Archive for October, 2008

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

October 30, 2008

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:

1992-1993

94 points in 81 games.

1993-94

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)

1995-96

Mario Lemieux (161 points in 70 GP!)

2. Jagr (149 in 82 GP)

3. Joe Sakic (120 in 82 GP)

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

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

1996-97

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

1997-98

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

2. Peter Forsberg (91 in 72)

3. Pavel Bure (90 in 82)

1998-99

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

Blew away second place Paul Kariya by 20 points!

1999-2000

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.

2000-01

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).

2001-02

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…


2006-07

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

2007-08

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 hockeydb.com and the run by mortals Wikipedia.

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Which team would be best for Oldmanahan?

October 30, 2008

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

October 29, 2008


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?

Yet another Ruutu hater

October 28, 2008

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

October 28, 2008

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 Fights.com.

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:

What is the most shameful incident for the NHL?
( surveys)

Seen Stamkos? Kinda … the news cycle!

October 27, 2008
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 jamestobrien@hotmail.com and let me know if you have any hockey blogging experience.

Later suckas.

A suggestion for the ad wizards at EA

October 24, 2008

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.

Heh.

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 94.com 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.

NOW HERE’S THE FUN PART.

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.

Can’t spell Gaborik without IR

October 22, 2008


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 hockeydb.com.

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.

Bertuzzday: Dale Hunter’s disgrace

October 21, 2008

“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 …

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

October 20, 2008


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.

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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.