Friday, February 29, 2008

Working for the Weekend

Missed last night's game and only saw highlights on NHL On the Fly. Maybe we saw the other side of Joe Corvo last night? Just an observation from the 20 seconds I had to watch the highlights. I promise to spend some quality time tonight with the DVR.

Last night was video shoot night at the Arizona/USC basketball game. I had a crew in the McKale Center filming for an upcoming student recruitment/YouTube video. The house was packed. More than 14,000 Wildcat faithful in attendance - 50% red-shirted students, and 50% red v-neck sweatered octogenarians. My media pass got me a place down on the floor right by the exit for the officials.

If you saw the game last night, you probably most remember the knucklehead from the Zona Zoo student's section throwing a water bottle at the USC bench in the closing seconds. Well seconds before, USC forward Devon Jefferson dunked the ball and then proceeded to taunt the crowd his entire trip back up the floor. Not that Jefferson's Sean Avery emulating display justifies the attempted assault with a deadly beverage. I hear they got the toss on video (not my crew) and junior will be summarily transferred to ASU.

A few things I noticed last night.

  • Jay Bilas took time to sign autographs for kids and talk with the fans. He also had on a sweet pair of brushed black suede loafers.
  • The old people in the McKale Center were every bit as obnoxious as the students. Thousands of octagenarians screaming, waving bony fingers and foaming at the mouth at every foul call. One old coot was on Tim Floyd all night-from about five feet away.
  • OJ Mayo is the real deal. He works his ass off every play, and he's ice with the ball in his hands.
  • Our "phenom," Chase Budinger, has dreams of playing in the NBA. He looked like Butters from South Park last night. Nearly the entire USC squad had their way with him. He looked totally lost. After the game he showered and came out to sulk in the stands by himself. Later, I think his parents came down to sit with him. Man, the pressure these kids are under when they are still trying to figure so much out about themselves. And you know the haters, users and entourage wanna-bees are always circling like buzzards waiting to zoom in for their share of the goodies...or a chunk of the carcass.

Happy weekend all. I've got volleyball Saturday, Sunday and Monday night. In tribute to the potential return to action of Canes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, I leave you with Dana Carvey and Steve Carell in a bit I think is titled, Germans Who Say Nice Things.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ruutu Means "He Who Brings Much Pain" in Russian

Tuomo Ruutu vs. Team Russia, 2007. In this episode, Ruutu blows up some Russians. Now put little Pontiac Firebird logos on those red sweaters and visualize a #8 in the role of the hapless #42. Ummmm...niiiiice.

It also appears our boy can absorb pain. Canes Country has a nice pic of Tuomo, Son of Frankenstein.

Bummer to see Timmay Gleason out of the lineup tonight. My advice. Eat a lot of fish and avoid bright lights and loud noises for the next couple of days.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shrewd Dealin' or Just Plain Stealin'?

Ruutu Mania Hits Raleigh

Back in the mid-seventies of my youth, I used to collect baseball cards. Across the street lived a nice kid who was kind of the neighborhood Gilligan. I got him into collecting baseball cards as well, largely so I could fleece him of any good ones he'd get in a pack. Hey Chris, how about Lerrin LaGrow for Rod Carew? It's a great deal for you Chris cause LaGrow is a pitcher and they're worth more than some old outfielder/first basemen. No, the only reason I want Carew is bat has his name on it, and I thought it might be cool to have the card of the guy who's (broken) bat is in my garage. I wasn't a total schmuck. I let him keep the gum. I hope JR is making sure Dale Tallon gets some gum.

I know it's a knee-jerk reaction after one game, but I already dig Tuomo Ruutu. Kid was a one-man wrecking crew in his debut. And he's got the Frankenstein stitches to prove it. Tuomo made every Devil on the ice nervous on every shift. He was in Elias' girlie little melon all night. In three years, I can't recall Andrew Ladd hitting anybody with the explosiveness Ruttu showed last night in the two colossal hits he laid on Colin White and Patrik Elias. Guy played like a hungry wolverine set free in a pasture full of sedated bunny rabbits. Ladd never seemed quite 6"1" 200+. Ruutu looked huge last night. He looked David Byrne in the big suit/roid-rage huge (see photo above).

That other escapee from the Indian, Sergei Samsonov, continues to thrive in the Canes up-tempo-always transitioning to the attack style of play. Have you noticed he's moving north and south with the puck much more lately? Much less of that cross the blueline and turn 270 degrees, and dump it to Wesley stuff.

Last night was the best game I've watched all season. Spectacular goal tending. Intense physical action. Venom was in the house from the cheap seats all the way down to down Staal's pointy shoulder. The first period was a demolition derby. The second was WWI in the trenches of the western front. In the third, the Canes took over.

So this is the crew JR and Lavvy will go to war with. I like this crew. All they have to do is play it physical and up-tempo and good things will happen. Last night was a good illustration of what speed, opportunism and a few human missile salvos can accomplish against arguably the best team in the east. Should be a fun stretch run.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Canes Orthopedist Applauds Today's Trade

I was just starting to dig Andrew Ladd. I've liked his play of late in front of the net and on the rush. And I think his passing has been really sharp the last two weeks. Last year, I suggested they give him a shot at center. He will now have to "Commit to the Indian" for his next shot at stardom in this league.

My first take is negative. Maybe it's because Tuomo's brother Jerko Ruutu is a punk. Maybe it's because Tuomo has failed to live up to expectations for a longer period than Ladd. This is a move with an eye towards next season. As Glenn Frey once crooned, Johnny come lately, the new kid in town. Everybody loves you, so don't let them down. Next season, we'll welcome the new kid in town-Brandon Sutter.

Quote of the Day: Canes Orthopedist, Dr. Trapper John MacIntyre: "Broken bodies are my business. With the arrival of Tuomo Ruutu, business is about to get real good!"

Ruutu: Games Lost Due to Injury (4 Seasons)
37 Games - Ankle
25 Games -Back
11 Games - Knee
73 Total Games Lost - Missed 22% of possible NHL Starts

Ladd: Games Lost Due to Injury (3 Seasons)
18 Games - Knee
6 Games - Lower Body
4 Games - Shoulder
16 Games - Ankle
2 Games - Cracked Orbital
46 Total Games Lost - Missed 19% of possible NHL starts

The calculations above are matchbook cover math. But you get the point.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Centreman front and Center, Man

I think JR has to make a move in the coming days to bring in a centerman to run the second line. Matt Cullen is still suffering from Marty Feldman Syndrome and the remaining cast of depth centermen are at best NHL/AHL tweeners. Most of the top-named centers who are reported to be on the block are prohibitively expensive. If they even get traded at all, Sundin, Jokinen, Richards and/or Marleau will likely end up on deep pocketed teams in a position to sell their sell their souls for that one player they think will put them over the top.

The Sens are reportedly looking for a top-two line forward. The Canes might be in a position to offer them Erik Cole. If he is still held in high regard by Bryan Murray and the Ottawa head shed, I'd pull the trigger on this deal. The Sens would finally get the guy they have coveted since the Marty Havlat days. Cole and Cory Stillman on the second line. Sounds great.

In return, I'd want Antoine Vermette and a prospect or second round pick. Vermette would be an instant upgrade at center over Trevor Letowski and Keith Aucoin-maybe even over a healthy Matt Cullen. This is a guy whose star is on the rise in this league, and as much as the Sens might want to keep him, he's a pending RFA on a team where he has to compete for ice time with Chris Kelly and Mike Fisher (and the Sens have already invested in a long-term deal with Fisher). Antoine is an aggressive young centerman who wins faceoffs and plays a high tempo game on the attack and on defense.

The move would provide the Canes with instant liquidity as they swap Cole's $4 mil contract for Vermette's $1 mil. Such a flush of cap space might open the door to the Canes swinging a deal to bring in a big physical blueliner like C/B Hall of Famer, Aaron Ward.

As good as this all sounds to me in the cozy confines of my fertile mind, my Spidey Sense tells me to look out for a deal involving Mike Comrie if the Isles appear out of contention. How many times has Mikey the Homewrecker turned Pop Star Despoiler been rumored to be on JR's tradar? Maybe as many times as Joe Corvo? Just sayin'.

Road Trip

It's Rodeo Week in Tucson, so it will be a short school week. Number one son is off today to visit his grandparents in Florida. He's been a huge Florida Gators fan since around age 5, and tomorrow he takes the official campus tour. Despite my best efforts to convince him not to appear as too much of a homer, I fear he will don his Tim Tebo jersey, Gator hat and Gator Crocs.

Here's some insight into a teenage boy in all his glory. He packed no socks other than the ones he's wearing right now. He says that's why they invented washing machines. He is wearing a belt, but running it thru the belt loops in the back of his jeans wasn't a real priority this morning. I apologize in advance to the folks in the airport terminals he will encounter. My son will be the one sporting the Gator hat and the unsightly refrigerator repairman droop. Oh yeah, he lost his high school ID sometime before Christmas and didn't get around to telling us it was gone-gone until around 6:30 am today.

Have fun Sluggie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vegas Epilogue

The 2008 Las Vegas Volleyball Classic is history, and my kid's team finished the tourney with a perfect record: 0-9. Overall, Tucson did not represent. Our fair city's two clubs sent three teams, and all of us finished around the 100 out of 120 mark.

Sunday featured a match between my kid's club and a Vegas club. In their starting lineup was a 6'-6" kid playing on the front row. In game two, my kid went up to spike a ball that was low and tight against the net, and Gigantor treated her with all the courtesy of an Ent sacking Isengard. My kid is a measely 6'-1". Now that kinda height would be considered big in Tucson, but on this stage she was a mere sapling. Looking on the bright side however, it was a nice spotlight match for all the kids in that gym since coaches from Stanford, Washington, USC, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan and Florida were in attendance to scout Gigantor.

We sat next to former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian and his family on Sunday. Tark looked like every other doting grandpa in the crowd, except he sported a shiny gold Nike swoosh on the collar of his green polo shirt. Time has taken a toll on the coaching legend. When I and another dad hollered to him, he flashed a made for TV smile, but he didn't seem able to focus on us. He then needed help to get up the four bleacher steps to his seat. And he didn't even bring a towel.

Canes and Bruins tonight. Glad I missed another Jersey swamp massacre yesterday. What is the answer for a Devils blueline that has career days versus the Canes? You can't stop Johnny Oduya, but is there any Cane who can at least contain this scoring machine?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

Greetings from Vegas, baby. We're up here for the Las Vegas Invitational volleyball tournament. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 junior girls teams playing at around a dozen venues in Vegas and Henderson. My first trip to this place. It took 45 minutes to drive from one end of he Strip to the other. The water show at the Bellagio was simply fnntastic. Bad Elvis impersonators on many a street corner. I'm talking about fat guys in white polyester costumes and flowing mini-capes. Guys with Richard Nixon widow's peaks trying to emulate the King's pompadour. The Japanese tourists seemed to really dig the Elvis's.

C/B kid #1 and her squad, playing in the open division, got mauled pretty good by two SOCAL teams and a bunch of East German-looking girls from Idaho. Played the second match against a team that has 5 of their starting 6 already committed to playing at Div I schools. Got to chat a few minutes with NC State's head coach, Rita Stubbs. At any one time, you might have 10-20 coaches watching a match. Coaches from Washington State, USC, Colorado State, Syracuse, UC Davis, George Washington, Arizona State were among the ones watching my kid's team play. There are coaches here from schools I've never heard of. Saw a guy in what I thought was a Miami Redhawks polo-had the Redhawks logo on it-but the name on the shirt was something like "Holy Name." Games all afternoon today, then I think me and the missus will hit the Strip.

Needless to say, I'm out of Canes range for the duration of the long weekend. Glad to see resolve instead of despair or panic in Hurricanes world. I just hope Mats Sundin gets traded soon, because I'm absolutely sick of every day being an As the Leafs Turn soap opera. How about a couple day moratorium on Foppa and Sundin updates that only say there is nothing to update?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

C/B Link and Advertising Policy

Hi all-I get a fairly steady stream of requests to swap links and place ads on C/B. I enjoy finding new blogs and bloggers to add to the lists, and I want this blog to be a big tent. So please welcome to the Blog Roll the following Caniacs:

  • Caniac D -Blogging on a Fox Sports community site. Don't know the feller yet, but maybe this will serve to promote an introduction.
  • Matt Karash - Yeah, he's a member of the Hockey Buzz Evil Empire, but Bubba vouches for him.
  • Dr. Frank: The Stinging Nettle - The good doctor blows in an out of here now and again with a pithy take. His blog is mostly about left of Mao politics, but he's a hockey guy, so he must be all right. Check it out. He's got a post today about Al Gore endorsing John Dillinger for Congress. You know Al Gore invented the Tommy Gun.

C/B Link Policy: I want to link to those who want to expand the hockey dialog fraternity. I don't want to link to you if you only want to expand your little empire. In keeping with this policy, a couple of sites with the name "Arena" in them have been excommunicated. I've had them on the roll for a couple of months, but got no love back. Man, I was really looking forward to seeing my very own stylized Web button join their roll.

C/B Advertising Policy: Folks in Raleigh or the Carolinas who want to advertise to Caniacs are welcome to make a pitch. For me this blog is a connection to the Canes and the Piedmont, so I'd enjoy working with folks to promote events and business in the region. I don't have any interest in joining a ticket brokerage network or promoting via link or ad, things not related to the Canes and hockey culture.

Mormina Time - Break it down

With the flu bug making its way again thru the Carolina clubhouse, Joey Mormina was among the call ups from Albany. So I says to myself -Self, who the Hell is Joey Mormina? He's a product of hockey powerhouse Colgate, and thus a veteran of many a hard-fought Colgate vs. Palmolive tilts. Joey is 6-6 and 230 lbs, loves origami and was a July addition to the Canes farm system. He doesn't show up as a top prospect in the Hockey's Future db. Joey was drafted in the 6th round (193rd pick) by the Flyers and spent some time in the LA Kings system.

Here's a snip from a Hockey's Future interview with Joey from 2005:

HF: You’re a big guy, but you seem to play more of a finesse game. How would you describe your style of play?

JM: I'm definitely a defensive kind of defenseman by nature. Like I said, I've had to adjust and play on the power play. But, my primary game has been in the defensive zone, making good decisions, using my head out there, smart passes, working on the penalty kill. Pretty basic stuff like that. Nothing fancy, nothing overly physical. Just going out every night and trying to get the job done.

The video clip below isn't memorable because of the scrum, but the tasty hit that Joey lays on a Marlie just before all the sweater grabbing is worth a look.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Soft Bigotry of Canadiocentrism

Fred and Barney-the good old days
Looking over some of the articles and quotes iI found in after action reports after the big Ottawa/Carolina trade, I was struck by two things. One was how important it seemed in the Great White North that Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman were Canadians returning to the motherland. Two, was how thin-skinned Joe Corvo seems to be.

Canadiocentrism on the rise

It seems hockey players in Canada live life in a Britney Spears/TMZ-Canada bubble. Yeah? So is Ottawa really a tougher hockey town than Philly? And I guess only Canadians can handle that level of scrutiny. I like how it's just assumed that Canadians crave the opportunity to "come home" and play in places like, oh I don't know, say Toronto. Are they men, or are they Salmon? Do they have to swim back up stream to the creek bed of their birth or will any Canadian city or province suffice? Ol Chris Pronger couldn't wait to get out of Canada. Let's see, 50 below zero from October thru March, vs. Laguna Beach? Ooooh, tough choice. And do you think single guys - Canadian or otherwise - would rather take a shot at UNC Cheerleader Holly or Canadian Sunshine Girl Roxanne? You take Holly home to meet your mother. Roxanne takes you out back, kicks your ass and steals your HGH. I ranted a bit about this in today's CanesCast, but I think Andy wisely left that tirade on the digital cutting room floor. Here's Bryan Murray's take snipped from LSB:
“I don’t know whether it was the pressure or never having a life away from the building, but he felt that Joe would enjoy going to an American team,” Murray told the Ottawa Sun. “He wanted to play where there was less scrutiny. He just couldn’t handle the pressure here.

“People like to talk hockey here and they live hockey. They don’t talk (hockey) in Raleigh very much. He’ll probably thrive in that environment and I like guys who thrive under pressure.” (This isn't the first time the Senators have played that somewhat-odd card. Ottawa coach John Paddock has repeatedly mentioned that Martin Gerber flourished in Carolina because "they only have one beat writer.")

Here are some other snips:
"You welcome this: A couple of Canadian guys who have Stanley Cups. They've both been key factors in the Cup wins they've been on," said Ottawa centre Jason Spezza.

For Murray, bringing home two Canadians who should thrive in a hockey-mad environment, was a huge factor in the deal. With 17 Canadians now on the roster, the Senators have never looked so homegrown. And in a 13-year NHL career, Stillman has never been so close to his hometown.

Lighten up Francis
I guess Joe Corvo brought much of this on himself by asking repeatedly to be dealt to an American city. Despite what Murray and Corvo said, I don't think it's an American players are fish out of water in Canada thing. I think it's a Joe Corvo has a fragile psyche thing.
“It’s hard to understand if you haven’t played in Canada,” Corvo said. “The media here at times can be completely ridiculous, the way they can take some of the stories that are nothing and make something out of them.”

Welcome to Raleigh Joe. OBTW, I too like to take stories that are nothing and turn them into something. Usually it's something absurd, but I guess guys like me are Raleigh's version of the Canadian hockey paprazzi. Just don't let us catch you clubbing without your panties on.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kaberle for NHLPA Player Rep

Kaberle '08 is all about change. I'm talking Obama-like change. Powerful, emotional, symbolic and undefined. Kaberle '08 is also all about hope-hope for nuerotic Canes fans like me for whom the grass is always greener when you transplant new growth from somebody else's back yard.

As the official campaign chairman for Kaberle '08, I demand the support of every Hurricane player-especially the super delagates. Isn't it time for change? Isn't it time for a little hope? Isn't it time to make Frankie Kaberle the Carolina Hurricanes' NHLPA Player Rep?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Corvo and Eaves-Dig it, if...

JR sends Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to Ottawa for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves. Looks like JR finally got his man. Both Cory and Mike are pending unrestricted free agents, so they probably did not fit into the Canes plans for next season. At first glance you might look at this move simply as out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new; maybe just an investment in the future by JR. Corvo comes over on a very affordable contract ($2.5-$2.75 thru 2010) and Eaves is making less than a mil, and he'll be a RFA at the end of this season. Nobody is going to throw Dustin Penner cash at Eaves.

Corvo's presence might have more immediate impact. That impact might be realized in the box score, and it might be evident on the trade wire as we approach the deadline. With Corvo on scene, what's Frank Kaberle's role? Frank might be an affordable missing piece for somebody at the deadline. He did play real well in 2006. Memba his game seven goal all you GM's out there?

Patrick Eaves is intriguing. He's a coaches kid and a fiesty forechecker. He's prone to head and orthopedic injuries because of his style of play, but he leaves it all on the ice. He also has a scorer's touch Trevor Letowski et al don't display. Instant upgrade on the PK...once he returns from his latest malady. Have the Canes taken on a Mini-Cole?

So, bottom line is I dig this deal if:

1. Corvo is finally all grow'd up. No more whining about media zealotry. No more beating up women in bars. No more wild-ass passes in the defensive zone. No more golden hi-lites in the harido - and ditch the silly death metal goatee. This gay viking raider look has to go.

2. Eaves starts endorsing and wearing Ironman brand protective gear. No, not Under Armor - I mean Iron Man, as in Tony Stark. Boy does the club no good when he's on the DL, IR or unable to perform list.

Thank you Cory Stillman. You are a class guy. You embody what I love about most hockey players. No bling. No entourage. Team and family first. The Sens just got a lot better on the PP. I wish you were heading to the Western Conference.

Thank you Mike Commodore. You really grew up as a Cane. The Flames showed you no love, but you found it in droves as a Hurricane. Beyond the big hair, you are a bigger-than-life guy. The Ottawa clubhouse just got a lot more fun. I wish you were heading to the Russian Super Secluded Siberian League. I sense pain on the horizon for many a Cane forward.

Friday, February 08, 2008

High Noon in the Nation's Crapital

I think we'll know a lot about the Canes chances at a stetch run tonight. Ovvy and company are hungry, physical and fearless. Mike Green leads all NHL defensemen in goals scored. Alex Ovechkin leads in goals scored and points. They've got two experienced goalies and a coach riding high on the glow of being a new guy who's had to wait a long time for his shot.

Bubba's in their house
One of our own is about to pull an end-around on the glass ceiling. Check out Canes Country tonight and tomorrow for some Bubbalicious updates from press row at the Canes/Caps game tonight. Sucks that he has to go to DC to get what is not forthcoming from the team he supports with such passion. Come on powers that be! Embrace the bloggers. If you think I'm a loose cannon, fine. Ban me. I live in Arizona anyway. If you need to ban Dave of Carolina on Ice because of his big fist an ubiquitous adult beverages, go ahead and ban him too. He'd probably find better entertainment along the way anyhoo.

Piece on The Fourth Period today expresses the belief that JR is looking again at Joni Pitkanen of Edmonton. When that deal last fell through didn't we all muse that his commitment to team and to commitment was questionable? He might end up a good fit with the current Canes blueline crew. His 16 points would make him a relative superstar.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hold yer cards JR

Britney gets Dr. Phil - The Canes get Dr. Somnambula

What in blazes was Mike Commodore doing pinching late on a Staal-on-three rush late in the third period? He must have counted four or five Mississippi's before he started lumbering to get back into the play. And when he does dive into an ill-timed pinch - as he did last night and previously in Pittsburgh - where's his backup? Is it still a surprise to his fellow Canes when he pinches? Sometimes it looks like Staal-on-five out there.

I'm starting to transition from musing about the missing piece(s) the Canes might bring in at the trade deadline to a more pragmatic look at who they might be able to dump at the deadline. Time to think about thinning this herd of its old, sick and more somnambulant members. Yup it's darn near Rent-a-Hedigucchi time. If this squad is still alternating solid nights with craptacular ones over the next nine games, they could well be 6 to 10 points out of the SE Division lead.

Regardless of whether the Canes are in the hunt or clearly in a tailspin, I'd like to see JR make some moves on or about Feb 26. Here's what I'd pleasantly surprised to see:

1. Erik Cole, his remaining power forward allure, his $4 mil, and his 11 goals off to a Western Conference Team. Unfortunately, he didn't show Nashville very much last night-one shot all night. Erik's only got two more points this season than Justin Williams, and Justin's been out since before Christmas. He's slated to make $4 mil thru next season. He's not worth that kind of cash at this point in his injury-plagued career.

2. Mike Commodore packaged to a place where better defensemen can lead the offensive charge and he can go back to playing a physical and positionally sound game in a 3rd pairing. Let his new club find a way to pay him the $3 mil or so he'll demand.

3. Andrew Ladd to Chicago for Cam Barker. I know defensemen take longer to evolve, but this might be a fairly even swap of two injury-plagued 2004 first round selection duds.

Deals that might bring the likes of J-M Liles, Marek Zidlicky (nice hit on Staal last night), Jarrett Stoll, and/or Phil Kessel sound nice.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Never Ending Sean Avery Rant

Sean Avery Finally Masters Sign Language

A tasty survey on as of lunch time today:

Who is the NHL's best 'Pain in the Glass?'
Jared Boll - 1%
Alex Burrows- 9%
Daniel Carcillo - 4%
Sean Avery - 65%
Steve Downie - 10%
Ryan Hollweg - 1%
Other - 11%

Anybody surprised? Buehler? Buehler? These are the kind of numbers Ron Paul is polling right now in Area 51. And remember, "other" would include the likes of knee-slamming Jerko Ruutu and our boy Colton Orr.

About Last Night
Mats Sundin made a nice soccer guy play late in the third, but the Canes composure and discipline gave Antropov and crew all the fuel they needed for a meltdown. Not only did the Canes enjoy an 4-3 PP in the OT, but bad defense by the Leafs handed Ray Whitney and Roddy an in-close 2-1. Glad it was them and not Cole and LaRose.