Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween from Jeremy Roenick


scared ya, didn't I?

Lazarus, aka Bill of A2Y, Returns

Lordy I was glad to see this today on Kukla's Corner. It would seem that all the reports of A2Y's demise were greatly exaggerated. This from IwoCPO himself:

"I leave for two months (and when I say “leave”, I mean zero hockey...no
news, no games, nada...)"

Not sure just where he's been, but I'd like to hazard a few guesses...
  • Running Florida Congressman Mark Foley's re-election campaign
  • Serving as a motivational consultant for the Phoenix Coyotes
  • Training Todd Fedoruk in hand-to-hand fighting techniques
  • Working as Jason Allison's agent...pro bono, of course
  • Rubbing down Dominik Hasek's aging groins nightly in the vain hope of keeping him in the pipes for the duration of the season

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sonoran Sunsets and Walker for Vasicek

Another Beautiful Sonoran Sunday Evening Sunset

Walker - Vasicek
The Hurricanes have finished their October slate of 12 games. The Nashville Predators have a Hallows Eve game left to their October schedule. While all the interest has been on the Jack Johnson and Tverdovsky for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger deal, the deal made earlier in the summer is shaping up nicely in Carolina's favor. Joe Vasicek has been "day-today" for the Preds with hip flexor issues since Oct 6. He has appeared in 5 games and has tallied one point. Scott Walker has appeared in all 12 games, and his 11 points ties him for third place on the team. Walker has played on all four Hurricane forward lines, and also works the PP (one goal scored). Oh, yeah, and he has two game winning goals. Both players have an injury-rich history. So far, Walker has remained in the nightly lineup and Vasicek has picked up right where he left off - left out.

While we're at it...
Tim Gleason is logging the second most time on ice per game this season, and I see positive signs that he is starting to settle in to his role. I'm not seeing the indecision and whiffs of a few days ago. I'm seeing early commitment to make a stop and then following through and finishing the check.

Gleason spent his optional practice day on Friday watching film (not sure were I heard that - maybe John Forslund). Looks like it's working. Timmaayyyy was a monster during the first period of the TBL game. I had to leave after that, so I missed his injury in the third. Eric Belanger has chocked up seven points while leading the third line. Both newbies have played in all 12 games to date. Last time I checked Oleg Tverdovsky had only played in seven games and has averaged about half as much ice time as Gleason. So far so good.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't it?

I've never quite understood who the target market of GQ is. Even when I lived in that age demographic, I didn't get it. Is there a magazine for men who have a waistline greater than 28 inches? The more I see this stuff, the more I feel a kinship with Larry the Cable Guy.

Now comes this image of Eric Staal, and it only leaves me more in the dark. Is this supposed to be Jimmy Olsen meets Derek Zoolander? Are ambiguity time shifting part of the deal? This borders on Kovalchuk in a kilt. Eric! You've got a nice flannel shirt hanging there. Just put it on!!*(*!@%&#!! ...fer Crisss' sakes!!!

I heard the boys in the Canes clubhouse gave Erick a ration for this - and rightfully so. All he's missing is something trimmed in fur, or maybe some tight leather chaps. Once those guys from Queer Eye for the Canadian Guy entered the room, Eric should have made for the exit.

This is making the rounds today. JP gave me the heads up, and it's about everywhere by now. I'm probably first in my time zone to post it, so I'm not that far behind. Click here if you haven't seen Grey Blackwell's Flash animation parody now on the N&O. The outtakes are hilarious.

Canes and Lightning tonight. My take is up on Southeast Shootout.

Props to Bubba for the shameless rip-off of his musical theme angle

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Larionov to Yotes Rumor Shmushed

Is "The Professor" mulling a comeback?
Think back to your college days. I'm sure you too remember the old line, "Go ugly early." I was pleased to read David Vest's piece today in the azcentral.com. Bottom line, the Coyotes weren't looking to, "go old early." Nope, no truth to the Igor Larionov rumor. That's a relief. The Yotes are already old and slow enough. They might however want to hire him as wine steward for the Glendale Arena's club level and sky box customers. Gotta get those Scottsdalians re-energized about hockey somehow.

Here's a guy who might be an ideal fit with these Yotes. I think he'd work out great on a line with Pavel "Krispy Kreme" Brendl and Ladislav Nagy.

Listened to NHL Live on the way to work today. The boys broke down the state of the Coyotes pretty nicely. The future no-lookie good. Under-achievers and downsiders in the big show, bupkis in the system. Here' a look at their last 11 years of first round picks. Let's play count the legit NHLers:

1996: Dan Focht (11th overall) & Daniel Briere (24th overall)
1997: None
1998: Patrick DesRochers (14th overall)
1999: Scott Kelman (15th overall) & Kirill Safronov (19th overall)
2000: Krystofer Kolanos (19th overall)
2001: Fredrik Sjostrom (11th overall)
2002: Jakub Koreis (19th overall) & Ben Eager (23rd overall)
2003: None
2004: Blake Wheeler (5th overall)
2005: Martin Hanzal (17th overall)
2006: Peter Mueller (8th overall) & Chris Summers (29th overall)

I count Briere and maybe Sjostrom. I think Wheeler was 13 when they drafted him, so he and Mueller are still nuggets.

Time to blow it up. Make moves that shed guys with greater than one year contracts and bring in prospects or players with one year contracts. Wheel and deal at deadline time, then clean house. Too bad there's not an Ovechkin or Crosby in the '07 draft. It might be the Yotes year to be first on the clock. To some extent the Coyotes are victims of perpetual 500 play. The Penguins and Canes had to really crash before they could start turning the corner.

H/T to Spector for the lead on the Vest article.

Game Night Thrash

Come for the hockey - stay for Kovy's post-goal juvenile gyrations

My thoughts are up at Southeast Shootout. The Falconer also provides the counter-point.
I'll have to take your word on what happens because the DVR melted down last night (too much hockey, NFL and Pokemon I'm thinking), and I'll be watching my oldest play volleyball in the opening round of the regional tourney.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Coyotes Mired in Abysmalia.

Tommy Salo Hires Hitman Disguised as Rookie Goaltender

You know your team is hurting when rookie goaltenders are comfortable roaming out of the crease to take runs at your smallish forwards. The Yotes are flat awful - mired in abysmalia (a word I think I've created just for the Coyotes). According to Bruce Garrioch in the Ottawa Sun:

"Phoenix GM Mike Barnett is itching to make a deal. Sources say every player on
the Coyotes is available — including RW Shane Doan and LW Ladislav Nagy, both
soon-to-be unrestricted free agents. Contract talks with Doan before training
camp didn’t go well. The Coyotes may also move C Dave Scatchard..."

David Vest, writing in the Arizona Republic has a piece about how Coyotes brass is dealing with the pitiful play of the club this season. It includes this line:

"[Coyotes CEO] Shumway also said neither he nor [majority owner] Moyes would be
hesitant to make a change at coach or general manager if they felt it

Yeah, right. Fire "the Great One." He'll quit before you all get a chance to fire him. He'll quit cause he hates being associated with a losing effort - even one he helped create. He'll quit and he'll take his money. Momma already prefers LA (or maybe Vegas, depending on the NFL lines that week), and you need his money and his hockey aura more than he needs the Coyotes. GM Mike Barnett is an avowed F.O.G. (Friend of Gretzky), and unless Wayne gets Mike to fall on a sword, the two are joined at the arse and will continue making dubious deals (Owen Nolan, JR, Huge $$$$$$$$ for blueliners, etc).

Garrioch mentions that the Coyotes may be looking at Yanic Perrault or Jason Allison to fill the void created by the loss of Steven Reinprecht. He also indicates that Shane Doan and Ladislav Nagy are potentially available. And those two are about the only marketable forwards on that entire roster. I think Doan has about worn out his worth as team captain, especially after Sean Avery got into his psyche the other night. Talk about negotiating from a position of weakness.

The Coyotes don't need more old and slow guys, they need and infusion of youth, size and attitude. They just need to blow it up and rebuild. Looks like that's kind of what the Kings are doing after they dealt for Jack Johnson and are starting to dangle Craig Conroy.

Anaheim is the class of that division. Dallas is good, but what are the odds that Lindros plays until the All Star break? And how's that clubhouse chemistry working? Mikey Modano is probably loving life without the C - no hurt feelings there I'm sure. The Ducks are mui-balanced - big, mean, skilled, and fast kids and vets at or near their prime. These Coyotes are an ugly combination of old and slow and young and skinny.

Wise Coyote fan, Locked in low4545, says it best in a feedback comment to the Vest article:

"Retreads like Roenick and Nolan won't cut it in the "new NHL" we were
behind the curve when they built the team prior to the lockout, then when they
realized that team wouldnt cut it they then rebuilt again with a defense
orientited team, again this puts us behind the curve in the new nhl yet again. I
see nothing but bad things from this team for YEARS to come with the current
management at the helm."

UPDATE: Phoenix sportstalk host, John Gambadoro, writing on azcentral.com still has some love for Doan:
"Doan could demand a trade and go to a contending team where he would have a
chance to win, maybe the Calgary Flames, his hometown team. He could force the
Coyotes' hands. Although neither side has attempted to negotiate a new deal at
this point, if Doan comes out publicly and say he will test the market the
Coyotes would have to trade him. They are going nowhere fast and maybe trading
Doan could net them something for the future, plus save them some money this
...and harsh words for Coyotes leadership:
"This collection of misfits that General Manager Mike Barnett and Vice
President Cliff Fletcher put together look completely out of place. There is no
chemistry among the players and no cohesiveness in the lockeroom. The players
aren't on the same page with each other or with the coaches. "

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Love was in the air?

You Two Get a Room!!!
"Ooooh, you're lookin' pretty good in those tight breezers Mikey-boy...gimme some sugahhhh..."

I now know the missing element in team chemistry on this '06 Carolina Hurricanes team. It's man-love. The light went on for me right after Mike Sillinger scored the tying goal in the third. A jubilant Jason Blake tackled Sillinger and kissed him square on the mouth - game over. How can you defeat that kind of brotherhood? Alexander the Great and the Romans built empires on it, and it is the missing element the Canes need to turn this season around. It's love baby.

The Good
Heddy looked real sharp, and Justin Williams and Erik Cole are flying. The 4th line also played their hearts out.

The Bad
How many whiffs has Tim Gleason had over the last two games? He's spitting pucks like Tverdovsky. John Grahame is looking a lot like Jamie Storr. One fabulous flash of the glove does not a solid backup make.

The Ugly
Too many lack of hustle/discipline penalties - four hooking and two tripping. The blueline is still an issue. Commie is taking a ton of penalties. Gleason, Tanabe and Babchuk are there, but they aren't cleaning up and imposing their will. Big ole Babchuk outta be bending Trent Hunter over the sideboards, not vice versa. Nic Wallin looked like he had his game back, now he's out with a leg injury.

Me thinks the boys need the three day break; a little whirlpool, some more time on that Rec Zone ice to get Belanger and Gleason integrated. They can also take some time to work on that team chemistry. These are manly men, doing manly things in manly ways as only manly men can do with other men. Bring in Michael Palin; trade for Jason Blake. Let's see a little Cabin Boy love !

Thrash invade on Wed.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Morning Riff

Day One in the Shootout
Thanks to all who made their way to Southeast Shootout yesterday. Big SE Division games today for everybody but the Canes. Our boys have four straight SE games next week beginning with the Thrash on Wednesday. I hope Caniacs will tune in and bring the smack...errr, thoughtful analysis.

Last Night in Narnia
I DVR'd the game, but got home in time to watch the last 13 minutes of the third. Like I said in my comment last night, "Damn dem Slugs are good." Buffalo is faster, their centermen are winning the puck and winning nearly every faceoff (I think I saw the Canes win one in the 3rd). And they are creating time and space to make crisp passes to cutting or open-enough players who made plays (damn you Vanek!). And yes, the sun did come out today...in Tucson. Et tu Buffalo?

Now a Moment of Coyote Miserating
The Canes never quit - unlike the Coyotes on Thursday night. That was the game Chris from Coyotes Tele-marketing wanted to sell me nosebleed seat tickets to...and give me a hat. I watched the game after all in the Cason household went to bed. The Yotes TV team put Darren Pang down between the benches to do his color commentary, and he looked real lonely. Nothing but empty seats behind him. Reminded me of the other night in LA when the Red Wings faithful totally drowned out the 11 or so Kings fans who make it to the mid-week game.

By the second period, I was on FF level 4 just watching for the score icon to change. Miserable game. I say, keep Boynton and the defensive corps, offer the entire lot of those forwards to Metallurg Magnitogorsk as part of a settlement deal for Malkin's midnight run to prosperity.

Coyotes captain, Shane Doan, spent the whole game fixated on Sean Avery. Every shift, every scrum in front of the net started and ended with smack between the two. Avery was in his head all night. And the two got booted late in the third. Nice to see a team captain take himself out of a game like that.

Wayner's Coyotes are mired in abysmalia. A miserable year ten of their "decade in the desert" now looms.

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's Hockey Night in Narnia

Briere and Tallinder Seen Strategerizing at Thursday's BuffaSlug Practice

Big game tonight for the Canes in the city that global warming forgot. Like the mythical and snowbound kingdom of Narnia, all the good creatures scattered years ago to places of warmth and safety, leaving Buffalo to the wolves, witches and evil dwarfs.

The BuffaSlugs are undefeated and the darling of hockey's pundit class. Rumor has it, they've got the champagne already on ice.

Hurricanes Game Night Checklist
  • Make sure both grampas on defense are well rested...check

  • Make sure Cam Ward has his Fruity Pebbles and juice box and is left alone until game time

  • Tell David Tanabe to relax and play within himself

  • Remind Tim Gleason that discretion is the better part of valor
  • Offer a free steak dinner to every Cane who blocks a shot tonight
  • Smother Briere, Drury and Afinogenov - drive Slug wingers into the corners and make them pay
  • Get bodies in front of Ryan Miller, and bump him a time or two... on accident of course
Both squads are rested and don't much like each other. Scott Norwood will be a game time decision for the Slugs. The ghost of Brett Hull may make an appearance tonight for the Canes. No matter what happens, it's still early in the season and the sun will come out tomorrow...except in Buffalo.

In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, "Let's get it on."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Southeast Shootout has it covered

Senator Rodman-Clifford was right. It takes a village. In this case, it takes a village to pimp for the NHL's Southeast Division. Today is D-Day for Southeast Shootout, a brand new site dedicated to covering hockey in the NHL's most exciting division.

"SeSo" (see-so) as we are calling it in shorthand form, is the brainchild of JP, host of Japers' Rink and our friend in the most powerful city in the world, Washington D.C. JP and I got to talking a few weeks ago about our shared desire to expand our role in hockey's new-non-mainstream-alternative media. Our sole goal - to build a big tent and generate buzz amongst the rabid and swelling ranks of fans in hockey's final frontier - The American Southeast.

Check it out this weekend and make plans to join in the circus. Open threads on intra-divisional matchups slated for Saturday night including Captain Melt-Down's 'Ning vs. Craps and the Luongo-less Kitties in Mordor South to take on Hartley's Thrash-goons.

We've lined up blogger ring masters to cover each of the SE Division teams, and our team will rant and rave on issues, events, personalities and divisional games in the SE from time to time. We want main focus will be on your participation, on growing the village and on pissing off all the SE Division haters. Our clever little tag line reads, "Come for the weather - stay for the hockey." Check out SeSo and help us make SE Division hockey and it's fans the envy of the league.

The Rising Tide of Southeast Divsion Hockey

ESPN columnist Damien Cox posted an article the other day titled, "Why the Southeast is worth watching." It's a bit inconclusive, but still a good read. He spends a bit of time at the end of the piece waffling on the future of hockey in places like Washington, the ATL and Tampa. He does provide a mildly optimistic take on the future of Hockey in our beloved Raw-Lay. Yup, it's good to be the champs.

Attendance across the league last season was record setting. Many pundits believe this season will be more trying for clubs in markets not deemed historically hockey-rabid. After nearly 11 years of sellouts in Denver, they're not a lock to sell out any more. Los Angeles has been the home to the Kings for decades - decades that included a love-fest with The Great One. Already this season, the Kings recorded their lowest game attendance in seven years. And despite a surprisingly strong start for the ill-led Blackhawks, crickets still rule in the United Center.

It is kind of nice to see the doubters and self-professed purists start to turn away from the ragging the Southeast and start obsessing about the doom and gloom they see in store for hockey in the expansion markets of the 60's and 70's.

I remain bullish on hockey in the Southeast. I think hockey has turned the corner down south just as hockey in more northern climes has started to tank. I acknowledge that Hockey in Miami still remains problematic, but the Thrash, Canes, 'Ning and Craps are all worth TIVO-ing on a nightly basis. Yeah, the Bruins, Flyers, Leafs, and Islanders have proud traditions, but they all stink and aren't getting any better very soon. Success generates momentum. Failure let Charles Wang into hockey. Nobody is gonna remain loyal to a loser (Cubs-fan the noted exception). As Cox says in the article, winners and rising stars make the NHL Southeast the place where fans ought to be spending their time and passion.

I think it would be great if we could find a way to give voice to the emerging hockey culture and the budding rivalries developing across in the Southeast Division. Wouldn't it be great to create a din about all things hockey-south - a din so loud and so juiced that it could put and end to all the slings and arrows that fly out of Narnia, New York and Leaf-Nation, CA whenever envy and ignorance make them want to piss on the celebration of hockey down south?

That din is coming. More tomorrow. You have been pulsed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Look for CB

I've been fiddling with this blogger tempate and trying to give CB a new look for the new season. The background texture is taken from an image of saguaro cactus - for that deserty feel.

Gonna pause and reflect. Thanks JP for the html assist.

Kristi and Bret Star in Twin Peaks Deja Vu

Grace marries power - then they move to Twin Peaks

I'm sitting in the waiting room at the orthopedist's office the other day waiting for a consult on my shoulder and I come across this pic in an ad for GE appliances. I remember the press release from awhile back that Kristi and Bret were going to do the ad.

Kind of has a Twin Peaks dream sequence quality to it. Antler's, ice, stone and a Log Lady knocking at the kitchen door.

Remember that video tour of Cap'n Rod's house last year (the link on NBC 17 no longer works) ? Little to no furniture, coffee maker in the master bath (Roddy doesn't drink the stuff), kid-friendly space everywhere and a bed from the Grizzly Adams collection? I bet Roddy would love that Chang-a-leer from Chateau Hediguchi.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Maven-Moments, Mishkin and Espo, Oh My

My Maven-Moment
The other day, I had my first maven-moment of the season. I'd call a maven-moment that time late at night at the keyboard when you drop a one liner into a post as a casual observation - one based on gut instinct, the desire to be coy or flip, or maybe just intellectual laziness. Mave usually drops in a ! when he drops da fluff. Here's one from last week:

The fact that Al Ovechkin last week had a hole-in-one the very first time he
was on a golf course does not surprise us. We’re dumbfounded that he didn’t
follow up by buying the course!

Well call me "Al" if that's not edgy Big Apple journalism at its best. And who's this "we" or "us" he's referring to?

Here's my maven-moment from a Canes/Penguins recap of early Sunday morning:

Justin Williams looks like he is still pressing. Once he finds his groove, all
should be good.
I just forgot the lousy ! at the end of the line. And Justin did find his groove last night, so I'm bloody brilliant, ain't I? Stand by for more scattershot mave-moment riffs.

Mishkin and Espo Together Again
Driving home last night, the Canes/Bolts game was on Sirius. No Chuck Kaiton. It was Mishkin and Espo. And yes, the king of screetch is back for 2006. Only caught the first period. Good news is Mishkin only got off one screaming caterwaul over the course of the first period. And he had to wait until late in the third to celebrate a Bolt goal - long after I was elsewhere and the game was in the bag. Wonder if he has a silent scream for meaningless goals?

Here's an Espo line from the first period that pretty much sums up the Bolts play last night, and what Espo brings every night to the broadcast booth:

God that Rod Brind 'Amour just kills the Lightning, fer cryin' out
Espo must have the ultimate gig. No research, no show prep, just show up and blather incoherently every few minutes around Mishkin screams. I wanna work that hard after I retire.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Allison rumor...again

Saw it teased on espn.com, but couldn't dig deeper because I lack "insider" status. It's also at si.com in their "NHL Truth and Rumors" feature. Jason Allison to the Canes to help on the PP.

The quote SI attribues to the Globe and Mail seems to muddy the waters a bit:

Jason Allison is in Toronto, unemployed but staying in shape, spending time with
his children and waiting to see if a team that's a better fit for him makes an
offer -- say the defending Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes, where he could
go and play for coach Peter Laviolette and perhaps help their power play get untracked. -- The Globe and Mail

Is "untracked" Canadian for on-track?

Makes no sense. The Hurricanes are healthy at center. Staal and Roddy's play has picked up, Belanger is too new to pass judgement and KAdams is a lifer. Spector links to two articles that indicate both Craig Conroy and Mike Comrie might be had. If the Canes were shopping, my advice would be to take Conroy for prospects. Even Comrie and all his philandering baggage is a better addition than Allison at this point.


Aucoin and Bayda are emergency call ups for tonight's game in TB. No Isbister or Willis? Looks like Lavvy just wants warm bodies to man the 4th line. Bayda was a roster lock until the Jack Johnson deal went down. Maybe coach wants to throw the boys a little bone. Or maybe he wants to showcase them a bit...

Will John Grahame make a triumphal return or will his presence on the bench only serve to justify screaming John Tortorella's disdain for him? Alan Maki of the Globe and Mail picked up a little pre-smack from Grahame. If John is in the pipes tonight and tanks, it could be Jamie Storr deja vu all over again in Hurricane land. Love the drahhhhma of NHL hockey.

Chat with Jack Johnson!

The LA Kings are promoting an online chat tomorrow at 5 pst with new prospect Jack Johnson. Click here and join in on all the fun. Wonder if his nutty pop or that "family advisor" (not to be confused with a player agent) will be on hand to screen the questions...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Knock off all that evil!

I thought it was another bad hit in Pittsburgh's arena of death. I ran the DVR back and forth and at every angle it looks like Colby Armstrong leaves his feet at full throttle to hit Trevor Letowski with his shoulder in the side of the head.

It's good, it's appropriate and it's un Orpik-like that Armstrong was instantly remorseful. And it's kind of hard to stay mad at Colby, since he looks like he's about ten years old.

The NFL enforces a helmet-to-helmet fine and suspension rule, often enforced after further review. I'd like to see players who hit like this - like Garnet Exelby Friday night on Eric Belanger, penalized more severely. Give 'em two or three games and fine 'em $5k or so.

I love hitting in hockey. Anybody who's ever played knows it's a game for predators. I hate play that borders on, or drives right into the realm of dirty. I'll never stick up for any guy who goes dirty. And any hit directed at somebody's head should be penalized.

Last night Commie tried to drive Sid Crosby's mellon thru the glass with both hands as they both chased the puck into the end boards. Love Mike's game at playoff time, and love to see him block shots and enforce his will in the defensive end, but that hit on RBK's Cover Boy was over-the-line.

Resting Heddy and Wes looked like a good idea. Grampa's need a night off every now and then. I thought Nic Wallin stepped up last night. No burning in the nether regions last night when Tanabe touched the puck. Justin Williams looks like he is still pressing. Once he finds his groove, all should be good.

That is all. Bolts are up next.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Seconds of Pleasure

Just a few thoughts on this fine Saturday morn

.5 Seconds
Thank God it was Ray Whitney in the slot with .5 left last night. Piss on Mallory Vishnevski. Andrew Ladd knocked him on his can but took the worst of the hit. Piss on you, Garnet Exelby. Nice hit to the head from behind on Eric Belanger. No prancing and posing from you, Ily baby. When interviewed after the game, Kovalchuk would only say:

"And he stoned me to my soul. Stoned me just like jelly roll, Yeah Cam stoned me."

That being vented...Eric Staal looks lumbering out there-almost Malik-like. I don't see explosiveness in his strides or transitions. And the D still reeks. My hemorrhoids burn whenever David Tanabe touches the puck-that can't be a good sign.

A Dub is a Dub. Hopefully all that feigned concern we've all heard from closet Hurricane-haters will die down.

Coyotes Telemarketing
So I'm driving to my daughter's volleyball game on Thursday when I get a call on the cell. It's "Chris" from the Phoenix Coyotes. Instantly I remembered the Web survey I finished last week about my recent Glendale Arena/Coyotes experience. The enticement to answer a gillion questions about smiling faces and hot nachos? A cool $250.

So I'm thinking Chris wants to award me my $250. Nope, Chris wants to offer me (and I'm sure only me) upper bowl seating at a $20 discount and a free hat. I say, what about the $250? At first Chris says, Yeah I'm sure they gave the money away already. When pressed however, he admits to knowing nothing about the survey or the $250.

Disappointed, I tell Chris I've got a volleyball game to catch. Chris however, still wants to work a deal on the nosebleed seats and hat. The game is next week vs. the Kings. I tell him I'm interested - not because of a dopey hat, but because I want to see Anze Kopitar. You can tell Chris doesn't know Anze from Angie Harmon. Chris asked if he could call me tomorrow (Friday). It's Saturday, and I haven't heard from my personal Coyotes agent yet.

Ok Bubba, id. the musical reference in the post title for a chance to win $250. If you win, I'll have Chris call you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hurricanes Announce Signing of New Captain

AP Raleigh:
In a stunning move, the Carolina Hurricanes announced the signing of Jonas Blane as their new team captain. According to sources close to the team, major concern over recent directionless play forced this unprecedented and bold move. In a prepared statement, Hurricanes GM, Jim Rutherford said, "Bag skates no workie. Roddy's gone soft on me. We need to add some swagger and heavy weaponry if this team is going to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions."

Little is know about Blane, who will join the team in Atlanta for Friday night's game after he checks out of the Army's 303rd Logistical Studies Group. A military records search reveals that Blane serves as a clerk in "the unit."

Jonas, who prefers to be known by his military call sign, "Snake Doc," will arrive with no hockey experience, but with vast experience in kicking ass from Columbia to Kandahar. A vast Lexis/Nexis search reveals only one attributible quote to Snake Doc, who was heard to remark after popping a few caps into a Columbian Narco-Militiaman, "Yeah, I bet that hurt."

In other news: The entire Atlanta Thrashers NHL team went on the IR today. Injuries listed include upper body injury, lower body injury, and scared shitless.

BTW: Denis Haysbert who plays Snake Doc on The Unit is Clint Eastwood cool. Loved him as Pedro Cerrano in Major League. He was also good as the nasty Secret Service Agent in Eastwood's Absolute Power.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Canes Dooooh-fer Week One

I've fallen and I can't get up!
Canes drop another one to Gelinas, Roberts and Ollie the Alien and his tight helmet
photo: ap

I set the DVR to record tonight's Canes/Kitties game, but chose to take a look at the score on nhl.com before I immersed myself in hours of frustration. Glad I took that glance.

So why did I have that sinking feeling barely a summer removed from a sterling season that culminated in a Stanley Cup Championship? I think it's because after one week of the season, these Carolina Hurricanes seem to have forgotten what made them champions last season.

It wasn't accolades and hype. Last year's squad enjoyed virtual anonymity until the last months of the season. It wasn't the late-night TV appearances or FM magazine parties. The boys didn't get invites to those things until after they won the Cup.

The boys are just deep into their Stanley Cup hangover. After a short summer of being feted, hoping injuries would heal on their own, and ignoring the ghosts of 2002, I think the boys haven't adjusted to the fact that the rest of the league spent the off-season watching, analyzing and adjusting to the style of play that made the Hurricanes superior in the first year of the New NHL.

The Saberslugs on the other hand seem to have used their summer wisely. Don't discount the role bitterness played in their off-season preps. They were close in the conference finals and still feel they got jobbed...again...Brett Hull in the crease, Scott Norwood re-sets, and that tired old, "You rednecks don't sell out your games so you are not worthy" refrain lingers.

Last year's Hurricane squad dominated games with relentless and aggressive forechecking, disciplined team defense, ownership of the puck, and blazing speed in transition that created opportunities on the other end.

Not seeing that yet. I'm seeing and reading about defensive breakdowns, slashing penalties (frustration and lack of discipline), hooking penalties (not skating), cheap shots and whining at refs (Gleason and Staal) and fratricide (that Adams/Hedican cage match).

And it's not because Marty Gerber is no longer wearing the sightless eye. He's stinking up the joint in Ottawa. It's also not because Matt Cullen isn't on the third line. Eric Belanger is filling that role nicely and the line he shares with Letowski and Walker is team's best at this point. The loss of Cory Stillman's composure and good hockey sense on the first line is probably hurting a lot.

I think the struggles on defense might be attributable to the loss of AWard more than Frankie Kaberle. AWard did everything well - not spectacularly, but he scored timely goals, delivered crushing hits that changed momentum and blocked a ton of shots. If you add in the fact that Wes is another year older, Heddy is a year older and coming off major hip surgery; Gleason is young, pressing a bit and prone to youthful mistakes, and you have the makings of "issues" on the blueline after week one. Oh yeah, don't forget that David Tanabe is coming off knee surgery and already showing ARod-type tendencies after getting dumped by a bad Bruins team.

Is it time to panic? Nope. Is it time for the boys to adjust to this new reality and start to pay the price it takes to defend a Stanley Cup championship? Yup. Complacency is death in hockey. There is no cruise control in a league where parity rules. Last year the Carolina Hurricanes were a band of brothers. A little brotherhood would be nice right about now.

So the long roadie continues. Friday night the boys face the Thrash in the ATL. Koval-Chick, Unibrow, Sutton and that little mini-Sutton, Garnet Exelby, are probably licking their chops right about now.

Slovene 101 for NHL Fans

Slovenia - Land of Enchantment and Kids Who Dress Like the Stanford Mascot

The LA Kings' Anze Koptiar is all the rage right now. Hockey media and hockey fans are noting with some amusement that this rising star comes from little ole Slovenia. Here are some factoids about the the land of my ancestors to help you wow folks and sound real smart at your next cocktail party.

  • The nasty blackened bags around Koptiar's eye sockets are probably the result of a chronic sinus condition. They do not mean he's a zombie or that his homeland is some kind Transylvania-like nation inhabited by the un-dead.
  • Slovenia is not Slovakia or Czechoslovakia - different language-totally different heritage...and yes, Czech babes are still much hotter.
  • Slovenes make great wine and are avid skiers - thus the greatest cause of injuy and death in the country is drunken skiing.

  • Slovenia was the first slave-state under the old Tito regime to seize their independence after the old tyrant-bastard keeled over.

  • I have kitchen chairs made in Slovenia and they are very solid - not sexy, but real solid...kind of like Slovene women.

  • Slovenia has produced as many Nobel laureates (1) as Iran and Venezuela. Take that Mahmoud and Hugo!!!

  • Boris and Natasha came from Pottsylvania, not Slovenia

That is all. Now go out and share your new enlightenment with others.

Me and Joe O on the Radio

...you had better do as you are told.

You better listen to the radio.

I taped a phone interview this morning with 620 The Bull's , Joe Ovies, as part of his Blogger of the Week series.

I think Latino Heat (does AG or Chris Clark still call him that?) said it would air during drive-time tomorrow. We chatted about team chemistry, Stanley Cup Hangover Syndrome, and of course, Jack Johnson.

If they decide to air the segment, listen and see if you can tell that I had way too much coffee...

Miami Redhawk Hockey

Georgian Architecture Still Rules at Miami!

ESPN2 showed the Miami/Northern Illinois football game on Sunday night. Not sure how many American households tuned in that night, but it looked like everybody in Oxford, Ohio was home watching Redhawk-great Big Ben bumble his way thru the Stillers/Bolts game. The stands were virtually empty. That's kind of how I remember Redskin football back in my undergraduate days - the Tom Reed days. Think I figured out why no students were at Sunday's game - they were suffering from a hockey hangover.

Monday night, I tuned in to watch the re-broadcast from Saturday of the 2006 Ice Breaker Invitational tournament finale. Miami vs. Vermont. Horrible game. Miami took 39 penalty minutes and gave the Catamounts 17 power play opportunities. Vermont took their share of penalties as well, so they game was really unwatchable. Minnesota Wild prospect, and Miami captain, Ryan Jones, has some Erik Cole in his game, but he and the boys played with no composure or discipline - kind of like our Hurricanes to date.

The stands were packed and I'm guessing hockey is the sport of choice for this generation of Miami students. The new Goggin Ice Center looks fantastic. Check out the slide show tour of the facility - you will be impressed. Redhawk hockey alum and recently retired NHLer, Brian Savage, contributed cash and design expertise to the home locker room. Brian wanted Redhawk players to enjoy an NHL-caliber locker room experience. I'm guessing former Redhawk Kevyn Adams probably had some say on the design of arena medical facilities. Like Savage, I'm sure he'd want the players have an NHL-caliber practice-fight cut stitching and broken bone icing and taping so you don't miss the third period of game seven experiences.

I played intramural hockey (once got boarded by steroid-enhanced All American nose tackle and deceased former pro wrestler, Flyin' Brian Pillman), and won a campus co-ed broomball championship in the old Goggin building. That facility was built back in the 70's and I remember it being real dark with a low ceiling and nasty bench seating for hockey games. Even back in the 80's when Redhawk hockey was in it's infancy, the sport enjoyed a ton of support from die-hard fans. My generation packed the 2,000 or so seats for every game.

It's good to see the huge amount of energy behind hockey at Miami. World-class facilities help attract world-class hockey players. The Redhawks finished the season atop the CCHA standings (beating Jack Johnson, his nutty pop and his beloved Maize and Blue twice) and made it to the NCAA playoffs. Look for the Redhawks to become more of a force in college hockey. God I hope they whack Michigan again.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Brothers in Neck Injury Rehab?

Bad news from Bengal-world. David Pollack's brief NFL career might be over. David suffered a broken neck vertebra making a head-down tackle on Cleveland Browns running back Reuben Droughns. His journey since the injury two weeks ago reminds me a lot of Erik Cole's last spring.

According to this article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Pollack seems pretty down. I know Erik had some down days during his comeback, but unlike Cole, who enjoyed the adoration of the fans and the constant attention of his fellow Hurricanes, it doesn't look like Pollack's getting much of a boost from his fellow Bengals. Looks like it's just David and the Lord to face this challenge. Chris Henry and Odell Thurman have nothing going on these days...on second thought, scratch that idea. Late night drives, guns, booze, underage girls, orthopedic halos and pain meds are probably not a good mix. Stick with the Lord, David.

Erik Cole has a some time on his hands early this week between bag skates and ultimate fighting championships at practice. A brief phone conversation might do them both some good.

Looks like I picked a good weekend to...

...remain blissfully ignorant

Opening weekend for the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes was apparently not a thing of beauty. Good news for me is, I didn't see much of it. So I'm still ulcer free and basking in the memory of the last time I saw the boys. It was opening night last Wednesday. The wife was off reading her "historical fiction" novel and all the munchkins were in the rack. Around 10 pm, I plopped down in the lounge chair and called up game one on the DVR. Yeah, the Sabers got two goals on multiple body part deflections, and the boys were taking a slew of bad and lazy penalties, but Staal, Whitney and Cole were flying and it was tied late into the third.

That's when the recording stopped. Learned a lesson DVR vets probably already know. It only records for as long as the event is scheduled. Missed the last 5 minutes of regulation. Found out online that the game ended in a shoot-out. So round one goes to the undefeated, Eastern Conference points-leading and already prohibitive favorite to win the Stanley Cup and not go Norwood, Slugs.

On Thursday, we loaded down our fine Chrysler european-style touring sedan (again, not a minivan), with luggage, bikes, sporting goods, electronic media etc. and headed to a rental cabin in Arizona's White Mountains for the weekend. Got to the 10 mile mark on the trip odometer before #2 son asked if we were there yet...

We enjoyed very little connectivity with the outside world, no Internet, no cell reception. Loved the 60 degree daily highs, the cool breezes, the scent of pine and some incredible cold water lakes and mountain vistas. The Ponderosa Pines up there remind me a lot of the Loblolly Pines of North Carolina, except it doesn't look like the Ponderosa's snap and fall on the nearest roof or car at the first hint of inclement weather.

The shot at the top of this post was taken from the Mogollon Rim about 2,000 feet above the valley below. The valley is at about 4,000 ft.

So, what did I miss? Yup, still blissfully ignorant...at least until Wednesday night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Ghosts of 2002

Those who do not learn the lessons of history...
The 2002 NHL season started on a night much like tonight with the Hurricanes raising a banner to commemorate their Eastern Conference Championship. I was able to get tix to the game and I remember the energy in the building early that evening. It reminded me of the one playoff game I got to attend that spring - game two vs. the Devils. After Bates Battaglia deflected in the game winner in OT, nobody left the arena a stranger. I must have high-fived 30 complete strangers on my way to the car. Winning the conference championship was huge for a franchise trying to find its niche in ACC hoops/NASCAR crazed Raleigh. But the residual energy and optimism that carried over from the '02 playoffs peaked and died that night in the RBC. The Hurricanes lost to the Rangers that night 4-1 and spent the rest of the season in a constant state of hangover.

JR made some moves during the 2002-2003 season in an attempt to right the ship. They were really crappy moves. Rock-solid Marek Malik to Vancouver for Euro-soft Jan Hvlac. Euro-soft Radim Vrbata for a struggling Bates Battaglia.

The hangover continued thru the '03-'04 season and ended with Coach Mo and Captain Franchise losing the hearts and minds of the team. That collapse also speeded the rebirth of the franchise. The Canes parted with two guys that had become expensive garnish when they moved Ron Francis at the trade deadline and let Jeff O'Neill go the free agent route. And JR made the first in a series of bold moves during the 2003 season when he snagged rising star Justin Williams for Danny Markov.

Last year JR was uber-bold. He signed Cory Stillman and Marty Gerber while the rest of the league slept. Both were under-the-radar guys at the time who made a huge difference. Then around trade deadline time, he brought in Doug Weight and Mark Recchi for picks and garnish.

I like the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. Weight and Recchi are gone. Both were great adds for the PP and that playoff run, but neither brings the speed and physical resiliency that have made the Lavvy system the envy of the league. Scott Walker for Joe Vasicek is an upgrade in both the speed and heart departments. I also think the additions of Trevor Letowski and Eric Belanger should make up for the loss of Matt Cullen. Cullen played hurt a lot last year, looks like Belanger get hurts a lot. The Canes go into this season with three scoring lines and a proven grind line.

If Cam Ward proves to be the real deal long term, then the loss of Marty Gerber won't hurt either. As a 'Ning, John Grahame showed flashes of brilliance. He's the kind of guy who can come in when called and perform spectacularly. Marty G had a tremendous '05-'06 season and one good playoff game. I hope he brings that kind of mojo to the Sens. Tim Gleason for Oleg Neverdovsky should prove an upgrade right now with the potential to be huge as Timayyyy !!! matures (I like David's idea of that South Park line becoming a stadium rant when Gleason touches the puck). That being said, I still think the Canes will miss AWard in a big way. I'll miss AWard in a big way. I already hate seeing him in a Rangers sweater.

Bottom line - there is no reason the Canes shouldn't contend again. JR signed his core guys to love-you-long-time contracts and they should still be hungry. Andrew Ladd should emerge as a star this year. Anton Babchuk might be another pleasant surprise. And with all the late trade activity, everbody has forgotten about David Tanabe as well. I'm not ready to give up on a young guy, on a second chance, who might have something to prove. If Tanabe steps up, there will be no euro-softies or no-loads on this team. Plus there are enough guys (including the captain) who remember the long hangover that started the night of October 9, 2002.

Big test for the Hurricanes tonight. The Sabres were equal parts heart, skill, opportunism and smack during the conference finals. The woulda's, shoulda's and coulda's started during those games and have continued to this day. And da Slugs are the pre-season faves for many pundits.

I've got the DVR cued up. The Dos Equis is on ice and limes are at the ready. Let's drop the puck and see how a Stanley Cup Champion defends their crown. Huzzzzzah!!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Jeff O'Neill Gotterdammerung

According to this piece by Tim Wharnsby in the Globe and Mail, Jeff O'Neill's struggles continue. After shoulder surgery in April, Jeff showed up for the start of camp sporting the highest body fat percentage on the team (18%). He also sat out the last two preseason games and skated as an extra at practice. Issues of heart and commitment seem to persist.

According to Wharnsby, it's down to Jeff and Bates Battaglia for the last roster spot at forward. O'Neill would have to clear waivers to be sent down to the Marlies. With no real market for his game at this phase in his career, that would be doubly humiliating.

Despite their rocky past relationship, Coach Mo seems to be doing all he can publically to support Jeff. Mo expresses confidence that Jeff will return to form and gives him an out for the shoulder surgery. He even went so far as to order a little personal training on Sunday...not to be confused with a bag skate, of course.

Ziggy looks like he'll make the Coyotes roster. I'm pulling for Bates in Toronto. He's tasted life without hockey and he's not ready to quit.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Coyotes vs. Ducks Recap

Good Luck Mike Zigomanis

Years ago, University of Florida Athletics published a media guide that depicted a croc on the cover instead of their true mascot, the alligator. The Coyotes have a similar Dooooh! going. The schtick in the Glendale Arena is to get the crowd to howl like a coyote when the Yotes go on the PP. They run a video on the Jumbotron of a grey wolf standing on a frozen tundra as part of the deal. I'm guessing it's because an arctic wolf is a hell of a lot more menacing than a coyote. The one I hit on I-10 was the size of a cocker spaniel. And they don't howl much. They yip and squeal.

This was the last game of the preseason for both clubs, and the Coyotes had a couple of "bubble guys" in the lineup. Ex-Hurricane, and erstwhile St. Louis Blue, Mike Zigomanis, was one, and he played a pretty well over the first two periods. In the third, he took a bad hooking penalty (bad call vice bad penalty) and for some reason dropped the puck in no-mans land to start a Duck rush the other way. He didn't play very much at crunch time. The Coyotes are running a web feature about Ziggy's run at a roster spot. Looks like Phoenix management hope he makes it. So do I.

The play of a couple of Coyotes jumped out last night. Joel Perrault is a kid I had never heard of, until last night. He was a playmaker all night. He plays with his head up and seems to have a good sense of where the play is going. He also and netted the game winner in OT on a sweet one-timer from Jovocop.

Keith Ballard: This kid is fearless and he jumps into the rush at every opportunity. He reminded me a lot of Danny Markov. Ballard also delivered the night's signature hip check on Chris Kunitz (?). He also took the game's only run at Chris Pronger - got to have stones to do that, eh?

Chris Pronger: I've seem Pronger live on two occasions over the last two years. It's amazing how guys pull up short or dump bad passes whenever they get in the neighborhood of his wheelhouse. During one PP, he cut into the slot from the point and got hooked by Comrie. He blew through the hook and got off a baseball swat at a waist-high floating puck. He nailed it, but missed the net...but not by much. His ability to keep the puck in the zone with hands, feet, stick and his larch-like physique is really remarkable. He always has a sense of where the puck is going to be and he gets there first.

Keith Yandle: This is a kid the Coyotes seem high on. I was unimpressed. He seemed Tverdovsky-like. Tentative, ducking under contact and floating.

The Dinosaur Legion: Owen Nolan, Mike Comrie and Jeremy Roenick. Comrie looked great. He was creative with the puck and nasty on the forecheck. Nolan and Roenick were non-factors all night and retired to the whirlpool after the second period. Must have been all you can eat apple sauce and Jello night at the American Legion hall.

The Ducks Two-Headed Blueline Monster: The Ducks blueline will get the lion's share of the pub this season. Pronger and Niedermeyer were paired for the first shift on every Duck PP, and you couldn't not watch how they operated along the blueline. On one PP, Niedermeyer whipped a wrister across the face of the goal and off the blade of a cutting teammate trying to engineer a deflection. This didn't look like a pass made to a cutting teammate. Scotty seemed to be using his teammate's stick to engineer a scoring opportunity. The other guy just seemed to remember the rule about keeping your stick on the ice around the net. The puck deflected off the surprised forward and up into the netting, but it was still a remarkable look into how Niedermeyer processes the game.

The Coyote Blueline: That being said, I think the Yotes blueline talent goes deeper. Ballard and Boynton, Morris and Jovocop, followed probably by Michalek and Seidenberg. I was really impressed with Derek Morris last night. I know I bad-mouthed him in my Team Dillinger post, but he was fast and poised with the puck - even in a scrum, and was by far the best at quarterbacking the breakout.

Didn't get to see Andy McDonald, Gorgeous Georges or Teemu Selanne.

The Ducks new road whites looked kind of generic from section 201. Still don't miss the eggplant and teal.