Friday, October 30, 2009

What are the requirements to be able to design and create professional hockey jerseys?

From what's being peddled out into the minor leagues these days, I don't think those requirements are too steep at all.

Really, now? Did Michael Jackson ever watch a hockey game above the Pee-Wee level? Doubtful, yet this jersey will be worn by the ECHL's Bakersfield Condors in honor of the King of Pop. The Gold Album numberings are over the top in my opinion. Whatever. I'm sure we'll have a Billy Mays jersey coming out in the near future ("It has the POWER to CUT through DEFENSE and GOALTENDING! IT GETS THE JOB DONE, EACH AND EVERY TIME!)

This next jersey makes me sad. No other way around it, I'm truly sad for the players that had(have) to don this awful thing. From the Kingston Frontenacs:

Sigh. If only he had worn the flower suit. That would have been spectacular.

Here's my favorite of them all. A 2009 exclusive edition! Oh, and all credit for these photos belong to Icethetics, the premier jersey-information website.

Had to make it large enough for us to read. Are the Bears that proud of their Calder Cup Championship that they needed to redesign their jerseys to prove it? I personally favored their 2008-09 edition jerseys. These are just cocky. Here's hoping you all fall flat this season.
Submit any other ridiculous jersey findings into my comments section. I have the desire to be angry today.

Creativity at its finest, part two.

This was at the Caps/Islanders game on March 3rd, 2007. I actually took this photograph. Poor Jagr. They can't even spell his name in Washington DC where he used to play, how do you expect people in South Dakota to be up to the task?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Well, the zones in Sweden are larger...

In Damien Cox's column about the Leaves first double-you, Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson had this to say:

“You have to be ready all the time for shots, shots from everywhere, and it feels like the shots are coming from closer here than in Sweden,” he said.

No kid, you're on the Leafs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This is why Dallas was a terrible team last season.

This is what Brandon Worley from has to say in regards to Steve Ott's play against St. Louis on Saturday:

"A lot of hockey fans say that Ott is a player you hate to play against but would love to have on your team (although the St. Louis fans don't feel that way, apparently). He's slowly becoming a player who's(sic) reputation is that of nothing but a dirty cheap shot artist, which is far from the Steve Ott we know he can be and not the player who was the MVP of this team last season."

You know your team is bad when Steve Ott was the MVP. Are you kidding? Steve Ott was their MVP? I can't even fathom that. I know he had decent numbers last year, which amazes me more than it amazes anybody else, I guarantee it. We can have a contest for who is most amazed that Steve Ott had a decent season last year, and my name will be right at the fuckin' top. But Steve Ott? MVP Steve Ott? That would be like David Willard being MVP of the high school tennis team! He sucked! That would be pathetic! Well, maybe Steve Ott was the MVP but he wasn't the captain, and that's way more important. Wait, I think I got off track there. STEVE OTT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER ON THE DALLAS STARS LAST SEASON? YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! STEVE OTT? Are we thinking of the same player? I must be confused.

Ribeiro wasn't their MVP? Brad Richards doesn't have a say in that? I know he was hurt, but Ott didn't play a full season either, and Richards had more points than Ott in less games played(48 in 56 compared to 46 in 64). How about Loui Eriksson quietly leading their team in goals? It wasn't close either. James Neal was second on their team with 24 goals, 12 shy of Eriksson's 36. Show of hands: Who predicted the top two goal scorers on the Dallas Stars last year to be Loui Eriksson and James Neal? Anyone with their hands in the air can put them back down, I don't believe you.

But wait. Eriksson and Richards both stayed out of the penalty box. Why on earth would they go and stay out of the penalty box? Don't they know the key to a team MVP is to get as many penalties as possible? 14 Penalty minutes, Loui? You've got to do better than that. And you, Brad. You've got to be ashamed of yourself. Six penalty minutes?! What were you thinking out there last season? I know you can do better than that! Just look at what our team MVP does, and try and improve next year, will ya? Now back to the track, you've got some running to do! Six penalty minutes...unbelievable. Look at Brad Richards, he thinks he's Kyle Wellwood out there!

STEVE OTT?! STEVE OTT WAS THEIR MVP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!Q11111QSTUK?:!!1111

Anyway, the rest of the post involves Mr. Worley talking about Ott's controversial decisions on Saturday, and for the most part defending them. I'm not going to get into that, since Mr.
addressed that situation already. But I will comment on one thing he mentions:

"For the record, I don't think Ott was nearly as bad and as reckless as they're making him out to be over at St. Louis Game Time. I dont' want to start a flame war between sites, I really don't believe in that, but if you're going to get that riled up over what is ultimately a borderline, questionable hit (although Ott is still at fault), then you were looking for something to get up in arms about anyway."

Ott might as well have been on the ground when he landed his hit on Colaiacovo, which was about 33 seconds after he made his pass. I guess it could be considered questionable, but that's a pretty conservative way to judge a hit like that. And as for the Crombeen knee-to-knee hit, it almost looks like Ott lined his check up badly and just stuck as much of his body out as he could just to make sure he landed what he could. That's unacceptable, especially with barely a minute to go in a 4-1 game, when you've already made a "questionable" hit earlier. Add to that the fact that he's known for things like that, and in my opinion you have something that is worth "getting riled up over."

But who am I to judge the MVP of the Dallas stars, Steve Ott.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And Jingo was his name-o/The finest line.

I don't like Don Cherry. I know I try really hard to hide it, but it just comes out. When I watch Coach's Corner, I get 3 feelings:
1) Ron MacLean is the coolest guy possible. He makes terrible puns and always gives an intelligent, coherent opinion on the state of the NHL, even if I disagree with him.

2) Don Cherry when talking about how to play the game from a technical/fundamental aspect, has a worthwhile opinion. He still isn't right all the time. He constantly reminds kids to get their stick out of the way when trying to block a shot so it doesn't deflect and give the goalie a weird bounce. Ron MacLean has often reminded him that getting your stick in the way will often deflect a shot on goal from being on goal in the first place, but whatever. As a positional coach Cherry has some OK things to say.

3) Don Cherry is a xenophobic jingo.

Case in point:

On CC for 10/25, Grapes was lowlighting some of the dangerous hits that've taken place recently. He showed Ruutu, Artyukhin, and Kozlov hitting someone with questionable legality. He then made sure to point out how foreign those guys were by stressing the "uuuu" sounds in the names Ruutu and Artyuhkin. I think he even tried to call Kozlov "Kuuuzlov" to reiterate. Then he showed Willie Mitchell's open ice hit on Toews, saying essentially this is how it's done "legally and cleanly."

And since in today's NHL you can't hit anyone hard without getting into a fight right afterward, Mitchell then had to defend himself. While the play was going on, Henrik Sedin was skating in on Antii Niemi in a close, 2-1 game. The whistle hadn't blown yet, so Henrik made a move on Niemi and tried to score, while Edler followed and tipped in the rebound.

Cherry rolled the tape again saying:

"Look at the Swedes. There's a war going on and they're trying to score! They wouldn't know what to do in a fight anyway."

MacLean's response:

"Would've been a big goal."

Ron, you are awesome.

First, and maybe Don doesn't know this, the goal in the sport of hockey is to score more goals than your opponent.

2ndly, if it would've been and Jordan Staal on their way to the net and poked one in (whether it counted or not) I bet Don would cheer on their hustle and that they "played until they heard a whistle."

Lastly, they roll a tape of Toews hobbling off the ice like a baby bird learning to walk, to which Cherry applauds, mentioning Toews is Canadian and needs to "get up and get the bench."

Toews looked pathetic going to the bench. I don't know how that is any indication of anything patriotic or manly. Toews was so out of sorts and really no one assisted him until Brian Campbell came in after he was nearly off the ice.

I know this type of talk isn't anything new in the world of Grapes. That doesn't mean is pisses me off any less.

"If you think pride is about nationality, you're wrong."


Roughly while Cherry was flying the Canadian flag, Mike Richards put David Booth in the hospital and Radek Dvorak took a knee-to-knee hit that knocked him out of the game and probably much longer.

Message boards all over the blogosphere have been asking questions about each hit. "Was it legal? Was it dirty? Will there be a suspension? Is (victim) OK?" These are the questions that people want answers to and for too many the answer to one answers the rest. If there was a suspension then it was dirty and if not, it was clean. But this is where we need to look a little further. What if the NHL's definition of "suspendable" isn't relevant to the game? What if there are double-standards for certain players based on team, stardom, salary, reputation? Should these things factor in? People are too accepting of the NHL's opinion. The "what's good enough for the NHL is good enough for me" line of thinking doesn't fly unless you couldn't care less about anyone's well-being.

Some say that the player should be out for the duration of their victims injury which completely eliminates the point of suspensions in the first place. There is punishment for the action not the result. If I try to shoot you and I miss, just beacuse you didn't die doesn't mean I wasn't trying to kill you. I should still be punished.

It comes down to proving intent, which is really impossible. The next rung on the ladder would be probable cause. When asked after the hit on Booth, Richards said "I didn't mean to hurt him" and "I was trying to separate him from the puck." True Mike, it's about 6 miles from Wachovia Center to Pennsylvania Hospital. As Flyers GM Paul Holmgren put it, he was indeed "doing his job."

Watch Ruutu's hit on Tucker. Watch Mitchell's hit on Toews. Watch Richards hit on Booth. What are the similarities? What are the differences? They are all pretty similar to me with the major difference being that Ruutu's was on the boards and the other two weren't. Is that relevant? It might be. Richards' hit was to the head, but I don't think Mike was head-hunting necessarily. I think he was trying to hit Booth as hard as he could which is surely more than is necessary to "separate him from the puck." This all leads to the actual problem here.

The problem isn't reputation. The problem isn't players going head-hunting. And unfortunately, the problem isn't injuries. I've read fans saying that people being carried off on a stretcher as "That's hockey!" Is it? Is that why you watch hockey? In hopes of someone being carried off on a stretcher?

That is the problem with hitting in the National Hockey League. Anyone, including me and a man whose career was disrupted thanks to concussions, appreciates and understands the necessity of body checking. But the bottom line is the NHL is a business.

As far as many fans and former players/coaches (i.e. Don Cherry) are concerned, this NHL is trending toward becoming a non-contact sport. "If you don't like hitting, go play in Europe" one fan wrote. The league office acts like it is trying to appease those who are pro-health by suspending players for hits to the head who have an intent to injure, players who leave their feet (not relevant) or have a history. If health was really the issue, these hits would be banned outright, but the league isn't interested in that. It's interested in sitting on the fence as hard as it can because any one of us is a dollar sign. Give everyone a little bit of what they want, instead of looking at what really is the best scenario for those involved.

The only people who can curb this are the players. As LaFontaine said, we've taught a generation of defensemen not to clutch and grab. We can teach people how to avoid hitting people in the head. And until a new generation is taught when to finish a check and when not to, there will be too many players carried off on a stretcher. Could it still happen if head hits are banned? Of course, but not with such regularity as they have this past week.

A legal hit isn't necessarily a clean hit. And just because the NHL says it's legal, doesn't mean it should be. Think about what is necessary. Think about what should be legal. I really am asking for your opinion. Would you want to play in that league? If your answer is no, then I'm sorry....that's not hockey.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Simply Perfect

Even though this video is more than a year old, it is surely necessary.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fire This Man Already

From Top 10 Don Cherry Quotes of All Time:

3. On being pulled over by a motorcycle policeman:

"He was wearing a visor. I thought he was Russian."

Seriously. There are people more deserving of employment.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Someone sign up Nikolai Khabibulin for the hall of fame.

I was watching the Canucks/Oilers game tonight when a stat popped up on the computer screen(I was streaming it. Damn NHL and their lack of TV contracts). Nikolai Khabibulin has recorded 20 or more wins in 10 of 13 seasons in the NHL. WOW! THAT'S AMAZING! REALLY?! HOLY EDIBLE POOP HOW COME THIS ISN'T MENTIONED DAILY?!

Seriously? This is the best they could come up with? Recording 20+ wins MOST of the time? I know he's not the absolute greatest goalie of all time, but he has put up decent numbers in his career, namely his time in Tampa and his final season in Phoenix. And I'm not even going to get into how stupid and pointless wins are as a way to judge the abilities of a goaltender, since it's already been covered.

So, what does this stat tell me? Well, I learn that he has played 13 seasons in the NHL, and I learn that he has been relatively durable, and dependable enough to start games. As a result, I find out that his team has recorded at least 20 wins with him in net in 10 times. This is all I know. I don't know how well he played, and I honestly don't even know if he was the main goaltender for some of those teams(I do know, because I looked it up, but last season he played just one more game than teammate Cristobal Huet...)

So, how illustrious is this 20 win club, you ask? It's pretty special. Only 28 goalies had 20 or more wins last season. Yeah. 28. There are 30 NHL teams, and 26 of them had goalies who posted 20+ wins (Chicago and Detroit both had two). Vesa Toskala had 22 wins last season. Jonathan Quick had 21 wins last season. Peter Budaj had 20 wins. Scott Clemmensen had 25 wins in relief of Brodeur when he was hurt. Every team in the Western Conference had a goalie who posted at least 20 wins last season, and Nikolai Khabibulin was one of them. So was his teammate. Congratulations for this accomplishment.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the point of this stat. It's to show that the guy has been around for a while and he has been a starting goaltender most of the time. But that doesn't make it acceptable to use this to prove a point, and I honestly don't know what's worse, the fact that they posted this stat, or the fact that Khabibulin FELL SHORT of 20 wins in almost 25% of the seasons he's played.

This Man Won An Award That Goes Out to People Who Are Good At Their Job.

I'm going to assume he was the only one who cared enough to vote.

Jay Feaster was the Lightning GM from 2002-2008. He was their GM in 04 when they won and as soon as they started to tank (2008), he retired

These days, he's putting together logic puzzles for children.

Shortly after the 2006-07 season ended in another first-round playoff exit for the Tampa Bay Lightning, I began receiving calls from Predators GM David Poile offering to solve our goaltending problem by trading Tomas Vokoun to us.

Sounds like David Poile knows a thing or 3 about a thing or three. Clearly, Holmqvist wasn't getting the job done. Maybe Tampa'd like a top notch goalie to help them along.

Poile had been told to slash payroll and was looking to move high-dollar contracts. He suggested that our cross-state rival, the Florida Panthers, might also be in the hunt for a No. 1 goalie and if we didn’t make the move we could find ourselves facing Vokoun six or eight times a year in our division.

David Poile: Soothsayer. Genius.

Also, just for p00pz and ROFLs, since joining Florida, T-Vo has a .915 save percentage in 13 games against the Bolts (33.6 shots per game, will someone please play some defense?). Not saving the rubber off the puck, but respectable.

While we had goaltending problems in Tampa at the time, we were not interested in Vokoun. Our pro scouts were not sold on Vokoun’s ability to win a championship and thrive under big-game pressure and his contract was too rich for us, both in real dollars and available cap space.

Deep breath. OK. Go.

I'd love to meet these "pro scouts" so they could explain to me their rationale behind the claim that Vokoun hasn't the ability to "win a championship and thrive under big-game pressure". Maybe his contract was more than the Lightning were willing to pony up and that's fine, but what about Khabibulin? The man who goaltended the Lightning to a title in 2004. What exactly gave anyone any kind of indication he was a "big-game" goalie in 2002?

In 11 career playoff games, Vokoun has a 2.47/.922, both better than his career regular season numbers.

Khabibulin's playoff totals prior to joining Tampa: 2.75/.916.

Oh, but look at this.
Score Under Playoff Pressure Ostensibly Since And Before Last Year (SUPPOSABLY)
T-Vo: 52.1
Habby (circa 2002) 88.8

Good call, scouts. I guess that's why they are pro scouts and I'm blogging in my hockey coach's basement, because they know who is going to play lights out for 23 consecutive playoff games.

Vokoun was traded to the Panthers on June 22, 2007 and has been the top netminder there for the past three seasons, including the current campaign. He has yet to carry his team to the post-season and last year, when new coach Pete DeBoer really needed him to elevate his play, he faltered, stumbling badly enough that DeBoer handed the starting reins to backup Craig Anderson down the stretch.

For starters, Anderson was pretty good last year, too. It wasn't like Vokoun was playing so terribly, that they started suiting up guys who, like, design web pages or install your cable.

For middlers, he's played two whole seasons, one on a team that scored 216 goals, 10th from the bottom. Last year they were in the middle of the pack and missed the playoffs by ZERO points. Only due to a stupid season head-to-head tie breaker (they should just play a one-game playoff like baseball does) and the Rangers luck (-8 goal differential last year) did the Panthers miss out. Meanwhile, the Lightning and/or their goaltenders since 2007, have won 2 Stanley Cups, 2 William Jennings trophies, 2 Vezinas, and had 7 different starters where Stanley Cups means tee times, William Jennings means top 2 picks in the draft, Vezinas means seasons of 40+ worse goals against than Florida, and had 7 different starters means had 7 different starters.

For enders, what exactly constitutes "down the stretch"? Sure, Craig "The Oogler" Anderson played 4 straight in late March/early April, but Vokoun started 9/13 in February, 11/15 in March and 4/5 in April. Not quite handing "the starting reins", says I.

Anderson signed with Colorado this past summer and is leading a resurgent Avalanche team. The Panthers countered by signing former Devils No. 3 goalie, Scott Clemmensen. Just as Anderson carried the Panthers last season, Clemmensen was the go-to goalie for the Devils when Martin Brodeur missed most of the season with an injury and the putative No. 2, Kevin Weekes, once again failed to live up to expectations. Clemmensen saved the day in Jersey and Florida did well to land him after losing Anderson.

Anyone dumb enough to believe there were actually any type of expectations for 33 year-old career-backup KEVIN WEEKES is dumb enough to like not trade for Vokoun when given the chance. Clemmensen did a bang up job on a good team. You know who performed better last year? Starts with a T and ends in omas Vokoun. Vokoun's GAA was .10 higher, but he saw 3 more shots/game, including 11 games over 40 (!) and 3 over 50. Clemmensen saw 40+ shots once last year.

Unfortunately, Clemmensen has been away from the team dealing with personal/family matters recently, which has resulted in Vokoun carrying the load. Not surprisingly, Vokoun has faltered and the Panthers find themselves desperately needing help from their backup goalie yet again. The only way for Florida to climb back into the hunt is for Clemmensen to do for his current squad what he did last year in Newark, and time is of the essence.

Mr. Feaster, meet my brother from another mother, Small Sample Size (nee Tremendousson). It's been FIVE games. Here is a list of a few of the goalies who've been worse than T.V. Dinner thus far this year:

Roberto Luongo
Mikka Kiprusoff
Tim Thomas
Martin Brodeur
Nikolai Khabibulin
Pekka Rinne
Carey Price
Jonas Gustavsson
Semyon Varlamov
Jonathan Quick
Ray Emery

Trade 'em all! But not to Tampa!

Imagine how history might have changed had we agreed to the deal with Nashville. The Panthers gave up a second round pick in 2007, plus a first- and second-rounder in 2008 for Vokoun. Had we done that deal, that first round pick in 2008 could have been our overall first pick and Steven Stamkos might now be skating in Nashville!

Except, you know, you might've gotten better goaltending than Johan Holmqvist's very clutch and big-game worthy 3.01/.890 or Kari Ramo's championship-calibre 3.03/.899. Stamkos could very well be skating in Nashville. I'm going to assume the reason he isn't is because you retired and Stamkos' pending demands to play for a GM who isn't a complete moron was eliminated (opinion of Brian Lawton notwithstanding).

Some of the best trades remain the ones you never make.

As do all of the worst.

Here are a couple of statements from his post-retirement press release:

"For the past two weeks I have watched from the sidelines as (vice-president of operations) Brian Lawton (and owners) Len Barrie and Oren Koules executed to perfection the gameplan they shared with us prior to the NHL draft in Ottawa," Feaster said in a release.

"During that time it became apparent to me that this new ownership group did not need my advice or expertise, and I came to the conclusion that it was time to move on."

No kidding.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ask Someone From South Dakota If They Know How to Spell "Jaromir"

People in Columbus couldn't do it 5 years ago, I wonder if they do now. Or even "Kris Russell", we'll ease 'em back in.

New York Times' Stu Hackel might want to spend less time blogging and open an atlas.

When critics try to explain what they feel is wrong with the N.H.L., they often say the league does not market its stars in the United States as other pro sports do. Showcase their personalities, the argument goes, and the N.H.L. will rise in popularity.

Who are "they"? I (notice no quotations) would say the NHL tries hard to promote Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, et al. The problem is the NHL is thought of as a 2nd rate sport. And don't give me that "one of the 4 major sports" stuff. The NHL has a lousy national TV deal and struggles to remain relevant to the generic sports fan. The are doing some good things. The Winter Classic is a hit. The Rangers did a top 10 on Letterman recently.

The NHL promotes within its own fanbase very well. The problem is again that enough people don't recognize hockey as an important sport. Soccer is a great example. MLS signed Beckham to a huge deal, then they ran ads on billboards in LA, in newspapers, on ESPN, and still no one cared.

Mr. Hackel isn't agreeing or disagreeing, but that is my 2 hundredths of a loonie.

Whether or not that is true, whether or not it is realistically possible and whether or not it would have an an appreciable impact is the subject for another post, but one thing is certain — as the Coyotes failure to sell tickets by making Wayne Gretzky their coach demonstrated — promoting the personality of someone other than a player is not likely to advance a team’s or a league’s profile.

Ok, sure, but having Wayne Gretzky as their coach sure did give them a little bit more face time. Maybe if they'd sucked less they would've had a profile "advance" but I think Gretzky being their coach at least allowed for the mention of their franchise in, like say, for example a blog in the New York Times or something.

So what’s with Toronto’s obsession with Brian Burke?

Hey, Stu, remember the good ol' days when you suggested the N.H.L. might be struggling to promote itself in the U S of A? And then you went and said Toronto was obsessed with Brian Burke?

There is a Toronto in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and South Dakota. There used to be a Toronto, Indiana, but according to its wikipedia page it's extinct. Probably because everyone lynched each other when the Leafs started off with 6 losses under Brian Burke.

Look, Toronto is a hockey mad city. In the U.S., people know who Mitch Kupchak, Donnie Nelson, Jerry Krause, Billy Beane, Brian Cashman, and Theo Epstein are because they are GMs/Executives for very popular US teams. In the NFL, the owner is often the GM. Maybe you've heard of Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft or Al Davis.

Anyway, he goes on to talk about how bad the Leafs are. They are bad, but how many words of Burke's the city of Toronto hangs on has nothing to do with the United States.

Dave Hodge, you're as plain as Nebraska.

Get this man some water, he's so dry!

And I'm just going to leave it at that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just a Little Tidbit

There's always been one phrase that drives me absolutely nuts. Many post-game interviews include this phrase and it's generally a follow up to this introduction:

The (your team here) were viciously skull-bashed by the (your least favorite team here) last night by a ridiculous score of (double-digit number) to (goose egg). (Rival Team's fourth liner) had a hattrick and an assist while (Rival Team's goaltender) made (low number) of saves for the shutout. This is the (high numberth) game in a row that the (your team) has lost, and eyebrows are being raised about team defence and goaltending.

"Really? You're going to blame (bad goalie here)? He was the only reason we were in this game! He made some amazing stops!" (-Fourth Line Center) -End

It's that phrase in bold that gets me going. How does a poor goaltending performance indicate that he kept your team in the game? Perhaps he made some amazing stops, but what about the slappers from the red line? How about the open-view point shots? Or perhaps those wristers off the high boards, what about those? Get real, players need to stop using this phrase because it is almost never the case. The last time that I can recall this statement having some backbone is when Luongo was still a Panther, having to show up for 50-shot games pretty frequently. Otherwise, not only does your defence suck, but so does your goaltender.

I'm sure there's ethics in this situation, for it would be quite the confidence booster if a player was to say, "Sure, (your goalie here) sucked some major (censored item here). He should be sent down to the (your shitty minor league team here) and try to stop some younger kids and has-beens." Either way, if your goalie puts up a lousy game, don't try to justify it. Just walk away.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Drafts That Make You Go, "Hmmm..."

I think it's simply amazing what kind of teams can be built out of the drafting process. The Penguins, Hawks, and Capitals have done well by not fucking up with their multiple top five draft picks over the past few years, while other teams such as the Ducks, Flyers and Bruins have hit paydirt with their later-picked prospects.

Some teams, though, are just terrible at drafting. While some of that can be accredited to current team success which leads to later draft picks, most of the time it is a result of scouting incompetence.

Here are five recent instances where I imagine things should have been different:

5. Brian Lee, drafted 9th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2005 entry draft.
Earning this pick through the post-lockout draft lottery, Ottawa would be picking at its highest rank since drafting Jason Spezza 2nd overall in 2001 (thank you, Yashin!). While I know that the kid is still young, and anything is possible, I feel that the Sens passed up an opportunity for a fantastic player. By drafting Lee, they passed up current NHL stars and regulars such as Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal, Martin Hanzal, Andrew Cogliano, Steve Downie (...I keed), Paul Statsny, and James Neal, among others that have enjoyed more success in the NHL than Lee has. Even Patric Hornqvist, the last pick of the draft, has had more success. Currently, Lee is playing for the Baby Sens, for Sens d-men Alex Picard and Matt Carkner had better training camps and are fairing quite well early this season. I feel that time is running out on him to prove his worth as the 9th overall pick.

4. Jordan Staal, drafted 2nd overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2006 entry draft.
I'll start this one by saying that Jordan Staal has developed into a great defensive-forward that puts up a fair amount of points. While he was projected as the #2-ranked North American skater prior to the draft, that was due to Phil Kessel falling out of the #1 rank that he held in the previous winter. Although Brophy would state that Staal's Cup would "trump" Kessel's status as a better forward, having Kessel alongside Crosby or Malkin could have been ridiculous. Pittsburgh also passed up Jonathan Toews (3rd) and Nicklas Backstrom (4th), two centers that have become All-Stars and will only continue to become better. I'll throw Bryan Little and Michael Frolik into that list of better players as well. Tough luck Pittsburgh, have fun trying to win a cup with Crosby, Fleury, and Malkin... oh yeah, nevermind.

3. Petr Tatíček, drafted 9th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2002 entry draft.
Who? Petr only played three games in the NHL before he made the move to HC Kladno, and then Davos. Surely he carried promise, but was it enough promise to become a top-ten draft pick? Keith Ballard (11), Alex Semin (13), Chris Higgins (14), Cam Ward (25), Duncan Keith (54!), Matt Stajan (57), and Dennis Wideman (241) all disagree. Hell, Florida drafted Gregory Campbell in the third round, so at least they can say that they didn't completely fuck things up.

2. Tie: Alexandr Svitov, drafted 3rd overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2001 entry draft. Stanislav Chistov, drafted 5th overall by the (then) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 2001 entry draft.
I have to say that both of these are equally bad, since Stephen Weiss was the only player drafted between the two. Aside from him, players drafted after these two include Mikko Koivu (6), Mike Komisarek (7), Pascal Leclaire (8), Dan Blackburn (10, this one's just a joke, but does anyone else remember him? I had his rookie card and it was supposed to be a huge deal. Oh well), Ales Hemsky (13), Derek Roy (32), Fedor Tyuin (40, bonus points for mentioning Tyutin and a Staal-brother in one blog post), Mike Cammalleri (49), and Patrick Sharp (95). Svitov played 179 NHL games, putting up 37 points, while Chistov faired a tad better, putting up 19 goals and 61 points in 196 games. Tampa can say that Svitov was essential in landing Darryl Sydor, who was a part of Tampa's 2004 Cup Championship team, while Chistov left the Ducks during the lockout, resigned with them in 2006, and was then traded to Boston for a 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft.

1. Hugh Jessiman, drafted 12th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2003 entry draft.
What, the, fuck. In what has become known as one of the deepest drafts in recent history, the Rangers find a way to trip on their own shoelaces. I would give you another list of players that could have made a better impact if drafted, but that would likely include every single player drafted after pick number twelve. Here are the important ones: Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Steve Bernier, Zach Parise, Eric Fehr, Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, and Corey Perry are some of the first round picks that came after him. Later picks include Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, Patrick O'Sullivan, David Backes, and All-Star goaltender Jimmy Howard. I think I could have done a better job as the 14-year-old that I was at the time if I were drafted. Currently, we both have the same amount of games played and points in the NHL, and I think the only way that is going to change is if I find a way to become great at hockey. Thank you for giving me some confidence, you hack.

If anyone would like to share their version of biggest draft busts, please litter my comments box as much as you'd like. I tried keeping my examples from within the 21st century, so don't think I forgot about Patrik Stefan or Marcel Hossa.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alexander Ovechkin: Lousy Playoff Goaltender

Allow me to point you here. It's a list of the top 50 players in the NHL according to one Mike Brophy. Most of it is your typical "he's still good, but he sure is getting old yuk yuk" type stuff, but here are the summaries that escaped the looney bin.

41. Joe Thornton
You know the deal - great regular season player who disappears in the playoffs. If Thornton manages 200 points this season, it won't mean squat unless he produces in the spring.

If Thornton manages 200 points this season, I'll eat a bathtub full of squat because that's about how much squat it would mean. The NHL record is 215. And no one not named Gretzky or Lemieux has ever really been close (Stevie Y with 155 in 88-89). Also, Joe has 35 pts in 41 playoff games as a Shark. Not setting the playoffs on fire, but considering how stiff the playoff competition is I wouldn't call that unproductive. The reason the Sharks haven't made it to the Cup finals isn't because of Thornton, in fact he's led the Sharks in playoff scoring the last three seasons. Plus, 41st?!? Come on. Bobby Ryan is better than Joe Thornton?!

39. Marc-Andre Fleury
So much for the 'can't win the big one' tag. Fleury played a huge role in Pittsburgh's upset of the Red Wings in the Cup final, particularly in Game 7 on the road.

Nothing too extensive here. I just love pointing out how people say that Fleury wasn't clutch in the 08 playoffs, but now all of a sudden he's a big game goalie. He really stepped it up a notch in last years playoffs compared to the year before. I'm glad you, M.A. (we're down like that), figured out how to be a clutch performer and will never again falter in the post season.

38. Bobby Ryan
Better than Joe Thornton, Mike Richards, Thomas Vanek, Marian Gaborik, Jason Spezza, and Corey Perry.

That is essentially what he wrote.

34. Tim Thomas
Having transformed himself from minor-league journeyman to NHL star, Thomas must still prove he can be counted on at the most crucial time of the season - in the playoffs.

He lead the N-motherhumping-HL in GAA and SV% last season and his numbers WERE BETTER in the playoffs. The Bruins lost game 7 of the conference semis in a 3-2 OT thriller. What more do you want?!

21. Marc Savard
Can't blame this guy for being upset at being snubbed by Team Canada. He has finished ninth in league scoring in three of the past four seasons and deserves more recognition for his efforts. He went from minus-19 two years ago to plus-25 last season.

Man, what a defensive improvement! How'd he go from a liability to a defensive stalwart? Is it because the 07 Bruins had a -80 goal differential and the 09 Bruins were +78? Is it because the same starting goaltender went from 3.13/.905 to 2.10/.933? Better defensemen? Better defencemen? Better coaching? Better koaching? Better than Joe Thornton is Bobby Ryan?

7. Henrik Zetterberg
When Datsyuk faltered in the post-season, Zetterberg stepped up to the plate. That said, playing two more games than he did the year before, Zetterberg registered 19 fewer points. That trend must change.

Maybe, just maybe that had something to do with that Hossa guy. Zetterberg's ice time dropped over 2 minutes/game from 07-08 to 08-09. Most of Hank's power play time was with Cleary and Franzen last year. Since Babcock liked to use Datsyuk with Hossa that meant Zetterberg was kind of the odd man out. Cleary and Franzen are no slouches, but they sure as H aren't Datsyuk or Hossa. So to blame Zetterberg for his linemates short comings is pretty unfair.

Even without Hossa, so far this season Zetterberg is averaging about the same ice time as last year and isn't playing on the PP with Datsyuk like he did two years ago (and yes I understand they are 4 games in). If this keeps up, I'm going to go out on a wild, insane, crazy, illogical, nonsensical, probably-going-to-get-kicked-off-this-blog-and-the-internet limb and say that trend won't change. Zetterberg is good enough to be good on his own, but he isn't #7 without Datsyuk.

2. Alexander Ovechkin
There is no denying Ovie is the most entertaining player in the NHL and a great ambassador for the sport, but what separates The Gr8 One from Sid the Kid is winning. Ovechkin has two Hart Trophies, but Sid's Stanley Cup trumps it. To win, Ovechkin needs to use his teammates better in the crunch and not try to do it all himself.

Oh, you missed it? After the "Stanley Cup Finals", which is a lazer light show the National Hockey League puts on every spring they have the Stanley Cup Finals where one lucky contestant has to eat their own poop out of curiousity. Previous winners include the Sedin twins (one of them won it every year since '95), and Lanny McDonald's moustache (which pooped out Lanny McDonald and ate him again.)This past July Crosby won it, clearing up the "Sid's Stanley Cup" phrase.

I'll go ahead and say I think Ovechkin is better than Crosby. I'll even go ahead and say Malkin is the NHLs #2. I'll even wait for you to make fun of me because of it. To use Hart Trophies as a barometer is bad enough, but to just go ahead and say Crosby is better because of "Sid's Stanley Cup" is pathetic. What about "Evgeni's Stanley Cup"? Clearly he's better than Ovechkin, what with the Cup and all. What about any of these guys? Two Cup minimum for that illustrious group.

Also, in the 4 years Sidney and Alexander've been in the league, Washington has had more points than Pittsburgh twice. The totals in the four years goes to Pittsburgh 364-342. Nevermind. You win.

Also, Bobby Ryan is better than Joe Thornton.

.i see hockey fight good

As far as I'm concerned, fighting is an irrelevant part of a hockey game. It's the "big, dumb animal" part of the sport and I watch it for the smart and skillful action, not because a gorilla and a hippo put on skates and threw punches. If my memory serves, Rob Ray never even used a stick. (We all know Chris Simon did.)

But what bothers me is the type of fan that prefers the donnybrook over the dangle. These are the type of people who stopped watching hockey because of "too many soft Euros" and are big Don Cherry fans.

Also, they're a big fan of apostrophes.

Ten dollar is if a Blue is player get is in a fight? Hell is yeah!

Friday, October 9, 2009

More from

Back for more! Don't fret, the wonderful people at have much more to contribute! This time, they're telling us who the NHL's ten best Offensive lines are.

There weren't too many surprises, but a few combinations on the list did catch my eye.

Starting off at number 10 was the Crosby-Guerin-Kunitz line. OK, fair enough.

Number 9 was the trio of Parise-Langenbrunner-Zajac over in New Jersey. I can see that.

However, the number 8 combination seemed a little suspect. This was the trio in Philadelphia consisting of Richards-Briere-Gagne. I can't seem to find that line anywhere. Oh, wait. Is that it, about halfway down the list? Wow, those guys must be amazing. The 8th best line in hockey in terms of potential production this season, and they only play together 1.05% of the time(Up to this point)! Now that's what I call production!

Amazingly, that isn't the only combination on this list that doesn't even play together. The number 7 combo of Lecavalier-St. Louis-Tanguay has played together 5.02% of the time(again, at this point in the season). The number 6 combo of Sharp-Kane-Toews hardly sees time together, as it's normally Sharp-Toews-Versteeg and Kane-Bolland-Byfuglien. The number 5 combo of Bourque-Jokinen-Iginla hardly exists either, as Bourque is often paired with Dawes and Langkow, and Iginla and Jokinen typically skate with Moss.

But the worst part of it all is the NUMBER ONE COMBINATION of Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble. I understand that this may end up being the top line for Washington at some point this season, but so far, they have played together 0.23% of the time. LESS THAN ONE QUARTER OF ONE PERCENT OF THE TIME. How in the world can anybody possibly decide that this is the best line in hockey when they haven't even played together? That'd be like saying the line of Crosby-Iginla-Heatley was the best line for team Canada in the 2010 olympics. It might be! It's possible! But it hasn't even happened yet, and they might not even be linemates so how in the world can we say it is?!

Absolutely unbelievable.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Penguins for an encore?

I just learned what's necessary for the Pittsburgh Penguins to repeat what they did last season. It doesn't seem that hard, really. Over at there is a 26 page slideshow that shows what the penguins need to do for an encore. It can be found here.

It starts with the author commenting that there were 29 teams in the NHL spending their summers wondering what went wrong last year. I find it hard to believe that the New York Islanders were replaying their entire season, looking through tapes trying to find that one pivotal point in the season where they went wrong. After his quick intro, he breaks down the tasks necessary to "repeat." I'll provide a quick rundown. These points are in no particular order, as I am simply summing them up for your convenience. (And because they're clearly all necessary for a "repeat" season, so they're all essentially number one priority.)

#1. Matt Cooke needs to stay away from the puck at all times.
#1. Pascal Dupuis needs to score at least thirteen goals.
#1. Mark Eaton needs to score approximately 23.91 points.
#1. Ruslan Fedotenko needs to score 30+ goals, and "Shoot for the moon, just don't miss and land on the IR with a broken hand."(I thought that was clever, actually. When I read the "shoot for the moon part" I expected the rest of the sentence to be the ever common "even if you miss you'll land somewhere among the stars" phrase, because there are a whole bunch of stars between earth and the moon.)
#1. Marc-Andre Fleury needs to win the Vezina trophy (not possible. I'll explain below.)
#1. Sergei Gonchar needs to win the Norris trophy.
#1. Tyler Kennedy needs to score 25-30 goals.
#1. Chris Kunitz needs to score 75 points.
#1. Evgeni Malkin needs to score 50 goals and 130 points.
#1. Jay McKee needs to block 200+ shots and Brooks Orpik needs to reach 300 hits.
#1. Jordan Staal needs to just keep doing what he's doing(After all, he's Jordan Staal for the sake of Pete).

That's not really a lot to ask for if you think about it. But if you notice, nothing was mentioned about the playoffs. Everything mentioned above was for the regular season only.

I can't see how any of these accomplishments would create guaranteed success in the postseason. Does a Vezina trophy and a Norris trophy create an automatic Stanley Cup Finals birth? Does a 50 goal, 130 point season create an automatic Stanley Cup Finals birth? I don't think so. Therefore, I've determined that the point of this slideshow must be to show all the things that are necessary for the Penguins to once again finish fourth in the eastern conference.(That's what he wants right? A repeat of last season?)

This all sounds good, but there's one problem. We've already learned that it takes a league leader in wins to take home the Vezina trophy, and if Fleury accomplishes this task, I find it hard to believe that they'll be the fourth seed in the eastern conference. However, only time will tell, and who am I to judge? After all, from the looks of it there were some complex algorithms involved in the making of this slideshow.

Line combos

A fun site to mess around with. Check it out.

Line combos

I'll save most of you the trouble and tell you 70% of Todd White's (tonight) points the last two seasons were while he shared the ice with Ilya Kovalchuk.

07-08 28/37 with Kovy = 75.7%
08-09 49/73 with Kovy = 67.1%

SEE? It went down last season.


07-08 42/86 with T-Dubs = 48.8%
08-09 53/91 with T-Dubs = 58.2%

Kovy's production went up and yet his pairing with Todd White was more prevalent.

There is undeniable proof. Todd White makes Ilya Kovalchuk better. Ignore any points per shift/minute. This is all the evidence necessary.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ever wonder why Roberto Luongo gets so much attention? John Buccigross explains it all.

This is from his "Annual Music-Mash Preview"

"But even if injuries came to key players, there is depth and sturdiness here. There is not a lot of "spectacular" in the Canucks' lineup, which is why Luongo gets so much attention. And also because his name is Roberto Luongo. Back-to-back three-syllable names are very pleasing to the ear. Especially when they end in the letter "O." Robertooooo Luongooooo. I feel less tense already. And it's cheaper than a spa day. If his name was Harvey Beckmeyer, he would get a lot less attention."


I'm sure there's more nonsense to this post, but I'm too tired to read it all now. Some of us're driving me crazy. However, I will comment that he predicted Calgary to be the top seed in the west this season. There is NO WAY Calgary will be the top seed this year. If anybody (really, anybody!) is interested in betting me about that, I'll gladly take your money/belongings. Clothes, IPhones, girlfriends, Chip Clips®, Subway sandwich coupons, Bubble Bobble 2 games, FSN sports packages, bottles of gorilla glue, old hockey fighting VHS tapes that were found in the dumpster, Pantera "Best of" cds, sandmaster footbags, swine flu, toenail clippers, Nick Punto rookie cards, sweet speakers sold out of the back of a van...those are just a few of the things I'd be interested in. Just let me know, I'm sure we can arrange something.

I'd Like to Welcome Myself to Tyutin in Staals!

While Sven and Dacque are more likely to contribute statistical velvet into what will likely become an elegant blanket of hockey knowledge, my contribution will mostly consist of ridiculous banter and rage. You're going to see a lot of Brian Burke and Bob Gainey in my posts, along with frequently noting how terribly P.J. Stock contributes to HNIC.

So, until I (or we) find more annoying material to stick our Ronco silverware into, then enjoy what we currently have! I must say that I enjoyed Sven's last post. I have the original "Don Cherry's Rock'em Sock'em Hockey" VHS sitting in my basement somewhere. Perhaps that will be tomorrow's drivel du jour.

Sleep tight, don't let the Ruutu bite.

Don Cherry's Gripevine

My roommate DVRed "Don Cherry's Grapevine", a show (circa 1989) where Cherry interviews good ol' Canadian boys from either Nova Scotia or Thunder Bay. Al MacInnis was the guest interview and, probably because Don begged him, Doug Gilmour was there, too.

Exhibit A) He is supposed to be interviewing Al MacInnis and instead there is about 10 minutes of Don Cherry rambling where Al is silent. If you turned it on for just those 10 minutes, you'd have no clue Al MacInnis was the guest or that it was an interview show.

Exhibit B) Right around that time was when an influx of Russians were joining the NHL. (Yeah, you see where this is going.) In Calgary/MacInnis' case, Sergei Makarov was joining the fold. Federov, Mogilny, Bure and several others all started in the next couple seasons. Cherry literally asks MacInnis if he can believe that all these dirty Russians are bullrushing over to ruin their game. (Paraphrased slightly). Al's response was essentially, if the GMs think Russians will help the team that's their decision.

Exhibit C) Later, Doug and Al joined Don at a stuido bar set up. Grapes states that he thinks Russians will have a hard time dealing with the travel and asks Dougie his opinion. Gilmour essentially says that Russians are tough competitors and only time will tell. Not a 4 minute butt-ending major later, Cherry says to Doug, "It's gotta be tough to be a young kid 16 years old and having to leave your home to play junior hockey." Sure, it is. IT'S NOT AS TOUGH AS GOING TO A WHOLE NEW COUNTRY AS A TEENAGER. That's what a lot of these unproven Russians are going to have to deal with. Don't give them any credit though. Sure Khabarovsk to Buffalo is tough, but you should see the way city council in Sherbrooke treated that poor Red Deer boy. Never had a chance.

It amazes me somewhat that in 15 years, Cherry's xenophobia is unwavering. How can this be? The game is so much more exciting. The skill level has catapulted through the roof because we aren't taking just the best players from Ontario, we're looking at the best players motherhumping EARTH has to offer.

After this week's CC, I plan on dissecting Cherry's stupidity. Last week was all about the NHLPA/Paul Kelly debacle and nothing was really out of place. It won't be long before DC is right back in step. I'll be waiting...

How Above-Average Individuals Look Superior Under Perfect Conditions: The Martin Brodeur Story.

There is nothing that sets my blood to a boil more than glorifying the effects of the "win" category in a team sport. Pitchers, Quarterbacks, Goalies, even coaches are all subject to this "wins" stat and yet so much happens on the field or in the rink that has nothing to do with how well they're playing.

Last season Martin Brodeur set the all-time wins record for a goalie. Congratulations. It is a testament to his longevity, never sitting more than 15 games (and usually no more than 10) in any season for 12 straight. Add in that Don Cherry ran a Brodeur highlight reel (typically Martin standing tall to stop an ice worm-burner) every Saturday night he wasn't calling your mom eurotrash (and some of the nights that he was) and I'm ready to crown Brodeur "Worst Person".

But let's be fair and take a look at the numbers. Or at least the best available numbers. Save Percentage is from-here-to-former-planet-Pluto perfect but it's the best we've.

Let us judge within Brodeur's era or how he fared compared to his peers!
Name - times in the top 10/total full seasons - highest - just for shits and laughs and shit Vezinas
Brodeur - 6/15 - 3rd - 4 (ha!)
Roy - 15/18 - 1st (4x) - 3
Hasek - 11/13 - 1st (6x) - 6
Luongo - 7/8 - 3rd - 0 (I don't think he's ever been NOMINATED, PATHETIC! Someone please say they can correct me.)
Giguere - 4/8 - 3rd - 0
Barrasso - 6/14 - 2nd - 0
Belfour - 6/16 - 1st - 2

Up against the best of the best, Brodeur falls well short. Even against a few 2nd tier players (Giguere, Barrasso) Brodeur is even at best.

So let's all get over this Brodeur as best-goalie-ever stuff. He isn't. Not really all that close either. 432-year-old men vote for trophies and they are so caught up in the nonsense that their word has to be taken with a salt mine.

Brodeur and Wins: two overrated peas in a decaying pod.