Thursday, October 30, 2008

An in-depth look at the wildly underappreciated career of Jaromir Jagr

People who read my stuff about the Stars (and previously about the Kings if you go in the way back machine) would probably be surprised to know that once my snarky armor is pierced, my hockey heart sports a Pittsburgh Penguins logo.

The Penguins were an easy team to love. Over the years, man-crushes were developed for Stu Barnes, Alex Kovalev, Martin Straka, Johan Hedberg and Ron Tugnutt. Some sports fans hold grudges when a player leaves but those guys always reserved a soft spot. And, of course, Mario Lemieux is the Patron Saint of Pucks.

But I became a fan of the Penguins after the years of their mini-dynasty and Lemieux only occasional graced my hockey viewing presence. When he did he owned the sports world. Eli Manning leading the New York Giants to the Super Bowl made my sports year, but I still don't know if it tops Lemieux's post-retirement run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Loving Lemieux and many supporting cast members is easy, but if there's one player in Penguins history who divides fans it's Jaromir Jagr.

We may disagree about Jagr's legacy, but I think we all frown upon his ludicrous Brazilian.

Many fans booed him every time he touches the puck. They made (admittedly pretty damn funny) "dying alive" references, mocked his John Daly-ian gambling mishaps and never forgave him for the way it ended. Make no mistake about: Jagr and the Penguins had an ugly divorce. Really, it might have submarined the franchise if not for the Crosby lottery. It might have left spurned Penguins fans muttering Kris bleepin' Beech in the same way Boston Red Sox fans once cursed Brett Boone's less talented brother.

A lot of fans forget how great Jagr was. They let the diva antics, the bad divorce, the Capitals disaster and unfortunate facial hair cast a shadow over a Hall of Fame career.

I'm not one of those fans.

Really, the early-to-mid 90s were a tragic era for hockey superstars. As much as I hated Eric Lindros and disliked the (retrospectively justified) Lemieux comparisons heaped on Peter Forsberg, the stars of the obstruction/neutral zone trap era may never get their due. Scoring 100 points in the 80s usually meant that you were an all-star. Hitting 100 in the New Jersey Devils' "golden" era was a sure sign of a superstar.

The bottom of the post chronicles Jagr's underrated dominance of the NHL throughout his unappreciated career. But here's a few bullet points to make Jagr haters grit their teeth.

  • Jagr is ninth all-time in points. In NHL history. And this is after forfeiting the last two or three years of his prime.
  • Oh yeah, and the only guy above him who played a majority of his games during the 90s is Joe Sakic (who has 1638 to Jagr's 1599 points). But Sakic played in 100 more games so it's still safe to say that Jagr was the most prolific scorer of his generation. Suck on that.
  • The thing that made Jagr so damned unstoppable was that he was just as likely to score a goal as he was to set one up. He ranks 12th all-time for goals scored. Brendan Oldmanahan DOES have four more goals on his resume ... of course, he needed more than 200 extra games to do so.
  • Want evidence that people hate him just a little too much?
Take a look at these stats and play a little game of "one of these things is not like the other."

Art Ross trophies: 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
Lester B. Pearson trophies: 1999, 2000, 2006
NHL first team All-Star: 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006
Hart trophies: 1999

That's what happens when you leave the voting up to the media. It happens in the NBA (where the Shaq-Kobe debate for best player in the NBA seemed to happen everywhere but on media ballots during their LA years) and other sports: the sexiest story beats the bland perennial dominator. And when that bland perennial dominator is a diva with a mullet, then getting black balled is only natural.

(To be fair, MVP voting isn't usually as bad as coach of the year voting ... since this year's coach of the year could be next year's unintentional studio analyst)

  • He holds a bunch of all-time records for right wings and for the New York Rangers.
  • Considering the venom spewed at Jagr, you would think he never showed up when it mattered the most but Jagr was extremely clutch. He has 181 points in 169 career playoff games.
  • He's tied with Mats Sundin for all-time postseason overtime goals with 9 (kind of irrelevant, but it gave me a chuckle).
  • He's also won two Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal.
  • Consistency might not be a word associated with Jagr, but really that's just another example of rampant hate. Two of his career records (most consecutive seasons with 30 goals and most consecutive 70-point seasons, both at 15) show that he was a machine for a decade and a half.
  • He's second all-time with 112 game winning goals.
  • Seriously, you can manipulate stats in any way you see fit ... but Jagr's career numbers are just plain staggering. So reach down deep inside what remains of your soul and admit that Jagr is the best forward of his era. Even if he never was the league leader in warm-and-fuzzies.
Take a look at Jagr's prime years in context and it becomes clear just how special he truly was:


94 points in 81 games.


99 points in 80 games. (9th best in NHL)

1994-95 (the other lockout)

Tied for first in scoring with Eric Lindros (70 points each in under 50 games played)


Mario Lemieux (161 points in 70 GP!)

2. Jagr (
149 in 82 GP)

Joe Sakic (120 in 82 GP)

Sure, Lemieux helped but he still beat Sakic by
29 points!

Montana - Rice; Jordan - Pippen; Lemieux - Jagr.


Missed 19 games, but was still 6th in the NHL with 95 points.


1. Jaromir Jagr (35 goals,
102 points overall in 77 games)

2. Peter Forsberg (91 in 72)

3. Pavel Bure (90 in 82)


1. Jagr (44 G, 83 A and
127 points in 81 games)

Blew away second place
Paul Kariya by 20 points!


Managed to lead the league in scoring with 96 points
in only 63 games played. Pavel Bure came in second with 94 points in 74 games. The only top-10 guy with similar GP was Joe Sakic who managed 81 points in 60 games.


Another scoring title for Jagr (52 G, 69 A and 121 points in 81 games) although Sakic was breathing down his neck (54 G, 64 A and 118 points in 82 games).


His run with the Capitals didn't go too well, but he still put up some numbers. He matched Sakic's 79 point performance, only Burnaby Joe played in 82 games compared to the Mulleted One's 69. That was good enough to tie them for 5th place.

(This year goes down in Hart Trophy voting infamy when Jarome Iginla was denied the MVP because some abysmally racist hockey writer LEFT IGINLA -- THE SCORING LEADER ON A SHITTY FLAMES TEAM -- OFF HIS BALLOT ALTOGETHER.

Look on the bright side Mr. Racist Hockey Writer ... it's not like Iginla made you look like a tool by becoming the Flames all time goal scoring leader while Jose Theodore turned out to be a flash in the pan. Or anything. You douche bag.)

That shit still makes me mad. Although, maybe it's my naivete and it wasn't racism after all?

He didn't make the top 10 in (2002-03, 2003-04)

2005-06 (post lockout)

1. Joe Thornton's magical trade year mostly w/ SJ: (29 G, a ridiculous 96 A, 125 points in 81 games)

2. Jagr (54 G, 69 A for 123 points in 82 games) on what was, in my opinion, a far inferior New York Rangers team.

3. Alex Ovechkin's Calder trophy lookatmenotCrosby year (106 points)

It's hard to argue with Jumbo Joe winning that Hart Trophy, but who knows how many people chose him over Jagr because he took the scoring title by two points...


No. 8 in scoring with 96 points including 30 goals.


A down year with only 71 points, although he often carried the New York Rangers in the playoffs with an impressive 5 G, 10 A and 15 points in only 10 playoff games.

My main sources for Jagr's career stats were the immortal and the run by mortals Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Which team would be best for Oldmanahan?

It took him until late October to finally get the hint, but like a girlfriend who finally realizes that "we need some time apart" actually means "fuck off and die," Brendan Oldmanahan announced that he's going to start dating other teams again.

So, with that in mind, let's size up how well the grizzled power forward would fit in with the other 29 teams in the NHL. If you hate reading, I'd say the best spots would probably be Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Boston and the two Florida teams (although that might just be for the purposes of mocking the elderly). Then again, this list could be completely wrong.

Regardless, enjoy:

It's official: Shanahan's short run in the Big Apple is over

Anaheim Ducks: While the Ducks need offensive depth and Brian Burke has been known to throw out a life preserver for washed up power forwards, there are two big strikes against BS: 1) he was never a member of the Vancouver Canucks and 2) the Ducks simply don't have the cap space to make it work.

Atlanta Thrashers: The question would be if Oldmanahan would want to be on a sparsely talented Atlanta team more than the Thrashers wanting him. The Thrashers added talent by overpaying second tier free agents (Ron Hainsey) and trading for cap fodder (Mathieu Schneider) so they'd probably be all over him.

Boston Bruins: It comes as quite a surprise that the Bruins are a center-heavy team only a few years removed from the Joe Thornton trade. This could actually be an interesting match, as Shanny could theoretically be a veteran presence for a young group of killer B's. It doesn't hurt that Beantown is also a huge media market, either.

Buffalo Sabres: Not sure how well sluggish Shanny would fit in with the speedy Sabres, but like Atlanta, Buffalo struggles to sign and keep its big name talent. He could be a decent compliment to the Sabres scoring by committee approach.

Calgary Flames: The big issues here are cap space and how much of Mike Keenan he would want to deal with. Both answers are "close to none."

Carolina Hurricanes: Meh. Although he could help to replace the under-the-radar productivity of Cory Stillman. Still, though ... meh.

Shanny might be a good fit in Boston since Ryder has been celebrating little outside of his bloated contract

Chicago Blackhawks: Windy City fans are committing to the Indian for the first time in ages (and not just because, you know, they can actually friggin' watch home games). Shanahan could be an interesting addition to a young, hungry and expensive group of players.

It also would be intriguing to watch Shanny join one of Detroit's divisional "rivals."

Colorado Avalanche: Well, he's old enough.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Another team that cannot draw much marquee talent, but I doubt Shanahan and Ken the 'Stache Hitchcock would be able to coexist.

Dallas Stars: Highly unlikely, unless Jere Lehtinen's injury woes continue and Sean Avery cannot provide any offensive punch. Hmmm ... maybe there's a chance after all.

Detroit Red Wings: Why would Ken Holland bring back one of the remnants of the "coast off past successes, shit the bed in the playoffs" regime after two deep playoff runs?

Edmonton Oilers: Shanahan is known for being media savvy, but does he know about the Oilogosphere?

Florida Panthers: A team that could always use an extra forward and some panache. Rumor has it that Florida is a favorite choice of the elderly.

Los Angeles Kings: It would be a good fit only from a media perspective. The Kings are too far from the playoffs and Shanahan is too close to the grave.

Minnesota Wild: He could be a decent gap filler if the Wild traded Gaborik, although would his less-than-enthusiastic back checking cost Jacques Lemaire his final follicles? That might be the first time that "Minnesota Wild" and "entertainment" could be used in the same sentence without the linking phrase "destroys anything resembling."

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs really want to make their centennial celebration special, but my recommendation would be to focus on players who still have something to give and something to prove.

Nashville Predators: After getting screwed over in the Radulov fiasco, the Predators would probably be glad to add to their weak core of forwards. The question is whether or not Shanahan would want to boot scoot over to Tennessee.

Don't expect this to happen again.

New Jersey Devils: Shanahan WAS a former Devil from way back when and Loophole Lou certainly seems nostalgic these days (See signing Rolston, Brian and Holik, Bobby). Still, aside from the occasional Patrik Elias brain fart, The Devils rarely overpay aging veterans.

New York Islanders: After their Rick Dipietro blood oath, it became clear that nothing is crazy in the eyes of the Isles. With washed up players like Bill Guerin and Doug Weight and a washed up arena in Nassau Colosseum, Shanahan would feel right at home.

Ottawa Senators: Not sure if they could make the cap space work, but the Senators search for a power forward seems eternal and cursed. Given the probable diminishing returns by Oldmanahan and the crazed Canadian media, this could be a match made in hockey hell. Count me in.

Philadelphia Flyers: They're too close to the cap and the last thing they need is another forward. Highly unlikely.

Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes love power forwards, but they might still feel burned by the remarkably unsuccessful Owen Nolan experience.

Pittsburgh Penguins:
With all the experience Sidney Crosby developed carrying Mark Recchi to a year and a half of artificial relevance, Shanahan could be a good fit on his wing. He could even be a good enough complement to allow the Penguins to spread the wealth and let Malkin center his own line again. Possibly an interesting fit.

San Jose Sharks: After the ineffectual Bill Guerin trade, it would be surprising if they went after another gone-soft and over-the-hill power forward. At the same time, he could probably score 25-goals if they were baby birded to him by Joe Thornton. And if nothing else, he could give Jeremy Roenick and Rob Blake another person to talk to at Early Bird breakfasts.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues feel like a forgotten team these days. Naturally, an Andy Murray team usually is pretty bland. Their involvement would probably just depend on their economic interest (although John Davidson's former New York Rangers announcing connections could make the Blues more than a Dark Horse candidate ... assuming that anyone even wants him, of course).

If the Sedin twins could make Anson Carter look like a star, what could they do with a future HoFer?

Tampa Bay Lightning: You'd think that with the shit ton of forwards they signed, the Lightning would be out of the mix. But since they added an 18-year old rookie, two chronic underachievers and a guy who tends to rotate bad years and career years (Prospal) the Bolts aren't exactly shooting out the lights right now. So maybe it could be an ideal destination. The Dan Snyder parallels would only get stronger.

(And again, the elderly do flock to Florida)

Toronto Maple Leafs: Toronto may be "rebuilding" but rarely can they pass up on big name players. Ron Wilson might not end up liking his Used copy of Oldmanahan, but Team Syrup might be a logical destination.

Vancouver Canucks: My favorite match.

While Oldmanahan is not quite what he used to be, he might be the finisher that the Cycling Sedins have been missing since they created magic with the likes of Anson Carter. Vancouver is a beautiful city and the Canucks have gobs and gobs of cap space with nary a solid forward to spend it on.

This coupling is so perfect it could inspire eharmony to fire it's creepy founder/commercial spokesman on the spot.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals are chock full of solid-to-great wingers; Alex O, Alex Semin, and Chris Clark are a nice compliment to their solid centers. Being that they are close to the salary cap, Shanahan probably won't be seen much in our nation's capitol.

So there you have my research-light take on possible Oldmanahan destinations. Not sure which teams are actually interested, who actually has the space and how much he's asking for in salary, but it certainly was fun to take a look at which teams would work.

Would Oldmanahan complete your team's puzzle or would he bring about a plague of Edgar Allan Poe proportions?

Muy interesante

An absolutely fascinating idea featured in Bucci's column this week:

"Also, I like the idea of how once a team gains the offensive zone, the red line becomes the line in play for the defensive team to clear. In other words, the red line becomes the blue line, expanding the offensive zone to half the rink like a basketball court. That could help lubricate the game by creating a larger offensive zone. I'd like to see how that looks in action. It has popped in my mind a couple of times while watching games recently. It might give the game more time and space. Players are so fast and agile today that the game is sometimes clogged. But make no mistake, I love watching nearly every game, and I watch the game with a positive eye."

Since the lockout, the NHL generally has seen an increase in offense and scoring. One of the biggest proponents of that change is the increased emphasis on calling obstruction (hooking, holding, interference etc.) type penalties.

But even so, the league should always look for ways to improve the game.

The key is to do so organically, though. Making goalie pads smaller than couch cushions is more than reasonable. Looking at a comparison between a modern, Roy-inspired goalie and their almost Napoleonic brethren is like studying the difference between the size of Barry Bonds' skull before and after BALCO.

Perhaps Battlin' Billy Smith was always so pissed off because he realized how much easier goalies would have it in a couple decades. Nah, he was just a crusty sonovabitch, small pads or big.

Countless, brave couches lost their lives to help J.S. Giguere win a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe during his career.

ANYWAY, I've always wavered on making the net bigger - sure, it would help cure the league of some Giguere-itis but it definitely would be on the verge of tampering. (Plus it would really piss off Roberto Luongo).

For a long time, it seemed like converting to International Ice was the elephant in the room - an obvious solution the league ignores because its teams depends so much on gate earnings.

But the idea proposed in Bucci's column could be the best possible compromise to inject a European flair into a game that can always use more highlight reel and Youtube-worthy moments. Or, if nothing else, an even greater amount of flow and high-level hockey artistry.

Goals per game is the easiest way to measure offense, but for me and I would guess most hockey fans, the most important element of a good hockey game is quality scoring chances. Give me a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat 2-1 game over a sloppy, penalty ravaged 6-5 game any day of the week. For my money, the idea of "half court hockey" could really allow for the truly skilled players and Poor Man's Orrs to push the Derian Hatcher dinosaurs out the door that much faster.

And who would be against that, aside from Mrs. Hatcher?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yet another Ruutu hater

An early entry for the funniest YouTube moment of the week was featured on Puck Daddy today:

Bertuzzday: Marty McSorley and a poll of cosmic significance

This Bertuzzday spotlights the last of three infamous moments in hockey goonery, Marty McSorley clubbing Donald Brashear over the head with his stick. The individual YouTube clip was awful quality, so just consult #4 in this clip of the 8 "dirttest" moments in hockey:

Of the three hits, this moment probably had the largest effect on the evildoer. Not only was McSorley suspended for the rest of the year, he also faced some minor criminal charges because of the incident. He also was effectively cock-blocked from international competition and McSorley's career will be remembered for that ugly attack instead of the many attacks he made while protect pretty boys like Wayne Gretzky.

Brashear's injury was a Grade 3 concussion caused by the way his head violently hit the ice. As an enforcer with the Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, he hasn't exactly developed an angelic reputation himself. (His brush with infamy came this year as he "introduced" Atlanta Thrashers rookie Zack Bogosian to the NHL.)

Good 'ol Hockey

ANYWAY, with all that I thought it would be a jolly good time to abritarily vote on which offense is the worst. There are two "bonus" choices for notable multiple offenders. (Chris Simon is the author of #2 in that first YouTube clip)

Each option on this poll has an appropriate clip:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seen Stamkos? Kinda ... the news cycle!

Donald Trump and the Buffaslug: two of modern media's worst creations

Going into his first season, Steve Stamkos was not quite getting Crosby-Tavares hype nationally but that didn't stop the Tampa Bay Lightning from diving into street team style marketing campaigns usually reserved for crappy avant-garde rock groups.

For those of you who are newer to hockey and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, there are two milestones that determine how long an NHL rookie stays with a big club: 10 and 41 games. If a player exceeds 10 games, it takes a year off of his entry-level contract which essentially means that said player can be part of a Kevin Lowe RFA offer sheet lollercoaster wicked fast. Reaching a player's 41st game might not be quite as huge as the first ten games, but if a rookie hits that mark then he will be an unrestricted free agent even sooner.

If restricted free agency is like a Funhouse, then unrestricted free agency shows shades of Arkham Asylum.

Going into the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning PR people were asking: "Seen Stamkos?" but now Tampa Bay's bizarro world front office might be asking themselves if they should "Send Stamkos?" down to the minors.

(Because we haven't Seen Stamkos on the scoresheet yet this season.)

  • Speaking of Stamkos, Barry Melrose probably is missing Bristol, Connecticut these days. When the Kings made the SCF, it was on the back of Wayne Gretzky's heroics. It's always been a question of how much the famous Mullet had to do with that run, but either way he hasn't lead an NHL team since before the last two lockouts.
The splashy, brash style of the Tampa Bay Lightning drew Mark Cuban comparisons, but so far things are looking more like a Dan Snyder free agent orgy of stupidity.

  • From the "rare bit of good news" file comes the fast start by the Buffalo Sabres. Don't get me wrong, watching a player adorned in the Buffaslug raise the Stanley Cup would be pretty shameful, but a tortured city like Buffalo deserves the occasional bit of happiness.
Besides, their awful jerseys sell like hot cakes and they play a fast-paced, exciting brand of hockey. What's not to love?

Oh right, the Buffaslug.
  • The Alex Cherepanov saga just keeps getting worse. It's a shame that so little was learned from Jiri Fischer's near-death situation.
  • This weekend was a bizarre one for the NHL: Saturday featured 15 games including all 30 NHL teams while Sunday was The Day the NHL Stood Still.
What did we learn? Apparently the NHL and NFL are a bit scared to go against the World Series.
  • The shock waves of the Edmonton Oilers - Dave Berry fiasco are still being felt throughout the hockey blogosphere. Here's a sober and educational take from Off Wing Opinion/NHL Fanhouse's Eric McErlain. Mr. Plank also came thru with a rare dissenting opinion on the matter with "A Dark Day for Ice Cream Sandwiches."
  • Finally, a bit of blog business. Since my interwebs access is flailing, Bertuzzday's original intended subject will be changed but it should feature the first poll of this blog's young existence.
This blog currently isn't living up to my original plan of multiple contributors "cycling" so I'd like to throw a faint wail into the hockey blogosphere abyss: would you like to contribute to Cycle like the Sedins??

If so, send me an e-mail at and let me know if you have any hockey blogging experience.

Later suckas.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A suggestion for the ad wizards at EA

One of the scenes that still holds up in "Swingers."

ANYWAY, an idea hit me like a lightning bolt of enlightenment yesterday. EA Sports started a tradition of pumping about $10 extra per game into its pockets with Madden anniversary/premium editions and at least one of them included a classic version of the 16-bit games.


Considering that NHL '09 probably earns the title as "the other best hockey game of all-time" it would be a genius idea to include an emulation of NHL '94 when they release NHL 2010/'10.

EA needs to look no further than sites such as NHL to learn that there is still an active, rabid community that loves these games. Imagine going on X-Box Live or Playstation Network to teach some Swede the painful truth about wraparound goals? I'd gladly slap down $10 extra clams for that opportunity.

Naturally, there would be a few questions to answer. Would EA port the SEGA version or the SNES version (The Genesis copy held my heart, but Earl Sleek seems to think that the SNES version is the bees' knees. Psh.) My guess would be the SEGA one since Nintendo and Microsoft/Sony are in a blood feud at the moment.

The other big question is: would the game use the classic superhuman Jeremy Roenick rosters or the current rather human Jeremy Roenick rosters? The best guess would be the latter, in which case Alex Ovechkin and Jarome Iginla would be the spiritual pixelated successors to Roenick with their similar combination of high-end scoring and barbaric checking.


If EA were brilliant enough to pack NHL '94 in with the game, it brings up an interesting philosophical question:

Whose head would you like to make bleed?
Expect my list (and hopefully, the lists of others) to headline next week's Bertuzzday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Can't spell Gaborik without IR

If J.S. Giguere had not dominated the 2003 playoffs so convincingly, Marian Gaborik would have been the big story. On a team about as flashy and entertaining as a night at the library, Gabby was that speed demon who could make your heart skip a beat if he picked up a stray puck.

His memorable breakaways sold me on his elite talent, but Dre just as memorably mocked him for having a complexion not unlike a pre-air brushed Proactive commercial actor.

Since that dynamic run to the Western Conference Finals, acne was the least of the problems for the Slovakian winger. Injuries have derailed what seemed to be an inevitable ascent to the Mount Rushmore of hockey stars. It seemed odd when the Minnesota Wild brought over his countryman Pavol Demitra, since Gaborik's buddy might be the only high-level NHLer who has suffered a more Wile E. Coyote-like fate.

He's never played 82 games before and missed a ton of games in recent years. But as you can see from last year's explosive 42 goal - 83 point output, he's clearly a very productive player when he can stay relatively healthy. Take a look at his career statistics from

So, this brings us to a question dominating much of the chatter in the hockey blogosphere: is Marian Gaborik really worth a huge investment? According to beat reporter Michael Russo, the Minnesota Wild are putting their young franchise's greatest talent on the trading block after becoming frustrated with what has been an unproductive negotiating process.

Shockingly, the oft-injured Gaborik allegedly turned down a 10 year, $80 million contract! The story states that the Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings reportedly are the front runners for Gaborik's services, while Bucci's mailbag hints at the Penguins green-lighting Marian II: Gaborik's Revenge.

Honestly, the Penguins should be put in jail for instant gratification abuse if they make such a move. Going for Gaborik would cost the Penguins valuable prospects in a time when they need every cheap, entry-level deal that can fit in their cap. And let's face it, as Bucci says, Gaborik doesn't seem like he'll take less money for more wins.

(Basically, Gaborik looks at this Mike Commodore photo with a mixture of stomach turning disgust and envy.)

The most interesting possibility would probably be adding Gaborik to the Habs' 100th Anniversary celebration. They have expendable young players, cap space they originally aimed at Mats Sundin and perhaps the most justification for a one season fling.

The Canadiens already have a sexy combination of beautiful, classic jerseys and gifted forwards.

Imagine adding Gaborik's unparalleled speed and fantastic sniping abilities to a cast of characters that includes the ludicrously skilled Alex Kovalev, the Kostitsyn brothers, Tomas "The Mechanic" Plekanec, Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov.

That sounds like the best solution to an unfortunate situation. As long as Bob Gainey doesn't offer him a crazy long-term contract.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bertuzzday: Dale Hunter's disgrace

"Everything changed by one mean-spirited little prick. When Pierre Turgeon got up, he left some piece of himself on the Nassau pond. From the minute he returned, he was hesitant; he was a perimeter guy; he was a guy who was not activating the energy level of his team the way he had been. He didn't have that drive to the front of the net." -Frank Brown quote found on Hockey Legends

On the heels of arguably the most notorious hit in NHL history, it only seems natural to follow it up with a hit that quite possibly is more egregious.

Dale Hunter's hit didn't break Pierre Turgeon's neck. Cannot say whether or not that moment of shocking violence looped on judgmental news reels and received national attention - my attention at that time was devoted either to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or professional wrestling.

But my guess is that it was infamous mainly in the hockey community, as then-new commish Gary Bettman suspended Hunter a then-record 21 games for that sickeningly late hit.

Much like Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore, this hit will inexorably bond Turgeon and Hunter forever. Thankfully, Turgeon still ended up having an excellent career: he retired more than ten years later (in 2007), broke 1,000 points and made a huge heap of cash.

It is interesting to read that Turgeon was a potential superstar before that fateful night. Without knowing about that moment of ghastly violence, Turgeon simply seemed to me to be a soft, enormously overpaid player who coasted on past glories. Who knew that he had every reason to flinch even when celebrating a goal.

Hunter, on the other hand, can only seek refuge in Capitals fans and the people who knew him behind the scenes. Bruce Schoenfeld of The Sporting News put it well:

"The Turgeon check is by far the most memorable feature of his career, the two minutes he would get on SportsCenter if he retired today."

It certainly is a shame that people can reduce an entire career to one disturbing YouTube clip, but any pity reserved for Hunter is weighed by that gnawing bit of logic. There's just no excuse for what he did.

Overall, my perspective on the situation is limited. For now here's a few interesting quotes/links to what other bloggers said about it. It would certainly be great if there will be an update with some fresh opinions (so stay tuned) but for now a few pull quotes and links will have to do.

The hit was listed among the top 10 hockey violence lowlights on CBC Sports Online.

Another link to the incomparable Hockey Legends Web site: who knows how much respect that hit cost Hunter, but apparently it took $150,000 from his bank account.

More coming soon, hopefully ...

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Busts and the Busty: An early look at fantasy hockey

OK, no one on this list is busty (insert Keith Tkachuk/Kyle Wellwood related obesity retort). But, really, it's time for the wordsmith community to reclaim the word busty from evil yet often generous internet pornographers. Because of porn, the word busty can never reasonably be used as a direct verbal compliment for a woman.

That breaks my heart.

Anyway, now that we've gotten that ugly bit of mammorical conversation out of the way, let's take a look at some of the interesting stories in fantasy hockey so far. This might be a little bit heavy on players who are on my teams, as they are the ones being followed most closely. To justify the headline, "busty" means unexpectedly good and you should already know what a bust is in sports gobbledygook parlance.

Bust: Ryan Geztlaf and the Mighty Ducks in general

This probably will not hold for the majority of the season, but it must be said. The Ducks have been a huge disappointment and no Duck is hurting fantasy hockey teams more than the balding young power forward Getzlaf.

Granted, his foibles at least were rather hotheaded PIM-heavy, so that was the silver lining in the shit clouds. But one point in 6 games is the kind of stats that made Ducks fans hate Doug Weight last season.

Busty: Keith Tkachuk

Heh. But seriously, the man once labelled "Ka-chunk" seems like he might reestablish his above average power forward status. So far he has six goals and four of them are on the powerplay.

For some reason, that stat line made me think of Trailer Park Boys. Whenever Tkachuk scores a goal there's probably a catch-phrase challenged fantasy hockey owner dropping a "Baaaaaaaaam!"

Bust: Martin Biron

There's always deals with the devil in fantasy hockey. Picking up Todd Bertuzzi due to his decent scoring ability and superhuman skill to take awful penalties is one example.

But sometimes you have to draw the line, as my late-to-the-draft roster is in shackles under a Chris Osgood - Martin Biron regime. Serves me right.

Busty: Quote-less Joe

It's truly hard to put a price on that odd moment or two when fantasy hockey makes you feel sort of smart. This year's catalyst, so far, has been Burnaby Joke Sakic. A lot of hockey people wrote Sakic off because he had a really rough year and is a little bit long in the tooth.

Surefire sign a player is old: for Sakic this wasn't a throwback jersey

But this is where checking the context of a player's stats is a key to having a few tricks up your sleeve in a fantasy draft. Even in a rough, injury ravaged season Sakic still managed to pick up 40 points in 48 games.

My logic in drafting him late in three of three drafts: if healthy, Sakic could reasonably hit 70 points this season. It's always a tightrope walk with older players, but here's a good general rule to follow in fantasy hockey:

When in doubt, go for the star player.

Bust: Henrik Zetterberg

My decision to draft Zetterberg over Joe Thornton seemed reasonable at the time. LWs are notoriously harder to come by than Centers. Zetterberg gets the FW of a center, shoots more often than a Spaghetti Western protagonist, should have a ridiculous plus-minus and looks like Jared Leto.

Find a better quadrangle than that and you might just get yourself a free donut.*

Still, this was a case of me over-thinking. Deep down, Thornton is the better player and Zetterberg is extremely injury prone. In the first few rounds it's important to focus on reliable players.

Save the flashes of genius for when you're at the bottom of the barrel.

Busty: Brandon Dubinksy

Doobie Dubinsky proved me wrong. When Dre scooped him up in Week 1, I snickered. Dubie's had the last laugh as he's piled up more points than anyone on my roster.

Maybe he jelled so well with Jaromir Jagr because he's pretty damn good.

Bust: Daniel Carcillo

Last year's overwhelming PIM monster currently has only four PIM and no points. Yeeech.

Still, this guy might be a solid buy-low candidate as a free agent pickup/trade throw-in. Highly recommended for those of you who drafted a team full of pansies.

Busty: Simon Gagne and Patrice Bergeron, massive head wound twins

Two other surefire sleepers this season were Gagne and Bergeron - both players are once-elite guys who had very serious injuries that ruined last season. For that reason, Bergeron especially slipped way under the radar despite being a veritable assist machine.

Gagne is the particularly promising guy because he's a rare player with 50-goal potential. Plus, Bill Clement said Forsberg called him the purest shooter he's ever seen in NHL '08. That's gotta count for something.


So, there's a look at some of the ups and downs so far this fantasy season. As always, these things can change: next month the busts can be become the busty. And you never know where the injury bug will lay her evil eggs next.

Stay tuned and try not to invest too much of your soul into fantasy hockey, mmmkay?

* - Seriously, though, I'm not going to buy you a fuckin' donut.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lou Holtz and Hitler: overrated

Do you think Dave Lewis auditioned for a part in "Downfall"? Also, spoked wheel 'B' logo > Swastika. That's right, skin heads. I went there.

Immediately after hearing Lou Holtz say "Hitler was a great leader too" or something to that effect on "College Football Live" my facebook status changed to "James O'Brien thinks that Lou Holtz might be the worst sports analyst in human history." Sometimes, you just get lucky and slip in when someone makes a big mistake on corporate TV and tonight was one of those nights.

Deadspin thinks that Holtz might have to play the corporate apology game or (fingers crossed) take some time off. Even before this blunder, Holtz was terrible enough to encourage a rapid channel change, but this was just stupid.

(Though I must admit there are probably more than a handful of West Virginians who would compare Rich Rodriguez to the Fuhrer)

Let's face it, both Holtz and Adolf were overrated, although at least the failed artist accomplished the rare goal of making a style of mustache obsolete. To every one but the perennially unlucky Dave Lewis, of course.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two major blows to the hockey blogosphere

Writing about hockey - even if it's currently "not for a living" - is one of the truest joys of my existence. Hockey blogs keep growing and growing, but it's obvious that a lot of hockey people are as unfamiliar with blogging as Americans were confused about this bizarre Internet thing in the early '90s.

As the season barely takes off its training wheels, the hockey blogosphere already lost Jes Golbez (one of the true founding fathers) and Dave from Covered in Oil (the blog that made me realize "my voice" might be appreciated, even if they are way way WAY funnier than I can hope to be).

This is a huge bummer, but I understand why they decided to move on. Still, these are two big losses and let's hope this trend does not continue.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maritn Havlat Glitch Goal Voodoo.

Remember in NHL 08 when all you had to do was glide across the slot and aim for the the top right of the post to out fox the goalie? I score this exact same way all the time in NHL 09.

Hats off to Havlat for displaying proper fist pump professionalism there at the end.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


In the olden days (before today) Tuesdays used to suck. Say what you want about Monday, at least it was the first day of the work week. Tuesdays are like the bad sequel or an ugly twin to Monday. There's really not a whole lot that can be said for Tuesdays.

Until now.

Here at Cycle like the Sedins, we're going to celebrate each Tuesday by chronicling the lowest, most vile and/or most humiliating moments hockey's ever seen. And really, there cannot be a better person to attach to such an event than the infamous Todd Bertuzzi.

To start things off, it only seems natural to explore the event and man behind this historically bad pun. So with that, let's take an off-beat and tasteless journey into the shameful event (is it Punchgate or Bertuzzigate? Because everything has to be "X"gate. It's like, a rule or something).


In my mind, there are three reasonable candidates for The NHL's version of "The Zapruder film" but only one moment that could be hockey's version of the JFK assassination. Sure, hockey fans might not know Where They Were When They Found Out It Happened ... but few should ever forget the strange feeling of seeing hockey looped relentlessly on CNN.

And it sure as hell wasn't for a breathtaking goal.

Here's a link to a soundless clip that also features Steve Moore's hit on Markus Naslund, which inspired the Wild West-style bounty that was placed on Moore's head.

Obviously, the toll this moment took on Moore's life and career are not a laughing manner. But the Vancouver Canucks at fault deserve to be mocked and berated for their involvement (whatever it might be).

It must have been fate that implored me to watch "The Karate Kid" on last night, because the Vancouver Canucks - Cobra Kai parallel is STUNNING. Especially if you feel that Marc Crawford did indeed encourage Bertuzzi's actions.

Disclaimer: my imaginary legal team must acknowledge that Marc Crawford claims Todd Bertuzzi acted "in direct disobedience" during the infamous attack. Therefore, this INGENIOUS analogy is based on the EXTREMELY DUBIOUS premise that Crawford promoted such behavior. My use of all caps is IN NO WAY an expression of sarcasm.


Now, watch this famous clip from "The Karate Kid" and see if you can match certain characters with their theoretical (former) Vancouver Canucks counterparts. Skip to about 1:30 if you want to limit your exposure to awesomeness:

In case you don't have my Patented Deductive Skills, here's the Cast of Characters:

Canucks/Cobra Kai from left: Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, Marc Crawford, Brad May

Marc Crawford as "Fascist Douche Coach."

Could you imagine Crawford telling Bertuzzi to "sweep the leg"?

Todd Bertuzzi as Standard '80s Teen Movie Villain with Aryan Features

Heat from the media neutered Todd Bertuzzi's game. Say what you will about Zabka/Johnny's underhanded techniques, at least it took a crane kick to humble him. Advantage Zabka.

Strangely, this image comes from

Doesn't this quote seem eerily familiar to Brady May's "bounty" comment? Just sayin'.

Seriously, the similarities are endless (or there's about three). I'm not sure who would be Mr. Miyagi though.


To wrap up our first ever Bertuzzday, let's end it with an interesting question. E-mail us your answers and we'll feature the best responses on next week's Bertuzzday:

What would it take - within the realm of possibility - for Bertuzzi to absolve his sins in your eyes? In other words, suggestions related to death and breaking his own neck will be read, possibly laughed at but then ignored. I'd especially like to hear from Colorado Avalanche fans (and, hell, Teemu Selanne if he's got a second). To start things off, here's what he could do that would appease me greatly:

"The Jesus" thought that what the Canucks did was "Bush league stuff ... laughable mang."

Do you remember that scene in "The Big Lebowski" where Walter gives a little background on "The Jesus"? How he had to go door-to-door to let his neighbors know "he was a pederast"?

Bertuzzi would have my reluctant forgiveness if at a designated time during every road game, the Jumbotron would display a recorded message of Todd Bertuzzi admitting to being a confirmed neck breaker (or something like that). Fans could even mock him in a "Kiss Cam" kind of way. It wouldn't repair Moore's vertebrate and Bertuzzi would still be making crazy money to play a game he's clearly no longer passionate about.

But it would make a difference if he was DIRECTLY shamed in public for this moment until he concedes and retires. Enough of that "dark cloud/carrying a mental burden" crap.

I want that burden to be TANGIBLE.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Week That 'Twas

After what is more or less the first week of Cycle like the Sedins, I figure that a post with the most relevant links is in order for those of you who are against side-of-the-blog archives. But first, here's a quick re-post of a request I made on Battle of California:

Very quickly into my perusing of the hockey blogosphere, it became clear that there are a ton of NHL team blogs and sometimes very little to suggest that one is empirically or artistically or functionally superior.

We all gravitate to blogs that feature our favorite teams and, once we've covered our teams, then maybe our favorite writers. Or Photoshops.

I figured posting this on BoC first would be the best move while Cycle like the Sedins works through its training wheels stage.

Simply put, I want to know what other blogs BoCers follow: blogs that capture the spirit of their team or at least deliver a helluva one-liner.

Naturally, teams such as Washington, Edmonton, Detroit and Pittsburgh are covered very nicely (not to mention the BoC teams of course).

But what about other teams? Are there some heavyweights one cannot ever forget? What about some "diamonds in the rough"? Feel free to nominate your own blogs, your best friend's blog or a blog owned by someone you want to see naked. It matters little to me.

Don't be shy.

Anyway, here's the CLS posts of the week:

Abel's Intro

Deidre's Intro

Work in Progress

Nitpicking NHL '09

Hockey Orphan - Sleek

Hockey Orphan overall

Fantasy Hockey shtick

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meet the Bottom of the Depth Chart...

How do you introduce yourself on the web? Most jerks open with a “Hi I’m Bill Simmons, please read my 9,000 word post about The Hills and why Boston sports are > all the other sports franchises ever created.” Lame. I used to do this trick at college parties where I would mumble my name when meeting new people then try to press them to see if they remembered. Making people uncomfortable is usually fun, even when you’re the only one laughing. But for lack of a better way to introduce myself; I’m Abel, wont you please read my 469 word post about knowing nothing about Hockey and awful puns?

O’ Brien and I go way back, and by way back I mean 2006 when he was the miserable editor in chief of the North Texas Daily and I was a not-yet-but-soon-would-be miserable intern. Sure I knew the guy, and he seemed like an ok dude if you ignore his strange obsession with wearing old Dokken t-shirts and banging oddly shaped, circus-seal looking redheads but we didn’t start hanging out until we both left the paper. And it wasn’t long before he started ranting about creating this site. For potential job interview purposes I’m gonna claim that I’m one of the founding fathers of this site (I even created the logo!) But the truth is that I really have no business here but James convinced me that it’d be different to read about hockey from someone who’s most likely try to steal benches than watch a hockey game.

So while I do plan to binge on hockey this season and learn as much as I can about the sport so I can be cool like everyone else here (this must be what Jack Black must’ve felt like when he taught himself to play guitar at 19), for now I’ll only provide insight into something all of us can enjoy: Awful Puns.

At first glance there’s a lot to love about hockey. It’s one of the few sports that can have you rapt with attention because every possession brings another potential scoring chance, another potential rebound/sweet spot goal, another shot off the posts, another odd man rush. And that’s not even mentioning the fights. But it wasn’t any of that that refried my beans it was the gaping wide opportunity for puns and, to a farther reach, intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally) mispronounce names.

Some of the highlights that have come from the last eight months of playing EA Sports NHL games:

Vaclav “Proposal” Prospal

Jarome “Ignalia” Iginla

Some people score together Ryan scores Malone

Chris once upon a midnight Drury

(Editors note: We’re pretty sure Abel has dyslexia, but we don’t have the heart to tell him. They only get worse from here....)

And my fave:

Eric "Gangee" Gagne


Paying the price for Center Ice

At this point, my relationship with Time Warner Cable is about as chilly as Hillary and Bill's during MonicaGate. It's taken three tries and my internet connection has only been upgraded to "on thin ice."

And that "free preview" of NHL Center Ice is but a joke to the evil corporate lackeys at TWC. Still, my biggest concern and question is:


Watching those feeds from local stations on my 42" plasma was slightly depressing at first, although I'm getting used to blowing up the crappy picture transmitted through my cable box. This may end up being the truest test of my hockey devotion: do I watch hockey on these piss poor feeds or basketball/football in glorious, unrivaled ESPN HD?

(The answer: hockey, unless it's the Nashville Predators)

Nothing's easy these days.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby Steps

Ahhh how refreshing! It's nice to actually have some games to talk about.

The Red Wings raised their championship banner last night and it's not a huge surprise that they were a bit lethargic in this one. But it IS a surprise that the Red Wings lost (and deserved to lose) to hockey's ultimate punching bag, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It's natural for fans to overreact to the first game of 82. Still, for a group of players with very little in the way of elite talent (really, the closest they have is Tomas Kaberle and maybe Vesa Toskala), it must be nice to beat such an amazing opponent.

While I didn't get to watch the whole game, it must be said that the Maple Leafs looked like the much hungrier team. Ron Wilson seems to thrive in these against all odds scenarios and at least get his teams to work hard for him (especially if his team isn't full of fantastic players like in San Jose).

Lidstrom wouldn't even have to leave the city to find good advice on stylish face protection

Can't help but wonder if the Wings would be better off with a Zetterberg - Datsyuk - Holmstrom line, just like the old days. Franzen - Hossa would still be pretty damn good, but whatev.

Also, Nicklas Lidstrom looked hilarious with his broken nose fix. Gotta hand it to hockey players for playing with injuries that would stop most athletes from suiting up.

Could we see Lidstrom in a Rip Hamilton-inspired schnoze mask? Please, oh please?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where the rubber meets the road...

This post serves for several functions. First and foremost to show my pal James some level of commitment to this little endeavor and second to introduce myself to the few, the proud and the crazy: hockey blog readers.

My name is Deirdre. I'm a lifelong hockey fan, born in the glorious blue collar city Pittsburgh. My hockey obsession was fueled by my sweet father who bleeds gold and black (Penguins, Steelers and for the love of god the Pirates). The man obviously wanted a son and thus spent the next several years grooming me into a little sports buddy. Being a kiddo from the 'Burgh, my overall world view was colored by a few things:

1. Mario Lemieux is a saint and should only be spoken of with reverence and dignity.

2. Wayne Gretzky ain't that great.

3. The Jean Claude Van Damme film "Sudden Death" is the greatest movie on record because it features the Pens.

4. Pirogis are delicious and suitable for all occasions.

5. If it ain't Heinz Ketchup, throw it out.

Of course now, we love Crosby, Malkin and Staal. But I maintain my favorite Pen squad was the one that included Kasper, Straka, Kovi, Jagr and Lang. Sigh, I could reminisce for hours.

So this is just a short rambling introduction. I will try and do a weekly post on Sunday nights. Of course, I think there will also be some point/counterpoint posts with James that will be brutal and insanely entertaining all in one. I understand that I have to uphold the female perspective in this all and will do my best to not be accused of being a damn puckbunny.

--Dre :)

It has begun

Could it be ... (Miroslav) Satan?

The REAL regular season is on its way in about 3.5 hours and despite the high bloodbath probability of a Toronto - Detroit match, you better believe I'm pumped up.

Once I actually order NHL Center Ice (if Time Warner Cable provides it), my plan is to have a "game of the day" or two. This will designate what game is the juiciest.

As Sleek notes, the first Battle of California is today between the Pacific division's Mercedes franchises when Anaheim visits San Jose. The runner up is Calgary at Vancouver, which should be a great Canadian/NW division blood feud.

One other odd note: the week that Hockey Orphan premieres is also National Orphan Week according to my hotmail SPAM. Well, I'll be damned. An odd coincidence like this reminds me of BoC commenter brokeyard's link regarding coincidences that would make the Church Lady say, "Well, isn't that conveeeeninent?"

Work in Progress

The blog is up and running. From my end, I'll be posting at least once a day (unless the satanic demons at Time Warner Cable fuck up my interwebs).

I'll also be tinkering here and there to make the premise of the site (having various contributors "cycle the figurative puck" on different issues) a little bit more obvious. Along the way, feel free to e-mail me if you'd like me to link your blog. Naturally I'd like you to do the same if that's the case.


Also, e-mail me if you're intrigued about hockey orphan. This thing really is my baby - I'm even resisting a leaving a baby in a basket at a doorstep pun as we speak.


Anyway, my goal's to give people a reason to come back a few times a day. There's already a few things planned once things get rolling*:
  • A "News Cycle" that I'll be updating several times per week to take the temperature of the hockey blogosphere. E-mail me if you fine folks find anything the world needs to see. Other contributors, if you're struggling with when to write ... don't. This is definitely the "Wild West" stage of CLS so have at it.
But if there's anything I'd love a hand with it would be posting noteworthy blog entries and news events of the day/week.

Keep in mind that the aim of this site is not to cover every bit of news, but the News Cycle should be fun/an agonizing chore. Let's hope for the former.
  • Once a week, I'd like to profile a must-see/interesting/bizarre blog. I'll start off with the obvious juggernauts but soon enough will expand to blogs I've probably never heard of before the feature. So, again, e-mailing is smart with this. Naturally, hockey related is good but I'm never against the broadening of my horizons (just stay away from my anus).
  • Not going to tell you what my Tuesday special is, but it is both awesome, slightly insulting and puntastic. (Prado, if you spill the beans I'll kick you off the blog. That's right, Jack!)
  • Also planning another weekly/bi-weekly/whenever she can write it column from my pal Deirdre. Perhaps obscurely mentioning her on a hockey blog will grab her attention?
So, again, for anything that fits on this list or whatever else, please e-mail me at

*This is my clever way of being non-committal.

Nitpicking NHL 09's Be a Pro, even if it's totally kick ass

Anyone who owns NHL '09 learns to love that arrow

On some level, it was luck that allowed me to avoid considering the question of NHL 09 vs. NHL 94 when working on my Top 5 NHL video games of all time for BoC. Really, though, it would have come down to those two games and it's hard to say if nostalgia would defeat flat out brilliance.

But as much as I love NHL 09 (and believe me, aside from a few family members and getting BJs in my car, there are FEW things I like more than NHL 09), it isn't without its flaws.

The first place to look is its awesome new addition "Be a Pro." Even if it's not the most original or innovative mode (it was in Madden years ago - it feels weird to refer to Madden as "innovative" by the way), NHL's realization of a hockey fan's wet dream is perhaps unmatched in sports games. Whether you're playing with four or five goofy Canadians online or hogging the puck in the offline version, chances are you'll whimper once you notice that 3 hours went by and you still wanna play one more.

Still, as awesome as it is, it can bring out that controller lobbing, punch-a-hole-in-the-wall rage that seemingly only surfaced during those awkward years of puberty.

Positioning is a great category and stats are cut-and-dry but the category that drives me nuts is "Team Play." Since you seem to play 40 minutes per game, it's natural that you're going to make some mistakes. And if you're the hockey world's version of the Ultimate Warrior like myself, that means a ton of points but also a ton of turnovers.

My patience in Be a Pro is Warrior-sque. God, that guy's a fucking nut.

Even if you hit everything that moves and have a plus 3 with perfect positioning ... you could still have that God Damn C grade in Team Play. Even if you pass it to Sergei Fedorov for a goal a fire hydrant could have scored. Even if you make those AI defenders bend at your will like a Herb Brooks archetype.


So that's definitely a minus for that mode. Also, the progression could be a LITTLE faster - or at least take into account a great season.

Digi-James won the Calder Trophy, the Hart Trophy, the Conn Smythe trophy and the Pearson Trophy along with a Stanley Cup in one season (!) and the biggest contract offer was $2.2 million or so.

$2 million for a guy who earned the two most prestigious trophies in the NHL? As some British comedy bloke would say, "Are you daft?"

Are you DAFT?

And considering how harshly the game judges you for turnovers, you'd think it would provide you with a perfect view of the play but the camera can often be a disaster. Sure, the graphics look fantastic from this point of view - especially on an HDtv - but there are times when you have no idea which team has the puck.

Ultimately, these complaints are almost a perk because they give EA something to strive for in NHL '10 (2010?). The amazing thing is that such a clunky, often enraging game mode could also be the coolest freaking thing in video game hockey since ... the skill stick.

But, seriously EA, would you add a fucking fantasy draft to the dynasty mode already? I get the feeling that they simply figure no one wants it...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hockey Orphan: Anaheim Ducks (Sleek's take)

Hello, friend.

Apparently you’re a person with no franchise affiliation, looking to make a lifelong investment in an NHL team. I’m here to give you seven good reasons why you should choose the Anaheim Ducks. To make things easier to remember, I’m going to list them out in dual-alphabetical order – AA to GG. Why? To prove to my mother that my Masters Degree in Alliteration wasn’t just a dumb dream.

Seven reasons you’ll want to be a Ducks fan:

Alphabetical Advantage – That’s right. List out 30 NHL cities and who comes out first every time. Anaheim. And I don’t care if the NHL expands to Las Vegas, Kansas City, Hamilton, Stockholm, or Tokyo, Anaheim’s not going to lose that edge. That means first position in dropdown menus, first page in the team-by-team previews, and first in various spreadsheets sorted by city name. Let the losers waste time scrolling to find their teams and debating which should come first, San Jose or St. Louis. Note to NHL: Please don’t expand to Albuquerque.

Brian Burke – Seriously, is there a more entertaining personality in hockey today? He’s a loud-mouthed lawyer who loves his headlines, and is certainly passionate about his hockey. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, and not afraid to lock horns. Whether or not you admire the guy, he’s going to keep things interesting in the front office, that’s for sure. He makes brash statements and gutsy trades, and he’s gotten stellar results in Anaheim, at least.

Cheesy Cartoons – You can draw a duck, right? Well, even if you don’t think you can, you probably have a better shot at drawing a duck than drawing a thrasher, or a ranger, or a canuck, or an oiler, or a red wing. While there’s certainly a lot of tradition in hockey team names, very few of them can actually be cartooned very well. Try drawing a capital, or a flyer, or a blue, or a wild. It’s tough! With Anaheim, it’s very easy to convey a range of ideas through duck-themed cartoons. Even if you can’t draw a duck yourself, there’s at least plenty of source material to steal from.

Dangerous Division – Since the lockout, the Ducks have been in a three-way Pacific battle with the Dallas Stars and the San Jose Sharks. These teams probably represent three of the best five or six in the league over that span. It makes for some fantastic regular season hockey, as all three teams try to outpace each other, often head-to-head, for the Pacific Crown. The Phoenix Coyotes are fast improving, too, and even though L.A. is in the basement, the Kings don’t slouch when playing against the Ducks.

Excessive Elbows –The Ducks are not afraid to bend the law, that’s for sure. Whether it’s elbows, foot-stomps, speeding tickets, back-dating stock options, or taking a drunk swing at a rent-a-cop, chances are there’s a Duck who’s done it. The Ducks are like Mos Eisley Spaceport – a wretched hive of scum and villainry. Look, I know we’re all human and we all make mistakes, but rooting for the Ducks? Your mistakes might not look so bad.

Friggin’ Fights – Yup, that’s one of the beauties of rooting for a team from a non-traditional market – the Ducks use fighting as almost a marketing tool, because even if SoCal fans can’t always appreciate the artistic angle of the dump-n-chase, everybody appreciates a punch to the face. Anaheim has a long list of fighters throughout their history, and even if they weren’t always winners, they were always heroes. In some regions, fighting is in decline, which is a shame. Fighting will always be a part of Anaheim hockey, though – Ducks fans love their sideshows.

Guessing Games – There’s never a dull offseason when you’re a Ducks fan, especially when retirement’s on the line. With other teams, the summer can be a long and empty one, with maybe a bit of interest around July 1st but then general dreariness the rest of the offseason. With the Ducks, it’s always a soap opera. One summer guys can retire, and replacements can be brought in. The next summer, the same guys can unretire, and replacements can be shipped out. It’s a never-ending cycle-drama, and the summer of 2009 promises even more fun: half the team (and the GM) will be free agents! I can’t wait – I’ll be glued to my TV set this summer with a bowl full of popcorn while other hockey fans spend their time yawning and waiting for their calendars to turn to October.

So there you have it—sounds pretty cool, right? Regrettably, though, I haven’t been fully honest with you; there are some drawbacks to being a Ducks fan also. In full fairness I’ve decided to disclose them.

Seven drawbacks to being a Ducks fan:

Alphabetical Advantage – It’s not always good to come first in the alphabet. Right now I’m typing in the wee hours of the morning because some publisher-dude wants to run Anaheim’s segment first. Ever considered a team in Albuquerque, Bettman?

Brian Burke – I have spent a lot of man-hours defending this guy from his billion haters on the internet. Burke rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and they’re not shy to mention that in a blog’s comments section. There will definitely be times when you’ll wish that the Ducks GM were a little less Penn and a little more Teller, that’s for sure.

Cheesy Cartoons – Ah yes, traditionalists. It’s been more than a decade since Anaheim entered the league, but there is still a vocal segment of hockey fans who still cannot get over the Disney logo infiltrating their proud Original Six traditions. They’ll hate Anaheim, its players, its fans, its management, and its weather, all because of the insolence of one cartoony duck-goalie mask. Of course, by now the traditionalists have mostly won—now the team sports a text-only jersey design—but a lot of the hate still lingers.

Dangerous Division – Just one year, I want to play in a shitty division, just to see what it’s like. The cut-throat Pacific Division is a pain in the ass sometimes with all its goddamn on-ice excellence.

Excessive Elbows – Oh yeah, and you think I’ve spent a lot of ink defending Burke’s mouth? Try Pronger’s skate. Or his right elbow. Or his left. If you have any tendency towards moral guilt, Anaheim might not be the team for you. The Ducks’ list of crimes is so impressive that even rooting for the team might even be considered a form of abetting.

Friggin’ Fights – After a while, the thrill of nightly fights does fade, and you might start noticing things about Anaheim’s fighters – notably their general weaknesses in actually playing hockey. Yes, I understand why the Ducks cling to the tradition of enforcers, but there are certainly days when I wish the Ducks would move past that outdated mold. Unfortunately, with the punch-happy fanbase in Anaheim, that sort of change is very unlikely.

Guessing Games – Drama, drama, drama. Can’t the Ducks just have a tidy, boring offseason one of these years? You know, no retirements, no salary cap issues, and generally very little reason for Burke to be a loudmouth to the press? That would be nice.

So there you have it. Seven upsides and seven downsides to being a Ducks fan. It’s not a path for everybody, I’ll grant you, but it can prove rewarding. For instance, I’d never be a blogger if I were an Oilers fan—there’s about 100 quality Oilers blogs on the internet that would discourage my participation. As a Ducks fan, however, my competition is real slim – I just have to type better than Pronger.

Go Ducks.