Archive for the ‘Jarmoe’ Category

All-Decade Team: Joe Pelletier’s picks

February 19, 2009

(Cycle like the Sedins asked some of the hockey blogosphere’s best and brightest to help choose the All-Decade team. During the next few days, we’ll post each response until it’s time to decide the final roster.

First up: the venerable Joe Pelletier. Pelletier runs the fantastic hockey history blog Greatest Hockey Legends and also is the go-to source for hockey book reviews. Of all the great sources of information in the blogosphere, Pelletier’s blog might teach you the most about our favorite sport.)
Goaltender –

Martin Brodeur. I do believe that a couple of goalies reached higher zeniths during the past 10 years – Roberto Luongo most notably, maybe Jose Theodore and Miikka Kiprusoff too. But Brodeur was great all decade. The others were great for one or two years.

Brodeur does benefit from a generational change that saw the old timers leave him be, and the new comers come along a little to late for true consideration for this decade.

Defense –

#1. Nicklas Lidstrom. D’uh.

#2. Scott Niedermayer. Chris Pronger may have won a Hart, but Niedermayer won a Conn Smythe, evening out that debate. He also was a key player for Canada at the Olympics, whereas Pronger was quiet in 2002 and horrible in 2006.

Center –

Joe Sakic. I have to go with Sakic. Joe Thornton may be the highest scoring center by far, but he has failed in the playoffs and at the Olympics. Sakic thrived in both situations time and again.

Wings –

#1. Jarome Iginla – The ultimate power forward of the decade, his offensive numbers are right up there. He was a key member of the 2002 Olympic gold medal team, and remains a key member years later. And he willed Calgary to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Hockey’s ultimate warrior also is known as hockey’s ultimate nice guy.

#2 – Jaromir Jagr – His offensive numbers are undeniable.

Fighter –

Derek Boogaard – I’m scared of him when I’m on my couch watching him on tv.

Coach –

Mike Babcock – His success rate sets him apart. And he encourages a beautiful form of hockey.

Loudmouth –

Don Cherry – Gotta go with Grapes on that one. Loudmouth of the past three decades.

(Good stuff, Joe! Stop by any time you’d like. We’ll keep the seat warm for you.)

Hockey Orphan: Kent from Five Hole Fanatics on the Calgary Flames

February 4, 2009
Once the Flames traded hockey’s Napoleon, things got really ugly

The Calgary Flames organization suffered through a decade of futility- the 1990’s. The club’s metamorphosis from favorite to bottom-feeder began immediately after they won their first (and only) Cup in ’89. The larval stage was one of regular season success, followed by crushing play-off choke jobs. Los Angeles, Vancouver and San Jose -all massive underdogs – all defeated Calgary in the first round during this span. Frequently via sob-inducing, gut-punch OT goals.

For Flames fans at the time, it didn’t seem like things could get anyworse. Being repeatedly knocked off the dance floor by teams they dominated in the RS seemed painful enough. Then we entered the pupae stage…

In 1995, the Flames began to bleed talent. Joe Nieuwendyk and Robert Reichel were gone that summer. The lone remaining star on the team – Theoren Fleury – would go on to lead the club in scoring by a full 30 points in 95/96, ahead of journeyman German Titov. Soon-to-be-obvious-bust Trevor Kidd was the Flames #1 goalie. The lone bright spot that season – beside Theo – would be rookie Jarome Iginla making his debut and scoring two goals during the Flames first round loss versus the Backhawks.

You know things are bad when Titov is your second highest scorer.
In 96/97, the Flames managed just 73 points and missed the play-offs entirely. A year later, they did the same – except with 67 points. Fleury would be moved to Colorado at the trade deadline in 98/99 (when it was clear the team was going to miss the post-season again) and the transformation was complete – the Calgary Flames officially sucked. An area of dominance was dead. The terrible Young Guns era was born in its stead. The Canadian dollar was on par with the peso, the Rangers were offering checking centers $9M/season and Calgary’s scouting staff was choosing the likes of Rico Fata inside the top 10 at the draft. Hnat Dominicelli, Andrew Cassels, Valeri Bure, Clarke Wilm, Jason Weimer, Rene Corbet and Marty McInnis all took their woeful tours of duty during this stage – many of them at the same time. Hopes were pinned on shoulders ill-fitted to the burden: Rob Niedermayer, for example, was acquired with expectations of becoming a scorer.

Occasionally, diamonds in the rough would surface in the organization, only to be discarded needlessly.A handful of different GMs and coaches would make brief, grim deathmarches through the org, none of them capable of changing the club’s role as cannon-fodder before the league’s stronger clubs. Attendance started to waiver with the city’s hopes of ever being competitive again. Fans stopped expecting wins or even goals due to their infrequency. Instead, bronx cheers followed every mediocre save and every clearing of the puck from the defensive zone. During perhaps the height of frustration in 2002, fans were heard blaming the newest scapegoat Roman Turek for almost anything that went wrong on the ice…even if he wasn’t in any way involved with the play.

Ouch and …
… ouch.
This is why now is a good time to jump aboard the Flames bandwagon. I considered listing the various virtues of the club currently – the competent management, the stable of stars, the improving prospect development, the solid, well-heeled ownership, the team’s position in the standings this season. But, in the end, I figured a contrast between now and the dark years would best serve to illustrate the point that it’s Calgary’s ascendancy back to contender status that is the most compelling reason to cheer for the club these days. The hardwork has already been put in. The fan-base earned this sweet respite after years and years of grueling hardships and seemingly unending failure. The organization and faithful are alive and exuberant again after teetering on the brink of utter despair. The dawn has arrived. We are as parched men who have wandered through the desert and stumbled across an oasis; we are like the starving at a feast; we’re paupers who’ve won the lottery.

Come and join the celebration.

(Thanks, Kent! Make sure to check out Five Hole Fanatics and to follow his other endeavors. He’s obviously worth reading.)

All-Decade Team: Wings

January 19, 2009

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