Monday, February 28, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jarmo Myllys

While the goaltenders of Finland nowadays were very sought after, back in the late-80s/early-90s-- that wasn't the case. Many of them had a rough transition period and could never get settled in, which is the case for this week's AGM. While he was part of the possible first Finnish tandem, it never really came together. This week, we profile the career of Jarmo Myllys.

Before we go forward, a note-- thanks to the apparent lack of record-keeping or technology in European hockey; the stats of Myllys when playing overseas are a bit sketch and therefore unavailable for most seasons.

When he first came into the scene in 1982-83, Myllys played for the Finnish Second-League team SaPKo Savonlinna, where he played for 13 games. That said, he didn't get more noticed than during the European Junior Championships, where he played four games with a 2.70 GAA. Due to his performance, Myllys was named Best Goaltender and to the All-Star team. For the 1983-84 season, Myllys went up to the premier league in Finland, SM-liiga, playing for Ilves Tampere, but only getting in nine appearances with a 3.00 GAA. Myllys would get back into the swing of things in the World Juniors of 1984, going 3-1-0 in four games for Finland, helping them to a Silver Medal. Myllys would play nine more games for Ilves Tampere, with a 2.55 GAA; but going only 1-0-0 in one appearance in the WJC.

For the 1985-86 season, Myllys played 16 games for Ilves Tampere; while in the 1986-87, Myllys would move over to Lukko Rauma, appearing in 43 games with a 16-20-7 record. Myllys also played in the World Hockey Championships, going 4-3-1 in eight games. That helped him get drafted in the 9th Round by the Minnesota North Stars. It was a banner year for Myllys in the 1987-88 season, where he would play in the Canada Cup for one game, then back to the Lukko Rauma for 43 games, which included five shutouts and a 3.13 GAA. Yet, his biggest accomplishment of the season was during the Olympics, where he would go 4-1-1 in six games, leading Finland to a Silver Medal. Myllys would end the year with Finnish Player of the Year honors and named to the Finnish First Team All-Stars.

Myllys made the leap to North America for the 1988-89 season, starting off with the North Stars. However, with three losses in his first three appearances, Myllys was sent to the IHL's Kalamazoo Wings, playing in 28 games with a 13-8-4 record. Myllys would finish that season with a 1-4-0 record with the North Stars. The 1989-90 season would be a breakout in the IHL for Myllys, as he would go 31-9-3 in 49 appearances, which got him named to the IHL's Second Team All-Star roster. Myllys would also play in four games for the North Stars, but would go 0-3-0. Myllys started the 1990-91 season with the North Stars for three games on their French Tour, then for two games in the regular season. However, going 0-2-0, Myllys was sent back to Kalamazoo; where he would excel again compiling a 24-13-1 record in 38 games; then going 6-4 in the playoffs. It was another year for Second Team All-Star honors for Myllys.

However, during the Expansion/Dispersal Draft of 1991, Myllys was claimed be the expansion San Jose Sharks. Myllys would have an up and down year, going 3-18-1 in 27 games for the Sharks, but going 5-0-0 with the Kansas City Blades of the IHL.

Myllys was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 1992, but decided to return to Finland for the 1992-93 season, with KooKoo Kouvola of the Finnish Second League-- going 27-13-5 in 45 games. Myllys would return to Lukko Rauma for the 1993-94 season, where he would go 26-16-4 in his 46 games of work, as well as returning to the Olympics in 1994, going 5-0-0 with two shutouts and a 0.60 GAA; helping the Finns to a Bronze Medal. Myllys would also play in the World Championships, playing in seven games helping the Finns to a Silver Medal.

From the 1994-95 season until the 2000-01 season, Myllys would play 284 games with Lulea HF; compiling 31 shutouts and ending with a 2.59 GAA in those games. However, like I mentioned at the start-- no records from those years sadly.

However, the international play helped Myllys' career for records, as he would represent Finland plenty. It started with the 1995 World Championships, as Myllys went 5-1-1 in seven games, leading the Finns to their first ever Gold Medal in the event. Myllys took home the Best Goaltender honors in the tournament, as well. However, in the 1996 World Championships-- Myllys went 0-2-2 in four games, as the Finns would bow out in the Quarterfinals. Myllys went to the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, but would go 1-1-0 in two games, as Finland was knocked out in the Quarters again. The 1997 World Championships had Myllys get some swagger back, going 4-2-0 in six games with a 1.67 GAA, but they did not past the Quarters again. The 1998 Olympics wouldn't give Myllys the super skills he had in Olympics past, as he would go 1-3-0 in four games, but would be rostered on the Bronze Medal team. Myllys played two games in the 1998 World Championships with a 1-1-0 record and would add another Silver Medal to his showroom. It wouldn't be until the 2001 World Championship that Myllys would be back with Finland, but he would only be a spare and not play in any games for the Finns, as they would take home Silver.

Myllys return to the SM-liiga for the 2001-02 season with Blues Espoo, playing in 46 games with a 19-19-7 record, then 0-3 in the playoffs. Back with Espoo in the 2002-03 season, Myllys would only see 19 games of action with an 8-5-5 record, then 3-4 for seven games in the playoffs. The 2003-04 season saw Myllys return to SaiPa Lappeenranta, playing in 34 games with a 9-15-7 record, as well as seeing seven games of action with HV 71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League. Myllys would go back to Finland with SaiPa Lappeenranta for the 2004-05 season, where he would put together a 10-25-10 second in 45 games. After that, he would hang up the pads in his playing career.

Myllys would stay with SaiPa Lappeenranta as the goalie coach, which is where he's at today.

While he could never get adapted to the North American game despite trying as much as he could-- the success he had for his country is something that many of the European players hold in higher regard, even to this day. With a Gold and a couple of Silvers and Bronzes with Suomi; Myllys can hang his hat on bringing pride to his country on the highest of stages.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Five: Trade Bait and Release

After another crazed week that was in hockey-- we move forward with another edition of the F5 and try to wonder about what you're secretly thinking.....or not thinking and will be thinking because it was brought up here.....or not at all.

1. With all the trades that are going down now-- what's going to be left for the Deadline??

It'll be slim and none. Yet, I can understand people freaking out by the domino effect. You never want a team to get the jump on you because they will leave you in the dust. Granted, the fact is that some teams are really getting the better of some deals-- but that's the nature of the business and you may have to give up way to much to ship off something you don't want anymore. People will get hosed and people will get deals-- though if most of them are UFAs at the end of it and don't resign with the team they're traded to-- no harm, no foul.

2. If you're a fledgling team and have a no-trade or no-movement clause-- would you waive it to go somewhere that you have a chance or do you stick around and hope for the best??

You have to wonder the situation the player is in. If they are older, odds are they would move it to trying and get that last grasp at the Cup ring; but if they're a younger guy or in their "prime" as a player-- they'll probably be more hard-pressed to move it because of the fact they do want to win the Cup, but they don't want to move from this place they're establishing themselves and are comfortable in. I guess it's depended upon the pressure the management puts on the player and tries to convince that they'd be welcome back in the off-season or something. It's a hard-sell and usually creates rift between fans and the player because of it.

3. Is there a chance of any shockers happening this coming Monday, or will it just be the role guys like has been discussed in the past??

There could be something like a Bryan McCabe or Michael Ryder to get dealt-- but at the same time, I don't think the big money names like Brad Richards or J-S Giguere traded. There's going to be the role players that'll be moved, but we won't have much (if any) blockbusters for the Monday and if it happens early enough in the day-- you could see a ripple effect, but it's highly doubtful. There's a lot of close races in each conference, so I don't think many teams will want to give up their role guys for a marquee name just to match another team-- because it'll ruin chemistry.

4. The Devils and Maple Leafs are streaking and streaking hard. In the end-- will they have a shot??

I think the Devils have a shot, but I don't know how much longer it'll be able to last. As much as they are on this massive high-- there has to be a down-turn, as even the most hardened of Devils' fan will be one to reel people back into the myth of going from laughingstock to dark horse contender. The Leafs are the same way-- however, there's been many years that the Leafs have given hope late in the season just to have it dashed. James Reimer is going through the "Unknown Goalie Syndrome" where players don't know how to beat him-- which gives the team and fans a false sense of greatness. It could keep going, but I don't think I would put money down on it.

5. The IIHF have shelved the idea of relaunching their Champions League. How good of an idea is this to begin with??

I love the idea of a Champions' League in hockey or some kind of super league. It's also something that could be used to take on one of the NHL teams that come over to play for their first two games and compete for the Victoria Cup. At the same time, I can understand why they wouldn't be able to agree to some kind of an agreement, as it's hard to deal with a championship race in one league and have to play in another league and risk potential injury and ruin a run in the league that's most important. It's a great idea in theory.....but we all know-- in theory; Communism works.


That's the week-- you want something for me to talk about-- is the place to be, folks. Tell me of a topic you want to be covered or whatever and I'll do what I can to be as wrong as possible.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hockey Team Identity Project: Cincinnati Cyclones

After a hiatus, I've decided to try to resurrect this thing from the dead. With that, I've decided to go with a team that has a lot of resurrections itself, the Cincinnati Cyclones. You see, while the Cyclones have been around since 1990, the fact is that it has been three different franchises as a whole, starting in the 1990-91 season.

For some information, I turned to Sean Lynn of the Cyclones, who in-turn directed me to Jim Farmer, of the Society of Cincinnati Sports Research-- which is a group of Cincinnati sports fans and historians, who have done a lot to compile the history of their city and its sports.

"The first team played in the ECHL from 1990 to 1992. The club did very well so the owner, Doug Kirchhofer, applied and was excepted for an expansion team in the more visible International Hockey League," Farmer said. "The first Cyclones franchise was then relocated to Birmingham while the name, original logo and colors were shifted to the second incarnation of the Cyclones in the IHL. After a few moves to different cities, the first Cyclones team eventually landed in Stockton where they currently reside as the Thunder."

The colors of the team were carried over, which was primarily black, red, and gray with the logo being a goalie's upper body. The team in the IHL went from 1992-93 season until the IHL disbanded in the 2000-01 season. However, between then, the Cyclones did a little tinkering, switching to a Twister as the logo and mascot (of the same name) and adding yellow to their scheme, while damping the gray a bit.

The demise of the IHL and this second Cyclones did not last for long, as a new owner bought the two-year dormant Miami Matadors' franchise in the ECHL, who moved to Miami from Louisville and were known as the River Frogs.

"When the second club folded a new ownership group came along, bought the colors, team logos, nickname and a dormant ECHL franchise which began in Louisville," Farmer expained. "This ownership group moved the dormant franchise to Cincinnati and this gave birth the THIRD Cyclones team. This Cyclones team began play in Cincy for the 2001-02 season and is the current franchise that we know and love today."

However, it's not like the Cyclones had it easy in the Cincinnati market, as pressure from a higher league happened.

"This third Cyclones team DID in fact go dormant for the 2004-05 & 2005-06 season because they were in direct competition with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL," said Farmer. "But when Cincy lost their AHL club, the owners of the Cyclones (Nederlander Cincinnati) relaunched the franchise for the 2006-07 season. It has remained active since."

Even with all of that, the heritage of the Cyclones' franchise priors still remains.

Farmer divulged that the ECHL team statistics go back to the Louisville days, which is why some of the fans don't see their IHL favorites on the all-time stats list. However, Farmer did tell me that the numbers that the Cyclones have honored from all eras still remain honored by the 'Clones to this day.

Even so, the Cyclones have been through quite the cavalcade of jerseys-- including a fancy Reds jersey, to honor the MLB team. The jersey is also one that was worn by the twins in the great movie starring Seth Green and Shane McDermott, "Airborne."

Even more recently, the great Greg Wyshynski uncovered the latest viral hit from the Clones, which parodies The Lonely Island's, "I'm On a Boat."

Lynn did add one thing about keeping the name of the team, "The Cyclones brand is one that this market has thoroughly supported since day one. Changing it and alienating a loyal fanbase is not in anyone’s best interest. While staff, players, and even fans have come and gone, the Cyclones name has always been consistent in the Cincinnati Sports landscape."

Thanks again to Jim Farmer of the SCSR and Sean Lynn of the Cincinnati Cyclones for the information for this entry.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Heritage Weekend That Was

The pomp, the circumstance, the hand-warmers. The weekend that was in Calgary couldn't have been better done, even though the organizers couldn't control the weather-- one day, but not yet. From the Saturday practices and alumni game, to the big show of the Heritage Classic, followed by the WHL Outdoors game-- the festivities were something that many Calgarians and Canadians will remember for some time, especially if they can't get to another one.

The stadium was full of rabid fans, packed shoulder to shoulder and full of spirit(s). It showed that it was a game that was very much in demand and something that was needed for the city of Calgary. Granted, the revenue from sponsorships surpassed the Winter Classic's in the past shows that Canadian companies love hockey and will put their money to not only get their name out there, but to support something they strongly believe in. Of course, the outcome made it even better for more than half the crowd dressed in scarlet-red and yellow-- looking like a Fixin' Bar at a Roy Rogers from 1986.

When it came to the WHL game, it was so underground-- it didn't even have a proper name; it was just called WHL Outdoors. Even so, 20,888 showed up, which surprised me only because of the fact that it was a cheaper alternative and turned out to be a better day on a Holiday Monday. It also turned out to be a good game, with Regina scoring the game-winner with 36.2 seconds left in the third period and while they did set a CHL and Junior Hockey record single-game attendance-- it could have been so much more. Regardless, it was a success in terms of getting people out to see the two worst teams in the WHL in a thrilling game.

There has been little criticism when it comes to the Heritage Classic-- mainly with the scheduling of the game; and to that I agree. When this first outdoor game happened in 2003, it was in November and just as teams started to get their legs underneath them. The fact this game is with about a quarter of a season left and teams in dogfights-- it's something you really don't want to risk; having an outdoor game screw up things because one thing or another go wrong because of conditions. If you're playing this late and already playing catch-up, it's just puts you deeper in the hole if you can't win.

In any case, it was about the fans. The gauge I got from some of my friends that were there was this was an amazing event and well done by the league and Flames organization. The temperature didn't affect too many people, mostly due to the availability of booze and chicken soup-- or both into one. Fans enjoy the company of the rival, with little to no complaints being put out there to my knowledge. The weekend earlier was Hockey Day in Canada, but Sunday was a best encore you could have hoped for over-- then the hangover Monday sealed a great weekend of hockey in Calgary.

Would it be wise for the NHL to do two or more outdoor games a year?? If they want to go for the gimmick while it's hot-- then yes. However, with not many Canadian teams and few American locales you can have it at; it creates a difficult conundrum. You'd love to have this kind of exposure, but if you over do it-- the vibe of having that one game a year kind of gets a bit diminished. You have the Winter Classic and if there should be a Heritage game to be had, then go for it-- but you don't force it. Maybe have the Heritage every other year and build the hype that, but if you go over two for an NHL season-- it just becomes another game.

Semantics aside, the final product delivered beyond the lack of true hype it got. The people came out in droves and lapped up every bit they could. It was great for the city, the teams, and the league. It did what it's exact task and got interests from those who wanted to take interest in it. The setting was stellar, the weather was as many remembered when playing on that pond, and it will be a lasting memory for all who participated in it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Warren Skorodenski

This week, we'll take a look at a guy who was at the Heritage Classic, but not used. In fact, it seems that for most of his career, his mask would get the most attention in the career rather than what he did while he was playing. And while he had a few moments in the sun, his skull mask shall forever live on. This week, the profile of Warren Skorodenski.

Skorodenski started off playing in Midget AAA with the West Kildonan North Stars in Manitoba before moving to the Western Hockey League with the Calgary Wranglers. In his first season with the Wranglers in 1977-78, Skorodenski played the bulk of games, but only had a dismal 8-22-10 record out of his 52 appearances. Things got drastically better in the 1978-79 season, with Skorodenksi playing in 66 games compiling a 26-31-5 record, then going 7-8 in the playoffs; losing in the division finals. After that season, Skorodenski was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks, but remained in Calgary for the 1979-80 season, where he would put up his best numbers, going 39-23-2 in 66 games, but a 3-4 playoff mark would have him bow out in the first round.

The 1980-81 season would see Skorodenski take the pro route, playing with the Flint Generals of the IHL for 41 games (sadly, no record available), while getting two games up with the AHL's New Brunswick Hawks, going 0-1-0. Skorodenski would stay in New Brunswick for the 1981-82 season, seeing 28 games, finishing with a 16-8-4 record, while going 0-2 in the playoffs. Along with Dan Janeyck; they won the AHL's Hap Holmes Award for fewest goals against. He also got a call-up to the Blackhawks for one game, which was a loss. The 1982-83 season would see him split between the AHL's Springfield Indians for 13 games (3-6-0), as well as being sent down for the bulk of the season to the Central League's Birmingham South Stars, where he would go 11-11-1 in 25 games, while going 0-4 in five playoff appearances. The 1983-84 season was a dicey one, as Skorodenski started out with the Sherbrooke Jets for 19 games (5-10-2), but an incident on November 20th of 1983 would see Skorodenski get suspended by the AHL for 20 games, as he assaulted referee Dave Lynch. When he return, Skorodenski would play 14 games with the Indians, going 3-11-0, then 0-2 in two playoff appearances.

Skorodenski played hard enough in training camp to win a spot on the Blackhawks main roster for the 1984-85 season, backing up Murray Bannerman. Skorodenski would going 11-9-3 in 27 games, with a solid .903 save percentage; highest in the league. Skorodenski played one game with the Blackhawks in the 1985-86 season, a loss, but a logjam in net relegated him to the AHL with the Nova Scotia Oilers, playing 32 games and having a 11-14-2 record to show. The majority of the 1986-87 season had Skorodenski back in Nova Scotia, appearing in another 32 contest with a 10-15-0 record, while receiving a call-up from the Blackhawks for three games, going 1-0-1. Skorodenski also saw time in the IHL with the Saginaw Generals, going 4-1-0 in six games; but then going 3-2 in six playoff contests.

The Edmonton Oilers liked what they saw in Skorodenski when he was in their minor league system, that they signed him before the 1987-88 campaign. Granted, he spent the majority of the time with Nova Scotia, playing 46 games with 25-15-5 record; Edmonton called him up for three games-- but all came in relief and wouldn't allow him a record. Skorodenski had one more kick in the Oilers' organization in the 1988-89 season, but it would be with the Cape Breton Oilers of the AHL, where he would go 11-13-1 before leaving the team.

Skorodenski finished out the 1988-89 campaign with the Canadian National Team, seeing 22 games of action and finishing with a 8-9-1 record. Skorodenski would stay with the National Team for the 1989-90 season, going 18-17-0 in 41 appearances traveling around the globe. One last gasp in the 1990-91 season had Skorodenski play only two games-- both wins-- for the National Team before he would hang-up the pads for good.

Sadly, I was unable to catch up with Skorodenski at the alumni game to see what he is up to, as he seems to have fallen off the map in the hockey world. While he did have a sweet mask, he could have been a lot more. He had flashes of brilliance, but at the same time-- never seemed to get the attention he needed to work on those flashes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Five: Calgary's Cold Classic

Another week is done and it's time for the Friday Five, where we tackle some news and notes from the week and what-not. It's a busy weekend coming up, so let's get it going.

1. With the Heritage Classic coming up, and it's supposed to be chilly. How is that going to affect things??

The temperature seems to increasingly gets colder and colder by the day for game-day. It was hovering around the freezing mark, but as of when I publish this-- it's supposed to be -9c (16f) and partially cloudy. It'll definitely be a test to the coaches and how they are going to adjust their game-plan to go with the elements. Considering both these teams are in a playoff fight, every point and every goal will count. Should be fun jockeying for sure.

2. The NHL has said that the Heritage Classic has surpassed Winter Classic revenues; but many in the US haven't gotten much coverage of the game until the past few weeks. How's that work??

I think the big thing with the Heritage game is that they have some bigger name companies sponsoring this game-- like Tim Horton's, Canadian Tire, Blackberry, and ScotiaBank; very big names to this event. Plus, with all the events being Canadian based, it seems that the American broadcasters aren't going to be too keen on it all. Even some Canadian broadcasters didn't hype up the game until the past couple of weeks. It should be a solid game now that both teams are in a playoff hunt and people around the city seem to get more and more into it. Good times by all.

3. The Senators are in full fire sale mode, but will the rebuild be as easy as they are thinking it'll be??

Not at all. The fact they are swapping for picks shows that they either have a lot of faith in the guys coming up from Binghamton and other prospects or they know this will be a five-year plan that'll grow as these draft picks develop. Either way, it's a bad situation for the team and it's fans. Odds are, Bryan Murray and Cory Clouston won't be back and it'll be a new start and probably more growing pains that'll come along with it. It seemed to breakdown really quickly for this organization and who knows how quick the rebuild will be or if it actually makes them come back to their President's Trophy form again. It's tough times in Ottawa....but at least the ASG visits there next year.

4. If you're the Vancouver Canucks, how much do you worry when you have a defenseman go anywhere on the ice??

The injuries on the blueline for the Canucks are insane, with five regular defensemen out; but the fact they still are atop the league in points speaks to their depth. Plus, with all these guys healthy for the playoffs-- they could be the team to beat. Granted, that's been said for a while never come to fruition, but it's wishful thinking if nothing else. When push comes to shove, the Canucks have enough talent to counteract the defensive injuries and should come out of this stronger than before.

5. The trade deadline is coming up and the market is frantic already. Will the actual deadline day provide a decent number of moves, or could it be a dud due to early trading??

There will probably be minor moves for role guys, but it's going to be nothing ground-breaking. It's a lot easier for the GMs to trade players earlier if there's a deal because it'll adapt them to the system quicker and they won't be scurrying to make sure the chemistry is there. Plus, with a lot of teams out West and some teams in the East in contention for a playoff spot-- odds are teams aren't going to be so willing to get rid of a guy that could benefit them in the end.


That's it for this week and if you want to submit some topics for future F5's, email me at and let me know what you answered. Also, I'll be at the Heritage Classic doing things this weekend, so look for updates from there if there's something to be had.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bett and Bals: "As Atlanta Burns"

With all the fun stuff going on in Phoenix and things wrapping up in Buffalo, many people forgot Atlanta and their ownership woes. Luckily, the Thrashers made news once again with an owner saying that if things can't get better-- relocation is a possibility with a new owner....yet one not in the equation is Jim Balsillie....until now.

(We start off with Jim Balsillie in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal, as he hears Gary coming through the kitchen entrance in a huff)

Gary Bettman: How in the hell is this going to work?? We have some issues with Phoenix still not getting ready to get sold, now Atlanta is talking about their issues?? Luckily, we have Buffalo being sold.....AGAIN, but at least this guy is a legit money-maker and just loves giving money out to hockey teams and to start hockey teams.

Jim Balsillie: I have that kind of power and I don't get a look. Granted, Buffalo is like Hamilton with better wings-- but still.

GB: That's just it though-- he didn't threaten to relocate them to some crazy city. But still-- the Sabres are good. Why can't the Thrashers work?? They've got a solid team, they've got a solid arena-- why can't they draw anything from that??

JB: They say if you don't follow history, you're bound to repeat it. I know the NHL doesn't like to look too much into the past unless they can make a buck off it merchandise wise-- but there's a reason the Flames didn't work in Atlanta. They couldn't make the ends meet and it seems to be going the same way with the Thrashers....but the Thrashers had more staying power.

GB: How is this possible though?? It seemed that they had enough owners to cover their costs-- why are they now say that all this stuff is too rough to cover and what-not??

JB: That's just it-- they have nine owners.....but it's spread out over three cities and one guy wanted to overthrow the entire group. It's bedlam and it's very rare that multi-person ownership groups do well, sans Edmonton where everyone in the city was pretty much an owner. The question is now-- what's next; I mean.....I'm still around.

GB: Sadly, I know that. But luckily I got a text saying Stephen Rollins is interested-- you may remember him from playing with the every popular New Jersey Rockin' Rollers franchise....

JB: Who?? What?? Another guy from the film game in the fold, though?? That's worked so well with Bruce McNall and Jerry Bruckheimer, hasn't it?? Sure, the native thing works-- but at what point will that not be enough to keep the team there. You could have Lil' Jon buy the team, but even though he has connections to the area and the game-- if he can't make money off of it; you're right back to where you started.

GB: This was supposed to work-- I mean, Tampa seemed to right themselves.....Dallas is selling, the Panthers are still in Miami-- why can't this all work out. Why has Carolina been the only team not to have an ownership issue since moving to these "non-traditional" markets?? I think the only thing good is that we have people interested out there....even if they aren't know for their fantastic work.

JB: And lost in all of this-- me. A lot of money, a love for the game-- why not give someone like me or even relocation a chance?? It's not like it's a bad idea, plus it would probably go to a hockey market to actually get more money into your wallet-- which is good for the business. What's with the gunshy reaction??

GB: It's a bigger level than just us, Jimbo.

JB: Don't call me that.

GB: It has to do with everyone involved. I mean, if the Thrashers go-- do the people have to foot the bill for an empty arena?? Will the Hawks be the next to go?? Why should we take entertainment away from the people who actually go to the event?? That's why we have revenue sharing, so teams like this can thrive and all that fun stuff.

JB: Even so, some owners are going to be ticked off with others who aren't making money-- and with the CBA coming up; you may need some solidarity going against Donald Fehr's NHLPA rather than in-fighting about some other owners not picking up their own weight.

GB: We're going to be stronger than ever. We're making a lot of money. Our gimmicks are getting more and more attention, our sponsorships are up by far-- to think we won't be united going into the CBA is ludicrous.

JB: (Phone rings) Interesting-- but that's not ludicrous-- this is Ludacris

GB: How do you know him?? What's going on with that??

JB: It's something you don't need to be so curious about, but he's an Atlanta guy....should I ask him??

GB: OH MY....YES!! Why do you even have to ask that??

JB: Okay. Hey Chris-- yeah-- oh you're outside?? Yeah he wants to talk about it. It's crazy. Sure, I'll get him to go to the door and you two can chat. Yeah-- see you in a second.

GB: Excellent!! See, I do need you, but don't really need you. (Rushes to the door and opens it)

Judge Redfield T. Baum: T-BOMB!!!!

GB: Sweetsassychrist!! (falls over)

JB: Wow....what'chu got in that bag, Red??


JB: And that's how the gimmick works.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Testing the Sean-O Rookie Theorem

The theory that no matter how good a rookie is at the start of the season; there will be a darkhorse rookie to tear it up in the second half to win the Calder Trophy. In addition, Jason Spezza is always in the running.
That's how the savant of the Face Off Hockey Show believes the Calder race always turns out. Last year was true, as many thought it could be John Tavares or Matt Duchene-- but Tyler Myers walked away in a runaway over Duchene and Jimmy Howard. Steve Mason caught fire in 2009, while Andrew Raycroft in 2004 over Michael Ryder and Barret Jackman in 2003 over Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg.

At the start of the year, many thought it would be one of the Edmonton trio of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, or Magnus Paajarvi (Svensson). When they got off to a slow start, Logan Couture of San Jose kind of took the reigns over. Even with that, Jeff Skinner of Carolina has caught fire as of late, but even now-- Michael Grabner on Long Island has come on as of late, although he could be frowned upon because he's up for the Cy Young Award for more goals than assists.

The big thing with the theorem, and it's genius from Sean, is that for the most part-- most rookie usually can't keep up a torrid pace for a long season; especially when they're still getting their feet wet with the pace from the jump up in ranks. At the same time, you can really tell the elite guys that can actually maintain their pace throughout the season-- though a few have had a sophomore hiccup; then regaining their composure mid-way through the season or the season after. Then again, there's guys like Raycroft who fall off the map after one good season or Jackman, who has been proned to injuries through his career.

We still have time to see if the theorem holds true, but by the looks of it-- Sean-O could have another notch in his belt with this moral victory. If he could only get that Washington/Vancouver Stanley Cup final-- he'll be gold.

Absurd Goalie Monday: Clint Malarchuk

While we've had a lot of comebacks, this one could be more of the interesting ones-- especially because it was only a week until he played again. Yet, while it was only seven days-- the severity of his comeback made people sit there in amazement after what he had gone through. It's one moment that he will be infamously known for and many will never forget. This is the profile of Clint Malarchuk.

Starting in Junior A with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders, Malarchuk went 23-9-1 in 33 games during the 1977-78 season, as the Traders would be the runner-up in the AJHL season. Overtaking the starting role in the 1978-79 season, Malarchuk would get 52 games in with a 36-15-1 record, helping the Traders actually win the Centennial Cup for the AJHL championship. That season also saw Malarchuk get his feet wet in the WHL, playing 2 games with a 1-0-1 record for the Portland Winterhawks. Malarchuk would stay in Portland for the 1979-80 season, splitting time with Darrell May-- getting in 37 games in with a 21-10-0 record. Malarchuk would split with May again for the 1980-81 season, playing in 38 games with a 28-8-0 record, then going 3-2 in the playoffs.

Malarchuk was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1981 Draft during the fourth round, and he would go to the Fredericton Express of the AHL for the 1981-82 season, gaining the starting role while playing in 51 games, though he sported a dismal 15-34-2 record; while he got a call-up to Quebec for two games, going 0-1-1 in those games. The 1982-83 season started the shuttle years for Malarchuk, as he would shift between Fredericton and Quebec. With Fredericton, he'd go 14-6-5 in 25 games, sharing the Hap Holmes Memorial Award for lowest goals-against with Brian Ford; while with Quebec, Malarchuk went 8-5-2 in 15 games. For the 1983-84 season, Malarchuk stayed up with the Nordiques for most of the season, playing in 23 games, going 10-9-2 overall-- then spent 11 games in Fredericton with a 5-5-1 tally. Due to a logjam in net, Malarchuk was relegated to only Fredericton in the 1984-85 season; going 26-25-4 for the season playing in 56 games, then going 2-4 in six playoff games.

There was a bit of a reprieve during the 1985-86 season, as Malarchuk would stay up with the Nordiques the entire season, while making a play for the starting gig. With a 26-12-4 record in 46 games, Malarchuk was priming himself for the long-haul. However, it came falling down, as he would go 18-26-9 in the 1986-87 season, which pretty much derailed his time in Quebec.

In June of 1987, Malarchuk and Dale Hunter were traded from Quebec to the Washington Capitals for Alan Haworth, Gaeten Duchense, and a first-round pick.....which turned out to be Joe Sakic. Malarchuk would get the starting gig in Washington, while he went 24-20-4 in 54 games, then going 0-2 in three playoff games. Yet-- thanks to the play of former AGM Pete Peeters, Malarchuk had to split time for the 1988-89 season and would go 16-18-7 in 42 games with the Caps before he was moving again.

At the trade deadline, Malarchuk, Grant Ledyard and a sixth-round pick was traded from Washington to the Buffalo Sabres for Calle Johansson and a second-round pick. Malarchuk played seven games to round out the year with a 3-1-1 record....but the year almost finished in tragedy.

Everyone knows the story, on March 22nd 1989-- the skate blade of St. Louis Blues forward Steve Tuttle hit Malarchuk's neck, severing the internal jugular vein. Malarchuk had blood gushing out of his neck and was very close to dying, and would have if he was at the other end of the ice. However, thanks to the quick thinking of then Buffalo trainer and former Army medic Jim Pizzutelli, Malarchuk was able to be saved. The doctors stitched up Malarchuk with over 300 stitches to close up the wound and didn't think he should play the rest of the season-- but he did. In later interviews, Malarchuk said that he left the ice as quick as possible so that his mother wouldn't see him die on the ice. It was bleak in his mind that he had the trainer call his mother and a Pastor was called in for him.

The 1989-90 season saw Malarchuk back in Buffalo to back-up another former AGM, Daren Puppa. Malarchuk would get in 29 games with a 14-11-2 record for the end of the season. Malarchuk would return for the 1990-91 season, but the record wouldn't be as forgiving-- finishing with a 12-14-10 record in 37 games. The 1991-92 season had Malarchuk behind the Puppa and another former AGM Tom Draper, as Malarchuk would 10-13-3 in 29 games and would spend two games with the AHL's Rochester Americans, going 2-0-0. Yet, the Sabres had too many goalies for the 1992-93 season and Malarchuk was loaned out to the IHL's San Diego Gulls and would play 27 games, in which he would regain his form with a 17-3-3 record, then going 6-4 in 10 playoff games, helping the Gulls get to the Turner Cup finals, despite losing. Malarchuk would share the James Norris Trophy for lowest goals-against with Rick Knickle.

That would mark the start of Malarchuk in the IHL, as he would stay in the league, but with the Las Vegas Thunder for the 1993-94 season. He would take the torch, playing in 55 games with a 34-10-7 record. Staying with Las Vegas in 1994-95 season, Malarchuk would see his time reduced, playing 38 games with a 15-13-3 record, as Malarchuk would retire after the season ended. However, it would be short-lived, as Malarchuk would come out of retirement to play four minutes in the 1995-96 season for the Thunder. Malarchuk would have a short retirement again, going 1-1-0 in three games for the 1996-97 season before he would be done for good.

After his playing career, Malarchuk would go into coaching-- first with the Las Vegas in the 1997-98 season, then moving to the Idaho Steelheads of the WCHL from 1998 until 2000. Malarchuk would get the call to the NHL to be a goaltending consultant to the Florida Panthers for the 2002-03 season, then getting on with the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2006 until 2010 before catching on with the Atlanta Thrashers this past summer.

Even after his throat incident, Malarchuk almost got into a fatal situation his farm in Nevada, as he had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chin after setting his gun between his legs when waiting to hunt. Malarchuk and his wife deny it was a suicide attempt; but he was consuming alcohol, which didn't blend well with his medication for OCD-- a condition he developed after the throat injury.

It's been a topsy-turvy career and life for Malarchuk, but he has been able to overcome things that most people probably couldn't do after it happened. He beat the odds in hockey and cheated death twice-- plus found a career after the game and stayed in the game thanks to it. You can't keep a good man down, and Malarchuk seems to be living proof.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Five: Returns and Reunions

It's been quite the week.....and yet another goalie fight, so it just shows that I'm an idiot and really don't know anything about hockey and how it works. Why are you even reading this?? Oh well, time for the F5 because it's Friday.

1. With the rabble-rousing of Carrie Underwood husband's being traded to her locale, how rough it is for the Ottawa Senators to get nothing in return??

If I'm playing on the Senators (and if things get bad, I actually may) I'd be a little disillusioned with the situation. Sure, you expect trades to happen and maybe some of the bigger named guys-- but getting an unknown in return is a bit disheartening. Fisher wasn't the flashiest guy, but got the job done and helped that team in any chance he could. With getting only picks back, coupled with an 11-game losing skid, as well as a regime that is almost guaranteed to be ousted at season's end (though it should be sooner), you almost have to think Eugune Melnyk is playing the role of Nero as his Rome burns (rack 'em).

That said, it seems par for the course for the Sens since they made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2007 and nothing has seemed to get better or easier-- from goaltending, to coaching, to guys leaving-- it just snowballs into something worse; and you can't blame the fans for being rageful about the direction of this team.

2. With all these trades with some decent profile names, will this Trade Deadline Day be more about names moving or just upgrading role players on the roster??

This one could be all about upgrading the role players on the team. While there's decent UFAs for the summer, odds are you aren't willing to pay a lot to get them as a rental player. Basically teams are going to just tie up their loose ends when it comes to mucker and grinders, with maybe a decent size name going in the process. Yet-- I don't know if teams will wait for the 28th, as the gettings are good right now.

3. Ilya Kovalchuk is on a tear and the Devils continue their rise. Wishful thinking or was this a sign of waiting too long to replace John MacLean??

This was definitely something where they waited a bit too long to fire their coach, but they are showing they aren't the big bust many people thought they were. Kovalchuk, despite the minus-22, has been hot with five goals and five assists in the last eight games and showing he's worth his money. Even with Martin Brodeur dealing with injuries, the team has played well around Johan Hedberg recently, which is something they didn't do too much with MacLean behind the bench. While they're 13 points out of a playoff spot and have to keep an unimaginable pace to even keep up....some are keeping the faith.

4. Peter Forsberg returns tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets-- injury happens...??

I'd say before the month of February ends. While it's a solid story if he does come back and plays well enough to get a contract for next year-- but the reality of the situation is he'll play a couple minutes tonight and in a few more games before he realizes he can't keep up with the speed and then retires for good....until October when it all starts again.

5. Quebec city is getting a $400M arena built. How much will this be like the Kansas City/Sprint Center fiasco??

With no team in sight for expansion or relocation (so they say) it could be a big deal for building such an expensive arena and not have anyone to house the arena after it's built. While hockey is very prevalent in Canada and a junior team could probably house that arena-- it's not what they want. The Canadian Olympic Committee President and former Quebec Nordiques' president and club owner said the NHL will be back in three years. Wishful thinking, but you may need that kind of over-the-top positive attitude in order to make something like this succeed.


That's another week and if you want to get in contact with an idea for a topic-- is the place to send it over to. It'll be a riot if you see your topic here and you can tweet all your friends about it too....or not.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tale of Two Comebacks

Monday was the biggest day for players coming back to the NHL. First, it was the announcement of Peter Forsberg trying to do it all again with the Colorado Avalanche in a Brett Favre kind of fashion. The second was Ray Emery coming back after signing with the Anaheim Ducks. Both stories have to do with guys coming back from career-threatening injuries, but why does Emery's signing make people feel better than the Forsberg one??

The obvious answer is that Forsberg has done this before and will probably do it again until someone tells him....enough. But it's a story where there's a guy who is a champion and still wants to get out there and prove that he's got something left. The winning spirit is something to be admired, but if he flops again (not like diving) will even the Avalanche give him a chance again?? It's a matter of time before the teams just forget about the past accomplishments and have to cut anchor and go away.

With Emery, though-- it's a story of an up-and-down guy. He came through the ranks of the Ottawa Senators organization, he led them to a Cup Final. Then, once he got the extension from the team-- things went south and the team bought him out. He went to Russia, played decent-- but got into a trouble off the ice, which soured him in Russia. He was able to get back with the Flyers before he went down to a serious injury-- threatening his career....only at age 28.

When I look at it, the fact remains that we always feel bad for guy's who have their career's cut short by injury and not care about guys who are older coming back, mostly because they have actually achieved all they wanted. Granted, Forsberg has been through this rodeo before and he's someone who people are tired of hearing about because the prolonged process he has put everyone through; but it shouldn't discount his plight. He's Cinderella, trying to find the boot that fits him so he can play again. And if he can become effective again, I think it's a good story in the end and makes his plight all the better, because he could actually do what he set out to.

With Emery, it's a good story for him coming back from a serious injury, but at the same time...I don't know if I'm completely sold on it just yet. He'll definitely help the depth of the Ducks, but is there going to be a time where he blows up and becomes more a distraction than what's needed?? The Ducks are bouncing back nicely from early season struggles and if he were to disrupt something there-- is it really that good a story?? Maybe this injury has opened his eyes on dealing with difficult professional situations, but if not-- it could be interesting to see how it is.

In any case, Emery starts on his road back with the Ducks AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, while Forsberg seems to be plying his time and will return straight to the Avs line-up, seeing as he has a no-trade and no-movement clause in the pro-rated deal. Will either of these stories have a happy ending or will the script stay the same?? If nothing else, it'll be a fun sub-plot to look at as the season winds down.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Allan Bester

In a time where size is everything when it comes to goaltending, this week's AGM showed that you didn't have be big to play big. Yet, as the script goes, playing on a subpar team shows how much work one has to do, and if you hold you're own-- you have to rely on others to pick up the slack, as well. However, if nothing else-- he played for one of the better named teams in the IHL to end his career. This week, the profile of Allan Bester

Bester busted on the scene during the 1981-82 season, where he would play Junior "A" hockey with the Hamilton Kitty B's before getting a call-up to the OHL's Brantford Alexanders, where he had 19 games under his belt with a 4-11-0 record to end out his rookie year in the OHL. The 1982-83 season provided solid footing for Bester, who had a 29-21-3 record for the Alexanders and 3-3 record in the playoffs, allowing him to capture OHL First Team All-Star honors. That summer, Bester was 48th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1983 Draft.

Bester would see plenty of time in the show, as he would start off the season with the Maple Leafs, playing in 32 games, with an 11-16-4 record in the 1983-84 season, but would be sent back to the OHL. While back with the Alexanders for 23 games, Bester sported a 12-9-1 record, but 0-1 playoff record.

Bester would start out the 1984-85 season in style, getting his first win as a shutout, but would only play 15 games with the Leafs during the year, going 3-9-1. The rest of the time, Bester played with the AHL's St. Catherines Saints, going 9-18-1 in 30 games. Bester stayed in St. Catherines for the 1985-86 season, where he would be the starter and put together a solid 23-23-3 season for the Saints, then helping the team get to the Calder Cup Division Finals, but losing in seven games. Bester did get a one-game call-up to Toronto, but didn't factor in the decision.

While he started out with the now Newmarket Saints in the 1986-87 season (1-0-0), Bester would have a long ride in Toronto, playing in 36 games that season going 10-14-3 and appearing relief in a playoff game. Bester would back up Ken Wregget for the 1987-88 season, playing 30 games while going 8-12-5, as well as seeing five games in the playoffs, going 2-3 in the process. The play of Bester and Wregget's struggles allowed Bester to get the starting role in the 1988-89 season, playing in 43 games with a 17-20-3 record, but it was not enough to get into the playoffs. Despite some injuries in the 1989-90 season, Bester's 20-16-0 record allowed the Leafs to get to the .500 mark for the first time in a decade. However, Bester went 0-3 in four playoff games that year, as well as 2-1-1 in five games with Newmarket while conditioning to return. The 1990-91 season saw Bester start with the Maple Leafs, but after going 0-2-0 in three games-- he got sent down to Newmarket, where he would play 19 games there with a 7-8-4 record. Bester would get called-up for three more Leafs games and would finish 0-4-0 on the season before he would be moved.

At the trade deadline, Bester was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for a sixth round pick in the 1991 Draft. Bester would play three games to end out the 1990-91 season with the Wings, going 0-3-0. While Bester would start with the Wings in the 1991-92 season, he would only see one appearance in relief, then spending most of his time with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL, playing in 22 games going 13-8-0 and would have a huge playoff performance, going 14-5 in 19 games, helping Adirondack win the Calder Cup. Bester would win the Jack Butterfield Trophy for Playoff MVP. Bester was back in Adirondack for the 1992-93 season as the starter, playing in 41 games with a record of 16-15-5 record, then going 7-3 in 10 playoff games.

Before the 1993-94 season, Bester signed with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, but would be immediate assigned to the San Diego Gulls of the IHL, where he would play 46 games, finishing with a record of 22-14-6, then a 4-4 record in eight playoff games. Bester was back with the Gulls for the 1994-95 season, playing 58 games for a 28-23-5 record, but only 2-2 in four playoff games.

With no NHL contract, Bester signed with the Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL for the 1995-96 season, where he would spend 51 games playing in two stints-- compiling a 32-16-2 record. With his stellar play in the early going, the Dallas Stars signed Bester in January of 1996, where Bester would play 10 games with a 4-5-1 record, before returning to the Solar Bears for the playoff, going 11-12 in 23 games, as they would lose in the Turner Cup Finals. Bester was back in Orlando for the 1996-97 season, being a workhorse for the Solar Bears in playing 61 games with a stellar 37-13-3 record, then going 4-4 in 10 playoff games. One last kick in the can for Bester in the 1997-98 season, but he would only play 26 games for the Solar Bears due to an ankle injury, going 13-8-1, then 1-0 in two playoff games. After that season, Bester hung up the pads for good.

Post-retirement, Bester stayed in Orlando and at last check was the regional sales manager of the Holiday Inn Florida Region. Bester also played in many Oldtimers games, as well as playing for the Leafs Alumni during the 2000 All-Star Weekend.

While he didn't have the best teams in front of him during his NHL career, he made the most out of his opportunities and displayed them when he got later on into his career in the minors. While he was able to get more playing time while in the minors, he probably would have liked to be in direct contact with a NHL team rather than in independent minor league team, even with the great numbers he put up.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Five: Skating and Fighting are Two Things Goalies Do

It's been quite the odd week coming out of All-Star Weekend, which seemed to give a nice punch in the arms to the traditional ASG. Plus, we saw others going back onto the IR after another a poor decision-- which is something you could say throughout his career.

1. Rick DiPietro is back on the IR with facial fractures and knee swelling. How's that make everyone feel??

You have to feel bad for DiPietro, but when you see him make a poor decision like fighting with 17 second left in the game-- you kinda knew something like this would come from it. The knee swelling is nothing new, though and odds are he would probably be out a bit from that, but when he got lit up by Brent Johnson-- you knew it was just a matter of time before this news would come out. Worse off, Evgeni Nabokov still sits-- which maybe isn't a bad thing. As friend of FOHS, Anthony pointed out-- Nabby could ruin the Isles lottery chances if he played out of his mind and got the Isles on a little run-- which would make the Isles fans hate him more.

2. Which was more unlikely to see-- goalie race at the skills competition or the goalie fight??

Both are very rare and should be looked at in awe. However, it's more likely to get the goalie fight than to have a goalie race, that is only one race and happens once-a-year, if the Olympics to see. Even so, unless the games get out of hand-- we won't get a goalie fight in the NHL all that often, because we haven't seen one since 2007 in the regular season. Oddly enough, I liked both sides of things, but the race was more of a dance-off, where the fights are actually settling things once and for all. But the goalie race is all but a guarantee for ASG weekend now, but goalie fights are much more unlikely in the NHL.

3. After this All-Star Weekend, how much more of a change can we expect out of future events??

There will probably be some adjustments to some of the events during the Skills session, but in the end not much will be needed to be changed. The NHL did a lot of tinkering and it seemed to work on an idea that many hate because of the fact it's not real competition. When all is said and done-- the atmosphere was right, the festivities were great by all accounts, and things worked out well. To be honest, I believe you have to have the ASGs in places that are not hardcore hockey moments,

4. With the retirement of Craig Conroy, have we seen the last of the non-cliched players in the league??

I don't think we'll see one that was a good as Conroy. We have the Sean Avery and BizNasty types, but people hate him. It'll be a long time before we see a likable guy who doesn't throw out cliche lines again. With all the media training some people get in juniors and such-- a lot of guys lose their personality and only the muckers and grinders have personality-- but not many care for what they have to say because they're trying to put themselves over. Maybe PK Subban will carry the torch, but odds are he'll get roped in before he could actually make the dent Conroy did.

5. While the Bolts jerseys are getting pans and praised-- are there any jerseys that you hated or liked, then had a change of heart??

First and foremost, I hate the Caps new Edge jerseys when they first came out; as I mentioned when in Sombrero Guy's hotel room before we went to the Draft in Columbus. Yet, I love the Caps unis, especially the weagle patch. I think I finally came around to the Minnesota Wild's Christmas jerseys they use, as I did with the Atlanta Thrashers' baby-blue jerseys with the one-sleeve. At first I liked the Ducks' jerseys when they dropped the "mighty"-- but I turned on them when I thought there were really plain and then realized their alternates are what they should have done. Pretty sure that's all, but probably much more.


And that's another week in the books. If you have questions or idea-- email me and give me some ideas or whatever. If you don't-- same clap-trap you get every week.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Where's the Heritage Heat??

We're a little more than two weeks away from the Heritage Classic at Calgary's McMahon Stadium, where the Calgary Flames host the Montreal Canadiens in the second outdoor game in the NHL season. However, even as I go around town on my off days, the heat within the city doesn't seem to be as widespread as there has been for the Winter Classic or even All-Star Game. The hype machine seems to be reserved for some spots in the local papers and in sporting goods stores that are selling the event merchandise.

But what is the reason for the lack of publicity this thing is getting?? Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey and I discussed this twice on Face Off Hockey Show; including one that didn't get aired because of the snow.

One of the reasons is that this game is not part of the Hockey Day in Canada celebration, which is the week earlier. The thought behind this has to be that CBC could profit more from two different events than to combine them into one. It's all about the money, folks-- this shows. This game is actually part of Hockey Weekend Across America and specifically on the Hockey Day in America broadcast on NBC. CBC must be in cahoots with Evgeni Nabokov because they misjudged this whole thing, because what's more Canadian than outdoor hockey?? If there's a great way to end that day of celebration for hockey in Canada-- this would have been it. Yet, they saw a chance to get more viewers to put it on different dates and then put it in 3-D, which makes this a bit of a CF situation when you look back at it.

Another reasoning could be the match-up, many people may not see it as one to get excited about-- which I could understand. The rivalry is not like the Caps/Pens was, but these are two teams who faced off in two Stanley Cup finals back in the '80s-- there is a decent history between the two teams. Also, these teams are battling for a playoff spot; which seems a bit easier for the Canadiens, as the Flames are battling and clawing back from their early-season stumble. The match-up has a lot of underlying stories to it, aside from their match-ups in the Finals, but it because this is not one we regularly see-- it's something people may not understand the logic for it.

Finally, it could just be burnout of events for people. Let's be honest, this game is very late into the season and with the Winter Classic and All-Star Game proceeding it, fans could just be burned out from everything else. Plus, a week later, you have the trade deadline-- which many people will get hyped for and will get people to forget about this game, especially if it's bad. Yet, with not much promotion going into it and one of the most exciting non-game-days events happening a week's destined to get lost in the fold.

In time, this could be the forgotten outdoor game when all is said and done. With everything else preceding this, maybe fans are burned out from the pomp and circumstance that they just can't deal with the ending of this all and just want it to be over. Whatever it is, the fact is that while it'll be an enjoyable event-- it'll probably not be as fondly remembered as other outdoor games. Even so, I'll be lucky enough to attend-- so even if others may not remember it; I won't.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

On the Topic of the Second Half

The unofficial second-half of the season starts, even though many teams have played over 50 games. Yet, there's a lot to be settled, especially in the Western Conference; as five points separate 8th and 14th place, so there's going to be a shootout towards the end of the season. Plus, not only that-- but the shuffle for the top-spot and the shuffle to get out of the cellar (or stay in it) will be happening. For's the storylines:


Obviously, this is going to be the biggest thing going down the pike. With so many teams close enough together for the last playoff spot, the pressure on those teams will be immense. Could the Calgary Flames, who were written off in the first months, actually make the playoffs against all odds?? Will the Blues finally get the Jaroslav Halak that made him the folk hero in Montreal last playoffs?? Do the Blackhawks have what it takes to hang onto the last spots in the playoffs or will they be a one-and-done champion?? The West is always a conference for parity and this year continues that trend.


There's a high possibility that four of the teams in the Southeast Division could make the playoffs, which could put the halt on the dismissiveness against this division. Granted, the Thrashers and Hurricanes are battling it out for the last playoff spot and it'll be likely for only three teams-- but still, it's much better than the division winner only getting in. The talent is finally showing in the Southeast Division and this could be the year it takes everyone by the ear.


The Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks are tied up in points for tops in the NHL. While there may not have been many questions about the Canucks, who just seemed to falter in the playoffs when playing the Blackhawks; but the Flyers could be the surprise, if only because there were questions about the goaltending (since answered by Sergei Bobrovsky) and dealing with injuries. They've done just fine and the Flyers could be the team to beat out of the East and in the NHL when the second-season comes.


The Trade Deadline is 27 days away and it's all a matter of who is going to be what the first domino is going to be. The fact of the matter is that the salary cap has hamstrung a lot of teams and maybe some parts will go unfixed because the money doesn't allow it. Who knows if we're going to see a lot of movement (especially on the chicken fingers), but the posturing between everyone could be the real thrill to watch.


This isn't much of a second-half of the season story, but one to kick it off. The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to ditch the black and go simple and blue with their new logo and jersey for next season. The logo is very simplistic, with a nice touch of having "Tampa Bay" only on the away jerseys. It's a downer because their look was pretty solid with the black, blue, silver, and white-- plus they had their "BOLTS" jersey debuting last year, too. Plus, while it's nice to change, going along with the ownership shift-- I don't think going with all-blue is the right way; because lightning doesn't happen when there's all-blue skies. That should fun to see, as that's the first of what could be many changes, if you listen to rumors.


That's how I see the second-half as we restart the games that matter now. After this month is when we'll know the contenders and pretenders. Plus, we all know that even if teams make wholesale changes-- the chemistry may not be there and may do more to hinder than help. Drop the puck and let's get going.