Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wade Belak 1976-2011

The world lost Wade Belak on Wednesday. It was the second time in just over two weeks the NHL has lost someone close to the community, as Rick Rypien passed on the 15th of August. Both cases seem to be by way of suicide. This is also the third death this off-season, including Derek Boogaard's passing earlier in the summer.

While Belak wasn't always a guy who jumped out on the score sheet for goals or assists, he was a fan favorite and a guy who was always there to help out the team with an energy shift or to stir up things with the other team. He was always there for the media to give a quip and always seemed to have a light-hearted person. He was a character. On the ice, Belak was a scrapper, but it seemed off the ice, he was a teddy bear. The most heartbreaking part of this is him leaving behind a wife and two young daughters who may never know the answers as to why.


While people are quick to jump on sides and try to play armchair commissioner; it's not that easy. People can clamor for change as much as they want, but by all knowledge; Belak didn't have any known cases of depression nor concussions (according to him, at least). He was a character and always seemed to be a happy-go-lucky guy. The world is less without him on it anymore.

But as far as people blaming the NHL or NHLPA for not doing enough to help out their players-- who's to say they didn't?? Like I mentioned and has been mentioned abound, it didn't seem like Belak showed any symptoms of depression and it hasn't be documented that he ever requested to go into the program at all.

As I mentioned in my post about Rypien, there's a lot of times where guys aren't going to broadcast their problems out there. A lot of guys are on guard because of the profession they got into. They have a strong pride factor with their toughness and if they even show some vulnerability, it could be seen as weakness and they never showed weakness at all.

People can go on and on about the programs and how the league and the PA needs to get harsher on testing and monitoring of players-- but you cannot force someone to go into these programs. They aren't children and if they feel there is nothing wrong; you have to trust them-- especially if they aren't doing any harm to themselves or others outside of the rink.

Any kind of program a person gets into when it comes to depression is only as good as the person who is getting the help. The NHL and NHLPA could have thrown every available option at guys like Rypien and Belak and it still may not have been enough. Hell, Rypien was in a program a couple times and wasn't rushed at all to come back. He had the wherewithal to actually voluntarily go into the program; because he knew something was up and wanted to get himself better.

There's no cure-all for depression, and while the psychological part of it all is just as important as the physical part-- it's much, much harder to diagnosis and to treat; especially if someone believes they are okay the way they are. All the medicine, counseling, and time in the world could be given to any player-- and it still may not be enough.

Because of that-- you cannot blame any party involved. These are sad happenstances that occur and sadly, would have occurred regardless of how early it was caught, how much medicine was given, how much advice or life changes were suggested. That the messed up part of the brain chemistry; no one really knows how someone else feels and you have to be trusting if they aren't showing any signs.

People can go on and on about how fighting or overly physical nature of the game is to blame; but sometimes that's not always the case. These players are also humans-- they have real-life issues, real-life problems, and are just like you and me; but put on a highly pedestal because of their skills they were able to pick-up through playing a game they love, which they turned into a career. It's easy to lose sight of the humanity of the situation until it turns tragic.

God speed to you, Wade-- I hope you have found peace. To the Belak family, my deepest condolences to you all and I hope one day you may all find some peace in all of this.

To those reading this-- hug the ones you love today and let them know you love them. And hopefully I won't have to write another one of these for a good, long while.

Modernized Retro Strikes Again

Some big news on Tuesday....well, at least for the last Tuesday for August anyway-- was the Los Angeles Kings putting out a release saying that they are ditching the purple from their color scheme and going with a "modernized retro" version of the Gretzky era black/silver motif. At the Draft, they introduced the white jersey to go along with the black jersey, which used to be the third jersey.

These jerseys are (I believe) the fifth "modernized retro" edition behind the Capitals, Penguins, Sabres, Flyers, and Oilers. They harken back to the Wayne Gretzky era and how they brought the Kings to higher levels of notoriety. Of course, it brings up the unnecessary piping issue again, but at least they don't have front numbers to them all.

However, I have an issue with ditching the purple out of the scheme. Not only is purple a regal color-- something you'd think the Kings would want to have-- they couldn't have gone with a more bland combination of black, silver, and white. The purple and black were unique combination and something that you didn't see much in sports. Hell, I don't believe purple has been used in the NHL prior or since (Mighty Ducks wore plum, Avalanche burgundy; so calm with that chatter). It's bad enough that we have teams going to navy alternate in the past couple of years and before that-- all black everything. Now, we lose a very unique color in the lexicon of sports.

Granted, I could be saying this because I'm a Mount St. Joseph alumni ('01), where our colors were purple and cream-- but I liked the look the Kings already had. It make things pop uniform wise and was something that went with their whole theme of their identity. People fawned over their purple and yellow retro jerseys-- but they can't go ahead and embrace the purple as it was already?? It's confusing, people.

In the end, it's all about nostalgia nowadays. If people clamor to one style over another-- a team will eventually turn to that. Look at all these "Turn Back The Clock" nights and yearn for the past, even though they were probably horrible decisions then and now. But, I'll miss the purple on the jerseys and hope that the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, and Colorado Rockies can hold down the purple reign (HA-- PUNS!!) in sports.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jacques Caron

With this week's AGM, we go for a guy who had to take part in two changes that involved the old school NHL Reverse Draft; all leading to very new teams, just happened out of expansion. Even though he didn't see much NHL time, his post-career hockey life has seen him work with the greatest in the NHL and get some hardware in the process. This week, we look at the career of Jacques Caron.

Starting in the Ontario Hockey Association Junior League in the 1956-57 season, Caron played with the Toronto Marlboros, playing in 10 games before moving onward to the Peterborough Petes in the 1957-58 season, where he would play in 31 games. Caron stayed with the Petes for the 1957-58 season, going 24-14-4 during 43 games; then went 9-3-1 in 13 playoff games, as well as going 0-2 in Memorial Cup qualifications.

The 1959-60 season saw Caron move to the Eastern League with the Washington Presidents, where he would play in 55 games with three shutouts. However, the 1960-61 season saw him go back to Canada to play for the Senior League Rouyn-Noranda Alouettes, were he would help them get to the Allan Cup, though he would be 0-3 in the tournament.

With the 1961-62 season, Caron would move back to the States; starting in the Eastern League in five games with the Charlotte Checkers before moving to the AHL with the Springfield Indians, where he would go 4-1 in five games. Caron would stick with the Indians for the 1962-63 season, going 12-14-7 in 38 games that season. Sticking Springfield again for the 1963-64 season, Caron would play in 31 games and finished with a 12-14-1 record on the year. Caron saw more time for the Indians in the 1964-65 season, where he would play 55 games and go 21-29-4 for the year. Caron's would only see 33 games in the 1965-66 season, where he went an even 15-15-1, but then would move up to 35 games in the 1966-67 season, though with an 11-17-5 record to show for it.

For the 1967-68 season, Caron's contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Kings, as the Kings bought the Springfield AHL franchise. Caron would stick with the Springfield Kings for most of the season, going 19-18-4 in 42 games, then heading to Los Angeles for a game, which was a loss. Caron played in the Western League for most of the 1968-69 with the Denver Spurs, finishing there with a 7-21-3 record in 31 games, but still got the call to Los Angeles to go 0-1-0 in three games the Kings.

In June 1969, Caron was picked up by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Reverse Draft, where NHL teams would pick from minor league teams and vice-versa. In any case, the 1969-70 season saw Caron back with the Spurs, where he'd go 8-16-4 in 31 games. Caron saw 30 games in 1970-71 season with a 10-13-4 record, then 0-2 in the two playoff appearances he saw. While Caron went back to Denver for 20 games for the 1971-72 season (15-3-0); he got the call up to St. Louis for 28 games, where he'd end up with a 14-8-5 record, then went 4-5 in nine playoff games that season. Caron stuck with St. Louis for the 1972-73 season, playing in 30 games behind Wayne Stephenson, which saw Caron go 8-14-5, then 0-2 in three playoff games.

The Reverse Draft struck again, as the Vancouver Canucks claimed Caron before the 1973-74 season. Caron actually stuck with the Canucks and played in 10 games, finishing with a 2-5-1 record in that season.

Caron was traded by the Canucks to the Buffalo Sabres before the 1974-75 season. That season, Caron played in the AHL with the Syracuse Eagles, where he'd play in 50 games and finish with a 16-21-9 record.

The 1975-76 season had Caron stay in Syracuse, but with the North American League; playing in 32 games with three shutouts and was awarded First-Team All-Star honors for that year. Also that season, Caron played with the WHA's Cleveland Crusaders, going 1-0-1 in two games. The 1976-77 season saw Caron with Syracuse for 22 games with a shutout before Cleveland traded Caron to the Cincinnati Stingers; playing in 24 games with a 13-6-2 record with three shutouts.

The 1977-78 season saw Caron play one minutes with the Binghamton Whalers of the AHL, before he would go into a small retirement. Caron would return for 19 minutes with the Whalers in the 1980-81 season, then he'd actually hang-up the pads for good.

Post-playing career, Caron was an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers, before moving onto the New Jersey Devils. With the Devils, Caron is the goaltending coach for Martin Brodeur; which allowed Caron to get Stanley Cup rings in 1995, 2000, and 2003. Caron is a Special Assignments Coach now.

Though he held it down in the minor leagues, his many travels through the NHL and dealing with all assortment of leagues got Caron pretty prepared for his coaching career. Whether or not the knowledge he had was past onto Brodeur, but the experiences probably aided him along.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Many Pads of Rick DiPietro

When it comes to goaltenders, there seems to be a lot of times during the season where goalies will switch their pads. Most of the time, it's due to the impact their original set of pads taking so much punishment from pucks, that they need to get better protection. Other times, it's their pad company wanting to roll out their new style of pads for next season.

Most of the time, it's a small change and not many people will not notice it. Yet, for some times, it's beyond noticeable and could be made for fodder by some people silly enough to actually take it and point it out.

Enter Rick DiPietro. DiPietro has played 307 games since he came into the NHL in during the 2000-01 season. This included the combined 39 games he has played in the past three seasons. Yet, in those games-- as well as games played for Team USA in International competition for the World Cup and World Championships-- DiPietro has had a numerous amount of pad changes.

Of course, I'm just talking about a quick Google Image Search, but 26 different sets of pads have been used by DiPietro, by my count. Some times, it's small changes-- other times, the changes are very drastic and noticeable because of the Islanders' colors of blue and orange, with DiPietro utilizing those colors to the utmost. Of the 26 pictures, 24 of him during his Islanders tenures (two from Team USA) and if you do the math, he changes pads almost every 12 games (which I'm sure is wrong by dividing 307 by 24) . That's almost three sets of pad changes for his nine years in the NHL.

However, because I don't want you kids to do all the research-- here's the slideshow of the pads that DiPietro has used over his years-- enjoy.

Of course, the credits varies by picture and because Google Image Search is what I used-- so I couldn't really give proper credit. If you see a picture of yours and want the credit-- drop it in the comments and I'll go ahead and give you the credit. AND-- if you had anymore, please feel free to send me a link to those pads.

I don't know what the purpose of this whole drill was, but I just found it interesting about the frequency that DiPietro changes pads and how drastic he goes ahead and changes them willy-nilly; but it's August and we need some kind of filler with all of this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Kevin Hodson

There are many times where a guy falls into good fortunes and sometimes where guys make their own good fortunes. It seems that this week's AGM had a little bit of both during his playing career. While he made a name for himself on the junior stage; he fell into greatness on the NHL stage to start off with, then had some troubles getting any ice time from there. This week, the profile of Kevin Hodson.

Hodson got started off with his hometown Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior "A" league before he moved on with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds starting in the 1990-91 season, where Hodson would play 30 games and finished off with a 18-11-0 record; then went 9-1 in ten playoff games on way to helping the Greyhounds to the OHL Championship. However, Hodson would go 0-1 in two Memorial Cup games. The 1991-92 season saw Hodson get more game time in with the Greyhounds, going 28-12-4 in 50 games; then going 12-6 in 18 playoff games to help the Greyhounds to a second straight OHL Championship. In the 1992 Memorial Cup, Hodson went 3-1, with the only loss coming in the Championship game.

In August of 1992, the Chicago Blackhawks signed Hodson to a contract, but stuck him in the IHL with the Indianapolis Ice. With the Ice, Hodson went 5-9-0 in 14 games before the Blackhawks sent him back to the OHL and the Greyhounds. Back with the Hounds, Hodson went 18-5-2 in 26 games, then going 11-2 in the playoffs, though the Hounds would lose to Peterborough in the OHL Championship series. Yet, with Sault Ste. Marie hosting the Memorial Cup, they would get into the tournament and Hodson would go 3-0-1 and allowed the Greyhounds to win the Memorial Cup in their third try. Hodson took home the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Goaltender in the Memorial Cup, the Memorial Cup All-Star Team, then the OHL All-Star team as well.

Hodson would sign with the Detroit Red Wings before the 1993-94 season, but would be placed in the AHL with the Adirondack Red Wings. Hodson would get in 37 games and post a 20-10-5 record in the regular season, before going 0-2 in three playoff games. The 1994-95 season saw Hodson able to get into 51 games and finish 19-22-8 record, but only go 0-4 in four playoff games. Back in Adirondack in the 1995-96 season, Hodson would 13-13-2 in 32 games, then 0-2 in three playoff games. Hodson would also get into four games with Detroit, going 2-0-0 in his time there.

Detroit kept Hodson up on the team in the 1996-97 season as a third goalie, which limited him to only six games all season for Detroit, finishing with a 2-2-1 record. However, thanks to him staying up on the roster all year, the Red Wings petitioned and got Hodson's name on the Stanley Cup when they won it that summer. Hodson did get two games in the IHL that season with the Quebec Rafales and end with a 1-1-0 record. In the 1997-98 season, Hodson was the back-up for the season and get into 21 games, finishing with a 9-3-3 record and saw 16 seconds of ice time in the playoffs, as the Red Wings would win the Stanley Cup yet again. The 1998-99 season had Hodson seeing limited time in Detroit, playing on four games with only a 0-2-0 record; then being sent down to Adirondack-- playing in six games finishing with a 1-3-2 record before getting on the move.

At the trade deadline in 1999, Hodson and a draft pick was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Wendel Clark, Bill Ranford, and a draft pick. In five games at the end of the season, Hodson went 2-1-1. Hodson would be back in Tampa for the 1999-2000 season, but would appear in most of his 24 games in relief, finishing with a 2-7-4 record. He would get sent down to the IHL's Detroit Vipers for nine games, finishing 2-6-0 record there.

Hodson was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in June of 2000, but would not play with the Canadiens or their affiliates, pretty much being inactive for a coupe years.

Hodson would return to the NHL when he re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2002-03 season, but only appear in seven games with a 0-3-1 record before deciding to hang-up the pads in January of 2003 when the Bolts brought in John Grahame from Boston.

The retirement didn't last too long, as Hodson signed with the Texas Wildcatters of the ECHL in August of 2003, but did not make the squad out of camp. In November of 2003, Hodson went to Finland, signing for Jokerit. Hodson would appear in only three games, finishing with a 1-1-1 record before hanging up the pads for good.

After his career, Hodson went back to school and earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie and is now working as a financial adviser with Edward Jones Investments.

While he didn't have the greatest NHL career, it was mostly because he wasn't able to get enough games in; but was valuable enough to be kept on a good team as insurance. It got him some good hardware in the end and some valuable experiences. Even so, he had enough sense to go back to school and make the most of his life after hockey; even if he's not directly related to the game anymore.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rick Rypien 1984-2011

The world lost Rick Rypien on Monday night.

There's not much else that really can be said that hasn't been said already about the young man's life being taken so young. There were a decent amount of demons in his life that he tried to overcome and to some, it seemed that he may have been able to curb his moods; especially with his signing in Winnipeg this summer.

This is where I go full disclosure on this. I am a sufferer of depression. It's not something I like to put out there too much, but as I look back on what has come out on Rypien from those close to him; I see a lot of things that I could relate to or that may have some personality traits that have been put out there.

It may seem like I'm trying to put myself over in this tragic time (not the case at all), part of me wants to give a different angle and maybe put forth some idea to people who may not be familiar with some things and just different stuff that's being said about Rypien and the person he was. This will probably seem all over the place, so I apologize in advance.

Also, this is all from my personal experiences in one way or another. Others will probably say differently, which is another great thing to have-- options are always a good thing.

"I’ve got a clean mind, and, I’m healthy, I’m happier with myself than I’ve ever been. I think it’s going to be how I behave and how I act over time, but I’m just taking it one day at a time, and I’m more excited about hockey than I’ve ever been in my whole life." ~ Rick Rypien; March 8th, 2011.
While we don't know if Rypien actually did commit suicide or not to this point, it's still odd that the RCMP would say it was a "sudden and non-suspicious" death. If it was suicide, that just shows how quickly depression can change things. Five months is a long time, but who knows how many times he had bounced back and forth from mood to mood. That's just it with depression-- it's never expected, one way or another. You could be at the highest highs, but the next minute; you're down in the dregs again within seconds, minutes, days, weeks, and so on. It's a dreaded thing and you never really know what's happening until it's too late.

The root of depression is something that is also unknown, though while he was playing junior hockey in Regina, his girlfriend at the time was killed in a car accident on the way to seeing him play. Odds are, something like that is going to eat away at a teenager and be hard to deal with. With a trigger like that, it may not take much for anyone to slip back into a back thought process that isn't the brightest.

"You could tell he was hurting after that but he was just very stoic-- he just kept so much to himself. I don't want to say he was guarded, but he was very private, almost shy." ~Brent Parker, GM of the Regina Pats

"He was kind of a man of few words, but once you got to know him he was just a great guy. If you sit down and have a beer, he’s not going to be the loudest guy in a group of people but once you get two, three, four guys around a table, that’s when you see his true colours come out. He’s funny and he had a heart. It’s sad now to talk about him." ~Tanner Glass, Montreal Gazette
When it comes to group situations, some who are depressed are going to be very on-guard when dealing with it. They don't really want to be vulnerable to people they may not know. Even those who they do know, they don't like to put themselves out there at first. That said, like Glass mentioned, when you get a solid group there and the mood is light; it's easy for people to have their mood change and actually start enjoying things more and more and get involved into the discussion and involved into the conversation or whatever social activity there happens to be.

It's a matter of gaining trust and a matter of having the mindset that things will be okay if you put yourself into the whole spirit of the things going on around you. Sure, some events may be harder than others; but that can go with anyone in a new or unfamiliar situation.

"Even being his roommate, and on the road we did pretty much everything together … he didn't like to talk about that kind of stuff a whole lot. And guys knew not to pry because when you did try to pry, he kind of got uncomfortable." ~Jason Jaffray, USA Today
That's where the hook is when it comes to those who are depressed. There's some out there who do like to air out their problems, but for some-- they'd rather not broadcast it out to anyone, even trained professional. Why that is?? Talking from a personal stand-point, it could seem as a bother. People do want to help and people do want to be able to listen-- but at the same time, a person in that state of mind will not see it like that may think they would be judge differently and have people act different around them-- something that no one wants to have happen to them.

The whole bothered feeling may go with the whole ideal that everyone has problem and the mindset that you really don't matter and who's to say your problems are bigger or more of a concern than the person you're trying to talk to. When you have that down feeling and possible feeling of hopelessness; you're not going to be as open as you would like to be or as people would want you to be.

A lot of people have offered either places to call or go to in order to get help or have offered an ear for support. It is a very kind gesture and really selfless, but there's a lot of people out there who are depressed who won't take them up on those suggestions or offer because of not wanting the feeling of being vulnerable or bothersome.

"Everyone knew he had some issues that he had to get taken care of last year, and he was definitely a new man when he came back and … he was definitely the happiest I'd even seen him" ~Jason Jaffray
It all goes back to moods changing in an instance from one thing or another. It's something that can change on a dime and even though the outlook you have is sunny and help you've gotten gave you a nice foundation to build off of....sometimes, it's just not enough. And that's the sad part of it all.

Rypien did all he could to help himself. The Canucks, the NHL-- they did all they could in order to not just get Rypien back on the ice; but mostly to get him back on track for his own life rather than his own career.


It's been quite the tough nine-months when it comes to death of those in the hockey community in their playing career-- Rypien, Derek Boogaard, Sharks' prospect Tom Cavanagh, and Daron Richardson, daughter of former player Luke Richardson, all passing long before they should have.

You can debate whether fighting or physicality of the game is the cause for player's mentality change or what-have-you, but at the same time you can't dismiss the possible preexisting conditions that may have loomed before hand. Something where hockey or physicality wasn't involved. Sometimes depression or mental illness is something that can't be detected as readily as other illness.

The best thing to do is to see someone qualified to talk to. There are plenty of places to turn to online-- TWLOHA is one that I'm a big supporter of. You have the Depression and Bi-Polar Alliance and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in the US and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. In Ottawa, the Do It For Daron Foundation is one that has been putting themselves out there to the youth of the region to talk about their problems in the wake of Richardson's passing.

There's times where's it hard to admit you need help or admit that you have mental issues because there's people who do have preconceived motions of how people act and how they should be treated. But it's okay to look for help and it's okay to talk to people if they're willing to listen to you without judgement. People are there for you even when you think no one is. Reach out to them. Keep the discussion going because there's a lot more people out there who are dealing with the same problems as you.

You're not alone.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Ken Holland

This week's AGM is a guy people all know very well in many hockey circles, yet don't really remembered that he played in the NHL. While the greatness of his hockey mind can't be matched, his career as a goalie is one that's often overlooked. This week, the profile of Ken Holland.

Holland started his march with his hometown Vernon Vikings in the BCJHL, where he played 16 games in the 1973-74 season. The 1974-75 season had Holland move onto the WHL and the Medicine Hat Tigers where he would go 23-10-4 in 37 games for the Tigers. Holland was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1975 Amateur Draft, but stayed with the Tigers for the 1975-76 season. Holland would go 22-11-1 in 41 games with the Tigers.

Holland jumped to the professional ranks in the 1976-77 season with the North Amercian League with the Binghamton Dusters, playing in 48 games with a 3.80 GAA and taking home Second-Team All-Star honors that season.

Holland and the Dusters moved to the AHL for the 1977-78 season, where Holland would go 12-19-3 in 39 games in Binghamton. The 1978-79 season had Holland in 41 games a finishing the regular season with a 19-17-3 record, then going 5-5 in ten playoff games. Holland moved onto the Springfield Indians for the 1979-80 season, where he would go 15-14-5 in 37 games.

Holland signed with the Hartford Whalers in July of 1980, but would spend most of the year in the AHL with the Binghamton Whalers, compiling a 15-25-4 record in the regular season and 0-2 in the post-season. Holland played in one game for Hartford, which was a loss. Holland enjoyed a better season for the 1981-82 season, going 27-13-4 in 46 games, then going 8-7 in 15 playoff games; both enough to have him garner Second-Team All-Star honors. Holland would play 48 games in the 1982-83 season for Binghamton and finish off with a 23-18-5 record, then 1-2 in the playoffs.

Holland would then sign with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 1983, but the 1983-84 season had Holland playing with the Adirondack Red Wings for most of the season, going 19-15-6 in those 42 games; then 3-4 in seven post-season games. However, Holland would play three games with Detroit, but only have an 0-1-1 record to show. Sticking with Adirondack for the 1984-85 season, Holland finished with 13-22-6 in 43 games before hanging up the pads.

After retirement, Holland stayed with the Red Wings organization-- first as a scout for the Western side of North America, then move all the way up the ladder before being named General Manager in 1997. Since then, Holland has had quite the run; building up talent from deep in the Draft and winning three Stanley Cups as a GM.

He may not have had the chance to prove himself as a player in the league, he has made himself a player in the management side of things in the NHL. Many have considered him to be one of the best GMs to ever be in the game and you'd be hard pressed to fight that argument.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bett and Bals: "Shroud of Mystery"

The past couple of days has brought us the news that the Phoenix Coyotes have had two mystery buyers approached the team about purchasing them away from the NHL. Now, whether or not the team stays in the area remains to be seen; but the bigger question are who are these two anonymous owners?? Have we seen them before at all or are they new guys we've never heard of before?? This episode has Gary Bettman in his condo showing around a perspective owner of the sights and sounds of Glendale. While he looks strikingly familiar to someone Bettman has seen before, but he doesn't pick up on it....

Gary Bettman: And as you see here, just vast amounts of land out there. Sure, it's warm-- but no humidity, so you've got to like that. What do you think about all of that??

Mystery Buyer: It seems like a good place to be, but more importantly-- what's the cell phone and tablet connection like out here??

GB: Interestingly, it's pretty good. There's not much out here to block your service. It's funny-- you look like a guy who used to be all about the phone service....but he didn't have glasses, a big nose, or a mustache. So, what do you think about signing this here Memorendum of Agreement mister.....

MB: Jalsillie-- Bim Jalsillie.

GB: Well, Mr. Jalsillie, I think you'll love it here in Glendale and it should be a great team for you to follow, despite the what has happened this summer and the team not really snatching up much of anyone on the free agent market....even losing their top goalie.

MB: I've noticed that. Now...if I wanted to move the team, perish the thought, how would we go about that??

GB: You've come to something that's been a struggle, but between you, me, and this condo-- it won't be that hard, Mr. Jalsillie. The fact is I only stopped a seller from moving because-- well, I didn't like him that much and tried to convince him this area needed this team. It's just to bust his balls.

MB: I see-- well, where should I sign right here?? (As he bends down to sign the MoA, his Groucho Marx glasses fall off and Bettman realizes who it is.)

GB: You dropped your-- oh GODDAMMIT!! How could you have done this to me, Jim?? I trusted this Mr. Jalsillie and now you have to throw me this curve that it was actually you??

Jim Balsillie: Seriously?? I just switched the first letters of my name and you couldn't pick up on it?? I'm in a Blackberry t-shirt for the love of god....

GB: Honestly, I didn't know it was you. I wouldn't have know if these glasses didn't fall out. I shared everything with Mr. Jalsillie....

JB: I know you did and there's not enough mind bleach in the world to take that away from my memory. But it just goes to show that you and I can co-exist, Gary.

GB: But like I said to Mr. Jalsillie...

JB: Stop that...

GB: ....this is a team that doesn't need to stay in the area, but I want it to. You know there's not much else in this area-- why would you want to take this team from the area when there's so much this team could be??

JB: Didn't you say this team didn't do much in the off-season?? Didn't you say this team doesn't need to be here?? The fact of the matter is that with everything all done and people locked up for the season; why would there be a big buzz for this team in this area?? They had gone from a great story the past couple of years to possible craptasticness this season. The fact this team has had so much turmoil anyway-- players would be gunshy to sign here long-term anyway.

GB: Please don't make me go to Canada again right now-- I'm still not over Winnipeg.

JB: That's just it though-- the passion is there in Canada and you know the revenue stream will be good to go up there; which is good for business and is good for the economy.

GB: You don't hear the people trying to fire you....

JB: Until you see the stocks plummeting and realize your network is used to help communicate rioting.

GB: Topical. Yet, there's not many places up in Canada who have buildings ready and there's already a couple places that are in the battle with their local governments in order to get their new arena built up there and if you get this team and you have to battle the government; then not get it after all-- why would I want to sell a team to you OR ANYONE who doesn't have someone structured and ready to go right now??

JB: Fair enough, but with me-- I can build the arena out of unused Blackberry Playbooks. And at this point, if you're selling to someone that doesn't have some contingency plan; that's your own fault for selling to them and their own fault for wanting out and then not getting a place in the midst of it all.

GB: I just don't get why people aren't seeing how well this community can thrive when this team is winning.

JB: Any community can thrive with a winning team, but at the same time; who's going to want to come here to actually work out for the team and not use this as a country club?? Sure, Dave Tippett has been very well about getting these guys to focus; though I'm sure with not much star power around-- it could turn into the issues like it was before.

GB: Though, at the same time-- you can't get a lot of guys if you're going to be moving to a place they won't want to be moving to. You're going to have issues attracting talent either way, but it's much easier to sell a city you're already at then in a destination you're going.

JB: But the arena is in the middle of nowhere and even winning, it's hard to get a lot of people out there until the troops are rallied and the threat of a move is in the conversation.

GB: I get that, but the thing is that you get the people in to make this work and the people will show up regardless, so long as their winning.

JB: I don't think it works like that.

GB: Maybe not, but now that you duped me; I have to worry that this next mystery buyer isn't going to do the same thing. (Doorbell rings) See here he is now.

JB: Really?? You brought him all the way overhere, even when I'm here??

GB: You're not getting the team, what's the worst that could happen??

(Opens Door)

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

GB: WHATTHEWHOTHEBAAAHHHHH!!! (Falls over coat-rack)

JB: Tell me you didn't see that coming. Hey, how are you going to buy the team anyway??


JB: Hilarious.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

On the Topic Of Mascots

As the Draft is being revealed as heading to Pittsburgh for June 2012, there needed to be some shuffling of scheduling for the Consol Energy Center. One of which was a "Furries" Convention that needed to be pushed a week earlier. If you're not familiar with the "Furries" craze....then read up on it at the link.

Not only is that kind of amusing to me, but it made me wonder about mascots and how fun it would be if the mascots actually picketed outside during the FanFest wondering where the convention was and why they weren't notified.

In any case, since it's August and not much is going on out there-- this is a post on mascots that are my favorite-- sans Boomer, because I've already done something about him before.

1. Harvey the Hound-- You always got to love the first in any movement and Harvey is the first mascot in the NHL. Introduced in 1983, Harvey has been most noticeable for having his tongue ripped out by then Oilers' coach Craig MacTavish. Plus, the fact they use-- I guess-- a rescue dog for the Flames and he doesn't have a shirt on.....makes it even more interesting. Good on Harvey for being the first and most unusual-to-the-team-name mascot.

2. Badaboum-- This was the mascot of the Quebec Nordiques and it almost seemed like the starting for the Quebecors to actually have crazy muppet-esque mascots for their representation. Sadly, Badaboum did not make the trek to Colorado and could make a comeback (doubtful) if there's a team that relocates to Quebec City.

3. Youppi-- To continue with the Quebec theme, the Canadiens' mascot could be the most versatile, as Youppi was the iconic mascot of the Montreal Expos; but when they moved to Washington, DC-- the Habs picked up the pieces and kept the tradition of the Expos alive. They have the retired Expos numbers in the rafters and brought over Youppi in order to kept that tradition alive.

4. Stormy-- A hog shouldn't correlate with a hurricane, but it does in Raleigh. You see, the Hurricanes could have been called the Ice Hogs because of the all the hog farms in North Carolina. Yet, it still makes me laugh that a hog is the mascot of the Hurricanes-- but it's probably better than anything they could have come up with otherwise.

5. Nordy-- While I did say once that he was an odd looking mascot-- you have to respect the Wild's mascot. Not only is he half-bear, half-fox, half-man (ManBearFox??), but he has a mullet. Any mascot that can rock the mullet is alright in my books, even if they look freaky as hell and make people cock their heads to the sides wondering what it is.

That's my five-- and while these choices aren't like the NHL Guardians, it's a little more family friendly and unique to the team at each turn. Some have a lot to do with the team, some do not-- but the ones that do not are the best because of the guessing game of why they actually exist.

Monday, August 08, 2011

FOHS's Decade Under the Influence

(Yes, I ripped this off from a Taking Back Sunday song, deal with it)

It's kind of crazy that Face Off Hockey Show has been "on the air" for ten years. It's even weirder that we still keep going and don't get sick of it. Okay, not weird because we all like hanging out and talking with each other; but the point is this-- it's been a long crazy road we've been on.

All starting at the original studio in the two-car garage in Lanham, Maryland, where we used very old soundboards and an unusual set-up of things, but it felt like home. With only a few computers to surf and stream other things on the network-- the Face Off Hockey Show began.

It was a rough first couple of years, with myself being in Aston, Pennsylvania for the first year-- eventually traveling 90 minutes each way to do things in studio on Wednesdays; then the second year having Marc "with a 'C'" pledging for a fraternity, as well as he and I play on what is now known as the adult league team-- Deadeye, but we made it through.

Then the show moved to the Crofton studios-- more space, more freedom, fancy set-up and equipment and good times. That's probably one of the closest things we'll have to a radio station set-up without actually being on a radio station. That was heyday of BCM, with shows coming and going and a lot of things happening. However, while still in Crofton, I decided to move off to Calgary-- which put the future a bit in doubt after that third year. Though we've had issues with the sound quality-- the Calgary move hasn't been too shabby for the past seven years since that move.

Then the last move for the studio, which was into Sean's House in Perry Hall. It's got a more homey feel, with a bit less space; but still a space to ourselves. The network is just us doing our live show, which is a bit of an end of an era for the empire; but it shows that we can still get off our asses to do something new each and every Wednesday (521 and counting) and hopefully entertain and inform you.

Through these ten years, we've made plenty of friends-- both in the industry of hockey and fans who stumbled upon us. For each of those people; we're appreciative of what you've provided us-- whether it's content, suggestions, or even just a kind word or two (or even just lending an ear or two to listen)-- we can't thank you all enough for listening to us ramble on and on and on and still come back for more.

At the end of the day, we're still going strong and-- as far as I know-- have no plans to stop it from going. We've got a good thing and we like going on yearly trips to wherever the Draft is and meeting new people and reconnecting with our old friends who we may see only once a year. We appreciate people more than their status or what contacts they may have-- because if we didn't like them as friends; we won't associate with them-- simple as that.

And, because you're my friends and I like you (for the most part)-- if you listen to at 7:30 PM ET on Wednesday....we'll have clips of our FIRST EVER SHOW on August 8th, 2001 and making fun of how squeaky we sound and just how green we were. Plus, to show that the randomness isn't because we have nothing else to talk about-- but because it's who we are.

I can't stress it enough how appreciative I am to the people who have stuck with us for the majority of the decade we've been on, which has jumped since the lockout and thanks to social media like Facebook or Twitter (and mine). Thank you again and hope to see you through to the next ten years of Face Off Hockey Show.

Absurd Goalie Monday: Tyrone Garner

It's rare that the AGM didn't spend his entire pro career as a goalie, but at the same time-- the story of this AGM is too good to pass up. Thanks to the suggestion from the fantastic Sasky from Australia, this week-- the profile of Tyrone Garner.

The native of Stoney Creek, Ontario, Garner began his part in Junior "B" with the Stoney Creek Spirit, going 2-7-1 in 10 games during the 1994-95 season. Garner would also spend eight games with the Junior "A" Hamilton Kitty B's, finishing with a 4.01 GAA.

The 1995-96 season saw Garner make the next step, going to the OHL's Oshawa Generals and playing in 32 games with an 11-15-4 record. That was enough for the New York Islanders to select Garner in the 4th Round of the 1996 Draft. Yet, the 1996-97 would be a rough one for Garner, as he would only play nine games with Oshawa, putting up a 6-1-0 record, then a 1-0 record in three games in the playoffs.

During that season, as well, Garner's rights, Marty McInnis, and a draft pick were traded to the Calgary Flames for Robert Reichel. Garner wouldn't make the jump to the professional ranks, as he would stay with Oshawa for the 1997-98 season, going 23-17-8 in 54 games, but then going 3-4 in seven playoff appearances. The fourth and final year of OHL play for Garner had him play in only 44 games with a 24-15-3 record with four shutouts and then going 9-6 in the 15 playoff games he appeared in. Garner got Second-Team All-Star honors from the OHL.

When Oshawa's season was done, Garner made the jump to the Calgary Flames for three games that season; going 0-2-0 in those games.

The 1999-2000 season had Garner bounce all around the minor leagues, starting off the AHL's Saint John Flames, where Garner got into 19 games with a 4-8-4 record in those games, before being loaned out to the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL, where he would play three games with an 0-2-0 record. Garner wasn't done there; being loaned out to the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL-- going 8-6-3 in 17 games then losing his only playoff appearance.

The 2000-01 season had Garner still in the ECHL, first starting off with the Johnstown Chiefs for five games (3-1-1) before moving onto the Greenville Grrrowl, where he would play in 35 games, compiling a 17-15-3 record. The Grrrowl would retain Garner for the 2001-02 season, only playing in 29 regular season games, posting a 12-12-5 record; but the playoffs were another story, as Garner put up a 12-2 record, leading the Grrrowl to the Kelly Cup championship. Garner would share the Playoff MVP with teammate Simon Gamache.

The 2002-03 season had Garner signed with the Florida Panthers. He would still be in the ECHL, but with the Jackson Bandits-- going 18-17-4 in 39 playoff games, as well as getting one game in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage, which was a loss.

With no opportunities in North America, Garner decided go overseas to Germany to play for the Stuttgart Wizards for the 2003-04 season, playing in 54 games with seven shutouts and a 2.54 GAA. The 2004-05 season had Garner only play in 39 games with a 3.04 GAA and one shutouts.

The journey continued in the 2005-06 season, as Garner went over to Norway, which would change his career forever. Garner played with Valerenga IF Oslo for 27 games with a 2.59 GAA and .914 save percent, accompanied by two shutouts. Yet, it was the playoffs that really changed Garner's career and life around.

During the league semi-finals again the Storhamar Dragons, Garner was facing a penalty shot; where the shooter severely deked Garner out, forcing Garner to over-extend his leg. The over-extension caused Garner's groin muscle to snap off the bone, leaving the goalie in severe pain and his career in peril. The doctors said he would be able to play, but he couldn't play goaltender for at least one full year.

Knowing he probably had to stay in some kind of ice shape to make a comeback, his father made a suggestion to make a move to the forward position. His size (6'0, 215) made him a natural fit for a power winger. Luckily, Garner was able to catch on with the Jacksonville Barracudas of the Southern Professional League for the 2006-07 season, putting up 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games as a winger.

While he seemed to enjoy playing forward, the bug for playing in net remained, which is why he decided that rather than perform dryland training, he would go to a place where it's winter time in summer. Garner signed on with the Brisbane Blue Tongues of the Australian Hockey League for their 2007 season to play in net for them. In the 13 games with the Blue Tongues, Garner went 8-2-2 in his return to the crease.

That fall, Garner returned to the SPHL's Barracudas as a forward and would put up 12 goals and 27 points in 41 games in the 2007-08 season. Garner used the 2008-09 season to play senior's hockey in Ontario for the Brantford Blast, putting up seven goals and 11 points in 13 games.

After that, it seems that Garner stopped playing puck-- at least in places where stats are tallied up for internet consumption.

While he took a unique route to keep playing after his career path changed, the fact he still had the wherewithal to actually continue playing hockey despite not playing in his natural position shows that you can make something out of nothing if you put your full effort into it. Plus, if nothing else-- that injury and return got him more coverage of his career than probably ever before.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Is the Buffaslug is the New Fisherman??

Now, I've gone on before about the '90s era of jersey becoming the new found retro (with the same Ziggy Palffy photo...) and I think I may have found the new trend of one logo/identity that will be hail as awful at the time, but when looking back on it was so bad that it was actually cool, neat, and hip to have in the present day.

The Buffaslug.

Now, this isn't because I bought an authentic jersey and fancy Buffaslug hat on the very cheap and hoping to get on the ground floor; but when I look at it in-depth-- this could be something that in a few years could be the nostalgic dream for some fans and collectors alike. Much like how the Gorton's Fisherman Islanders jersey is fondly look back and has many people pining to get their hands on a jersey.

Sure, the two have their difference, but if you'll allow me the time and the begging capabilities, I'll see if I can show the similarities and change your mind on how you look at the Buffaslug.

1. Both were quite the change for each identity, but different for each team. The Islanders went from their normal blue and orange to a drastic addition of teal and silver and switching from royal blue to navy blue-- quite the change from a team who had the tradition of the royal and orange. The Sabres were going back a yellow and blue scheme (again, navy instead of royal), but it was from a drastic overhaul prior where the team went from their traditional set to a whole new color scheme of black, silver, and red. The Sabres at least tried to right things.

2. The logos were....interesting. The Islanders at least tried to capture the spirit of their name; getting an actual mascot/logo on there rather than the "NY" combination in a circle with a hockey stick coming from the "Y" and a silhouette of Long Island behind it all. The Buffaslug trying to almost modernize the original Sabres logo, but it also combined the "angry goathead" they had in the black and red days. Both, very drastic changes, but tried to capture the spirit of the thing.

3. Both teams reside in New York.

4. The fact remains that it was a stop gap to get to a new modernized version of the identity they had before. After the Fisherman failed, the Islanders kept the wavy jersey pattern with the old logo for a season before going back to a more traditional look, but with a navy blue and orange motif. The Sabres did the same, moving back from the Buffaslug to a modernized version of their original scheme, again switching out the royal blue for navy to go along with their yellow look.

5. Each will have their lovers and their haters. Personally, the kid in me enjoyed the Fisherman jersey when it came out because it was something you didn't see in other logos and it was bright and colorful-- as a 12 year old, that's what you go for. Still to this day I regret not getting a Fisherman jersey. The Buffaslug will have people remembering it for being closely related to the Flinstones' Royal Order of Water Buffalo hat, but it's something that won't go away from the memory of people too soon and some will look back on it fondly and maybe actually want it come back-- if only for a goof.

6. With both, the alternate logo seemed to go with it as well. The Islanders had a great alternate logo with the wavy jersey of the lighthouse with the crazed colors to it. That went away when the jersey went away and it shouldn't have. The Buffaslug also ushered out the "B" with the sabre through the openings-- which was there for the black and red era and was a fairly bad-ass looking alternate as well.

Both are long dead and buried, but much like the underground movement of the Fisherman jersey coming back; so, too, could the Buffaslug. It's a far reach, but it's one of those logos that seemed like a good idea, but the execution is very off.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The "O" Stands For "Oh Em Gee"

Lame title, I know, but still.

It has been a couple of days since the leak of the new Ottawa Senators heritage design came out on the fantastic Icethetics website and I have to say, I'm still in awe over the design of the jersey. It's something that should have happened post-lockout, but maybe they were a little gun-shy on what the reception would be.

However, the reception seems to be positive across the board. The new look, as seen above, is a bit of the good ol' "modernized retro" scheme we've come to find so near and dear to our hearts. It's a simple design of the teams first jerseys, but also brings back the tradition of the old Ottawa Senators for the early 1900s up until the mid 1930s with the barberpole design on the sleeves and partially on the front.

I've been a big fan of the barberpole design because it does harken back to the old days of hockey, pre-Original 6 when not every team had two jerseys. Some people hate the barberpole design, and with the Montreal Canadiens jersey a few seasons ago-- I could see why-- that's a bit overdoing it. With what the Sens have done, and even the Flames with their Heritage Classic jerseys, they take a more tame approach to the look and feel of the jersey. It's not all over, but it's something where they keep the sleeve design, but on the torso, it's a stripe or two and that's it. Simple, smart, tradition.

Whether or not the Sens keep this look after their 20th Anniversary season (and god I hope they do), but the big thing can be said about this-- it's a good look. It's better than the Super Nintendo third jerseys they have now and better than most of the looks that they have had in the past. Makes you feel hopeful that this look is going to move things in the right least from a jersey standpoint-- the actual team play is another story.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Darrin Madeley

With the amount of players jumping for college hockey to the major junior route, this week's AGM didn't go that way. He had an outstanding career in college; but he wasn't a part of the trend of college goalies going on to surprise and astound in the NHL ranks. This week, the profile of Darrin Madeley.

Starting off, Madeley played in Junior "C" in Ontario with the Bradford Blues in the 1984-85 season where he played in 10 games and went 7-2-0 in ten games that season. The 1985-86 season had Madeley back in Bradford for four games, going 2-1-0; while also going up to Junior "A" with the Newmarket Flyers for three games, going 0-1-0 in those games. The 1986-87 season had Madeley move on to the Richmond Hill Dynes of the Junior "A" Ontario League, where he would play in 14 games and go 6-9-1. The 1987-88 and 1988-89 season had Madeley drop down to the Junior "B" side with Richmond Hill, playing in 59 games over those two seasons, but no record is available.

Madeley moved onto the NCAA ranks at Lake Superior State for the 1989-90 season, where he would play in 30 games and compile a 21-7-1 record, which was able to get him CCHA Second-Team All-Star accolades. The 1990-91 season was great for Madeley and Lake Superior State, as Madeley would go 29-3-3 in 36 games, while Lake Superior State would go on to win the CCHA, but go down in the NCAA Tournament. However, Madeley gathered up CCHA First-Team All-Star honors, NCAA West First-Team All-American honors, as well as NCAA All-Tournament Team honors. The pinnacle for Madeley was the 1991-92 season, where he went 23-6-4, but him and Lake Superior State went on to win the CCHA again, as well as taking the NCAA Championship over Wisconsin in the Final. Madeley again had CCHA First-Team All-Star, NCAA-West First-Team All American, and NCAA All-Tournament team for a second straight season.

Coming off the high of his performances in college, Madeley made the jump to the pros, signing with the Ottawa Senators, becoming one of the first Senators to come to the team via free agency. Madeley made two appearances with Ottawa in the 1992-93 season, losing both games; before he would be sent down to the AHL's New Haven Senators-- playing in 41 games with a 10-16-9 record on that team, which enabled him to take home AHL Second-Team All-Star honors. The 1993-94 season had Madeley stay in Ottawa for the majority of the season; being able to get into 32 games for Ottawa and finishing off with a 3-18-5 record, while going 0-4-0 in six games with the AHL's PEI Senators. The traveling for the 1994-95 season was the story for Madeley, playing in the IHL for the Detroit Vipers for nine games (7-2-0), then going to the PEI Senators for three games (1-1-1), then finishing the season with Ottawa, going 1-3-0 in five games in that season.

The 1995-96 season saw Madeley in the IHL with Detroit for the majority of the season, getting him 40 appearances and finishing off with 16-14-4 record in the end, while going 3-3 in seven playoff games. Madeley would win his only game with the PEI Senators.

Madeley signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks just before the 1996-97 season, while it landed him in the AHL with the Saint John Flames where he would play 46 games and go 11-18-11, while playing with the Detroit Vipers for four games going 2-0-0 on the season.

For the 1997-98 season, Madeley tried his hand at international play, going over to Finland to play with TPS Turku. That would only last for two games, going 1-0-0 before returning to North America. The Richmond Renegades of the ECHL signed Madeley, where he would play five games with a 1-1-0 record. Madeley went back overseas in the 1998-99 season to play in Germany for Star Bulls Mannheim for three games before returning to North America and the ECHL, but with the Pensacola Ice Pilots, going 12-16-3 in 32 games before he would hang up his pads.

After his playing career, Madeley went onto the coaching ranks, where he is the Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Hockey at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois.

He had his success in college, but because of the whole debacle of going to an expansion team; which stifled his possible success in the professional ranks. Though you have to wonder with all the personal accomplishments, would he gives those up for team success in the pros or would he keep all of that because of what became of him when he made the move?? Maybe we'll never know.