Archive for the ‘Hockey orphan’ Category

Hockey Orphan: IAMJoe on the Detroit Red Wings

April 14, 2009

So you’re sitting on your couch. You’re probably in your underwear. It’s sticky, because somewhere along the line last night, you spilled your beer. On the table in front of you, beer cans surround a bag from Taco Bell. It was a harsh night, coming to grips with the fact that your team won’t be making the playoffs this year. You love the NHL playoffs, but its just not the same without having a team to root for. You stumble to the computer, and find yourself at Cycle Like The Sedins, where your NHL playoffs are about to change. You’re about to join the ranks of Red Wings fans across the world.

So why would you root for the Wings? Well, let’s count the reasons:

A History Unmatched By Any Other American Franchise

The Detroit Red Wings have been around since 1926 as a franchise, and in their current incarnation since 1933. In that time, they have 11 Stanley Cups. The Jack Adams trophy (coach of the year) is named after Jack Adams, former Red Wings coach and general manager, and the Norris trophy (defenseman of the year) is named after James Norris, long-time owner of the Red Wings. 39 people are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, having played or staffed with the Red Wings, 35 of which served multiple years with the organization. Of course, that’s not counting at least 4 more sure-fire HoF’ers in Yzerman, Fedorov, Shanahan, and Lidstrom, or the benefactors of the Adopt-A-Star program, like Hasek, Chelios, Hull, and Robitaille.

With a history like that, the Red Wings set a pretty high standard. They don’t retire someone’s number even though they only spent two seasons there (Nice Bourque banner, Denver!). They don’t retire someone’s number just because they didn’t have any other banners up there. They don’t have to do gimmicks, like retiring a number for the fans. They set the bar really, really high, and then they ask every player that enters the organization to try to meet that standard. Even the other American Original Six franchises (the Rangers, Bruins and Blackhawks), hard as they try, can’t even come close to holding a candle to the history of the Detroit Red Wings. As for the Canadian franchises, well, they’re dirty anyways, and have rarely been relevant for the last couple decades.

Friends Are Everywhere

No NHL team is more popular on the road than the Red Wings. No matter where you go, you’ll find some friends to share a drink and harass opposing fans with. From the thousands of Michigan expatriates (including myself), to the casual fans who get hooked by what amounts to an all-star team, there are Red Wings fans everywhere you go. No matter where you go, you can be sure you’ll find fellow Red Wings fans, and together, you can have a couple drinks, and bust the balls of any fans who get in your way. Clad in red and white, surrounded by an aura of self-righteousness, we’re even easy to identify. That reminds me…

A Sense of Entitlement

Being the most successful franchise in the NHL for bordering on 15 years now, you’d think the Wings wouldn’t have much to complain about. But you have to remember, nobody likes a dynasty, and no matter what, everyone is out to get the Red Wings. They’re an eastern timezone team playing in the Western Conference. They get suspended for not showing up to the All-Star game. They even made a salary cap to try and hamstring the Red Wings and allow the rest of the league to catch up… and they still won another Cup. No matter what obstacles the NHL throws at them, the Big Red Machine just keeps plowing through them. I’d say thats pretty admirable, that no matter how the deck is stacked against them, they keep winning. As a freshly minted Red Wings fan, you get to complain about how the league wants to screw you over, and as fans of other teams call you a crybaby, you can just point out to them that you beat them before, and that you’re still beating them, no matter what they throw in the way. They’re just sore losers anyway.

Classic Cool

A lot of teams out there think its cool to have “alternate” jerseys. But really, only about 4 teams have anything even remotely cool for an alternate jersey (Good on you, St. Louis). Instead of having to go and buy the latest alternate jersey, or the newest redesign, you can rest safe knowing that when you buy a Red Wings jersey today, not only will it be cooler and better looking than nearly any other team’s jersey, but that the team will still be wearing the same jersey 20 years from now. Home Improvement and Ferris Bueller both featured prominent Red Wings jerseys, and you can still watch either one and the jersey itself doesn’t look dated at all. When you’ve had nearly the same exact jersey, with minor changes, for the last 75+ years, you’re kickin’ it old school.

Fighting For Equality

The Red Wings have been fighting to end racism for years now. They were one of the first organizations to aggressively scout overseas in Europe, and that allowed them to draft several Russian and European stars that no one else wanted to take a chance on. They became the first team to play an entire line of Russians. Lidstrom became the European born and trained captain to win a Cup. By embracing these players, even though they looked different, talked funny, and had funny names with lots of extra vowels, the Red Wings helped break down the walls of racism in the NHL. Quite frankly, if you’re a fan of people who talk funny, you’re already a Red Wings fan. If you’re a fan of guys whose names you couldn’t spell to save your life, you’re already a Red Wings fan. If your name is James O’Brienov or Earl Sleekski or even James Miiirtle, you’re already a Red Wings fan.

Welcome to Red Wings fan-dom. Your life just got a whole lot better. Now go take a shower, clean up the beer cans, and put on some pants.

Hockey Orphan: Scotty Hockey on the New York Rangers

April 13, 2009
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(The Rangers are an odd combination of the despicable [Glen Sather, the specter of Mark Messier, Sean Avery] and the lovable [Henrik Lundqvist, Brian Leetch, Sean Avery]. However, in the process of putting these specials together, it has become obvious that everyone should take this approach: hate the team, not the blogger. Scotty Hockey is one of the best New York Rangers bloggers out there – and he’s been doing it since at least 2007. Besides, how can you NOT like a guy that South Park-ified himself? Can’t do it.)

It is a hard task to sway fans to a team that I can’t stand. I am a diehard Ranger fan, but I dislike the majority of the team. Through continual mismanagement, the roster has a terrible top end of mediocre talent that is overpriced, underachieving and tremendously infuriating. That being said, there are some diamonds in the rough that make watching the Blueshirts tolerable.

The biggest gem of them all is Henrik Lundqvist. A fan just coming to the sport of hockey may see the overdressed guy at the end of the ice as a curiosity. The extra pads, the big stick, the painted helmet that completely covers his face – all help set the goaltender apart from the other players. And when you look at goaltenders around the league, King Hank is one of the best of the bunch. Cool under fire, Hank won an Olympic gold medal for Sweden (oooo shiny), regularly makes stunning saves and is one of People’s sexiest athletes.

Also on that superficial tabloid list is Sean Avery. Even most nonhockey fans know who he is. Wildly entertaining, Avery is worth the (exorbitant) price of admission alone. Any given shift he is up to good or no good – hustling to make scoring chances or driving opponents crazy. He is the guy who said the now two most infamous words in hockey history – “sloppy seconds” and the guy who waved his stick around in front of the fat guy, forcing the league (which has been around for over a hundred years) to come up with an entirely new rule. He brings in his share of fine looking fans himself and why not join them? There is worse company to be in than that of the Olsen twins, Elisha Cuthbert (the aforementioned sloppy seconds) and the model of the month.

Beneath the glamour, there are hard working folks for the fans of blue collar workers. Freddie Sjostrom and Blair Betts are tireless in their penalty killing, bravely throwing their bodies in front of shot after shot – and that hard rubber puck hurts when it hits you at 90 mph. Ryan Callahan won this year’s extra effort award for his continual hustle and the kid can score too. Defensemen like the lumberjack-looking Paul Mara, baby-faced Dan Girardi and Marc Staal (of THE Staal family) perpetually battle on the blueline with little publicity.

Ignore the substance-lacking flash of Nik Zherdev, ignore the disgrace to defense that is Wade Redden, ignore the smirk of former Devil Scott Gomez. Look at the wonder that is the World’s Most Famous Arena. Madison Square Garden is a mecca of sport and the atmosphere is something to behold. If you want to experience the speed and energy of hockey first hand in a nice quiet environment, spend your yearly salary to sit close to the ice. If you want to experience the awesomeness that is the passion of the dedicated, then move upstairs and get a true hockey education.

The Blueshirt bandwagon is one that is easy to jump on – the one year in the last 69 that the Rangers won the Stanley Cup coincided with the peak of popularity for the entire sport. While it would be nice to have less fans so we could truly protest the bad moves by the bosses, that isn’t about to happen in the city in the center of the universe so come along for the ride and let’s go Rangers!

Hockey Orphan: the Puck Huffers on the Pittsburgh Penguins

April 12, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Yankee Canuck on the Vancouver Canucks

April 11, 2009
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(Thanks to Yankee Canuck for another great contribution. YC is part of the gang at Nucks Misconduct, a great SB Nation blog that covers Captain Lou and the Vancouver Canucks. Some people might think that CLS is a place to go for ‘Nucks stuff, but follow NM instead. They actually know what they’re talking about.)

So the NFL is out of season, the XFL is defunct, baseball bores you to tears, basketball doesn’t make sense and, for some reason, no one has opened a worthwhile Roman gladiator league in ages. But, hark, you found hockey. Welcome friend.

Now there’s 30 punk ass teams in the league (that’s not fair…28 punk ass teams with Calgary and the NY Rangers being just thoroughly reprehensible) and you need help picking one? Easy enough, come with me while I explain the delight of being part of the Canucks Nation (free booze!).

Alex Burrows – Oh you haven’t heard? An undrafted ball hockey player used his love of the game and NHL-approved moxie to not just make the starting roster for Vancouver but help spark the team’s top line (those Sedin guys…I understand they cycle most excellently) in the process of helping his team post a 20-5-1 run over two months of wonderful winter hockey. Not enough? He takes a hometown discount and makes $2 million a year for the next four years. Still not enough? When he’s not scoring, he’s pissing off the entire opposition and, unlike former Canuck Matt Cooke, will drop the gloves and even hair pull during line brawls. Simply said, Burrows is the type of player every fan wants on his or her team.

Ryan Kesler – If a man crush on Burrows isn’t enough, let’s try KesLORD. A first round pick that Bob Clarke (*spits*) tried to make a Flyer a few years back via the RFA route, Kes hit his stride at the exact same time as Burrows did this season. Just like Burrows, he is the spark on his line (playing alongside some clown named Sundin) and drops the gloves when things get chippy. He sacrifices his body every game and has been the recipient of a Jesse Boulerice stick to the skull and a Chris Pronger blade to the leg as proof of his art. If Burrows won’t get to you, Kesler is right behind him. They’re twins of an entirely different cut.

Roberto Luongo – Best. Goalie. In. The. Conference. And he missed 25 games this year and is still third in shutouts. And I won’t even mention the Floridian rape of 2007 that brought him to the team because poor Florida has been through enough.

Genetic Superiority – Twins who always know where the other one is at all times on the ice, often without even looking? This is clearly the future of mankind. The X-Men couldn’t stop the Sedins. And the scariest part? They know I am writing this right now and deciding whether to choke me like Darth Vader if I get out of hand. So…yeah…they’re wonderful humans.

A Little Swedish DelightD. Sedin, H. Sedin, M. Sundin, A. Edler, M. Ohlund. If one scores, you can say “Bork, bork, bork! outloud and the hot chicks in the stands behind you won’t question it for a second. In fact, that may be your in. You’re welcome.

You talkin’ to me? – For some reason you’d think a team from a pot-happy city would be a bit more mellow. Nope. Throughout recent history – from Bertuzzi to Rypien, Brashear to Hordichuk (who admits he “blacks out” when he fights) and all the Shane O’Brien meltdowns you can handle – the Canucks will chuck rocks with zero provocation. But afterwards they’ll all friends again (I assume). This year they’re currently tied for fourth in fights and the third highest penalized team overall.

Backasswards – Firing the GM but keeping his coach? Making the new GM a former player agent with zero NHL management experience? Making the goalie captain? Saluting the fans by retiring the #7? Have your mascot make out with celebrities on camera? Sleep deprivation studies and biorhythm bracelets? Scott Mellanby?! See you could go watch VH1 for some trashy reality show, but the Canucks give it to you on ice and in the back office. Take that Bret f’ing Michaels.

Now all of these wonderful accolades (and don’t forget the free booze) don’t come without some causes for concern. They’re basically 0-39 in terms of Stanley Cup relevancy. They’ve made the final dance only twice and neither went well. In fact post season success has been somewhat elusive altogether. So temper your parade route dreams accordingly.

Also you should probably be aware that the team is often cited forbeing cursed: they’ve sported an unusually long line of piss poor goaltenders and, so yeah, a few years ago one of their wingers almost killed a guy during a game. In fact their ex-captain said they choked a few years ago and that was to the entire audience of a home game prior to the fan friendly “give them the shirts off you back” event.

Their scouts have drafted a depressing amount of busts; their 2000 first round pick Nathan Smith played four games for the team over the course of five seasons but did make a name for himself by streaking the Dunder Mifflin branch in Scranton last year. So when they suck, they set the bar pretty far down there.

In addition, Vancouver changes their uniform every third game and are the proud owners, with little dispute, of some of the ugliest sports designs that the human eye has ever had the misfortune of interpreting. Lastly, being from Vancouver as they are, it really helps if you’re in the PST. Otherwise, like me, you spend far too many nights awake until past 1:00 AM watching you team cough up a loss on their home ice, then you can’t sleep and end up inadvertently cursing in a business meeting the next morning at 8:00 AM (and don’t try blaming hockey because they’ll just never understand. Just walk across the room, pick up the coffee you flung at the guy’s head and apologize nicely).

Hockey Orphan: Flyers Goal Scored By on the Philadelphia Flyers

April 10, 2009
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(Thanks to the gang at Flyers Goal Scored by for providing this Flyers post. While I consider myself a Penguins fan, there are some solid human beings blogging about Philly, and FGSB is one of the best. Make sure to follow their Broadstreet Bloggering. Also, be nice.)

Reasons to Love the Flyers

1. We’re going to punch someone in the face – you can be cheering when it happens or you can join the 96% of fans who think we’re a bunch of goons. In the interest of full disclosure you should know that everyone has thought of us as goons since we were labeled the Broad Street Bullies almost 40 years ago. Last year this moniker saw a resurgence when we had 5 guys suspended in the first couple months of the season. We couldn’t pick up any suspensions this year so we had to think outside the bun and sign, without a doubt, the craziest player in the league at the training deadline. Even though we were already ranked second in fights.

2. We are by far the most storied franchise since the Great Expansion – chances are you don’t have NHL Center Ice but you should get it before the playoffs. If you like working your abs or are in need of a cell phone clip get it for the commercials alone. When you do add it to your cable package keep an eye out for The History of the Philadelphia Flyers. You’ll love it. It’s kind of like The Replacements staring Keanu Reeves (aka Neo aka Heaver). Except it stars a toothless diabetic, an old man who apparently spends a lot of time in the locker room, and Brian Propp’s Bosley hair.

3. The fans – If you want you some crazy passionate hockey fans that fill the seats and shake the arena this is the team for you. We come out when they’re good, we come out when they’re bad. Philadelphia loves its sports almost as much as Charles Barkley loves a good BJ, and I love a two month old sports/pop culture metaphor.

Reasons to Hate the Flyers
1. We’re going to punch someone in the face – If you’ve already been swayed by another team’s proposal chances are that you’re not going to like us. If you’ve chosen another team then you should know we’re going to beat up someone on your team. Or if they beat one of us up we’re going to hit you from behind and slash you. It may not always be within the rules, and in fact usually won’t, but we’ll get ya.

2. We are by far the most storied franchise since the Great Expansion – Sure you could root for some team that has a cool color like teal or midnight fart that wasn’t in a box of Crayolas in 1967. Maybe you could go out to the “store” and buy a “cell phone” and “e-mail” it to someone from the future while you’re at it. I’m guessing you’re in a market where no one cares about hockey and the closest team to you is ten years old. If you’ve chosen to root for this team we’re all laughing at you because your team’s going to be playing out of Las Vegas in 3 years.

3. The fans – Philly fans are dangerous. You’ve surely heard about Eagles fans before, and Flyers fans are no different. They’ll get you in your seat, they’ll get you in the mens room, they’ll get you in the promenade, from the front, from behind…it doesn’t matter. Whenever I’m watching a game and they cut to a shot of a little kid in the opposition’s jersey my only thought is “I wonder what that kid did to have his parents bring him to a game in that.” Not being on our side is a dangerous business. That’s not a threat, that’s a threat.

Hockey Orphan: John Fischer from In Lou We Trust on the New Jersey Devils

April 9, 2009
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(Thanks to John from In Lou We Trust for the New Jersey Devils entry. Make sure to follow Lou, Marty and Co. as they try to break more records and hearts. Another fantastic SB Nation blog.)

Life is about choices. More likely than not, you choose what to think, what to eat, what to drink, what to do for work, what to believe in, and what to imagine among other things. Relevant to this feature, you choose who you support within a sport. Before going any further, let me thank you for choosing to support hockey. It truly is the greatest sport on Earth, combining physicality, athleticism, finesse, speed, and emotion like no other sport. The National Hockey League features the best players in the entire world at hockey, giving their all on the ice more often than not – particularly in the postseason. These are the fundamental choices one must make before supporting a team and I laud you for making those choices. Even when either one becomes aggravating at times.
Back to teams, I can think of no other team to support than the New Jersey Devils. Sure, I am a big Devils fan, to the point where I spend my free time typing far too many words about the team I love. I am not an unbiased observer. And why should I be? Pretty much all hockey fans were at the same place you were at one time or another, about to make this choice. Why shouldn’t I offer my own spiel to sway your decision? After all, I truly believe that the Devils are the right choice.

The best way I can sum up the Devils’ overall is that organization is a model of consistent success. This is not a team that will throw out its leadership or its philosophy for the latest flavor of the month. The current general manager is also the team’s president and CEO, Lou Lamoriello. Lou isn’t perfect, but he’s been nothing short of remarkable for what he turned the Devils into today. He set the values for the team that are still followed today: professionalism, strong character, and a commitment to team work and defensive play. Players with extra baggage, arrogant “superstars,” players who whine consistently, and general “locker room cancers” are quickly shown the door in New Jersey. This is a team that respects each other as well as the organization as a whole. This is a team that one cannot really complain about its personnel outside of their performance. This is a team where the top players, who could get “more productive” roles on other teams or more money, choose to stay with New Jersey for less money because they know they have a better chance at success. If any of this interests you, then New Jersey should be your choice.
The Devils also do not care to please opponents. Whereas the other teams in the league favor certain styles of play, the Devils are committed to what is best for them. The Devils brought back the neutral zone trap in the mid-1990s and performed like a machine with it their first Stanley Cup in 1995 and multiple division titles soon after. Critics and fans of opposing teams reviled the Devils for being boring or being too defensive or killing hockey or whatever. Did New Jersey ever listen to them? No. They just kept winning games. And when the team had the offensive talent, they opened things up. The critics, stuck in the past as critics often are, still had the same complaints. New Jersey just went onto win their second Stanley Cup in 2000 and came one game short in 2001 for a repeat. The Devils returned to their defensive ways, but playing a more tight checking game than a direct neutral zone trap, and clawed their way to a third Stanley Cup in 2003. Even after the lockout, with all sorts of rule changes and other incentives to increase scoring, the Devils remain as one of the league’s top teams. The team now plays more of a puck-possession style of hockey, preferring to win it along the boards and let the play come to them defensively. Did it matter what the rest of the league was doing? No. The Devils continue to do what is best for them and since their breakout year of 1993-94, they have made the playoffs every year with the exception of one season, won 7 division titles, 4 Stanley Cup final appearances, and 3 Stanley Cups. The results are proof that the Devils’ method works; and needless to say, we’re quite pleased with it. If such a commitment to excellence despite the means interests you, then New Jersey should be your choice.
As it stands, the Devils also have players of note that demand your attention. One of the failings of the franchise is a lack of marketing and trumpeting of the team’s success and their players. Nevertheless, and this is written in a book, if you seek, then you shall find. The Devils currently boast one of the game’s greatest goaltenders in net: Martin Brodeur. He is now the all-time leader in wins in NHL history, he is closing in on the most shutouts in NHL history, and he has achieved every major award a goaltender could win outside of being named the league’s Most Valuable Player. He’s 36 and he’s still making unbelievable saves on any given night. Brodeur will continue to do so until the end of his career. The Devils also feature Patrik Elias, who recently became the franchise scoring leader. He has excellent one-on-one skills, brilliant vision, and a solid work ethic. All this and he’s excellent at coming back to help the defense. Elias has seen and done it all for the Devils throughout his career. As far as legends to come, this season saw the breakout of Zach Parise. The Devils traded up for this talent in 2003 and he’s currently paying massive dividends. He’ll go to the net for loose pucks, he’ll take big hits fighting for the puck in corners, he’ll constantly hustle for pucks all game long, he’ll take shot after shot after shot on net, and, like Elias, he’ll make the seemingly impossible possible. He’s one of the league’s leading scorers and the best is yet to come from Parise. Devils legends like Brodeur and Elias, and future ones like Parise will give you something to marvel at on any given night. Combine that with the fact that the team as whole will work hard to make something happen, going back to the team’s values, and it’s no wonder why the Devils get the results they have. If any of this interests you at all, then New Jersey should be your choice.
I understand this is a lot to take in, but consider the bigger picture. This isn’t just a good team; or a passing fad. The New Jersey Devils are an excellent organization overall and the results show that. This is a team that hasn’t had to re-build since the late 1980s-early 1990s, they only look to continuously improve themselves. This is a team that looks to compete for the Stanley Cup every season instead of settling for a high draft pick. This is a team that has their style of play; the players (for the most part) utilize it effectively; and has many fans of other teams scratch their heads and go, “How come the Devils are so good? Why can’t my team play like that?”

From my perspective, the choice is either to support a team that will look to do something every season or to support a team that will not even come close to meeting the same level of success. I really don’t see how choosing New Jersey wouldn’t be an excellent at all. I’m sure you will make the right choice.

Hockey Orphan: Whale4Ever from Litter Box Cats on the Florida Panthers

April 8, 2009
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(There aren’t a ton of Florida Panthers blogs out there, but that doesn’t take away from Litter Box Cats at all. Part of Mirtle’s League of Bloggerly Gentlemen at SB Nation, Whale4Ever provides great coverage of those plucky rats. Make sure to follow his stuff. Thanks W4E!)

The setup: Imagine that scene from The Jerk where the disgruntled Dickey Dunn lookalike with anger issues and a hunting rifle chooses a random target for his rage from the local white pages, only modernized: “Panthers, Florida.” he grumbles, removing his finger from the NHL’s media guide.

“Sounds like a typical Bettman sunbelt trainwreck.”

Ah, the Panthers. Sunrise, eh? Sounds tropical, which must be pretty sweet come November, but can’t be much of a hockey town way down there: beaches, cold drinks, spring break, the Dolphins.. Yeah…it’s a football area. Even the big league baseball team can’t attract over a thousand some nights. I’m gonna pull up roots and hand my allegiance to a club teetering on invisibility?

Well, wait…I’ll give it a looksie.

Hmmm. “Winningest first-year club” in 1993-94. That’s promising. Says here they made the Stanley Cup finals in their third season. Swept out by Quebec, er Colorado, but still. And this “rat” thing appeared to be popular with the locals. What a blueprint for success they laid. Must have been smooth sailing after that.
Oooh. That’s fascinating: other than a habitual 50-goal scorer who came and went (is that pronounced Beeyoor? I’m no good with Irish names) lots of fluff between 1996 and 2006, when some big-time goaltender got shipped out. Guy named “Keenan” – appears he couldn’t make up his mind whether he liked Sunrise or not – seems to have taken some slack for that one. I’m sure he landed on his feet. Sure had a crush on that scowling Bertolli dude.

Let’s see…Jacques Martin, head coach. Became GM. And coach. Don’t see that too often. Power trip? Perhaps. Does he have a plan? Maybe. Before this season, doesn’t look as if he had too much success. That would explain his forced-resignation from the coaching end a year ago.

So of course he hired a proven NHL bench boss to replace him, right? Ummm, what’s a Kitchener? Signed Peter Deboer on his 40th birthday. Dicey? Certainly, but bold. Looks as if the “kid movement” is on around a number of league benches. Maybe that Martin is on to something.

Yowza…traded the best offensive player, who’d been there a loooong time, for two defensemen? Not shaping up too well. This team had massive trouble scoring goals before losing that Joking guy. Cory Stillman to the rescue? Yeah…he’s on the upside of his career.

Nosedive right out of the gate to open the year? Check. The annual rush to the IR? Check. Western road trip soon after, featuring loss after loss to bury the team even further in the standings? Wait a second…no collapse? Campell, Peltonen, and Dvorak leading the charge? Stephen Weiss with multiple game-winners? ON THE ROAD? Jeez…even local sports radio is beginning to pay some attention.

Does this indicate “heart”? That’s a new one. Perhaps there’s something to it…

Club goes on a tear through January and February. Cool. Good stuff there. Richard Zednik – he’s the guy with the gruesome injury that I saw on ESPN (in fact it’s the ONLY hockey I saw on ESPN last year) – what a trooper. Came right back and ready for Day One of training camp. Lot to be said for that.

March. Hmmm. Bit of a tough time. Beating the likes of the Flyers, but bending over for also-rans. What’s the story there? DeBoer lost his grip on the team? Oh, that’s it.. GM decides to hold on to the prized UFA for the stretch run. Why in tarnation didn’t that turn out? Not looking good. No sweet deals at the team store, so they’re obviously planning on a long playoff run. With all of these losses? Who’s steering this ship? This here internet site says has-beens Carolina and Pittsburgh pulled a 180 and now threaten the number four spot in the conference. Why not Florida? On that note, there sure have been a lot more people at the BankAtlantic Center over the past eight weeks.

Sweet. April is here. Gonna put all that losing behind us. DeBoer promised, after all. Maybe… Starting goaltender Tomas Vo-something isn’t getting the job done; going with backup Craig Anderson. Until he loses.

And lose he did, but not until the fourth game of his regime, and he can’t score goals. Back to that Vokoun guy, against the Penguins. Good team, that Crosby-led bunch. What a turnaround. Finally at a game in person. Is it typical to have a forward upended? Or have the same player’s center retaliate on what most are calling a clean hit? Got a lot to learn, obviously. But the home team won. Why am I being hounded by friends about Florida’s playoff chances? Where were you mopes last year?

Three games remain for both the Panthers of Sunrise and the Rangers of, well, New York. Got to admire this Florida club’s spirit. Who anywhere thought they would be The Ones to drag a playoff race down to the final days of the schedule?

Win or lose, playoffs or not, there’s room for quite an encore come October.

Hockey Orphan: The Forechecker on the Nashville Predators

April 8, 2009
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(Special thanks to The Forechecker for his contribution to Hockey Orphan. One of Battle of California’s SBN-mates, On the Forecheck is your go-to source for the Nashville Predators as well as being one of the most respected number crunchers in the hockey blogosphere. Make sure to check out that great blog.)

Things to love about the Nashville Predators

Underdog mentality: At times, it seems like most of the hockey world is arrayed against the Preds. Either some critics claim they can’t succeed on the ice, or others want to see the whole operation folded up and packed off to Hamilton, Ontario. But to paraphrase ESPN’s Chris Berman talking about the Buffalo Bills, “Nobody circles the wagons like the Nashville Predators.”

Young stars: There is a young core of talent this is just entering their prime years, between Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne in particular. With more prospects on the way, the cupboard is finally getting restocked after the Great Salary Purge of 2007.

Downtown Nashville: Music City certainly has things right in terms of putting an arena downtown, in the middle of a vibrant area that welcomes tourists and hockey fans alike. No sooner are you out of the arena after a game than you’re confronted by countless opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry.

Ice Girls: The music business isn’t shy about using eye candy to its best effect, and neither are the Preds.
Rock ’em Sock ’em action: Jordin Tootoo dishes out thundering hits and backs himself up well when challenged, and there’s also renowned heavyweight Wade Belak, who earlier this season crumpled Washington’s Donald Brashear on home ice. Even a star like Weber isn’t shy about chucking knuckles when the time is right.

The Crowd: The energy and feel of Predators games is more akin to college hockey than typical NHL action. Even the folks in the lower bowl know when to get loud and raz the opposing goalie. It’s all led, of course, by the crazies up in Section 303.

Stability: Unlike most expansion clubs, Nashville has had a clear vision of what kind of hockey they play and boast a stable front office to back that up. Both the GM and coach have been with the team throughout its entire 11-year history.

Things to hate about the Preds

Lack of playoff success: While four-straight playoff appearances sounds nice, four consecutive first-round eliminations surely don’t.

Budget Consciousness: The last time this team made a “go for it” personnel move, the team flopped in the first round and fiscal responsibility has ruled ever since. Peter Forsberg ain’t walking through that door again, folks.
The Immeasurable Patience of David Poile: Closely tied to the point above, GM David Poile prefers to develop talent internally than acquire it through trade or free agency. For hockey fans who love to engage in pretend wheeling & dealing, the Preds are a major party pooper.

Big Brother in Motown: The Central Division has long been “Detroit & everybody else”, and considering the budget differences between the Red Wings and Predators, and it’s doubtful that Nashville will win a division title anytime soon.

Hockey Orphan: HabsFan29 from Four Habs Fans on the Montreal Canadiens

April 7, 2009
Click on the logo above for all the Hockey Orphan entries

(Thanks to Four Habs Fans for their one of a kind Hockey Orphan entry. If you follow them, this will come as no surprise. If you’re not familiar, make sure you acquaint yourself with their unique take on the Montreal Canadiens. NOW.)

So you need a new hockey team, eh? You want to go where the CHampions are? You want to join up with the greatest and most successful franCHise in professional sports? You want to roll with us, bitCHes? Well I’ve got two words for you:

Fuck off.

We don’t need any more fans. The only reason we will permit you to be a Habs Fan is you come from one of the following places:

1. The Province of Quebec
2. Turku, Finland
3. Belarus

The rest of you can go root for Atlanta. I can’t get a ticket at the Bell Centre because there are already too many Fucking Habs fans. You think we want more? Fuck and no.

Have a nice day.

Hockey Orphan: Bethany of Bethany’s Hockey Rants on the Columbus Blue Jackets

April 5, 2009
Click on the logo for all the Hockey Orphan entries.

(Big thanks to Bethany from Bethany’s Hockey Rants at Kuklas Korner. Her blog is easily one of the go-to sources for Blue Jackets news and rumors, while KK is one of the best blog networks in all of the hockey blogosphere. Thanks, Beth!)

So you need a team eh? Well, there really is only one choice for you, but you have to jump on the wagon fast.

Reasons to love the CBJ.

Ken Hitchcock. The man is one of the best coaches in the league. He has given the Columbus Blue Jackets an identity along with the help of Scott Howson. They are picking up the pieces that Doug MacLean ruined, and building a winner.

Rick Nash. He’s one of the best players in the National Hockey League. After former captain Adam Foote forced his way out of Columbus, Nash took over and has grown into his role as Captain. He’s still young and growing with the team.

Steve Mason. One of very few things that Doug MacLean did right. He’s carried this team on his back most of the season, and the best news is, he’s only 20.

The youth. This team is packed with young talent. Derick Brassard, Jake Voracek, Nikita Filatov, and Steve Mason. The future is bright in Columbus, and it can only get better.

Ryan Salmons. The Blue Jackets signed a terminally ill cancer patient to a contract, it’s stories like this that make the world go around.

Tickets aren’t that much! One of the best things about the CBJ is they have a cheap tickets available. I am a big fan of their student tickets.

Mike Commodore, after seeing him in his skivvies, how could you not love the CBJ? The guy has a personality, and he lets it show.

They’re making history, cheering a team that hasn’t been around for a long time means you get to watch them make history. It’s amazing to watch.

Reasons that being a fan may be the death of you.

The goalie-go-round. The Jackets never seem to have that number one guy, you think you have him in and then he turns out to be a bit of a band-aid and you have to trade him off. (I’m not bitter about Pascal Leclaire at all) Hopefully Steve Mason has stopped that.

You really never know what you’re going to get. This team can play amazing hockey, but then, they let you down, and forget to show up to a game or two.

Our power play sucks. The Jackets have players who can score, but it seems like when they have the man advantage it’s a no win situation.

We’ve never made the playoffs. Doug MacLean ruined this organization and it’s going to take a while for Scott Howson to fix what he broke. Although the Jackets have made significant strides this season, they still have a lot of room to grow, and tons of steps to get to where the organization wants to be … seeing Rick Nash raise the Stanley Cup. 🙂