Thursday, January 29, 2009

All-Decade Team Goalie: Can anyone challenge Martin Brodeur?

Among hockey's great minds (and my name is not on that list ... hopefully mine is at least on the list of "people who can function and happen to enjoy the NHL"), the importance and relevance of statistics is of considerable debate. For the most part, my allegiance is somewhere down the middle.

Sometimes it's just flat out difficult to deny dominance. When it comes to sheer quantity from the seasons '99-00 to current day, no other goaltender comes within spitting distance of Martin Brodeur.

His numbers are just staggering. On these numbers alone, you could quite possibly have a Hall of Fame career:
  • 343 wins
  • 62 shutouts,

  • approximate save pct. 91.3%

  • at least 70 GPs every year except 2008-09

  • Two Stanley Cups

  • 5 All-Star appearances

  • 4 Vezina trophies

  • 2 Jennings GAA trophies

  • three time First Team All-Star

There isn't another goalie who approaches many of those totals. Some, like Dominik Hasek, saw their best days before the turn of the century. Others, like Henrik Lundqvist, came along too late or have yet to enter their prime.

That being said, Brodeur has had his fair share of detractors in his career. Certainly, the Devils are enjoying a considerable amount of success with their famous goaltender nursing an injury. Some say that Brody simply was in the right place at the right time, a solid goaltender who happened to luck into New Jersey's suffocating trap defense.

One of the most reasonable and interesting critics of Brodeur is The Contrarian Goaltender, who runs the aptly titled (and regularly fascinating) blog Brodeur is a Fraud. We had the pleasure of exchanging an e-mail on the subject of Brodeur as goaltender of the decade, and while admitting that " ... the time frame (99-00 to present) does line up pretty well for Brodeur, since all his main rivals from the 1990s retired in that period" the CG says that the one goalie who may stand a chance is Roberto Luongo:

"I tend to place a greater importance on individual save stats than team success, as well as a heavier weighting on peak play than longevity, and I generally distrust goalie award voting. All of these are reasons to pick Luongo over Brodeur. I think save percentage is the best goalie stat, and according to that stat Luongo was the best goalie of the decade (.919 save percentage compared to .914 for Brodeur, with Luongo likely facing tougher shots on average). I think Luongo's 2003-04 season was quite possibly the best single season by any goalie between 2000 and 2008. Brodeur's best season was unquestionably 2006-07, and yet I would have given my Vezina vote to Luongo that season. Brodeur has the quantity, team success, and award voting, but in my view Luongo has the superior quality.

... Brodeur is definitely the safe choice and the consensus opinion, but if it was my call I'd go with Luongo."

Throughout this process, the main things I've been focusing on revolve around stats, peak years and awards although other subjective and outside influences will come into effect.

This is part of the reason I'm putting together a "secret tribunal" to ultimately decide this All-Decade Team. Any of the other contributors are welcome to base their decisions on any number of factors (the only rule: consider the time frame of 99-00 to current).

It will be interesting to see what kind of debates spring up along the way. So, what do you say: is Brodeur a no-brainer or is Luongo a better goalie stuck on lesser teams?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two extraordinary articles that are extraordinarily different

Laughing and crying:

The Pensblog knocks it out of the park with a heel turn for Sidney Crosby. TPB usually kicks ass (they do, after all, share the same initials as the penultimate Canadian mockumentary "Trailer Park Boys") but this post is just unmatched. Laughingmyassoffblog.

On the other end of the spectrum, check out this well-written ode to the oft-injured Buffalo Sabres center Tim Connolly. Along with the unlikely comeback of Steve Sullivan, it's hard to argue with putting puck partisanship aside and rooting for a guy who's faced such tough luck.

Just had to pass along those two links since they dwarfed even some interesting stuff in the previous News Cycle.

News Cycle: Do any NHL players fit Sports Guy's "underrated" criteria?

Tim Thomas provides a rare flair for the dramatic in net

  • Last night, I posted a stream of consciousness about an exciting Washington Capitals - Boston Bruins game. One of the lines was, "Marc Savard is still underrated." After reading a new column by Bill Simmons, it got me wondering: are there any NHL players who are truly underrated?
It's tough to say. Savard does indeed meet some of the requirements since he has been producing at an impressive level for quite a few years without being mentioned in the upper ranks of NHL forwards. That said, he did make the All-Star team and there is a question of if he "matters" much in the grand scheme of things on a deep, talented Boston Bruins team.

Tim Thomas might actually be a more appropriate case, because he's putting up one of the better cases for the Vezina trophy this year - and has a knack for producing highlight reel saves.

Can you think of any NHL player who would fit the Sports Guy's standards of underrated?

  • One player who absolutely is not underrated is Montreal's Carey Price (or "Jesus Price"). There's a pretty interesting little feature on Price in ESPN the Magazine which focuses on the pressures that come with being the Montreal Canadiens' netminder.

  • Big news out of Detroit: the Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg to a massive 12 year, $72 million contract. As with most contracts that feature big money and long terms, it's a mixed bag of a deal.

On one hand, the Red Wings will keep Zetterberg around for a cap hit of only $6 million per year, which is only one million more than Mike Ribeiro. That's a very nice deal for a player who produces nicely and plays a solid two-way game.

That being said, Zetterberg is a little bit on the fragile side. He's not quite as delicate as, say, Patrice Bergeron but he tends to miss about 5-15 games per year (career high GP: 79; career low GP: 61). At 29, Zetterberg might already have his peak years behind him.

It's not an awful contract overall, but it's possible the last six years could cause the Red Wings some issues.

Now the hot topic changes to: can the Red Wings find a way to keep Marian Hossa or Johan Franzen? It would be impossible for most teams, but you never know with Detroit.

"Does he LOOK ... LIKE ... A ... Bouwmeester?" just doesn't have the same ring to it...

The photo of Bowmeester in glasses brings back memories of Pulp Fiction, when Quentin Tarantino says that Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta look like "a bunch of dorks." Bowmeester is a pocket proctector short of getting an atomic wedgie, right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stop the presses: Versus chooses best game of the night

After watching a fantastic Washington - Boston game on Versus, it's hard to argue against taking the plunge and ordering NHL Center Ice. Chances are, it will be a part of the old rotation by this weekend. (At least if that $50 discount still applies)

Juggled the game along with a less interesting Atlanta - Dallas contest, so my viewing was a bit limited. But from what was witnessed, these two teams legitimately look like the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Boston, in particular, looks about as impressive as its record. It just seems like the Bruins have been put together with competence from top to bottom.

Marc Savard
might still be the most underrated player in the NHL. Everyone "in the know" loves budding power forward Milan Lucic. The Bruins have been able to cope with injuries, so who knows what kind of fireworks the team is capable of with a healthy Patrice Bergeron (it was great to see him back tonight) and Phil Kessel. Their defense is well coached thanks to Claude Julien and Norris-level D Zdeno Chara.

But Tim Thomas may typify the Bruins experience more than anyone else. No one really wants to believe it, but Thomas deserves serious Vezina consideration. He made some fantastic saves in that game tonight, particularly in the OT period. Thanks to a great 1B in Manny Fernandez (who may never escape 1A-1B rotations after Boston and Minnesota), they can ride the hot hand in the playoffs.

Just a well balanced team. They don't miss the eternally fragile Marco Sturm that much because they have great guys like Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler and Chuck Kobasew in addition to their near-elites.

It will be VERY interesting to see who the Bruins can hold onto, since David Krejci, Kessel and their two goalies are going into various states of free agency.

In my predictions column, I misfired badly. The sexiest team in the NHL is probably the Washington Capitals, not the Edmonton Oilers. Last year, they were up-and-coming but now the team is more than just its irresistible force in Alex Ovechkin. Washington features a nice collection of entertaining players: Mike Green is perhaps the best offensive defenseman on a semi-under the radar level. Alex Semin is dynamic when healthy. Even though he's been on the trading block and hasn't worked out, Michael Nylander is a nice passer and Nicklas Backstrom is a fabulous (if a bit too pass-happy) playmaker. With a cavalcade of other Russians including Sergei Fedorov, the Caps are a team the NHL should root for them to go on a long playoff run.

The biggest question is in net with Jose Theodore. Theo wasn't too bad tonight, but it's a shame that the Caps lack an elite goaltending prospect going forward. Imagine how scary the Caps would be if Theodore can give them consistent to great goaltending.

In the next week or so, I'll look at some possible intriguing first round matchups. Because you can feel a subtle gravity toward the postseason now that games are heating up and the All-Star break is over.

All-Decade Team: D

The cliche "defense wins championships" especially fit the first half of the '00s, as trap-heavy teams such as the New Jersey Devils raised the Cup and generated many Cinderella stories. But even once the lockout expired, great D were still at a premium. Although the Carolina Hurricanes managed to win the Cup without a dominant shutdown D, both the Ducks (Pronger and Niedermayer) and the Red Wings (Lidstrom and Rafalski) allocated huge chunks of cap space for top notch D.

Is there any point in even going on with a charade that Lidstrom wouldn't get the first defensive spot? My answer is an emphatic "no" but if you feel differently (or if I left anyone out) say so in the comments.

Nicklas Lidstrom
Points: A Shitload
Awards: A fuckton
Respect: Oodles and noodles of,

With six Norris trophies, plenty of points and two Stanley Cups is there really any way to deny Lidstrom is the best defensive player of the decade? Honestly, it's not crazy to ask if the guy is the MVP of the '00s, period. It's difficult to quantify Lidstrom's immaculate abilities until you get the chance to watch the surefire Hall of Famer in person.

Just a Beautiful Hockey Mind.

Chris Pronger

401 regular season points, 69 playoff points
Four All-Star games, one First-Team All-Star, one Norris and one Hart(!) trophy. Won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim; was a huge factor in the surprise SCF run of the Edmonton Oilers

If there's one elite D who rubs/elbows people the wrong way, it's the man who has been known as "The Orbs" and "Stompy" during his impressive career. Right around the turn of the century, Pronger accomplished the rare feat of winning not only a Norris trophy but also an MVP trophy to boot.

Along with being one of the most intimidating D in the league, Pronger's shown some impressive chops as a powerplay point man. Although he left Edmonton prematurely and on bad terms, his work with the Oilers proved he could take a team to the Finals without much help.

Scott Niedermayer
385 regular season points, 58 playoff points
Four All-Star teams, one Norris trophy, one Conn Smythe trophy, three First Team All-Star selections

While Scott Stevens and Pronger intimidated forwards, Niedermayer combined great defensive instincts with sublime offensive skills to collect three Stanley Cups in a dominant decade of hockey. He plays well in big game situations, hitting double digits in post-season scoring three times including an impressive 18 points in the 2002-03 Cup run with New Jersey.

Niedermayer also accomplished the rare feat of snaring a Norris trophy during Lidstrom's reign of terror.

Brian Rafalski
401 regular season points, 74 playoff points
Two All-Star games

It's stunning to see that Rafalski actually outscored Niedermayer in the playoffs and the regular season in this decade, but it shows just how quietly impressive the American born offensive defenseman has been. Much like Niedermayer, Rafalski earned his last Cup playing outside of New Jersey alongside a star D (in his case, Nicklas Lidstrom).

Rafalski was one of the best free agent signings of the post-lockout era and is enjoying another great season in 2008-09.

Rob Blake
408 regular season points, 43 playoff points
Five All-Star games

This year's been a bounce-back year for Rob Blake. After struggling for a few years on some bad Los Angeles Kings teams, it looks like Blake will make at least one more significant run at adding another Stanley Cup to his resume with the Sharks. Although he's not the dominant combination of intimidation and skill he was in the earlier part of the decade, Blake's terrifying point shot and physical presence are still hard to top.

Honorable mentions: Wade Redden (kind of), Zdeno Chara (kind of), Dion Phaneuf (too young), Andrei Markov, Dan Boyle, Mathieu Schneider and a few who missed time with injuries.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Anne from Sabretooth's House on Buffalo

(Note: Thanks to Anne from Sabretooth's House for the great Hockey Orphan offering. Be sure to follow Anne and Co. for all your Buffalo Sabres needs)

The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the more successful teams coming out of the lockout. They went to the Eastern Conference Finals in the first two seasons after the lockout, nabbing the 2006-2007 President’s Trophy for best record in the league. Woooooooooo!! Being a Sabres fan was a GOOD TIME... until the Summer of 2007.

Suddenly, the Sabres were hemorrhaging captains. Briere? Flyers. Drury? Rangers. Numminen? Heart surgery. Suddenly the Sabres went from fierce competitors to floundering middle-of-the-packers with a bunch of “I’m not the most vocal guy in the room"s blindly leading the charge into mediocrity.

2007-2008 was a mostly forgettable season in which the Sabres took their fair share of lumps. The $50 million man, Thomas Vanek, signed to an INSANE offer sheet by Oilers GM Kevin Lowe and then matched by the Sabres in Summer 2007, was VASTLY underproducing until the second half. Ryan Miller, our rock in net for the previous 2 seasons, was giving up goals (particularly in the shootout) like they were perfume samples at the mall. Our defense was laughable and our best puck moving defenseman was sent to San Jose at the trade deadline.
Why in GOD’s name would you CHOOSE to be a Sabres fan? Well, let me tell you!

Goaltending: After a rocky 2007-2008 season in which Ryan Miller set a franchise record in games played (76), he has rebounded into his old form. In 2006-2007 he was a healthy 10-4 in shootouts, in 2007-2008? 4-7. Ouch. However! This season? Miller is already 6-1 in shootouts and has his familiar swagger back in net. I challenge you to find a goalie in the East who’s playing better in 2009.

Goals: Speaking of the shootout, did you know that the Buffalo Sabres roster boasts the player with the most game-winning shootout goals? That man is Ales Kotalik. Buffalo also boasts one Mr. Thomas Vanek, NHL All-Star and current #3 ranked goal scorer in the NHL. Who were the #2 and #3 point producers in the second half of the 2007-2008 season? Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. One of the best puck handlers in the NHL? Tim Connolly. One of the fastest skaters in the NHL? Maxim Afinogenov. Basically if you like zippy offense, you will like the Sabres.

Defense: In spite of what the dolts on Versus would have you think, the Sabres have not had solid defense for quite some time. If Dmitri Kalinin is in your top 4, you are in DIRE straits, friends. However, there has been a personnel shift on the blue line. Campbell, Kalinin and Pratt out. Rivet and Sekera IN, Teppo BACK. Rookie Chris Butler is really proving himself since being called up from Portland in December.

Captaincy: The Sabres have had a rotating captaincy since Stu Barnes left the team in 2003. Our most successful tandem was Danny Briere and Chris Drury, with veteran Teppo Numminen wearing the “A”. When Drury and Briere left, everyone assumed Teppo would get the “C”.

However, Teppo required open heart surgery and would miss (almost) the entire 2007-2008 season, and Lindy Ruff decided to try a rotating monthly captaincy. This proved to be, um, not effective. When the time came to choose a new captain this season, Coach Ruff left it up to the players. To the surprise of many, the players voted newcomer Craig Rivet, recently acquired from the San Jose Sharks, to the job. Rivet is a veteran defenseman with an attitude that lets opponents know you don’t mess with the Buffalo Sabres. He dropped the gloves in his first home pre-season game. The Sabres are more confident and physical with Rivet in the line-up and his presence brings intangible value like you would not believe.

Physical Presence: The Sabres are a HARD hitting team. Boasting such “slammers” (as my 11 year old cousin calls them) as Paul Gaustad, Patrick Kaleta, Toni Lydman and Adam Mair. Mess with one of our younger players? Adam Mair has something to say about it. Paul Gaustad tends to take exception to such matters and his fists of fury will let you know. Gaustad had to have surgery to repair his thumb after a pre-season fight. Mess with Ryan Miller and Cap'n Craig will straighten you out.
Youth: The Sabres boast a few up and comers to keep an eye on. On the offensive side we have Nathan Gerbe, the 2008 NCAA Frozen Four MVP and offensive whiz kid. Adding to his overall appeal is his diminutive stature. Love Marty St. Louis? Then Gerbe is your man. He’s 5’5” and 160 lbs of offensive piss and vinegar. Also keep an eye on Sabres prospect and Team Canada defenseman, Tyler Myers of the Kelowna Rockets.
“In this together”ness: In the Summer of 2008, the Sabres sent a message to their fans that their favorites weren’t going anywhere. From their days in Rochester, there was a group of players who came up through the ranks together and have become close friends and teammates. Those players are: Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller. Vanek and Roy signed in 2007 and in the Summer of 2008, Gaustad, Pominville and Miller made their commitment to the team and to the community to stay here and try to bring the Cup to Buffalo. Being from a city that no one wants to live in, that kind of commitment to this team and community really resonates with fans.

Overall, I’d give the 2008-2009 Sabres a B. They’ve had some horrendous games but have won games they had no business winning. They’re in 7th place in the East right now, and if they keep playing the way they have been, they have plenty of opportunity to move up in the standings.


(Thanks again, Anne.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Think dodging the All-Star game is safe? Think again...

There's been a lot of bitching and moaning about players backing out of the All-Star game. Ninety percent of them are claiming injuries to things other than playing in meaningless games and going through the motions. But, remember, nothing in life is completely safe.

With that in mind, let's look at some dangers the non-participants may face:
  • Eye strain related injuries from rolling eyes at wife
  • Remembering how annoying those kids are
  • The dreaded snowblower/leafblower from Hell
  • Third-degree burns after falling asleep with a cigarette while watching the All-Star game
  • Throwing out your back because of extra time with mistress
  • Dangerous new addiction to "Friday Night Lights"
  • Getting pulled over because of fellatio-inspired reckless driving
  • Simply being Pavol Demitra

See? Maybe next time you'll play it safe and go to the All-Star game. We hear your wife hates Montreal in the winter.

Monday, January 19, 2009

All-Decade Team: Wings

Jaromir Jagr

(737 points - 301 goals and 436 assists in REG; 62 points - 22 goals, 40 assists in playoffs)Awards: Two Art Ross trophies, two Lester B. Pearson trophies, four time All-Star, three time First-Team All-Star

If you read my treatise on Jagr you already know where I stand. Just to recap: he was a deadly goal scorer with sublime passing skills. Jagr had the strength to shed checkers and the speed to leave the best defensemen in the dust. Simply a Frankenstein monster of offense.

Daniel Alfredsson

(677 points - 265 goals and 412 assists in REG; 61 points - 30 goals, 31 assists in playoffs)

Awards: two-time All-Star

There seems to be two camps regarding "Alf." On one side, there are the Alfredsson enthusiasts who point to his multi-dimensional and unselfish style of play. Yet on the other side of the fence, there are the people against him who criticize his playoff performances (not to mention the way he acted toward Scott Niedermayer in the SCF).

Whatever way you lean, it's hard to deny Alfredsson's impressive body of work. He might not sport the emotional leadership of Iginla or the offensive flashiness of Jagr, but Alfie is one of the best of his era.

Dany Heatley

(512 points - 240 goals and 272 assists in REG; 35 points - 10 goals, 25 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Calder trophy, First-team All-Star once, two time All-Star

Heatley went from tragedy in Atlanta to an impressive run to the Stanley Cup Finals in a short period of time. Over the last few seasons, he's established himself as one of the game's most devastating snipers alongside Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Jarome Iginla

(680 points - 330 goals and 350 assists in REG; 43 points - 24 goals, 19 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Four time All-Star, First team All-Star, two Rocket Richard trophies (one in a three-way tie with Rick Nash and Ilya Kovalchuk, one won outright) Lester B. Pearson trophy

There were a few years in which I advanced this argument: if J.S. Giguere gets a Conn Smythe in a losing effort, then why not Jarome Iginla a year later? Yes, Brad Richards had an amazing playoff run. But Richards was one of three stars in Tampa would could come up with big plays - Iginla carried the Flames offense by himself. All the way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Still, that Smythe trophy voting was acceptable ... but the way he was robbed of a Hart trophy was atrocious. Despite the fact that Iginla lead the league in scoring with 96 points on an awful Flames team, one voter left him off the ballot altogether. This move allowed one year wonder in Jose Theodore to win the MVP and raised legitimate questions of racism.

Beyond all that, Iginla's had a borderline HOF decade. Only Jaromir Jagr beats him in points among wingers. Plus, "Jarmoe" brought more to the table than a wicked wrister. He's been the ultimate leader: combining clutch scoring, toughness and a willingness to drop the gloves if need be.

Naturally, dropping the gloves forced him to miss some games and might hurt his standing with some voters.

Martin St. Louis

(547 points - 224 goals and 323 assists in REG; 48 points - 23 goals, 25 assists in playoffs)

Awards: four-time All-Star, first team All-Star once, one Art Ross, Pearson and Hart trophy

It doesn't get much more Disney than the story of Martin St. Louis. He went from being an unwanted, undrafted free agent to becoming the league's MVP and a Stanley Cup champion. If ESPN's bitter hatred had not been at an all-time high at that point, his would have been one of the sport stories of the year.

Marian Hossa

(662 points - 306 goals and 356 assists in REG; 59 points - 25 goals, 34 assists in playoffs)

Awards: four-time All-Star

Though they were unable to keep him in Atlanta, getting Hossa for Heatley might qualify as the only time "Thrashers GM Don Waddell" and "impressive job" could be mentioned in the same sentence without words like "completely un-" because Hossa might be Heater's equal. His defensive skills make up for a slight loss in pizazz.

Nearly half of Hossa's playoff output came last year during the Penguins run to the SCF. That performance showed what Hossa is capable of with a top-end center.

Markus Naslund

(640 points - 286 goals and 354 assists in REG; 30 points - 12 goals, 18 assists in playoffs)

Awards: four All-Star games, Pearson award, three time First-Team All-Star

Recent years haven't been too kind to the Swedish sniper, but Naslund was one of the true elite forwards in the NHL during his peak years in the early part of the decade.

Brendan Shanahan

(539 points - 256 goals and 283 assists in REG; 50 points - 22 goals, 28 assists in playoffs)

Awards: three All-Star games, one time First-Team All-Star

Most of Shanahan's best years came before the decade started, but he still put up some very nice power forward numbers. Being on three Stanley Cup winners with Detroit cannot hurt either (although two of those Cups came before the time period in question)

Not enough yet: Alex Ovechkin (if the lockout didn't happen he might be close enough), Ilya Kovalchuk and Rick Nash

News cycle

Not sure, but I do know that he makes it in my "better double check the spelling of that last name" HOF. That's gotta count for something.

It's not great news for anyone, really, but will this prompt the Stars to be more warmly receptive to bloggers? It's something all NHL teams should consider in an economy that is struggling.

  • Sunday was a great day for Steeltowners as the Steelers advanced to the SuperBowl and the Penguins shut out the Rangers 3-0.

Too bad the Rangers looked as flat as Kate Hudson in that game.

  • Say what you will about "The Masked Avenger," anyone who mocks the obnoxious duo of Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury cannot be all bad.

The pathetic little slapfight the two talking heads displayed during NBC's coverage was just embarrassing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

At least I now know my "mute" button works

For the love of God don't allow this woman within three feet of a microphone

It's no secret that NHL games struggle to find sponsors, so when hockey games feature a bad advertising campaign it's something you're just going to have to deal with. But even so, few commercials reach the decibel level of obnoxious quite as much as the Progressive Insurance commercials.

The worst one involves "a New Year's resolution to save money" in which the annoying female lead goes into an off-key kazoo solo. Since I've been sick this weekend, I will find my recuperative slumber disrupted by this horrific collection of dead animal noises.

Never has the remote's mute button be so useful. This makes the Esurance commercials seem like the Mean Joe Green Coca Cola ads by comparison.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fanhouse gets a re-design

Interesting day in the blogosphere. Noticed today that NHL Fanhouse got a face lift. It's probably shallow to say that this happened because of the Puck the Media article, but regardless it's great to see that a big member of the blogo-verse might return to power.

Do NOT fuck with Mirtle

I don't have much to add to that situation, but felt obliged to pass along Mirtle's utter destruction of "The Masked Avenger." Wow.

All-Decade Team: Loudmouths

The plan was to go down the list from serious to silly, but on the heels of The Hockey News calling Jeremy Roenick the best interview in the NHL it seems totally natural to take a peek into the biggest loudmouths of the '00s. The center post seemed fairly comprehensive, but this is definitely a topic that needs reader input.

Which guys are the direct opposite of "Quoteless Joe" - for better or for worse?

Jeremy Roenick

Quite possibly the most outspoken player in the NHL, Roenick is more than just a provocateur since he can back up his verbosity with hard hits and game winning goals. Roenick's checking and yapping got him into some binds over the years. It seems oddly poetic that when Derian Hatcher extracted revenge from JR, Roenick's jaw was broken in the process. The good money is that a broken jaw still didn't stop him from talking.

Honestly, from listening to one game with JR as a color commentator, he ended up being suprisingly bland. Everyone seems to peg him for a career in the booth (and one game is not a great litmus test for someone who will call more than 82 games) but it does make you wonder if he's going to be like Joe Namath. Namath seemed like a natural choice but ended up being far less flamboyant with a headset than a helmet.

Brett Hull

Surely not the only hot air that has exited Hull's mouth

The Golden Brett avoided taboos about as often as he passed up shots. It only make sense that the irreverent son of Bobby Hull would go on to be named "The Ambassador of Fun." Considering the meek showings by Brad Richards and the implosion of Sean Avery, many Stars fans wish he remained fun ambassador.

Sean Avery

Hull ended up dropping a bloated contract into the lap of the most hated man in hockey, Sean Avery. His "sloppy seconds" line might be in the lead of his obituary some day, but keep in mind that there was a top 10 countdown of Avery's antics before he publicly disparaged the likes of Elisha Cuthbert. (Whatever he said to Darcy Tucker, we can safely assume it was morally questionable ... at best.)

John Tortorella

If Coor's Light would run those lame clips of coach's press conferences for the NHL instead of the NFL, you can bet the former Tampa Bay Lightning coach would be a favorite. With his "75 percent rule" for goalies and hotheaded interviews with the press, hockey fans couldn't be blamed for rooting for a Lightning loss just to see him flip his lid.

If this joke ends up becoming a reality, I'll be more ashamed than the guy who wrote the lyrics to "Cherry Pie."

Don Cherry

Unsubstantied rumor: Cherry's tailor is Satan.

The only thing louder than Canadian icon Cherry's suits is his voice. Avery made the point of saying Cherry knows very little about hockey, but one of the Rules of the Universe is that those who know the least say the most at the highest volume. Cherry abides by that rule, while dressing ridiculously and insulting French-Canadians. (Hey, at least that's one thing Avery and Cherry can agree upon)


Those are the notable loudmouths in my mind, but there's a good chance a deserving candidate went unrepresented. Leave your choice(s) in the comments.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

All-Decade Team: Worthy Centers

As we consider how the All-Decade Team will be determined, let's get started on considering candidates for each position. For each player listed, there will be relevant stats and awards with a dash of opinion thrown in. It's important to not try to sway opinions too much but we still need to have a little fun with this.

See a glaring absence? State a case for that player in the comments.

Joe Sakic

Stats from '99-'00 to current: (656 points from 250 goals and 406 assists in the REG; 94 points from 41 goals and 53 assists in the playoffs)

Awards from that period: Hart Trophy (2001); Pearson Trophy (2001); First-team All Star (2001, 2002 and 2004); five All-Star appearances

The amazing thing (actually, one of the many amazing things) about Sakic is that he scored almost 1,000 points before the time frame of consideration. As difficult as it may be, try to consider Sakic's most recent decade of work instead of his entire career.

Besides, Sakic still brought a level of grace (a "quote-less" grace) to the game that is rare for even a hockey player. Most people will remember Sakic for his wicked wrister, but he was also a very good playmaker to boot. An absolute clutch performer, Sakic is one of the best centers of his era.

Joe Thornton

Stats from that period: (760 points from 232 goals and 528 assists in REG; 48 points from 11 goals and 37 assists in the playoffs)

Awards: Hart trophy ('06); Art Ross ('06); First Team All-Star ('06); 5 All-Star teams

One of the leading point producers of the decade, the common knock on Joe Thornton remains his playoff output. Many would counter that Thornton's post-season play is quite good since coming to San Jose (30 points in 35 playoff games).

Regardless of playoff critiques, Thornton is one of the NHL's most consistently dominant players. His combination of size and playmaking are a nightmare for defenses. With a career average of 2.14 shots per game, it's usually pretty obvious what Thornton is going to do on offense.

But like a pick & roll between Karl Malone and John Stockton, knowing what Thornton is going to do and stopping that act are two enormously different things.

Vincent Lecavalier

Stats: (612 points from 277 goals and 335 assists in REG; 33 points from 18 goals and 15 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Richard trophy ('07); three All-Star games

It took awhile for Lecavalier to become a star caliber player and that whole "Michael Jordan of hockey" thing probably will not come true. Still, the 6'4" Lecavalier is the prototypical franchise center. He has great size, skates well, can make plays and is terrifying on a breakaway.

How much does playing on a Tampa Bay that - excluding their Stanley Cup run and a season or two around that time - is middling at best and awful at worst affect Lecavalier's numbers?

Mats Sundin

Stats: (608 points from 260 goals and 348 assists in REG; 41 points from 16 goals and 25 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Four All-Star games

Before the free agent soap opera that eventually took him to Vancouver, Sundin was known as a big, talented Swede and a model of consistency. Even on a Toronto Maple Leafs team that failed to make the playoffs since the 03-04 season, Sundin still managed to record nearly a point per game. And unlike many franchise centers, he rarely had a quality winger to finish the scoring chances he could create.

Peter Forsberg

Stats: (445 points from 121 goals and 334 assists in REG; 92 points from 33 goals and 59 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Hart trophy ('03), Art Ross ('03) First All-Star Team ('03) and two All-Star teams

At this point, we're entering a quality versus quantity discussion. Even though injuries kept Forsberg from putting up massive overall numbers, he's only two playoff points behind Sakic and was one of the most captivating playmakers the hockey world has ever seen.

He also was like an injury prone Alex Ovechkin in that his game was extremely violent for a player of his star quality. Sadly, that tendency toward ultra-violence probably lead to a fragility that only Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr can relate to.

Still, when Forsberg was healthy he's arguably the best forward of the decade. Is that enough to overshadow the fact that he missed so much time?

Guys who are just too young/don't have enough games under their belt: Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin

Honorable mentions: Mike Modano, Marc Savard, Scott Gomez, Brad Richards

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For the love of God, hockey blogosphere ...

Is it too much to ask that you have your e-mail address on the front page of your blog. It's like a frickin' wild goose chase.

The All-Goose Egg Team or The Robert Parrish Decade Squad

Is anyone sort of dumbfounded that it's already 2009? Seriously, has it been about 10 years since we thought that Y2K would destroy the internet and everyone would eat soup for three months? Crazy.

Even though there's two-half seasons left before 2010 hits, I thought it would be fun to get a head start by beginning the process of determining who would be on an All-Decade team. To still keep it somewhat resembling a decade, we'll start from the 1999-2000 season up to today (January 13). Since it would be greedy to leave the voting to me, I will look to the masses for support, opinions and votes. In fact, the first poll is of considerable importance (vote below).

Don't hold me to this, but the plan is to have a post per category.

All-Decade Center

Two All-Decade Wingers (because these guys tend to switch around)

Two All-Decade Defensemen

All-Decade Goalie

and maybe some fun categories:

All-Decade Loudmouth

All-Decade Goat

All-Decade Pugilist

Any other categories you'd like to see?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Boston Bruins

Chara = unmitigated beast

(Definitely make sure to read the Hockey Orphan by Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder first. My take is meant to be the fattening dessert after Evan's main course.)

Evan covered the key pluses and minuses that come with being a Boston Bruins fan but there's a few other things to think about when considering the Killer Bees.

Zdeno Chara, mountain of a man

When talking to my sports-but-not-hockey-fan friends, Chara is one of the guys who achieves mythical status. After all, is there anything more terrifying than a guy who ends up being seven feet tall on skates?

My favorite Chara story came from last summer. During the off-season, it was rumored that Chara wanted to be completely awake during his shoulder surgery to make sure that it was completed properly. Can you imagine being the surgeon in that situation ... conducting a challenging, precise surgery while some Slovak monster stares you down?

That's just so freaking manly. The shoulder surgery story was brought you by The Campaign to Make Mike Milbury Cry.

Phil Kessel
When Kessel came into the NHL, it seemed like he was considered something of a punk (at least by NHL standards). That image changed quickly once the American sniper courageously battled testicular cancer during his rookie season.

If you cannot root for Phil K just go ahead and jump off of a tall parking garage.

Fantasy hockey implications

Definitely cannot say that I saw the Bruins coming. Not to this extent.

But from a fantasy hockey standpoint, players such as Marc Savard, David Krejci and Tim Thomas are helping savvy (or lucky) owners get a leg up on the competition.

Wicked cool jerseys

The Original Six teams have the market cornered on cool jerseys and the Bruins are no exception. Great color scheme, the spoked wheel ... it all works so well.

The unmatchable quality of their classic jerseys probably explains why they've struggled to come up with a good third jersey. That being said, their solid current third unis definitely look a lot better than those yellow bear monstrosities from the Joe Thornton days.

The Jacobs Factor

Evan touched on this, but the biggest mark against the team is its cheap ownership. Will the Bruins be able to lock up the red hot Kessel before he becomes a popular target for offer sheets? Can the team manage to either keep its two-headed goaltending monster (they are both free agents) or possibly make an upgrade in net?

If Jacobs is willing to pony up the cash, the Bruins could be the class of its division for years to come.

Grade: A-

Promising future, some very likable players (there is not one NHL fan who looks at Milan Lucic without a feeling of envy) and an awesome tradition. If only they mattered more to Boston fans with a slew of successful teams and to their polarizing owner.

There aren't many teams with a mix of promise and still a hint of pre-bandwagon sneakiness quite like the Bruins.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder on the Boston Bruins

(note: Many thanks to Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder for his awesome entry below. My glaringly inferior take on the Bruins is coming soon.)

So you’re looking for a hockey team, eh? Like most Boston sports fans, I didn’t have a choice. I was born a Bruins fan. This idea of choosing a team to root for is slightly foreign to me but if I had to choose, the Bruins would be a good option. Like everything, being a B’s fan has its pros and cons.

Things to Love about the B’s

Original 6 History, Tradition, Rivalries
The Bruins have a storied history and tradition, plus rivalries that expansion era teams just can’t provide.

There are still a few seats left on the B’s bandwagon
Sports fan orphans love to root for winners. You didn’t have to suffer through the lean years, but you still get to bask in the reflected glory of “your team’s” success.

The 2-Headed Monster between the Pipes
Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez are standing on their heads right now. The New England Hockey scene hasn’t seen a goaltending tandem like this since Bob and Walt Tenor.

The future’s so bright you gotta wear shades
The Bruins have several young players that are contributing significantly to the team’s success, plus an AHL team stocked with young talent just waiting for their chance.

Milan Lucic
OK, so maybe he isn’t the second-coming of Cam Neely, but this guy is a one man wrecking crew who plays a high energy, physical brand of hockey that the fans in The Hub love.

Rene Rancourt
Fist pumps all around for man with the golden voice and the tuxedo.

Nothing feels better than letting out a Ric Flair-style “wooooo!” to celebrate the go ahead goal for the Black & Gold.

Things to Hate about the B’s

Jeremy Jacobs
Despite owning a team in a town filled with passionate owners, Jacobs chooses to hide out in Buffalo planning the opening of his next racesino in Pigsknuckle, Arkansas. Jacobs has gotten the reputation as an owner who cares about one thing: the all mighty dollar. The Bruins have continued to have one of the highest ticket prices in the NHL. For years, the Bruins put a team on the ice that was good enough to sell tickets, but not good enough to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. The best thing to happen to Jeremy Jacobs was the NHL salary cap. Now, Jacobs has an excuse not spend money on players. Jacobs realized that he wasn’t the most well-liked guy in Boston and decided to make the local media rounds prior to the start of this season. The only problem was he came off as being even more out of touch with what was going on with the B’s than expected.
First Round Exits
The Bruins have made the playoffs 30 times since they won their last Stanley Cup in ’71-’72 but always seem to underperform in the playoffs.

Get ready for the Pink Hat Invasion
Whenever a team experiences success, everyone wants to be a part of it. I think it is great that the B’s are finally selling out the Garden, but one of the things I love about being a B’s fans is being able to get tickets. I don’t want to see what happened to the Red Sox in the past 5 or 6 years happen to the B’s. I don’t want to have to pay $125 to a ticket broker for balcony seats to see my team play in front of a crowd of clueless housewives in pink hats that think icing is something you put on a cake.

They never get the respect they deserve
Even when the B’s are playing well, they play second fiddle to the Sox, Pats, and C’s.

TD Banknorth Garden does not accept out-of-state IDs
I reside in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so this isn’t a problem for me but chances are that if you are a hockey orphan, you do not live in Massachusetts. Be warned that if you want to enjoy a couple brews at the B’s game, they will not accept your out-of-state license.

(Again, make sure you check out Stanley Cup of Chowder for all of Evan's Killer B greatness. Thanks again, Evan.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tavares watch: Islanders could rebuild in a hurry (1 of 2)

Not very long ago, I uttered something like this to a buddy of mine: "Man, I hope Tavares doesn't end up in a hellhole like Long Island."

However, while researching my Mike Milbury = Matt Millen post, it was hard to ignore Garth Snow's NHL draft wizardy. Doing the math is a little tricky so here's a visual aid from Isles's Islanders' GM history:

06/20/08: NYI trade 2008 Entry Draft first round pick(fifth overall - D Luke Schenn) to TOR for first round pick in 2008 (seventh overall), TOR’s 3rd round pick in 2008 (68th overall) and TOR’s 2nd round pick in 2009.

06/20/08: NYI trade TOR’s 1st round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (seventh overall - C Colin Wilson, previously acquired) to NSH for FLA’s 1st round pick in 2008 (ninth overall - C Josh Bailey, previously acquired) and FLA’s 2nd round pick in 2008 (40th overall - D Aaron Ness, previously acquired).

06/21/08: NYI acquire CHI's third round pick (72nd overall - D Jyri Niemi)and fourth round pick (102nd overall - W David Ullstrom) in 2008 for TOR’s
third round pick in 2008 (68th overall - D Shawn Lalonde, previously acquired).

Impressive. Snow basically moved the Islanders first round pick for Florida's first and second round picks, Chicago's third and fourth round picks in 2008 plus Toronto's 2009 2nd-rounder. As good as Luke Schenn and Colin Wilson could end up, that's a hell of a leap in the rebuilding process.

Tavares + big name free agent could really accelerate the Islanders rebuilding process (and Tavares + huge cap space could help the Islanders land that big free agent).

So that alone gives the Islanders a light at the end of the tunnel, but now let's get hypothetical:

Semi-plausible moves that could reignite the Islanders

Step 1: Winning the Tavares lottery

Obviously this is the portion that's dedicated exclusively to random chance. The Isles are the worst team in the NHL right now and will likely finish with the most lottery balls at the end of the season, but that in no way guarantees that they'll get the #1 pick.

Getting the second pick wouldn't be horrible since the only spot locked up long term is #1 goalie thanks to Rick Dipietro's life sentence long-term deal. But as tall and talented as that Swede might be, the Islanders need a shot in the arm only Tavares can provide. Badly.

What better way to help the Islanders sell the idea of a new arena than to add the most hyped Canadian since Sidney Crosby?

(Quick aside for those hockey's futures nuts out there: what is a reasonable estimate for a healthy first season for Tavares? Could his production be Crosby-like, Patrick Kane-like or more like Joe Thornton's rough rookie year?)

Step 2: Trade for Kovalchuk or throw the bank at Marian Hossa

Personally, I think Kovalchuk would be a better bet because his talents are "sexier." Hossa's a fantastic player, but you get the feeling that Kovalchuk would dazzle New Yorkers deeply. A rare victory for sizzle over steak.

If Atlanta decides to deal Kovalchuk, the Islanders have picks and prospects to spare

With Doug Weight ($4.5 mil), Bill Guerin ($4.3 mil), Mike Comrie ($4 mil) and Mike Sillinger ($2.2 mil) coming off the books this summer, the Islanders could transform their roster from washed-up, overpaid veterans to whatever image the "new" Islanders would seek.

($17 million from four players for non-math majors)

If NHLSCAP figures are correct, their overall cap would be right under $31 million with 8 forwards, 7 defensemen and 1 goaltender under contract (not counting minor leaguers ... although you can argue many of their starters belong in the AHL).

In that dream scenario, Tavares would probably have a Stamkos-like cap hit. Let's say $4 million to be safe. Let's also assume that the cap goes down to , say, $55 million when factoring in the deadbeat economy.

The Islanders could throw a "horse head in the bed" offer at Marian Hossa or easily absorb the last year of Kovalchuk's contract. Hell, if you really want to dream big imagine the Islanders somehow landing Kovalchuk - Hossa - Tavares or Kovalchuk - Gaborik - Tavares or something of that nature. Crazier things have happened.

[Note: decided to break this gigantic post up into two parts.]

Hypothetical hope for the Islanders part II

The Sedins bringing their cycling circus act to Coney Island? Could be worse ...

Even if the Islanders lose the Tavares lottery, their $20 million-plus cap space and their rapidly improving stable of prospects puts them in a great position to rebuild. How about we rank some of the guys who would best fit the Islanders?

1. Kovalchuk - This is only based on heavy trade rumors. Honestly, the Thrashers shouldn't trade him (the reason, beyond his bodacious skills, will be revealed sooen enough).

2. Hossa - The common thread of wisdom for Hossa is that he's the hockey version of a smoking hot bridesmaid. Even if he's not the type of player who can carry a team on his back, Hossa is the most talented free agent and may go into Show Me the Money mode after taking a one-year Cup run contract.

3/4. The Sedin twins - Why break up the Sedin twins when they are so effective together? The Islanders might be a really nice destination for the efficient dopplegangers. Even if they sign matching $6 million contracts the Islanders could still improve the team around them.

5. Jay Bouwmeester - He's not flashy (except in video games) but he's the kind of player who can be a cornerstone. With the big minutes he plays and well rounded game he brings the table, he could be a nice fit for the Islanders.

But they'd probably need to add an offensive stud because Bouwmeester isn't really a ticket seller.

6. Johan Franzen - The Mule is here and Henrik Zetterberg is not for a simple reason. It's almost unthinkable that Detroit would allow Zetterberg to walk. Not when they very well might lose Hossa. Not when Franzen, despite his undeniable goal scoring skills, cannot stay on the ice.

Franzen could be a good fit in Long Island if he could stay relatively healthy. Hell, a Franzen + Sedins line would be a hell of a consolation prize if bigger things fall through.

Keep dreaming.

7. Marian Gaborik - Honestly, it feels like the team who signs Gaborik is like a newlywed couple who unwittingly adopts that creepy little girl from "The Ring." But let's face it, the Islanders are one of those teams that might need to pay up big just for the PR boost.

Even though it's a thrill to watch Gabby on a breakaway, his signing would be a Shakespearian tragedy for a team that's had plenty of helpings of bad luck.

8. Alex Kovalev - There's a buyer beware to Kovalev. Either his drive does not match his blinding talent or his talent is better suited for stunning Youtube videos. Whatever way you slice it, Kovalev's not the guy you want with that Ayn Rand-ian weight of the world on his shoulders.

Still, if the Islanders try a quantity over quality approach Kovalev could be an asset.

9. Brian Gionta - It's hard to say if a guy like Gionta would flounder outside of NJ or if he would flourish without the spoused shackles of the NJ system. Judging from the lackluster post-NJ careers of guys like Scott Gomez, expectations should be "less than or equal to." Then again, adding Gionta certainly would add a little spice to the Devils - Islanders rivalry (whatever you may think of that rivalry).

10. Erik Cole - Call me an Erik Cole apologist, but I've been a fan since the Hurricanes Cup year. Then again, he's clearly never been the same after that dirty Brooks Orpik hit that almost ended his career. Would he take a pay cut or just stay at $4 million? At a lower price Cole could be quite the pickup but at $4 million you better take him to a damn thorough doctor.


Tavares-less suggestion: Go hard for Hossa or Kovalchuk or even Zetterberg. If that doesn't work, settle for the Sedins and a low risk, high reward guy like un-listed, under the radar Michael Cammalleri.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ways to improve the All-Star Game

In case you haven't seen it, Sporting News's Craig Custance asked the hockey world how the league should improve the All-Star game. There's a lot of neat (and a few crazy) ideas in there, but why not throw in a few more? Some of these might be reaches or smell like mad science. Just roll with it.

First, a few of my favorites from the article:

Love the pickup game idea

Is there anything cooler than the idea of highly paid professional athletes acting out an experience almost any non-home schooled person went through in junior high? Just imagine players weighing skill versus friendships versus their teammate's egos would be great. Seeing which players were picked last probably would be the best part of all.

Also, helmets off is a must

Maybe we'd find there's a guy whose eyes bug out when he sees some open net like a modern day Rocket Richard.

Any excuse for international ice is a good excuse

Since the league would never give up that prime seat revenue, we'll probably never get the kind of open ice that could really make a bigger difference than less organic moves like widening the net. So at least tantalize audiences with the larger ice surface for the All-Star game.

Now, a few of my own:

Real estate and All-Star games: all about location

In the last few years, the league keeps shoehorning teams into opening their seasons in Europe. If those teams struggle, fans immediately (and not completely unjustifiably) blame said struggles on the extra travel.

And look at the New York Rangers this season. It seemed like a brilliant idea to have the Rangers play in the Czech Republic ... until Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka left the NHL. That's not to say that those games were failures because of a lack of prominent Czechs, but no doubt the league must have been thinking hometown fans would love to see Jagr play in those games.

Put the ASG in Amsterdam or Paris or Rome or some other awesome, tourist-y location and watch the mainstream media members suddenly catch hockey fever. Plus, having All-Stars instead of NHL teams play would allow people who never see the Crosbys and Ovechkins in person get to watch a bunch of big names at once.

Before you say "but the big names won't show up" ... don't you think Martin Brodeur would be more inclined to play if the game was featured in some exotic location instead of, say, Columbus, Ohio?

And to take care of issues with travel:

Move the All-Star Game to the preseason

This would make the traveling concerns weaken. Also, instead of wedging the All-Star game in the middle of the season, why not play it when people are jonesing for hockey? By positioning it in late January, people already have seen 40-50 games per team. But hold it in September and hockey fans will be much more likely to tune in. And if you're worried about competition from the NFL, just televise it on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

If an outdoor game becomes an annual event, why not give the ASG at least one snowflake boost?

Imagine watching the best players in the world skating and passing in an environment like Wrigley Field. Sooner or later, the novelty of the Winter Classic will wear off for the non-diehard hockey people so making one of the outdoor games an ASG would keep it fresh. What you'd lose in hometown team ratings you might just gain in nationwide ratings (maybe).


These events are that one time of their year when people don't need to worry about empty shootout points, dirty hits and other scandals. So why not have a little fun with it? And what better way to schmooze sponsors than to showcase hockey in such a grand, borderline romantic setting?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Manalysis: Mike Milbury is the NHL's Matt Millen

Remember kids, not everyone who wears glasses is automatically smart.*

Rarest are the times when the planets align; when everything comes together in an angelic jambalaya of perfection. Hockey and football certainly have things in common: both are violent, look great in HD and employ large quantities of meat heads. That being said, it's unusual to see a pairing more joined at the blundering hips than "Mad" Mike Milbury and "Fire" Matt Millen.

Allow me to elaborate ...

Backgrounds marinated in likability

Giving Mike Milbury a tip of the hat for his playing days is the only sane thing to do. For christ sakes, the guy went into the stands ... AND BEAT SOME JACKASS FAN WITH HIS OWN SHOE. Remember in grade school, when you forced your "friends" to play the "stop hitting yourself game"? This was the NC-17 version of that.

Seriously, does it get any manlier than taking off someone else's shoe and beating the shit out of them with it? How does that guy look himself in the mirror? Imagine what it must be like for his buddies: do they tease him about it or is it such an emasculating experience that they just stay away?

That might be worse than trying to look your friend in the eye after sleeping with a 300 pound woman.

(Um, or so my cousin says.)

Millen, also a defensive player, did almost as well: he won four Super Bowls during a journeyman career. Almost as good as beating someone with their own shoe.

Tormenting fan base by making horrendous trades, idiotic signings and baffling draft moves (and sticking around as GM for an awkwardly long amount of time)

Mike Milbury spent an astonishing 11 years making the New York Islanders so atrocious that most young hockey fans forget that the team once won four straight Stanley Cups. Eleven years. It's amazing what kind of damage an idiot person can do in that much time:
  • First trade essentially sent away Wade Redden for Bryan Berard and Martin Straka. Remember, this was "someday I'll make $6.5 million" Redden not "a crazed Rangers fan might kill me someday" Redden. And they received post-eye injury Berard and non-Jagr enhanced Straka.
  • This is also the first guy to trade Roberto Luongo.
  • Traded away Darius Kasparitis for Bryan "meh" Smolinski. Kasper becomes a part of Penguins lore after concussing Eric Lindros.
  • Traded away pre-prime pre-neck breaking Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe for Trevor Linden. Oddly, Bertuzzi and McCabe are among the most openly mocked players in the NHL right now, but for a few years they were considered "stars."
  • Drafts Rick Dipietro instead of Dany Heatley (although that did keep Heater away from dangerous New York traffic. Too soon ... still?)
  • Trades Zdeno Chara for Alexei Yashin. Proceeds to sign Yashin to perhaps the most openly ridiculed contract in the NHL history (with the possible exception of Toronto signing that Finger guy who's so irrelevant I forgot his first name). Chara develops into a $6 million D who was so hardcore he wanted to be awake during his shoulder surgery (!).
  • Oh, and guess what: the pick he traded to Ottawa turned into Jason Spezza. So essentially he traded away Chara and Spezza (core members of the Senators near-dominant teams) for franchise-killing pouty bitch overpaid center Yashin. Gadzooks.
That's just astonishing. Millen certainly isn't a slouch in the clusterfuck department, either. He drafted three WRs in the first round: one is basically out of the league, Roy Williams is a semi-bust and Calvin Johnson may never recover from slumming it up on a Millen-engineered 0-16 Lions team. Let's not even dwell on Joey Harrington (that's just cruel).

Is that the same photographer who had Brian Burke pose in the middle of an empty row? If not, someone might have a case for photo op infringement.

Shit, the guys almost share the same freaking name

Just switch it up: Matt Milbury and Mike Millen. If you read them real fast you might not even know there was a typo. This is getting creepy.

And of course, they pick up a TV job almost without missing a beat

The big debate regarding Millen is "how can you be credible when you clusterfucked a franchise into a 0-16 season" while everyone in Canada's too busy booing American Junior players to care that some atrocious GM is on the intermission reports (kidding, they're too busy eating flapjacks). Here they are - two of the worst decision makers their given sports have ever seen - already lapping up a nice TV contract.

And, you know what? Who cares. When you look at the parade of morons networks trot out for their shows (Terry Bradshaw ... Keith Jones ... DEION SANDERS?), maybe Millen and Milbury are the smartest in the room.

Sometimes it just comes down to Einstein's theory of relativity - which after some skimming, contains no mention of shoe-based brutality.

*Question: did Milbury dramatically remove his glasses while making a draft pick or announcing a franchise crippling trade? Because if so, then forget that I ever criticized him.

10 Noteworthy Cycles from 2008

"Hockey - Rocky - Shmockey - BUKKAKE! I need this list like I need a shotgun blast to the face!"

Being that Cycle like the Sedins started more or less at the beginning of the 2008-09 season, there isn't a huge pool of mind blowing posts quite yet. (Are there any?) That being said, there have been a few solid posts that help justify the epic timesuck that is posting without any monetary encouragement.

(The only necktar there is to feed off is your sinfully delicious comments. Rare, sweet necktar.)

Anyway, enough hivemind. Let's take a look at 10 stories that were memorable (oddly enough, I didn't plan it out to be ten it just sort of happened. Eat it, Letterman.)

The First Bertuzzday: how the Vancouver Canucks resembled Cobra Kai

While maintaining a weekly Bertuzzday proved too much to handle, it started off with a bang. The above post featured a deep analysis of Bertuzzday's namesake, delving into the Steve Moore neck breaking fiasco, the Cobra Kai parallels to those former Canucks and finished with the question: what would Todd Bertuzzi need to do to gain forgiveness?

Never got a definitive answer on that one, but some of the comments between SLS and BoC were certainly intriguing.

Two major blows to the hockey blogosphere

Easily the most linked post in CLS's brief history. Oddly enough, when I posted about the Dave Berry fiasco it seemed like my post would be at the tail end of the discussion. Boy, was I ever wrong about that...

Bertuzzday: Dale Hunter

Say what you want about the dirty Bertuzzi hit, at least it was in the heat of the moment. Hunter's hit was made all the more sickening by the fact that Pierre Turgeon had absolutely no reason to expect contact. He just scored a fucking goal.

That hit redefined the standards for a late hit and possibly stunted Turgeon's career. You have to wonder if he never felt quite felt safe on a sheet of ice ever again. Seriously, you cannot even safely celebrate a goal?

Can't spell Gaborik without "IR"

This post doesn't exactly make me some Puck Nostradamus. Seriously, pointing out Gabby's injury prone nature is about as out-on-a-limb as predicting that Marisa Tomei will look good topless.

Still, sometimes it's surprising how much this stuff is like clockwork. Martin Havlat breaking his trend would be equally surprising if it weren't for this being his contract year (the timing of Havlat's health > the timing of Minnesota fielding trade offers).

Being that the Wild will probably have to let Gaborik go for nothing, this could be one awkward breakup.

Half court Hockey

This post contemplates an idea proposed in a Bucci column: what if the NHL allowed the offensive zone to stretch to the red line once the attacking team entered the zone? Not everyone was on board with this idea (if I remember correctly, Greg W/Puck Daddy compared it to roller hockey), but it would certainly be interesting to see what the Ovechkins and Kovalchuks of the world would do with all that space.

Come on, it's not THAT bad an idea, is it?

Which team would be the best for Oldmanahan?

It's pretty amazing that this late-October post is still fairly relevant. Who would have thought that Brian Burke would lay rest to the Maple Leafs rumors and flea to Toronto before Shanahan would find a team to play for?

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

With all the hate thrown around for arguably the most talented European player in NHL history, it seemed right to smother the Czech in stat-heavy love. Admiring his jaw dropping goal against the Chicago Blackhawks does not assure the universe that you own a soul, but disavowing it definitely disqualifies you.

Ovechkin to Oven: what European hockey names would look like with the "Ellis Island" treatment

There's a scene in the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man of the Moon" where Kaufman and Bob Zmuda are (Spoiler alert for complete, jarring idiots) swindling audiences by sharing the role of Tony Clifton. They have a good, hearty laugh as Kaufman's manager quizzically states the obvious: what good is a joke if you're the only two people in the world who get it?

That Ellis Island post is the Cycle like Sedins equivalent. Writing it during one night of inspiration with a smile from ear to ear, I showed it to my buddies who ate it up. And yet, if there was an Internet equivalent to a cricket chirping, the 0 comments on that post would be it.

Eh, fuck you guys. That shit's funny.

Great things come in pairs

Solid little article about the dynamic duos of the NHL past and present. Justified partially though not entirely by a Toe Jam and Earl reference. Consider this the Ron Francis of CLS posts.

Picking the brain of a fantasy hockey guru

This guy's been the ace up my sleeve in fantasy hockey for years now (although, honestly, if any one facing me in any of my three leagues read my blog they'd know about him by now). Thanks to a sublime combination of my own hockey knowledge, his Q & A's and idiotic panic moves by other league owners I'm in first place in two of my leagues and second in the league where I suffered an autopick fate for the first four rounds.

Interviewing the guy was enjoyable and he generally shook off my absurd, silly questions.


Not a bad first four months. It helps put the 'ol paralyzing anonymity in perspective. At times it's been discouraging as the concept of the blog fell apart like the Pittsburgh Penguins' powerplay, but no need to dwell on the negative.

Here's to a 2009 that hopefully makes those posts pale in comparison.