Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Musings

Cousin Antoine Leads the Desert Swarm

The Arizona Wildcats kick of season four of the Mike Stoops experience tomorrow in Provo when they take on BYU. Hope springs eternal yet again in the Old Pueblo as Wildcat fans are really, really sure this is the year they will finally get that bowl bid. In the words of Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush, "Nah gonna happen." A chronically concussed quarterback-an offensive line of matadors, and a brand new spread 'em offense will dash Wildcats hopes for Lee Corso's love yet again. Couple that shaky offense with Stoops' Woody Hayes-like sideline meltdowns and you have an emotionally unstable team that falls apart when things start to go bad.

That being said, the Wildcat defense should be pretty solid this season. A Nasty D-line and a very athletic defensive backfield led by future NFL star, my cousin Antoine Cason (17th, thrice removed) should keep the Wildcats in games...except when they play USC.

N&O Love

About two weeks ago, I went off on the N&O sports staff for either jumping on the Barry Bonds watch bandwagon or heading off on a Dollywood-Pigeon Forge vacation adventure and leaving us in the dark about all things Hurricane. Luke and Lorenzo are back with some nice reporting over the past few days. The Cam Ward and Nic Wallin pieces were nicely done. Still want to know what JR's, Hedican Says No Mas, Plan B is.

Brandon Sutter

David and Beth have the clip of Brandon Sutter whacking Alexi Cherepanov at the Summit Series. Alexi had something coming for the slew foot, but it looks like the Capos of Team Canada took things a bit far. Sutter's double-armed shiver to the underside of Alexi's chin crossed the line. Hits to the head have to stop-end of story.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hedican Plot Thickens?

Today's must read for Caniacs is over at Canes Country. According to a self-reported, and thus unverifiable source close to the Hediguchi's who seems perfectly willing to violate their trust, Bret's career in the NHL is basically done but for the press conference. So what the Hell was Mike Russo looking at yesterday in Minneapolis? A pickup game swan song? Check out both the "Iron Man" post and comment string and today's "Once Bitten.." narrative over at CC. Just to whet your appetite:

My sister has been involved with professional figure skating for 15 years now. She is good friends with Kristy Yamaguchi. Because she knows that I am such a fan of the Hurricanes, she was asking Kristy how Bret was doing and what his plans are (Kristy does not know that I am a fan, and spoke to Laura in confidence).

Judge for yourself. I bet his sister is Tonya Harding. She probably threatened Kristi with a Gillooly across the knees if she didn't confess.

I fill the void of uncertainty with irreverence. In the end, this is just sports entertainment. Others choose to fill it with rumor mongering. If the commenter over at CC is legit and willing to entice his sister into violating the trust of a friend, I find that damn near despicable no matter how "inside" on the Hedican issue this deep digging gets us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hedican Skates!!!!

Got this lead moments ago from a source I'll just refer to as "Paul in Detroit." From an article by Mike Russo in the Minneapolis Star Tribune after a trip out to the Rec Center in St. Louis Park:

"The players will be on the ice again Thursday and Friday beginning at 10:30 a.m. and Tuesday-Friday of next week (although many of the NHLers will be heading off to their own cities next week).

Out there this morning were Wild players Marian Gaborik, Brent Burns, Mark Parrish, Keith Carney, Derek Boogaard and Danny Irmen, former Wild and newly-signed Colorado center Wyatt Smith, Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek, Carolina’s Bret Hedican and a ton of others..."

Did you catch the Hedican-specific observation later in the piece? Sweeeet. So, Master Hediguchi has reappeared for some A+ league stick and puck. Pleeeaze, nobody tell him what happened to Francis-is-sick Kaberle, he might disappear back into witness protection.

All you worry-wart Caniacs should be ashamed of yourselves. I believed in my boy Heddy all along.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Monday Night Vick-a-thon

Prime Time Ocho!

Raleigh: Bengals and Hurricanes now courting Danny Markov in hopes of addressing anemic defense

ABC-Disney moved Monday Night Football to ESPN last season in the hope of extracting a little more cash from the rickety franchise. Sunday night is now the premiere NFL game, and Al Michaels and John Madden rule once again.

Last night showed why Al and John still rule. When ABC hired my guy Dennis Miller, John Madden was reported to have commented, "I thought the game was the entertainment." Last night, Ron Jaworski wanted the game to be the entertainment, but not Mr. Tony. Kornheiser wanted to drone on and on about the lingering effects the Vick plea was gonna have on the team. Boom, boom for hours as Mr. Tony beat the dead horse. Cut-aways to the booth so we could see Kornheiser in a sports coat and out of the sports he droned on and on about the misery Vick had wrought.

Jaws knows football. He knows football players. He's lived football culture. Jaws tried to keep the focus on football. Mr. Tony is a columnist. Bad news sells columns. Mr. Tony wanted to focus on the misery. I expect Jaws to snap Mr. Tony's pencil neck by week four.

I go right back to Madden's commentary-the game should be the entertainment. MNF traded Dennis Miller's obtuse and irreverent comedy for a self-absorbed sports columnist's editorializing. It felt like an extended version of ESPN's Sunday sports reporters show. Where were Mike Lupica and Mitch Albom? Where was the grand rhetorical brawl we've come to love when sportswriters lock into a death struggle over who gets to have the last word? Give me Dennis Miller back.

Another intensely irritating vignette from last night was the ten minute sideline interview with the editorial columnist from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The lady was a nice bookend to Mr. Tony. She just droned on and on about Mike Vick and the reaction of "The Community." You don't have to hold a Ph.D. in sociology to figure out that code-speak.

Thank God for the return of Chad Johnson and that little Japanese kick return specialist...about the only football I remember from last night.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Canes Defense in Mid-2006 Season Form

Who among us hasn't feigned injury or illness to get out of something we really don't want to do? For me it was a sudden stomach flu in 6th grade, timed precisely to get me home early for the Speed Racer cartoon hour. For my son, it's rub the eyes until it looks like he has the flu to get out of football practice. It's starting to look like Frankie Kaberle has his own version of the time-honored trick, but he really pushes it to the outside of the envelope. I stopped short of going under any knife. Frankie must really hate training camp.

I want Secret Service level protection right now on Grampa Stillman. Make him wear the special penny-surround him with orange cones on the ice. This is starting to look like deja vu all over again. Last season, JR held his cards and waited out Stillman and Kaberle. That move hurt the club...a lot.

Friday, August 24, 2007

This just in...

Raleigh: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley has publicly denied he's the Canes resident Old Fart in Chief. He asked that we ignore the poll results on C/B and offered this brand new photo as evidence of his youth and vigor.

In Other News: Cooper has just introduced a new "Classic Line" of vintage-style hockey equipment. NHL stars who have officially endorsed the new Cooper gear include Carolina Whaler-Canes defenseman Glen Wesley and Giles Meloche of the California Golden Seals.

Who's the biggest grampa?

Pass me the puck you little.....snoooorrrrrrrrr

According to some data posted on James Mirtle's site, the Carolina Hurricanes have the second oldest roster in the NHL. The other day, I referred to Cory Stillman as "Grampa Stillman." Our pal, the fact-checking fixated Beth, corrected me on her site by pointing out that chronologically, Stillman was one of the younger grampas.

To pervert a phrase from one of my personal heroes, the great Fernando, "It is better to look young than be young." I say you are as old as you look and Stillman looks like he should go ahead and don the burgundy fez and drive the little Shriner car in the Labor Day Parade. Sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind. I've put a poll up over on the right side for you all to affirm my astute observation. Yes, Beth, I know I goofed up the spelling of Stillman's first name in the poll.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Canes Marketing Stream of Consciousness...ness

About a week ago, Her Majesty had a post linking to the announcement that Cary-based Marketing and PR firm Genesis Marketing had been selected by the Hurricanes to help promote the club's decade in the old North State. The firm enjoys a nice list of clients including NC State, the ACC and New Balance stores in the Triangle.

Genesis's charge might only be to promote the ten-year anniversary. The ten-year thing is nice, but it has a very limited shelf-life. To build real and lasting brand loyalty, the Canes need to become part of the the fabric of the community and a unifying source of intense pride for folks in the Carolinas. I know the Canes work real hard on outreach and charitable pursuits, but convincing folks you are a fun and philanthropic organization doesn't necessarily create new legions of rabid hockey fans. Winning and word-of-mouth do.

During my tenure at NC State, lunch discussions always centered around Wolfpack athletics. The crew of Wuf-Pak diehards I ate lunch with were also dedicated members of the Wolfpack Club and voracious participants in the NC State and ACC discussion boards. Oh how they used to rail whenever some Chapel Hill troll dared to post a crack-back on their board. Yeah Herb was an idiot, but he was their least for awhile. Their season ticket subscriptions spanned generations and they never missed a basketball or football game.

Where does such Caniac fanaticism exist in Raleigh? Maybe a little in the Ale Houses when they host a Cool Bars night. Maybe in the Wakefield Republicans Club (H/T Bubba). Anyplace else? Bueller? I'll tell you where the real fever swamp is. It's online. It simmers on the blogs and in the discussion boards. The forum reports more than 1,100 members. There are now around 11 active Carolina Hurricanes blogs. Many Caniac bloggers tailgate and network before, during and after home games. David Lee reported the 100,000th visitor to RBH last week. I'll bet Her Majesty has double that number. I'm at around 83,000.

Bottom line is we in the digital Caniac Nation represent a powerful word-of-mouth marketing opportunity for the Hurricanes. We are the evangelists they need to empower. Engage us, and we'll shout about it to the world. Feed our passion and we'll gladly share it with everybody we encounter. Then they'll tell two friends, and so on.

When the novelty of the decade celebration is over, we'll still be talking Hurricanes hockey. During the next dismal season when that "This is Hockey!" billboard on the Beltline becomes "This is *!?%#!! Hockey????," we'll still be here. Yeah, bitching and moaning, but still here.

Hockey bloggers talk offline frequently about press credentials and access. That silly NYI bloggers box and second-class journalist treatment thing still bugs me. You journos can keep your press conferences and Pigeon Heaven press row. Keep your post-game "Well, we've just got to take it one game at a time..." re-sets. I'll tell you what I'd want if I still lived in Raleigh. I'd want to carve out space in or around the arena for bloggers, blog readers and discussion board folks to meet and network-a place where any and all fans would feel welcome to stop by before and after games, and between periods to talk Hurricanes hockey. I'm wary of a club-sponsored box, tent or deck. I see it as more of a grass roots thing. Kind of a smoking lounge for diehards. Maybe out by the dumpster or the visiting lockerroom exit. Eventually, it could even become a place where Hurricanes brass and players might enjoy making appearances.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The world's best Barbeque is in the Sonoran Desert

The other night as we sat around the dinner table, Mrs. C/B and the kids were pondering all the things they missed about living in North Carolina. I dig the desert. They're still warming to the idea. Here's my list:

1. Real trees

2. Natural bodies of water

3. Living within a day's drive of any place along the Eastern Seaboard.

4. Carolina Barbeque

Fortunately, we've got something even better than Carolina Barbeque here in Tucson. It's called Carne Seca. Carne Seca is Spanish for gourmet beef jerky, but it's far and away the best Mexican food in the world. The best Carne Seca in Tucson is found at the El Charro Cafe, the oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant in America. The key is Sonoran Desert aging. The folks at El Charro marinate beef brisket in lime juice and garlic and then hang it in the metal basket depicted above in the Tucson sun for two to three days to jerkify the meat. They then shred it and reconstitute it using a mixture of tomatoes and chiles.

You can get Carne Seca a la taco, burrito or chimi, but the best way to serve it up is in a big ole pile with a flour tortilla. Kinda like Barbeque -only with five times the kick.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Make me the N&O's sports editor

Compared to other hockey markets where you see things about the local club on a daily basis, mainstream media coverage of the Carolina Hurricanes world is been virtually non-existent over the past few weeks. The last article specific to the Canes in the N&O was on Aug 9, and it dealt with the plea deal offered to Eric Staal and posse. The last Lord Stanley's Blog post was on Aug 14 and it dealt with variable ticket prices in Buffalo. Here's sampling of articles available on the Red Wings Section of the Detroit Free Press Web site as it appears right now:

Babcock talks lines and raves about Kronwall (Aug 19)

Wings step up to the plate for softball charity game: (Aug 17)

Red Wings unveil new jerseys (Aug 16)

Come on N&O Sports Editor, Sherry Johnson, you and your team need to spend some quality time with the Hurricanes. And don't try and blame this poor coverage on ACC Obsession Syndrome. Mike Nifong is long gone and Chapel Hill's run at the college baseball world series is histoire'.

If N&O brass were to make me guest interim sports editor for the next few weeks, I'd have my crew deep digging on these topics:

  • Bret Hedican's comeback - What's his plan? What's he been doing to get ready for the grind?
  • What is JR's "Plan B" if Hedican can't make it back? Is he happy with this defensive corps? ... Because I'm sure as Hell not happy!!! (Ooops, that's agenda-driven journalism. And that's bad, m'kay?)
  • How did Cam Ward spend these last few months after a disappointing '07 season? Has his off-season routine changed?
  • How about the off-season routines of other Hurricane regulars? How about the guys who spent so much of the '06-'07 on the DL? What are Frankie and Grampa Stillman up to this off-season?
  • Do Seidenberg and Letowski have places on this roster?
  • What does Michael Leighton's signing mean for Grahame, Nastiuk, Peters et. al.?
  • How's life in Russhah treating old Anton Babchuk?

OK, I really don't give a flip about Anton the Defector. I fart in his general direction. Did I miss anything else?

Friday, August 17, 2007

What's Up With Hedican?

Misty Water Color Memories...of the Way You Was?

I've seen no updates on Bret Hedican's rehab or conditioning progress with the bad hip. The Canes have seven NHL vets under contract to man the blueline. If the club wants to keep eight on the roster, that leaves one spot open and potentially two if Hedican can't come back. Bret is slated to suck up $2.4 mil in salary. On the UFA front, I see Danny Markov, Brent Sopel and not much else. Markov wants greater-than-Hedican money, and I'm not sure what Sopel's conditions might be. I don't see either in the sightless eye unless the cash fairy makes a call on the RBC.

So if JR is working a contingency deal, I have no idea what that might be. That's probably the way the Maestro wants to keep it. Moving Trevor Letowski would be obvious, but he'll have to go with somebody a whole lot sexier if the Canes are going to get a top-two or top-four blueliner to fill a potential Hedican void. Give it two to three weeks, then stand by for the
"A source tells me Erik Cole is on the trading block rumors" to re-surface.

Come on you Deep Diggers in the local sports media - all two of you - find out whether Bret's "I'm going to give it a try" is a commitment the Caniacs can bank on. Is he in the midst of a workout regimen or is he getting physical therapy and Cortisone injections? Bone marrow infusions or protein shakes? I'm not hating on Heddy, I just think we are hearing way too little about the status of a critical member of this squad less than a month before the first pre-season game.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Comic Book Heroes Never Get Old

But Who Will Watch the Watchmen?

My oldest son has a high school enrichment class titled, "The History of Comic Books." He says it was either that or "Football Video Analysis 101 for Football Players-You Bet." As a bruising offensive lineman, he'll probably have to take the latter class next. Yesterday, he got his first essay assignment. He was asked to discuss who would win a fight between Batman and The Punisher. He gets it. Batarang vs. Kalashnikovs and shotguns.

Got me to thinking about comic books. So here's the list. Not really a "tag" game since Google Analytics stats show most of you all are more into football and America's Got Talent right about now. So feel free to comment or craft your own list.

1. Best Comic Book Hero: Batman -Love the idea of a mortal without mutant gifts who does extraordinary things. Love the dark knight as avenger angle and all then personal tragedy and turmoil Bruce Wayne struggles with.

2. Best Comic Book Villain: Joker - Pervasive psychosis beats ego or hunger for power any time. Magneto comes close since he's on a kind of Machiavellian crusade, but for my money the unpredictability of Joker makes him more compelling.

3. Worst Comic Book Hero: Superman -Impervious to everything but a little green space rock. This doesn't make for very compelling story lines. You can probably name ten Batman villains, but beyond Lex Luthor and that silly General Zod I can't think of any villain of note.

4. Best Overlooked Comic Book Hero: Moon Knight - Girlfriend killed with a meat cleaver by his evil traitorous brother, yowza. Love me those angst-enriched characters. Just your average former boxer, Marine and CIA agent. I also dig all the ancient Egypt references. Kind of Marvel's take on the Batman mystique.

5. Hottest Comic Book Chika: Elektra - Ninja assassin descendent of ancient Greek warriors. Nice.

6. Worst Comic Book Chika: Wonder Woman - A friggin' Amazon warrior princess whose best weapons are a magic rope and bracelets? Pleeeze. How about Wonder Woman's background and bod melded with Elektra's personna? Now that's one smoking hot, ass kicking babe.

7. Best Comic Book Series - Tie, The Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller) and The Watchmen (Alan Moore). Comic book heroes as regular folks-in tights. Both series were edgy and twisted before that was cool. Bruce Wayne is old and chubby and in retirement when he comes back to right a world gone horribly wrong. The Watchman is the only comic book to win a Hugo Award. And it's got a demented lead character named Rorschach who might not really be so demented after all...say no more.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jumping in the Wayback Machine with the Maven

Not much in the news these days, so let's dive back into ancient history for this oldie but goodie from May, 2006. Here's the Hockey Maven's take on the pending Sabres v. Canes tilt for the Eastern Conference championship. Dine if you will on these tasty bites:

As I said on the air following Carolina’s elimination of the Devils, I consider Cam Ward a “cardboard goaltender.” Since the start of the playoffs, Ward has been touted as the second coming of Georges Vezina. This is nonsense. (How 'bout "Conn Smythe?")

Some analysts believe that the bigger Canes forwards will wear down their Buffalo counterparts. I’ll believe it when I see it. (you saw it-three unanswered goals in the third period of game seven)

The Hessians, Doug Weight and Mark Recchi are over the hill, but are still dangerous. (too bad the series wasn't played at midnight on New Year's Eve in Trenton, New Jersey.)

Peter Laviolette has been nominated for the Adams award because of an equally positive campaign. That is, if you overlook his egregious failure with Uncle Sam’s Olympic team in Turin. (Egregious? Now that's just plain mean.)

He gave the Sabres the edge in every category but special teams. He called that even. Can't wait to see what gems the cranky old coot comes up with this year. I think it will be all Rangers all the time in Maven's world and across the MSG network.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Kevyn Adams finds a new home

C/B Hall of Famer Kevyn Adams to Chicago for Radim Vrbata. "Vrbata" is Czech for slightly annoying airborne flatulence-silent but non-deadly. Chicago's veteran front lines now have a solid PK and clubhouse culture leader. The perennial dormat Blackhawks should be very fun to watch this year. They should even be a better draw when Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews mature.

The Yotes on the other hand seem to have replaced the floating softie they let go to Dallas (Nagy), with an even breezier Euro in Vrbata. The Coyotes did a pretty nice job unloading some dead weight this off-season, but bringing in Vrbata and Mike York seem questionable moves to me.

Meanwhile, Keith Ballard remains unsigned.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Your Friday Moment of Zen

Saw this on a site called Little Green Footballs. Witness for yourselves the most evil of alliances. Elvis impersonators, B-52's impersonators and the Red Army band and choir united in tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Ladies and gentlemen, the Leningrad Cowboys.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Speaking of David Lee....Roth

Report: David Lee Roth Rejoins Van Halen for Fall Tour

Haven't we heard this story before? Just recently? Please Diamond Dave, just say "NO" to spandex this go around. You're a member of the Sansabelt generation now.

Are we gonna get Little Guitars and Everybody Wants Some, or are we gonna get Jump and Just a Gigilo? If it's the latter, I'm looking forward to Sammy's summer tour.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Barry Bonds and Modern Baseball Rant

What Would Henry Aaron (not) Do?

So last night Barry Bonds broke Henry Aaron's HR record. I'm still trying to figure out if steroids give him some sort of enhanced killer instinct along with the muscles and larger melon. I'm not talking about the 'roid-rage angle. I'm talking about the enhanced coordination and focus it takes to hit a 90 mph baseball hard and long. I know steroids turn pop-ups into McCovey Cove shots, but do they help Bonds zero in on a ball and make more solid contact? I thought bulky guys lost dexterity as they got huge.

Not that I dig the guy. By all accounts, Barry Bonds is an asshat. But I still come back to my memory of how freaking hard it was to hit anything but a straight fastball. I knew my career as a baseball player was over when I realized I couldn't touch a curve and I couldn't see a change up coming. Bonds still has had to make solid contact 756 times. I think that's still impressive in and of itself.

I watched Henry Aaron hit 715 off Al Downing. Just about everybody watched Aaron that night. Everybody but guys in white sheets revered Hank Aaron. He was and is a class guy and an excellent ambassador for the game. Back then I was consumed with baseball. This Week in Baseball with Mel Allen was the only TV show I never missed. I had the Luis Tiant delivery down. I had Mike Hargrove's "Human rain delay" batter's box ritual down as well. I played little league with Sparky Anderson's son Albert. Somewhere I still have my game three of the 1975 series ticket stub. I destroyed the garage door using it as a backstop.

As a youngster I lived, ate and breathed baseball-especially Cincinnati Reds baseball. Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Davey Concepcion, George Foster, Caesar Geronimo, Ken Griffey (the elder), and on the mound, Jack Billingham (or whomever Sparky decided to let pitch that at bat. But after the Reds won the series in 1990, I totally lost interest. Hockey and football now rule. The best thing I got out of the last few days of Barry 24-7 was a rekindling of the memory of how much I once loved baseball. The worst was being reminded that the recent crop of players (ex. Sosa, McGwire, Sheffield and Bonds) don't measure up to the men of yesteryear.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boo Dennis Miller

Audio streams of my favorite drive-time radio show were free and easily accessible, until the ratings book came out. Now that the show has a little momentum, Dennis and Sal have gone pay-to-play. Newsflash, cupcake. Radio is free. Internet radio should be free...or at least nearly free. The Dennis Miller Zone experience now costs $50 per year.

I don't have a three hour drive to work, so I'll never catch the majority of the show in my car. I also don't have time or attention span at work to play the local stream on my computer and still take care of business, so I'm out for all but 40 minutes of his show every day.

I'm sure there is plenty of cash to be generated via advertising, club gigs, merchandising and O'Reilly Factor appearances, so why not let the peeps back in on the fun? I'm so pissed right now, I don't think I'll ever watch Bordello of Blood again.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Welcome Storm Surge

Please welcome the newest newb, Storm Surge. No it's not a clever ploy by the Acid Queen to to create a parallel blog for her kinder, gentler side. Storm Surge leads with a nice set up to an article on former Hurricane Rob DiMaio's pending fade from big league hockey.

My Take on the Eklund Buzz

Bubba nailed it in a comment over at Southeast Shootout when he said,

"At least he admits at the end of it all that he's probably just an entertainer.
That's what his writing is to me, entertainment."

The term, "entertainer," also comes up at the end of Greg Wyshynski's piece at NHL FanHouse:

So if he never becomes a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association,
does Eklund consider himself a journalist, a blogger or both?

"Probably more like an entertainer," he said.

Journalists are supposed to serve the citizens of a free society by mining and reporting the truth. Blogging began as a tool for social networking, but it has become an alternative to traditional media. The lines between the two are blurred, and I say that is good. The more blogging merges with journalism, the more the blogger will be held accountable. For the journalist, this inevitable convergence means escalating competition and an ongoing need to prove he or she is still relevant.

For the "entertainer," especially one like Eklund, who can't sing, dance, act or tell jokes, accountability and relevance don't pay the bills or feed the ego. With no talent to bring to the game, all he can offer is shock and titillation. And traffic to the Ek-tertainer's site proves we love us some shock and titillation. To the attention slut, any buzz is good buzz.

All this analysis and dialog over the past two days has only served to feed one man's ego. Welcome to Dwayne's World fellow suckers, he made us look.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Still Obsessing About Danny Markov

(image: Eye Candy-a great Hurricanes photo repository)
I've never been a uge fan of Soviets. Alexi Yashin is going home to Mother Russia, where he's a still a says his wife:

"I think he needs to go where people understood him and where he's looked at
like a god," Alt said of the former Ottawa Senators player. "He wants to come
back (to the NHL), but I just think he needs to clear his head."

Yeah, Carol, my wife thinks I'm a god too, until I can't remember the significance of a certain date, or I get so immersed in a hockey game that I fail to recognize something is on fire or that she has something very important to discuss with me.

The biggest exception to my anti-Soviet bias has always been my boy, Danny Markov. In my mind, Markov is the undisputed king of smile when you hit 'em hard, roll the helmet back till the visor provides no protection, old school pond hockey. Danny played well and stayed healthy with the Wings last year. Yeah, he kinda disappeared in the last two playoffs, but he's still the consummate hockey mensch. Christy Hammond linked to a report that Danny is now playing footsie with the Russian club, Vityaz Chekhov (according to Sovsport-Russian hockey's equivalent of Pravda, I'm guessing). Vityaz Chekhov? Where the Hell is that? What is that? Sounds like a Star Trek themed energy drink.

I say don't go Danny. Your asking price is still to rich (> $2.5 mil) at this point in your career. Go ahead sign with the Islanders if you have to, just stay on this side of the Iron Curtain. I'll even watch an Islanders/Dinner Jackets game. I'll suffer thru the overdose of under-achieving Russky's just to watch a few of Danny's shifts.

Her Majesty has her Marek Malik fixation. Ashley has Erik Cole. For me it's Danny. Hey JR, fly Danny in, take him to PF Chang's for some potstickers and shots of Stoly. See if he'll come back for less. If Heddy can't make the run, you'll need veteran top-four blueline leadership.