island, even if he doesn't play because of the crazy contract rules. If he wants to play in the NHL, he'll actually suck it up and play on Long Island to sport his wears and maybe get a windfall of attention like Dwayne Roloson did and actually get a better gig.

5. What stone-cold locks do you have for the unofficial second-half of the year??

First, I think the Coyotes situation will sort itself out.....but then it won't and we'll be in the same boat we were last year. Second, the Canucks will falter due to the injuries to Alex Edler and Sami Salo still trying to work out from his injuries, they'll still stay on top of the Northwest, but they'll be slowed down. Finally, the New Jersey Devils will rally for a big second-half run....then miss the playoffs by five points and will get the 14th overall pick rather than a shot at the #1 pick.


That's it for this week, but if you have questions-- I have sarcastic answers for it all. Email me at and you can ask your questions for a future Friday Five. Enjoy your weekend folks, All-Star or not.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taking the ASG Outside

It's time for All-Star Weekend, with many people begrudgingly accepting this game and many refusing to watch and maybe shoveling themselves out of the snow-maggedon that's happening throughout the continent. But is there something that could actually make people take interest in this whole thing again, because it is a glorified shinny game-- we can all agree on that.

The only answer to this-- take it outside. Make the All-Star Game the Winter Classic and away you go.

There is an understanding that the NHL won't let this happen because you're combining two big moneymaking ventures and putting it into one, which not only takes away a revenue day for the NHL, but takes a revenue day away from another city. That alone could make it a deterrent for people to get on board, especially after the NHL is in its fifth year of revenue growth, which you can probably bank is on its ability to get sponsorship for their special events like the All-Star Game and Winter Classic as separate entities. Yet, while the money will be the big factor, that's about all I can see as a turn-off to making two become one, like so much Spice Girls. It almost seems like it makes sense in all honesty on a number of reasons.

First, while the appeal of playing a regular season game outside is something amazing, the fact remains it still is a league game and if push comes to shove, it could turn into a turning point in the standings for one of the teams if the conditions are perfect or they lose a player to injury because of the conditions. The All-Star Game as the Winter Classic could be something where the speed isn't going to be a factor, because it's already at a slower pace than a regular season game. Plus, there's not going to be much contact, thus the rate of injury from that goes down. The only concern is the ice condition, which could play a factor, but I don't know how much of one in the end since Dan Craig is a G-D magician with the conditions of the ice.

Second, players may not be inclined to decline an invitation because they want the weekend of rest. Now, injuries have played a factor into the lack of star power, but when the rosters were revealed, the amount of head-shaking of the "snubs" was monumental or something. But players may want to have the experience of playing outside and wouldn't have their GM lobby to keep them off the roster to rest if they want to participate something on this scale. Granted, you'll have situations like Jarome Iginla and Roberto Luongo dealing with family-- which is noble and family comes first. However, if it's just precautionary-- then it's a disservice to the league to have their best players sitting out because they don't want to "exert" themselves with this game.

Third, the outdoor game could go anywhere, which is something that the Winter Classic can't promise. The fact of the matter is that the Winter Classic is a game that's usually reserved for a match-up people will watch on TV; like the Caps/Pens and the Hawks/Wings. That means that most teams won't be apart of a match-up on the Winter Classic, even if they have some kind of stars on their team-- like Rick Nash on the Blue Jackets. This All-Star Game does a lot of the league-- it displays the stars of each team on a giant scale and if it's outside, you know the buzz will be there because people will watch the outdoor game even if they aren't interested in the outcome of the All-Star setting. It will also allow the game to travel around to markets that may not get a Winter Classic game because it's not a prime destination to make ice, even though like I said-- Dan Craig is a magician. Fans in those locales will enjoy seeing this possible once-in-a-lifetime event and see all the stars play like how they learn-- from a frozen pond.

The biggest stopping point is the money and revenue that the separate events bring in. If you combine the two into the one event, it slices the revenue in half and will probably kill a lot of the travel and buzz about the Winter Classic since it's a gimmick within a gimmick. Fans may not buy into it, but to make people care about the All-Star game-- player and fan alike, this seems like a no-brainer. But, with money being the biggest thing that comes in from both of these-- it'll probably never happen at all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

On the Topic of Evgeni Nabokov

We've all had the weekend to reflect, we've all had the weekend to hear from those involved, and now it's time to get opinions. Not the knee-jerk ones like when it happened, but more thought out and logical ones. However, when I think about it all, I keep coming back to something the fantastic Ryan Classic said-- Nabokov and his agent misread the NHL market once again.

When Nabokov came back from Russia, he was on the clock to make a decision and to be honest, no many thought he would come off his stance like in the off-season, where he wanted somewhere between $5-6 million for his services. Yet, at $570K, who's NOT going to put a claim in, especially if you're near the bottom. There's a lot of people wondering why the New York Islanders put a claim in, knowing that he probably wouldn't report.

The answer to that is simple-- Garth Snow is in the business of making his team better if he believes Nabokov could do that. When they dealt Dwayne Roloson, you had to wonder if Rick DiPietro could carry the load. With trips to the IR, the answer is no. So, rather than wear out young guys like Nate Lawson and Kevin Poulin-- why not pick up Nabokov for the rest of the year in order to give the youngsters more seasoning and take some pressure off of DiPietro's fragile body. The whole start of this was that Nabokov wanted to go to a team where he would get a lot of playing time, before he said he wanted to be on a Cup contender. What better place to go than Long Island, show yourself off and then hope to get a contract with a better team in the next season??

The point of the waiver system is so that free agents can't come and go as they please. It's a fail-safe system to guys who decided at the start of the year they wanted to play overseas rather than take a menial job in the NHL or be sent to the AHL. The Blues can attest to the fact that the waivers is a crapshoot when it comes to guys (they lost Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood to the same thing), but in the end, it's a safe-haven so that no one can cry foul when someone who was overseas decided they can't cut it over there and want to come back to the NHL; everyone gets a crack and no one is slighted in this process.

With Nabokov, people are saying that as a player; he should be able to go where he wants-- even equating it to real-life scenarios. This isn't real life-- this is sports. Plus, it's not like he's doing something different, like being an usher for the Isles or playing centerfield for the Mets; he'll be a goalie, but in a different market.

Nabokov had the choice to pick who he wanted in July and when no one would give him the money he wanted, he went to Russia to a team who would give him the money. You cannot blame him for that, we all want to get paid. However, he wasn't up to snuff in the KHL, his family didn't like it there, and he asked for his release. Since he chose the KHL over the NHL, I believe-- as does the NHL with the waiver rules-- that he shouldn't be allowed to just go to whomever he wants. If he wanted to stay in the NHL, he should have lowered his price in July and we wouldn't be having this debate. Since he turned his back to the NHL, he needs to go through the process and be accessible to all the teams. Obviously, people will say that free agency is like this and to a point, they are correct. However, when it happens during the season, it's not free anymore

Kudos to Snow for wanting to actually improve his team and show that he wants to get his team better. Nabokov may have wanted to be on a Stanley Cup contender when he decided to come back, but if he was really serious about doing that-- he shouldn't have been so hard-line with his demands this summer, nor should he have been shocked when his price goes down drastically that the worst team wanted to have their mitts on you. Will Nabokov be looked down upon if he doesn't report?? Maybe, especially when the contract is up. The Islanders can't do any worse, let's be honest. Will Nabokov will be looked down upon if he DOES show up?? Time will tell.

Absurd Goalie Monday: Matt DelGuidice

Usually, I don't do guys who have had fewer than 20-some games in the the NHL, but I think I'll make an exception on this for a number of reasons. First, he had those fantastic Aeroflex pads, which were before their time. Second, he played in Roller Hockey International, and third-- he went from a Division II school to a prime Division I school, then onto the NHL and minor pro leagues after that. This week, we look at the career of Matt DelGuidice.

Starting off with the East Haven Comets in the Connecticut High School system, DelGuidice started his trek to a pro career playing in the NCAA with St. Anselm College, playing Division II hockey with the Hawks for the 1986-87 season. He would play 24 games with a 5-11-3 record, but sported a solid .916 save percentage in that year and was able to get Second Team All-American honors. The Boston Bruins picked DelGuidice in the fourth round of the 1987 Draft. After that, DelGuidice moved to bigger condition by joining the University of Maine team, but had to sit out the 1987-88 season because of his transfer. Coming back in the 1988-89 season, DelGuidice split time with Scott King, playing in 20 games with a 16-4-0 record, then going 3-1 in the post-season.. Back for the 1989-90 season, DelGuidice would play 23 games behind King with another 16-4-0 record and yet another 3-1 record in the post-season in five games of play.

With his college career over, DelGuidice went into the pro ranks with the Maine Mariners of the AHL for the 1990-91 season, where he would take over the starter's role in playing 52 games with a respectable 23-18-9 record, as well as a 1-1 record in two playoff games. DelGuidice also got a call-up to Boston, where he would play in one game in relief of Andy Moog. The 1991-92 season saw DelGuidice take over the back-up role out of training camp and getting some time in net during his two stints in Boston. He would get 10 games in for Boston, going 2-5-1. As he was put back to the AHL, he wouldn't fair so well with the Mariners with a 5-15-0 record in 25 appearances. As the Bruins affiliate moved to Providence in the 1992-93 season, so did DelGuidice, but he would only play nine games with Providence, with an 0-7-1 record. He was also shipped to the IHL's San Diego Gulls, playing in one game, a no-decision.

Without a contract in the NHL with the 1993-94 season, DelGuidice would bounce around the minor leagues, spending most of his time with the Raleigh IceCaps of the ECHL, playing in 31 games with a solid 18-9-4 record, then a 6-6 record in the playoffs. He would also spent time in the AHL, playing in five games for the Albany River Rats (1-2-2) and one game for the Springfield Indians (0-0-1). It was another nomadic year for DelGuidice in the 1994-95 season, where he would play in the ECHL, mostly for the Nashville Knights; where in 18 games, he would post a 7-8-2 record and 0-1 record in two playoff games. DelGuidice would make stops with the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL for five games (2-2-1) and then in the IHL with the Atlanta Knights for one game (no decision). Things settled in the 1995-96 season, where DelGuidice would play with the ECHL's Roanoke Express, playing in 35 games with a 13-10-3 record; then another 0-1 record in two playoff games.

The 1996-97 season brought a new chapter and new league with DelGuidice, as he would play in the Western Professional League with the Amarillo Rattlers. In the first season, DelGuidice would go 13-26-7 in 49 games on a team that had 17 wins all season. The 1997-98 season wasn't much better, as DelGuidice would see only 31 games in net with a 7-17-4 record with Amarillo before getting traded to the Monroe Moccasins, playing for 16 games with a 9-7-0 record. DelGuidice would stay in Monroe for the 1998-99 season, though he would only play in eight games sporting a 5-3-0 record before getting traded to the Corpus Christi Ice Rays, where he would play only four games, finishing with a 1-2-1 record. That would lead him to hanging up the pads after the season was finished.

Mentioned in the opening that DelGuidice played in the RHI, which was a summertime roller hockey league. DelGuidice would play for three summers from 1994 until 1996, compiling a 11-16-4 record in 37 games split between the San Diego Barracudas, the New Jersey Rockin' Rollers (two stints), and the Ottawa Loggers.

While he has dipped out the spotlight, the experience and travel miles DelGuidice logged after being lost in the Boston Bruins system is something that makes him an interesting subject. From one league to another, ice to roller-- he definitely made the most of his career. Starting with a Division II team, then being good enough to move to Division I with a solid program; he had promise-- but like always-- a bump in the road ruins everything.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five: Week of Waivering

With all the moving and shaking on the waiver-wire, we get to the Friday Five with probably the biggest fish on the waiver-wire as the weekend starts up....if he makes it that far.

1. Evgeni Nabokov signed with the Red Wings, but has to go through the waiver process. Where will he end up??

There's a lot of things going on about how the Red Wings will keep them and the deal they're going to strike up with the New Jersey Devils, who have first priority of the team. However, there's the obvious candidates of the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators, but the San Jose Sharks could be in the market-- which would be ironic when it comes to Nabokov leaving the Sharks because he was low-balled in the contract negotiations. But at $570k, he's very affordable for any team that could need a veteran presence in net. Nabokov hits waivers at 12:01 PM ET Friday.

2. The St. Louis Blues seemed to be bit by the waiver bug, as they've had two guys plucked from waivers for them. Who did they piss off to have something like this to happen??

The Blues seem to bring about the affordable contract that's very enticing to other teams out there. Yet, while the Marek Svatos loss hurt, I don't think that Kyle Wellwood getting plucked off is too much of a big deal. Even so, you have to feel bad for the Blues-- who have been bit by the injury bug in a bad way, and just needed to get some more guys in order to stay competitive while guys like TJ Oshie and David Perron are on the mend. Plus, it seems that Jaroslav Halak and the rest of the team hit a bit of a skid, but have gotten a little bit back on track since then. Luckily, the Blues are only three points out of the 8th spot in the West and no one seems to want to take control of the final playoff spot, which could suit the Blues fine if they can keep playing consistently.

3. Could the coaching change in New Jersey really have turned the Devils around??

While they are 23 points out of a playoff spot, the coaching changes seems to have brought back the Devils in some aspect. The Devils have won four of their last five and scored 20 goals in those games. Martin Brodeur has had a bounce-back to sorts, while Ilya Kovalchuk finally woke up a slight bit during this. While they won't make the playoffs and actually ruin their chance to get the first overall pick, but they will do their best to save face and try to actually show they're a better team than 2010 showed this season.

4. Don Cherry says a new head shot rule isn't needed, it's just more respect between players. How crazy is he??

To be honest, and I may be an apologist for Cherry, but he's right to a point. The respect between players isn't there anymore and that's something that should be spotted when you see a lot of these plays that result in serious injury. Now, not only is it up for the NHL to maybe define the head shot a little better and clearer, but the NHLPA has to step up and talk to their membership about the lack of respect there. Question why they would go out and take out a vulnerable guy, even though both guys are in the same membership and are just trying to make a living playing a game. While there's a rule needed, Cherry is right when it comes to respect being a focal point, as well.

5. The All-Star captains are Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom. People are doing mock drafts for who's going to get picked in the pick-up game format. Biggest question-- who's picked last??

Scientifically, it really depends on how the picks go. We've all played some kind of pick-up sport in school or recreationally that you usually try to take advantage of bad picks because of friendships, but you also adapt to the pick of the other captain. My two picks for the last pick are Brent Burns and Claude Giroux. With Burns, there's a lot of good defensemen and he's probably lost in the fold when it comes to the other all-stars. Giroux could also get lost in the fold, but I don't think as badly as Burns would. Giroux is a solid player, but is he better or more revered than other skaters on that list?? Probably not, but he'll be a good addition and may get picked towards the bottom. If I had to pick on, Burns would be my ultimate last pick.


That's another week and if you have any topics during the week when it comes what you want to see in the Friday Five, is the place to send stuff to and I'll do what I can to touch on them at the week's end.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crosby's Plight Could Be For The Best

Dave Shoalts of the Globe and Mail put out a story saying that Sidney Crosby would not attend the All-Star Game because the NHL hasn't be stringent enough when it comes to head shot. Crosby, as you know, as been out since January 5th due to concussion issues; many say because of the shot he took from David Steckel, then aggravated from a hit by Victor Hedman.

The Hockey News even went so far as tweeting that Crosby should be applauded for standing up for an unpopular opinion, showing he's a true captain. That's a bit too far in one direction, but he shouldn't be deemed as a whiner, as I'm sure many have stated on the internets.

The point in all of this is the name-- Sidney Crosby and the event-- the All-Star Game. Very few people would have the same pull or command the same kind of publicity as Sidney Crosby would. If it was someone who just barely got into the All-Star Game, like Tobais Enstrom or even a little bit of a bigger name, Martin St. Louis or Steven Stamkos-- it wouldn't get this much talk across the land. However, it was Crosby and because he's one of the NHL's top stars; he's going to get the attention for just opening his mouth.

However, this isn't a bad thing. In fact, Crosby getting knocked in the head could be the best thing for the game. While I wouldn't wish ill-will on Crosby regardless of how much I dislike him or his team, but the fact he's stepping up and speaking out on it-- the NHL could probably call a tighter game and actually enforce head shot penalties and suspensions. Crosby does have a lot a pull when he speaks and, like it or not, the fact he's stepping up-- the NHL HAS to take notice of it. They don't want to lose their star player or any other star player to something like this again.

Granted, many people are bring up the Marc Savard/Matt Cooke incident and wondering if Crosby stood up AGAINST his teammate when that happened. He actually did make some point, but not nearly the amount of noise that he is doing now. Which is too be expected, because first off-- you don't want to go against a teammate because you have to see him everyday and you have to play alongside him; you don't want to divide the room. And second, it actually happened to him and he's experiencing the side-effects from it. It's completely different when you watch an incident like that happen and then have it actually happen to you.

The end all be all is this-- the NHL needs to do something now to clearly penalize head shots and to explain why something is a head shot and something isn't a head shot. Personally, I don't think the Steckel hit was intentional on Crosby, but it was something that was anything but incidental. Stuff happens and you just have to deal with the consequences afterwords. The NHL said that the hit was kosher, so now it's how to do damage control from these comments.

For me, this whole thing is a fine line. You have to keep the hitting in the game, but for some reason they keep getting more and more borderline by the hit. Finding the balance is something that I don't think will be achieved and I don't envy who has to set the parameters when it comes to what's clean and what's not.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jean-Claude Bergeron

There are few times were one of the AGMs hits their stride after their junior career....but here we are. This week, the AGM in question really got noticed for his days in the minors while playing later in his career than his junior and early years in minor league hockey. This week, the career of Jean-Claude Bergeron.

Bergeron first came busting on the scene in the QMJHL with the Shawinigan Cataractes in the 1985-86 season as a back-up, going 13-16-1 in 33 games. The 1986-87 season saw Bergeron start off with Shawinigan for 11 games with a 5-4-1 record before he was dealt to the very defensively inept Verdun Jr. Canadiens, where he would take over the starting role. He would play 41 games with Verdun with an 11-28-1 record to end out the year. Back in Verdun for the 1987-88 season, where it wouldn't get much better with a 13-31-3 record in 49 games, giving up 265 goals behind that horrific defense. Yet, even with those numbers, the Montreal Canadiens would pick up Bergeron in the 5th round of the 1988 Draft. The worse of the Verdun years would be in the 1988-89 season, as Bergeron would play 44 games and record an abysmal 8-34-1 record.

There would be a reprive with Bergeron during that '88-'89 season, as he would move to the AHL's Sherbrooke Canadiens for five games and put up a 4-1-0 record. In his first pro season of 1989-90, Bergeron would see plenty of ice time; playing in 40 games while compiling a record of 21-8-7, while going 6-2 in nine playoff games. Bergeron would be named to the AHL's First All-Star Team and share the Hap Holmes Trophy with tandem partner Andre Racicot for least goals-against, in addition to his Baz Bastien Trophy win for Outstanding Goaltender of the year.

Bergeron would start out the 1990-91 season with the Montreal Canadiens on their French Tour, going 1-0-0 in two games, then would spend 18 games with Montreal, splitting between the beginning and ending of the season, going 7-6-2. During the middle of the year, he would head to Fredericton; the new home of the Habs AHL affiliate, playing 18 games with a 12-6-0 record, then going 5-5 in 10 playoff games. In 1991-92, Bergeron would start out with Fredericton and would play 18 games, but his 5-7-1 record would get him sent to the IHL's Peoria Rivermen, where he would play 27 games, finishing with a 14-9-3 record, while going 3-3 in six playoff games.

During the summer of 1992, Bergeron would be traded by Montreal to the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning for Frederic Chabot. That 1992-93 season would see play third string behind former AGMs Pat Jablonski and Wendell Young; but he would get 21 games in with a 8-10-1 record. With another goaltending acquisition, Bergeron would play most of the 1993-94 season with the IHL's Atlanta Knights, playing in 48 games with a stellar 27-11-3 record, then going 1-1 in two playoff games, as he would be a part of the Turner Cup champion team. Bergeron would share the James Norris Trophy with Mike Greenlay for fewest goals-against during the year. Bergeron would get three games of call-up in the '93-'94 season, going 1-1-1.

The 1994-95 season had Bergeron start off in Atlanta while the NHL lockout was going on, playing in six games with a 3-3-0 record. As the lockout ended, Bergeron was called-up to the Tampa Bay Lightning to get in 17 games of action during the shorten season with a 3-9-1 record. Bergeron would start off in Tampa in the 1995-96 season, but would only spend 12 games (2-6-2) before being sent down to Atlanta. With Atlanta, Bergeron would get in 25 games, but not fare as well as he did years prior, going 9-10-3.

Bergeron would sign with the Los Angeles Kings for the 1996-97, but would be sent to the IHL's Phoenix Roadrunners for the bulk of the season. With the Roadrunners, Bergeron would see 42 games in net, ending the year with an 11-19-2 record. Bergeron would see one game with the Kings, losing said game.

Bergeron would take a year off before resurfacing in the Quebec Semi-Pro League, playing for the Joliette Blizzard in the 1998-99 season, going 12-1-1 in 15 games, then going 9-2 in 11 playoff games, helping the Blizzard capture the QSPHL crown. Bergeron would return for 13 more games in the 1999-2000 season, going 8-5-0 before hanging up the pads for good.

Bergeron took his time and tenure in the NHL to the next level, becoming the Hockey Business Unit Director for Reebok Hockey; where he oversees the CCM line of goaltending equipment.

He has his championships and did have to deal with some not-so-great teams in front of him, but he seemed to keep coming back for more, regardless of the punishment he took. Even after taking a year off, he was able to come back and be successful, albeit in the semi-pro league. While he continues to deal with the pads....he's in a little bit safer confines and not facing as many shots as he did in his playing days.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Five: Talking the Talk

As we move to a long weekend for those in the US, we get into this week's Friday Five where we'll look at players talking some smack to the TV networks covering them, we talk about some playoffs, and we head outside again.

1. Islanders Zenon Konopka told TSN's cameras the Isles aren't a doormat during the morning skate, then they had 6 goals put on them that night by Ottawa; including four-goals in seven minutes in the second. Whaaaa happen??

While Konopka does have a point that the Islanders really aren't as bad as their record details, I don't believe that they are past the doormat status just yet. They have a lot of great young talent, but still need a piece here or there to actually be consistently good and maybe actually surprise some people during the season. Yet, with a lack of solid goaltending and consistent offensive output; the Isles will still be looked down upon.

2. As we hit the half-way point, what teams could make a run at the playoffs and which teams could drop off??

In the Eastern Conference, I think that anywhere from 9th to 1st could shuffle until the end of the year, though beyond 10th will have a rough go about it. Out West, I'm not sure if the San Jose Sharks could come back, as they are 12th, but at the same time-- they could realize who they are and make a push for it. The same goes for the Los Angeles Kings, who are better than their record says. The West could be a better shootout coming down to the end, while the East will be three teams for the last two spots.

3. Rookies like James Reimer and Robin Lehner have started to be at the focal point getting some playing time and while they may be ready-- should teams worry about rushing such inexperienced players??

Especially with goalies, it's always rough to rush them to the NHL with little experience and then ride them for the long-term. In Reimer's case, especially, the media attention will only put more pressure on him the better that he does for the the Leafs. With Lehner, he's in a no-lose situation with how bad the Senators have been in net since their inception, so he could adapt with the team's struggles. The big thing is burnout with the young goalies and if they are overused, it could make it harder and harder for them to recover from their short-comings. However, if they get mentally tough-- they'll be able to bounce-back from the struggles.

4. This weekend is the fifth game for the nine outdoor games this season, as the Spokane Chiefs host the Kootenay Ice. Thoughts??

First, you should head over to T-Rawk and the Canadian vs. the Yanks blog for the preview and then review of the Rockstar Outdoor Classic. With this, we've hit the midway point of the outdoor games and it seems they've done a lot of great work in Spokane, but there are showers in the forecast. At the same time, it's a colder rain, which could be better than what happen in Pittsburgh with the warm weather and rain. Even with tickets available, it should be a great event.

5. With the horrific Guardian Project going on and being mocked harshly-- is there any mascot that could defeat these "guardians??"

Right off the bat, I know The Hurricane couldn't beat Stormy the Pig because....well, pigs aren't going to blow over that easily to wind. I also think that Blades and the unofficial Bruin could defeat The Bruin in a handicap match. That said, the only Guardian who could win right now is The Lightning destroying Thunderbug.

However, I can't wait until the North Star, the Nordique, the Whaler, the Scout, and the Rockie come back to take over the Guardians at the ultimate showdown at the ASG.


That's another week done and if you have suggestions for topics or whatever-- is where you can get a hold of me and suggest whatever. Enjoy your hockey weekend people.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Looking at the Capitals' "Unconsciousness"

Per the DC Sports Bog by way of the Mike Wise Show, Ted Leonsis has said that he believes the Capitals are "unconsciously pacing themselves for the playoffs." This is coming off a 3-0 shutout lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time in four games, but it seems like an interesting thing to say about a team, who last year was ripping it up in the Goals-For column.

We've heard this year that the Caps are going through some changes after losing in seven games to the more defensive minded Montreal Canadiens last playoffs; but at the same time-- the frustration coming from the fan base or "bandwagon," if you will, pretty much echos what some pundits have been wondering. The scoring for the Caps is down to 2.86 goals a game this year (as of the 13th of January), which is well off the pace of 3.88 they had all of last year. And it should be a bit of caution that Alex Ovechkin hasn't be as dynamic as he has in the past, especially with things going around about injuries and equipment failure. Why Nicklas Backstrom hasn't been as good or how Alex Semin just disappeared have come up as well, but this just shows that the problem isn't the goaltending, which many people are saying it is. In fact, the Caps defense and goaltending is solid, as they are 10th in least goals-against this season so far.

The questions that remains are how patient can the fans be when it comes to the Caps not being the same team they were in the past couple of years?? There has to be a bit of patience that needs to be given because when you change from a run-and-gun system to a more reserved, laid-back system; it'll be noticeable, but in the long-run, it'll probably help them out.

However, a follow-up to that question is how long will it take for the Caps to adjust to the system to somewhere near perfection?? Are some of the big guys a bit gunshy when it comes to playing again?? When you look at the numbers, it almost could seem that there's a struggle and the team isn't getting the bounces they should or have gotten last year, which could be true. Yet, with this team being still a bit young and not being used to changing systems as quickly as it's being presented. It could be a case that someone like Ovechkin or Backstrom wanting to be more active in the offense, but for some reason they don't want to get the third-degree when they get back to the bench, so they don't push the play as much as they like to.

Granted, all of this doesn't help out the fact the Caps power-play continues to struggle from the 2010 Playoffs, as they are 17th in the league in power play percentage (18%) and tied for 16 at 29 power play goals. It's not the worst, but it could certainly be better with the weapons they have with the extra-man. It could be psychosomatic and just needs a change here and there, but that could go back to the not-getting-bounces issue, as well.

In any case, the Caps are in fifth place, and barring another long-time losing streak should be in the playoffs-- though nothing is guaranteed at all in the Eastern Conference. While they may be unconsciously prepping themselves, they have to consciously realize that adaptation needs to happen sooner or later or they will do all that preparation for the golf-course as the playoffs start. Granted, it's easy to say that on this side, but at the same time-- should be brought up rather than turning a blind eye to it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On the Topic of the All-Star Game

I know there are not many people out there who like the concept of the All-Star Game, which is fine. I enjoy it and I think it's something that's good for getting the game out there if you have the right people there in the first place. That said, with the roster of players to be chosen being named-- it's kind of odd when it comes to some players being included and excluded.

Let's be honest, though, odds are some GMs are telling the powers-that-be that they don't want so-and-so in the pool of players because of one reason or another. Fact is, the best players should be named-- and if they don't play because of a mysterious be it.

But, when you look at the pool of players, it seems to be liked across the board for the majority. Inclusions of the likes of Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom show it's not always about the marketable players, but guys who have skill are being recognized. The fact that Nicklas Lidstrom is the only Red Wing from that super-group of a team makes me scratch my head on why someone like Henrik Zetterberg isn't on the list.

Of course, some of that has to do with the inclusion of every team into the All-Star Weekend. First, there's only four teams who won't have a player in the All-Star Game, but will be represented in the Rookie Skills competition-- Florida, Phoenix, NY Islanders, and Buffalo-- which I think is a bit asinine to only have them in the one day and not the other. Secondly, this game should be about showcasing the best players the NHL has to offer-- not to show all the teams out there in the league; because legitimately they won't be shown to a national audience-- why play the sympathy role by throwing them a bone?? Because it's the right thing to do?? It's a cop-out...but so is the selection process, both fan voting and powers-that-be process; though that's another argument for another time. If a team doesn't have a star, you can't force them to provide one when they'd be taking a spot of someone more deserving.

Another thing that bugs me, aside from everyone being represented, is the fact that five of the six goalies in the pool are from the Eastern Conference. If that's not a case for "East Coast Bias" then I don't know what is. In any case, this is a prime example of the best players being picked, regardless of pressure from someone like Jonathan Quick, who's have a solid season out in LA......oh, and ROBERTO LUONGO!! It's a bit interesting about the five East goalies, but it's something that helps my first point that it should be the best players in there, regardless.

This game is for the casual fan. This is to get people who may have been hooked with the Winter Classic a little more knowledge about the game and players and the teams. Granted, they won't get the full feel if my ideal of "Not all teams get in there" gimmick works, but like I said-- they won't see them on national TV anyway, so the hell with it. The point is, this isn't going to be the hardcore fans who actually are offended this is still going on. This is for people who just like the game in it's purest shinny form and for the casual fan who will have time to learn some of the bigger name players and the teams they belong to; which could rope them into watching a real game and get the actual feel for the game rather than the shinny of it all.

If you don't like it, you don't have to watch it; but don't bother those that do enjoy it; regardless of why. If you watch it-- maybe you can debate on why one guy would be better than another or just mimic it MST3K style like I probably will. Just because I like it, doesn't mean I can't mock it.

(Also, if there's a fantasy draft with the Ice Girls of the league-- I want in on that voting.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Steve Passmore

As we get more and more hard-up for AGMs, this one kind of jumped out because of the fact it's the second occurrence were a goalie had a mystery illness that turned out to be some kind of poisoning. Kind of an odd happenstance, but just made me wonder if it was the same person or not-- it wasn't. In any case, this AGM went from outhouse to penthouse to midhouse through his career. This week, Steve Passmore gets the AGM treatment.

Passmore's career got off to a bit of a slow start, as he played in Midget AAA with the West Island Deltas for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 season, getting two call-ups to the Tri-City Americans in both seasons totaling five games and an 0-1-0 record.

Passmore would get a better chance to display himself when he was traded to the Victoria Cougars for the 1990-91 season. However, the team in front of him was a dismal one, as he would play 35 games, but compile a 3-25-1 record. The next season, Passmore would be the starter, but the result was still horrid. In 71 games, Passmore would finish with a 15-50-5 record, not seeing time in only one game that season. That season didn't seem to deter the Quebec Nordiques, who drafted him in the 9th Round of the 1992 Draft.

Passmore would be back in net for the 1992-93 season for Victoria, at least for 43 games (14-24-2), before he was dealt to the Kamloops Blazers for the last 25 games of the season (19-6-0), then going 4-2 in seven playoff games. The momentum for Passmore in Kamloops would continue, though he would play behind Rod Branch in the 1993-94 season, he would get in 36 games with a 22-9-2 record. Passmore had the hot hand heading into the playoffs, and would go 11-7 in the playoffs to help the Blazers win the WHL title, as well as the Playoff MVP award. The Blazers would go into the Memorial Cup, where Passmore would play all four games, winning them all and hoisting the Memorial Cup for the Blazers, on a team that had the likes of Jarome Iginla, Darcy Tucker, Brad Lukowich, and Hnat Domenichelli.

During that season, however, Passmore had been traded from Quebec to the Edmonton Oilers. Passmore would start his pro career with the Cape Breton Oilers of the AHL in the 1994-95 season, going 8-13-3 in his 25 games in his first pro-season. The next season, however, would see Passmore only play two games, going 1-0-0, but it was for a good reason.

During training, Passmore was dealing with severe muscle cramping and was forced to sit out. Not knowing what it was, he was tested and it was found that he had heavy metal poisoning. According to reports, there were unhealthy levels of copper, arsenic, magnesium, and antimony in his system that threatened his career. Luckily, a cure was found and he was able to continue playing.

The Oilers relocated their AHL team to Hamilton and renamed them the Bulldogs, but Passmore was still there for the 1996-97 season. Passmore would play 27 games with a 12-12-3 record and would get the call in the playoffs, going 12-10, where the Bulldogs would lose to the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup finals. Passmore would also see time with the Raleigh Ice Caps of the ECHL for two games with a 1-1-0 record. The 1997-98 season saw Passmore start off with the IHL's San Antonio Dragons for 14 games, with a 3-8-2 record; before he was called up to Hamilton. With the Bulldogs, Passmore would put up a 11-10-6 record in 27 games. He would also get the call again in the playoffs, this time having a 0-2 record in three playoff games. The 1998-99 season saw Passmore back in Hamilton, where he would play in 54 games with a 24-21-7 record and he would finally get his call-up to Edmonton towards the end of the season, playing in six games, sporting a 1-4-1 record. Passmore would return to Edmonton for the playoffs, playing in 11 games with a 5-6 record.

Passmore would sign with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1999-2000 season, where he would back-up Jocelyn Thibault. He would get in 24 games with a 7-12-3 record in Chicago, while playing in two games for the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the IHL going 1-0-1 in conditioning stints.

For the 2000-01 season, Passmore would be moved to the Los Angeles Kings for a draft pick. Passmore would be bounced around the minor leagues, playing in the IHL with the Chicago Wolves for six games (2-2-2), then to the AHL for the Lowell Lock Monsters for six games (2-4-0), then to the Kings for 14 games (3-8-1).

Yet, Passmore would go back to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline, playing in six games at the end of the 2000-01 season, going 0-4-1. Passmore would remain in Chicago for the 2001-02 season, again playing behind Thibault and getting in 24 games with an 8-5-4 record and an 0-2 playoff record in three games. Passmore would also be sent to the AHL with the Norfolk Admirals for two games, both wins. The 2002-03 season had Passmore start with the Blackhawks, but spend time in Norfolk during the middle of the season. Passmore would play 14 games in Norfolk (4-7-2) and 11 in Chicago (2-5-2). It would be another year back-and-forth in the 2003-04 season, as Passmore would spend 15 games in Norfolk (3-10-2) and only nine in Chicago (2-6-0), but would have his season cut short with a hip injury late in the year.

With no NHL in 2004-05, Passmore would go overseas and play for Alder Mannheim in Germany, playing in 21 games with a 2.59 GAA. The Phoenix Coyotes would sign Passmore for the 2005-06 season, but would play in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage, going 4-6-0 in 11 games before leaving the team and heading to Finland to play for Jokerit Helsinki, where he would win five in his 15 games played. Passmore would stay over in Europe for the 2006-07 season, playing in Austria for Graz EC for 25 games, then moving to Italy to play for Milan for eight games before finally hanging up the pads.

After his playing career, Passmore went back to Kamloops to become the goaltending coach for the Blazers, but has since been relieved of his duties.

For a guy who went from a craptastic team in junior to a Memorial Cup champion, to blood disease that threatened his career to a solid job in the minors, coupled with a so-so NHL career, you can't say Passmore's career in retrospect lacked roller-coaster moments. In fact, he also has a few fights to his resume against Steve Shields, Garth Snow, and Dan Cloutier, so that's something, too. Those fights and the blood disorder shows the kind of fight that Passmore had in him when all is said and done.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Five: New Year, New Problems

Hope all of you had the greatest New Year's ever and all those shenanigans. However, the Friday Five is the auld acquaintance that'll never leave. Or something....I've got nothing.

1. Martin Brodeur has been riding the pine in lieu of Johan Hedberg, and for good reasoning. Are we witness the burnout of Brodeur before our eyes??

It's quite the issue on whether this is just a bad year for Brodeur and the Devils or the ravages of age and overuse catching up to the modern-era's greatest goalie in wins. The Devils aren't doing much to help him out in front of him and it seems that the karma is getting back to the Devils quicker than expected, as all the bounces aren't going their way at all. That said, we are definitely seeing a changing of the guard with the Devils-- which probably won't include Hedberg, but the point is that the goaltending department will have a big shake-up in Jersey and this is the first process rearing its ugly head.

2. While the Islanders were doing well for a while there, their goaltending issues could be their downfall-- was it foolish to get rid of Dwayne Roloson this early??

The Isles are a streaky team this year and could end up with a close to .500 record if they can even out their hot and cold streaks. However, with their tandem of Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin until Rick DiPietro gets healthy again; this is not good news. The Isles could have jumped the gun for dumping Roloson, but what other option did they have?? They had to sell high and try to get what they could get-- which isn't much for a 41-year-old goalie. Garth Snow did what he was told, which could have compromised the hot streak they were having heading into their Western swing.

3. The Winter Classic was all the rage and covered a lot during the week. Final thoughts??

It was a classic battle and it was a great boost for the League. Even so, the question is where's the next one and with the weather as it was-- squashes any argument to not have it in one of the Sunbelt cities. Dan Craig is a magician and he can do what's needed in order to put a game in a market that needs a gimmick like this to draw attention to the team would could be struggling otherwise.

4. Back to Jersey, Jamie Langenbrunner has cleaned out his locker and waiting to see where his next destination is. How painful is it to be sitting around like that and how much of a shot to ego is it to just be waiting there for commands??

It's definitely a shot to the ego when you're the captain and they go to you first before anyone else to move. Yet, I would almost think it's a reprieve from purgatory and maybe a fresh start from the hell that is New Jersey. Yet, in this world of technology, it's got to sting to know that you're out because you're waiting for a trade rather than just a mysterious injury. That said, it's a great look into the process of how it happens and how long it takes to finalize a deal with all the clauses that have to be overcome in order to achieve a trade.

5. Brayden Schenn swept most of the awards at the WJC despite his teams' monumental collapse and playing on a separated shoulder. With him going back to junior, which way could his motivation go??

Schenn is going back to a dismal Brandon Wheat Kings team and Schenn could be a little put off from going to an extreme high like the Canadian juniors then back to a team that's last in their division. However, you have to figure that Schenn won't dog it, mostly due to wanting to make the LA Kings notice that he's ready for the next step. He didn't seem to lose a step when he went back to juniors and showed he has the ability to play big at the WJC. We'll see how well Schenn does when he gets back from injury-- but the Kings probably did the right thing sending him back, rather than having him rot in the press box.


That's another week in the books and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did-- and I know you did. If you didn't, email me at with some suggestions on what you want to see in the F5; topic wise or whatever.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Hart at Halfway

While most teams are the official 41 game halfway point of the season, when it comes to the Hart Trophy race for most valuable player-- some may think it could be a wide open field as we come down the stretch. However, in my eyes; it's a two-horse race. Granted, I actually take the literal description of the award, being the most valuable to his team.

The first is a no-brainer in Sidney Crosby. You take him off the Penguins and they probably aren't in the hunt for the President's Trophy for most points in the season. I don't like him as a player, but I respect him.

The second one will make you go, "Oh look-- Scotty's going for a gimmick." I'm not. I truly believe that Dustin Byfuglien should get a look at the MVP. Of course, you won't get many voters actually taking the literal meaning of the award, but it should be brought back to that; much like the Norris Trophy should be going to the best all-around defenseman, not the one with the most points.

As much as people say Byfuglien should be getting a look at the Norris for converting back to defense this year, his addition to the Atlanta Thrashers has seemed to revitalize a team that many thought were going to be a pushover in the first post-Kovalchuk season in the ATL. Most publications had them out of the playoffs, even if not by much. Yet now, the Thrashers are in a playoff spot and don't seem like letting up and I think a lot of it has to do with the energy and experience Byfuglien brings to the squad.

Personally, Byfuglien has a career-high in points and assists halfway through the season and only needs four more goals to have a career-high in that stat as well. He's finally getting to have his star realized after an amazing playoff season. For the team, he has been involved in 31% of the team's goals and had his hand in 54% of the power play goals the Thrashers have had. I don't know if they would have this same success without him in the line-up.

There will be plenty who will bring up Steve Stamkos or Henrik Sedin, which is definitely correct in that-- but at the same time; Stamkos has St. Louis helping him out and having close enough stats to him and Sedin has brother Daniel. While they have good stats, if you take them off the team; is the team still as good?? It's a fine line when you go with the literal sense of the award against the best player overall.

This plea will probably fall upon deaf ears should Byfuglien falls off the pace he's going or if someone else steps up big-time in the second half, but as of right now-- Big Buff has to be considered, even if it's in passing.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Next Western Winter Classic

The Winter Classic has come to a close for another year, so we now speculate on where it's going to be held next. There's been two Eastern Conference Classic's in the past two seasons, so you have to believe that there needs to be a Western Conference Classic coming up, though many of the East Coast biases would say the Heritage Classic in Calgary denotes one.

Regardless, the no-brainer is either a Colorado Avalanche at Coors Field or Minnesota Wild at TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field location for the next Winter Classic. Both are very hockey mad cities, both have the climate to be able to hold a Winter Classic (though this year's showed that the NHL ice crew can do anything in any climate), and there's a rivalry that each team could have. In fact, I think it's a great idea to have the two teams face off against each other; mostly so we don't have a repeat team.

However, the idea of a Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars game isn't horrible, if you put the Avs and Wild against each other, it's the two US teams from the Northwest Division, who get lost in the coverage because of the fact they are in with three other Canadian teams and play at insane times for being on the West Coast. Minnesota's hockey resume definitely speaks for itself, while Colorado is a two-time Cup winner and have had a lot of greats and future greats pass through their organization. It's a great display of good young talent out there.

That said, many would want to have the Winter Classic contain someone like the Detroit Red Wings or Chicago Blackhawks again, or even the Los Angeles Kings in order to get some ratings in, but sadly-- it's not always about ratings. Especially against a Pens/Caps Winter Classic which drew the best NHL ratings in 36 years. You cannot top something like that and you should put this gimmick to bed on a high-note-- but you won't because it's a great revenue generator and could be a reason to spotlight young teams who wouldn't normally get the big TV coverage.

The bottom line, the next Winter Classic has to be out west. If the idea of this is to truly grow the game, get past the Mississippi River once and a while and get those teams some TV time on the big stage. Also, no repeats-- because....come on, what fun is that if you keep having the Red Wings or Penguins or Capitals or Blackhawks in this game??

(Let it be known, I'm all for a Boise State Bronco Stadium game with the Phoenix Coyotes wearing the Winnipeg Jets blue's while on the blue turf.)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Peter Sidorkiewicz

We'll kick off the new year with a tongue-twister of a last name in order to get this out of the way and get a clear head after the kick off to 2011. This goalie was well known for being the first goalie for the Ottawa Senators, which could be the last time they had a solid goalie. In any case, this week, the profile of Peter Sidorkiewicz.

Born in Dabrowa Bialostocka, Poland; Peter's family moved to Oshawa, Ontario when he was at a young age. Sidorkiewicz actually started playing goalie by happenstance as no one wanted to play goalie on his club team, so he volunteered. Sidorkiwicz would get into the Oshawa minor hockey system, playing junior B with the Oshawa Legionnaires in the 1980-81 season playing 22 games before getting called up to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, playing seven games that season and going 3-3-0 and 2-2 in five playoff games. Seeing him as an investment, Sidorkiewicz was picked in the 5th Round of the 1981 Entry Draft.

For the 1981-82 season, Sidorkiewicz would split time in Oshawa with Chris Smith and Shawn MacKenzie. Sidorkiewicz would play 29 games that season, going 14-11-1 with two shutouts. In 1982-83, it was a banner season for Sidorkiewicz, as he would be the starter; playing in 60 regular season games with a 36-20-3 record and capturing the Dave Pinkney Trophy for best GAA in the league. The playoffs is where Sidorkiewicz shined, as he went 15-1 in 17 playoff games, leading the Generals to the J. Ross Robertson Trophy for OHL Champion and headed to the Memorial Cup. Sidorkiewicz went 3-2 in the Memorial Cup, losing in the final game to the Portland Winter Hawks, who was the first American team to win the Memorial Cup. Despite that, Sidorkiewicz was named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team. The 1983-84 season wasn't as good for Sidorkiewicz, as he would play 52 games with a 28-21-1 record, while going 3-4 in seven playoff games.

The 1984-85 season had Sidorkiewicz turn professional, heading to the IHL and the Fort Wayne Komets, where he would play for 10 games with a record of 4-4-2. After that, he would get the call to the minor league affiliate of the Washington Capitals, the Binghamton Whalers, whom the Caps split with the Hartford Whalers. Sidorkiewicz would play 45 games in Binghamton with a 31-9-5 record for the season, then going 4-4 in eight playoff games.

Midway through the 1984-85 season, the Whalers liked what they saw in Sidorkiewicz that they traded for him and Dean Evason for David Jensen. Sidorkiewicz would stay in Binghamton for the 1985-86 season, where he would play 49 games, but had a letdown from the prior season, going 21-22-3 with a short playoffs of only four games with a 1-3 record. There was a bounce-back year for Sidorkiewicz in 1986-87, appearing in 57 games with a 23-16-0 record, then going 6-7 in 13 playoff games that post-season. For the 1987-88 season, Sidorkiewicz felt a bit of pressure to succeed, but had a so-so 19-17-3 record in 42 games. Yet, he was able to get a call-up to Hartford for a game, a loss.

After a stellar camp, Sidorkiewicz was able to make the cut for Hartford and would split plenty of time with Mike Liut in the 1988-89 season, ending up with a 22-18-4 record on the season in 44 appearances. Canada would pick Sidorkiewicz for the World Championship, but saw only a fill-in role for 25 minutes, as well as being named to the All-Rookie Team. With him playing so well, Sidorkiewicz allowed the Whalers to look to the future in the 1989-90 season, which saw Sidorkiewicz split time before Liut was traded to Washington and had Sidorkiewicz take over the reigns. That season, Sidorkiewicz would go 19-19-7 in 46 appearances, then 3-4 in the playoffs. The 1990-91 season had the new era of Sidorkiewicz as the starter of the Whalers, which saw him play in 52 games and put up a 21-22-7 record, then playing six playoff games with a 2-4 finishing spot. Sidorkiewicz had a shaky 1991-92 season, seeing former AGM Kay Whitmore taking more of his ice time, as well as being hampered with an ankle injury late in the season, which made the Whalers trade for another AGM; Frank Pietrangelo. Sidorkiewicz had his spot usurped, only playing in 35 contests and finishing with a 9-19-6 record. With expansion happening, Sidorkiewicz was left unprotected for the 1992 Expansion Draft.

Sidorkiewicz was the first player chosen in the Expansion Draft and became the first member of the Ottawa Senators. As with any expansion team, they would have issues-- the Senators more than usual in the 1992-93 season, which Sidorkiewicz felt mightily. While he was able to get the first win for the Senators, Sidorkiewicz would go winless in 17 games after that first win. At the end of the year, Sidorkiewicz would go 8-46-3 in that season. The one bright spot of the year was when Sidorkiewicz played in the All-Star Game as the only representative for the Senators and picked up the win in net.

That next summer, Sidorkiewicz was traded to the New Jersey Devils for another AGM, Craig Billington and Troy Mallette, plus a fourth round pick. The 1993-94 season, Sidorkiewicz would bounce around between the IHL's Komets for 11 games (6-3-0), the AHL's Albany River Rats for 15 games (6-7-2), then getting three games with New Jersey (0-3-0, all in relief). The 1994-95 season had Sidorkiewicz play in Fort Wayne, but behind many goalies-- which saw him play only 16 games, with him sporting a 8-6-1 record when all was said and done and a 1-2 record in the playoffs. Sidorkiewicz would be back in the AHL for the 1995-96 season with the River Rats, backing up Mike Dunham and getting in 32 appearances; though with some success with a 19-7-5 to get back on track. That showed when he was able to take the starter's spot in the 1996-97 season, which saw him play 62 games, finishing with a 31-23-6 record, then a 7-8 playoff record in 16 games. The 1997-98 season was the last kick at the can for Sidorkiewicz, as he would play for Albany yet again, going 21-15-5 in 43 games; while getting a call-up to New Jersey to play in one game, a no-decision.

After that season, Sidorkiewicz would retire from hockey. He held the all-time wins record in the AHL at 171 wins, but has been broken many times over. Sidorkiewicz has moved into coaching, being a coach to the OHL's Erie Otters for the past 12 seasons, including a season and a half behind the bench from 2006 to 2008. In 2002, Sidorkiewicz was named to the Binghamton, New York Hockey Hall of Fame.

For a goalie who was once called "Peter Alphabet" by an announcer, he didn't do too shabby for a career in the minors and in juniors, despite getting into goaltending on a whim because no one else wanted to play in net. He made a decent NHL career in some of the less than ideal situations-- especially in Ottawa. Take that one expansion year out of the mix and who knows if he could have bounced back from a rough end of his Hartford era.