Archive for the ‘Hockey Rants’ category

Can We Start Talking About Hockey Again?

September 28th, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a rant.

In the latest of what seems like the most trivial NHL pre-season ever, news surfaced Monday night that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called New York Rangers pest Sean Avery a derogatory name following an on ice scuffle. Yes folks, one young man called a slightly older young man a bad word. I’m still gathering myself.

In case you didn’t click the link above, Simmonds allegedly called Avery a “Faggot.”

I’m not one to make assumptions, but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time something like this has ever happened.

» Read more: Can We Start Talking About Hockey Again?

Crosby’s Concussion Luxury Makes You Wonder

August 24th, 2011

Sidney Crosby’s health has been in the news a lot recently. More than he’d like it to be, I’m sure. Some news outlets have him missing the start of the 2011-2012 season (due to his ongoing concussion troubles), while others expect to see him play in the Pittsburgh Penguin’s season opener come early October.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh PenguinsThe truth is, who the hell knows? I doubt even Crosby himself truly does.

Full disclosure: I’ve never had a concussion. I don’t think.

While it’s refreshing to hear everyone associated with the Nonchalant Headshot League putting Crosby’s health ahead of the needs of the Penguins or the league, it’s kind of a given. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but if we’re being honest, the league can’t afford to screw this up. Not this one. This is the highest profile concussion the league has ever had. (In a morbidly ironic way, this injury was sustained in the highest profile regular season game last year too. Talk about bad timing.) The NHL needs to treat this one properly, but to their credit, the Penguins have done just that, and the league has followed suit.

That’s the thing. We’re talking about Sidney Crosby, the world’s best hockey player. Not some “replaceable” third line grinder. (I say replaceable respectfully, of course. But there will always be other capable players waiting for their chance to prove themselves.)

From a public perception standpoint, the league can’t tread carefully enough. Crosby is the league’s top ambassador and biggest asset. As much as he means to the Penguins, he means more to the game itself. If he needs to take a year to recover, so be it. Give him the full year. Even then there’s no guarantees he’ll be any better than he was last week. Crappy. But at least Crosby’s fortunate enough to have that luxury.

» Read more: Crosby’s Concussion Luxury Makes You Wonder

Please Shut Up, Bob

May 14th, 2011

Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson bitched and moaned on Friday after Canada was eliminated by Russia at the 2011 World Hockey Championships earlier this week. Nicholson’s comments – saying the results are “totally unacceptable” – are fueled by the fact that Canada hasn’t won a single medal in the last two tournaments.

Bob Nicholson, President of Hockey Canada

Nicholson also took a shot at several young Canadian players who declined playing in the tournament for reasons that were a “little lame.” Thanks, Bob. That was very insightful. Here’s another gem of a quote from Nicholson:

“This team was good enough to win, but with one or two more players (it could have been different). You know what, Hockey Canada and Canada have been pretty good to those players through the under-18, the juniors and an Olympics Games. I thought they would have thought about that before refusing to come this year.”

Is this guy freaking kidding me? That has to be the most ridiculous and obnoxious thing I’ve read in weeks. In my opinion, that’s worse than anything Jeremy Roenick said over the last few days. Let’s break down several reasons why Nicholson’s comments are so absurd:

» Read more: Please Shut Up, Bob

Oh, Eugene…

January 23rd, 2011

I’ve never seen or heard an owner of an NHL team talk as much about doing something as Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. And despite this, nothing ever seems to happen.

The amount of crap this guy spews out is truly amazing. I understand the differences between being a fan and an owner — even though Melnyk might not — and I understand Melnyk needs to remain positive to cool a tepid fan base. But here’s the thing: no one is holding a gun forcing Melnyk to mention the “S-word.” (the Stanley Cup).

The following is a direct quote from Melnyk in a recent interview with the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch from Sunday:

“We’re going to do what it takes to bring the Stanley Cup to Ottawa, whether it takes one, three or five years. It will happen. You have my commitment.”
- Eugene Melnyk, Ottawa Senators owner and All-Star quote machine

I can’t even make this stuff up. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not an NHL owner. This is a fan with nice suits and good perks. I can’t think of another NHL owner who talks this much about doing something without any follow up actions. Eugene, your team is currently 27th in the league. Even the Leafs, the ‘bud’ of every draft joke, sit higher than the Senators. Now probably isn’t a good time to make Stanley Cup commitments.

Imagine next year’s 24/7 HBO special featured the Senators. The entire series could be dedicated to Melnyk’s “future plans.”

In this glorious interview, Melnyk goes on to say “At this time, it makes no sense to make managerial or coaching changes. We’ll let the season play itself out and look forward to building for the future.” Ummm… what?

I would argue this is a critical time for the Senators organization. This is the time for a the club to define what kind of rebuild they are going for – a massive one or a small one. I don’t think I’m alone when I say a massive overhaul is required. Even Melnyk should agree the issue with the Senators isn’t coaching. It’s the players. Four different coaches over the last four or five years should tell anyone that. I like what SensChirp said the other day: this is as close to tanking as a pro sports team can get.

Yes, this is a bit of a rant. I’ve never liked Melnyk’s bold statements. In fact I’m still “buckled up.” I’m all for owner’s believing in their teams, but Melnyk has clearly taken things to a new level. It’s one thing when your team is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, or at least a playoff bound team. It’s quite another when you are sitting at the bottom of the league. You don’t see the Islanders or Devils talking about Lord Stanley. Melnyk needs to quit the Daniel Alfredsson School of Guarantees as quickly as possible. It’s getting embarrassing for fans.

Ahhh, it’s official. It’s rock bottom for the Senators. Maybe we all just need to chill out and grab a Huge Euge. Or maybe we, fans, need to see evidence of direction. Or both. Either way…

Stay classy, Eugene Melnyk. Less is more.

Hatin’ on Cory Clouston… really?!

December 5th, 2010

It’s finally happened – The Ottawa Senators are crappy again. Sort of. But they had a great run for well over 10 years, and all the winning has finally caught up to them.

Chris Kelly of the Ottawa Senators.

People act like they are surprised, but they shouldn’t be. This happens to all franchises in any sport. Most organizations don’t win as much or for as long as the Senators did and fans have gotten a little too accustomed to it. There are 29 other NHL teams that want to win too. Some of them are now in their “window” of opportunity.

In Ottawa’s case, we’re starting to see some lean years again. Roster holes a popping up a bit more and games are getting harder and harder to win. With that comes pessimistic attitudes and questions directed towards players, management and of course, coaches.

Enter: Cory Clouston. And people calling for his head. Really? Really. Unfortunately. Here’s a guy that’s done nothing but win since he arrived to the big show. And some still want him fired, despite the roster he’s been given. How about the GM? Some of Bryan Murray’s decisions have been controversial and certainly impacted Clouston’s ability to win. My two cents: Don’t hire a coach who has one style and sign players who play another.

The point of this rant? I wrote an article earlier this afternoon for The Score about Cory Clouston. I feel like he’s the last thing that needs changing in Ottawa. Basically I’m defending his honour with cool swords and mighty words.

Click here to read it.

Feel free to comment if you agree/disagree. It would be awesome to get some healthy Senators-based discussion going on “Houses of The Hockey.” Sometimes it’s all Leaf discussions and that kind of makes me want to throw up.

Please help me avoid throwing up, friends. As always…

Stay classy, Cory Clouston.

Setting Better Expectations + some random thoughts

November 3rd, 2010

Good evening. A quick post today and something better soon!

I put up a blog on The Score earlier about how I find it insulting when a team who will clearly struggle throughout the year claims to be a Stanley Cup contender. I single out the Ottawa Senators for this, as well as the Calgary Flames. Some may not agree with this post and that’s OK, but the fact is players know when they can legitimately compete for a Championship or for the playoffs. In my opinion, there’s a big difference between the two. The article is called “A Request: Please Set Better Expectations.” I hope you enjoy the post. Thanks for reading it.

Some random thoughts about the hockey blogosphere these days…

It’s no secret hockey fans are among the most tech-savvy sports fans around. As a result, you get a wicked online community of hockey fans on message boards and Twitter (shameless plug: you can totally follow me on Twitter here), plus hundreds of great blogs. But lately, I’m noticing a few things about hockey blogs that’s not so awesome.

There’s a lot of noise these days… a lot of good bloggers writing about crappy, not-worth-knowing news. Hell, half of it isn’t even news. I don’t want to be too specific because I like a lot of the stuff these bloggers write. I’ll say this though: less is more; make it count. You don’t need to blog every day “just because.” It sucks that a lot of these great bloggers aren’t writing thoughtful posts either. In fact, good insight is something I’m seeing less and less of these days too. If you guys know some great new blogs with tons of insight, please submit them in the comments section below. My Google Reader could use a few new sites!

Secondly… advanced stats. What the hell. It’s getting insane. I read a blog the other day (which will remain nameless, again – sorry) that flat out confused me. I had no idea what half the stats meant or how they really mattered. I actually had to look up some of the stats to understand the point of the blog. I guess can I see why people like these advanced stats, but personally, I think it’s crap. You know how I know a player is good or not? I actually watch, evaluate and understand hockey. My view on stats is this: there’s no amount of stats that can conclusively say how effective a player can or can’t be. You can’t measure all that intangible stuff that makes some players so great. Just watch the game with a critical eye. If you understand hockey at all, you’ll see whether a player is any good or not.

Thanks for reading my rant. Let’s talk soon, OK?

Stay classy, hockey blogosphere.

Wait… What about a glowing puck?

August 7th, 2010

Now that the teams are starting to gear up for the start of the next NHL season (thank God – I don’t know how many more replays of home runs I can stand watching on SportsCentre… yawn), there are an interesting few days of rule experimentation coming up August 18th and 19th in Toronto.

A few of the more interesting ones:

  • Overtime with 3 minutes of 4 on 4, followed by 3 minutes of 3 on 3, then 3 minutes of 2 on 2, then a shootout.
    - Hey, why stop there? Go all the way with another 3 minutes of 1 on 1 before the shootout. This sounds more like my pickup hockey games in the summer when our turnout numbers dwindle due to vacations.
  • No icing the puck while shorthanded.
    - Uh…what? This will lead to a whole bunch of players trying to figure out how to lob the puck over defencemen’s heads and into the neutral zone.
  • After a face-off violation, opposition center may choose his face-off opponent.
    - This almost feels like bullying, or picking on the smallest kid in school.

It seems strange that the NHL tinkers with its rules every year. I just don’t get it. Is the game really that bad? Do we really need rule changes? It amazes me why the NHL does this to OUR game. Other professional sports don’t goof around this much with their rules. Can you imagine the uproar if Major League Baseball changed rules as often?

Stay classy, hockey fans.

Cannot support Stan

June 11th, 2010

Think back to a time in your life when someone or something offended you. Perhaps a time involving family or a particular incident. Or that time when Darryl Sutter said he knew what he was doing. Or maybe someone insinuating Stan Bowman was the primary architect of the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup win a few days ago.

Moments after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup (which was moments after we all figured Kane’s goal was actually a goal), a certain Canadian Broadcast Company (shall remain nameless) introduced Stan Bowman as the man who built the Chicago Blackhawks and credited him as the mastermind behind their prominent rise to glory in an interview lead in.

I was offended and got emotional – I was Jeremy Roenick without the tears. Maybe it was just a slip up in the broadcast. But the point is valid: “General Manager: Stan Bowman” will be engraved on the Stanley Cup some time this summer. Well, after someone’s kid poops in it. Dear God I hope Patrick Kane makes good on his word to “keep his shirt on!”

Virtually everyone on Earth knows Dale Tallon did the lionshare of work to build the newly crowned Stanley Cup Champions. But I don’t need to tell you what you already know. The only thing Stan Bowman did to alter Tallon’s 2010 blueprint was trade Cam Barker to Minnesota for Kim Johnsson and prospect Nick Leddy. If anything this salary cap related trade probably weakened the Hawks. Johnsson played only eight games with Chicago before suffering a concussion back in March.

My brother said it best after I calmed down from my tantrum on Wednesday, “Stan Bowman stick handled around some minor salary cap issues this year.” True but nothing will compare to this summer as Bowman tries to rebuild another Cup-caliber team for next season and beyond. The Blackhawks have at least nine key players to resign with less than $4 Million of cap space (approximately). [Figures based on info from CapGeek.com and NHLNumbers.com].

Not with me? How about an analogy to clear things up… Stan Bowman basically stick handled around a Philadelphia Flyers goalie. In dealing with the major cap issues this summer, it’s the equivalent to stick handling around … well, any other NHL goalie. Good luck! I’ll eat my words if Stan Bowman can get his team back to the Stanley Cup Finals next year. Making it back to the Finals next season would earn him that engraving he’ll get from this season’s win. Until then the Stanley Cup’s spelling of  Tallon — “B-O-W-M-A-N” — isn’t quite right.

Stay classy, Stan Bowman. You still get your name on the Stanley Cup.

Some overdue NHL rants

June 1st, 2010

It’s a bit of a strange time in the hockey season. While we’re seeing the biggest games of the year being played this week, there isn’t much else going on. But despite this — and the mind-numbing debates on Chris Pronger’s puck stealing “incidents” — there’s still plenty of things that have me all hot and bothered…

  • I don’t know if I’m angry or impressed with Daniel Carcillo’s ability to get so wound up for any/every hockey game he plays in. Within seconds of a game starting, he’s already lost his mind worse than that epic Jim Playfair meltdown earlier this year. It’s double points if I dis Carcillo and rehash that coaching freak-out, right?
  • Last week’s NHL Combine in Toronto made me laugh. Hockey players don’t generally give very good interviews. To further my point, Jason Spezza is an experienced hockey interviewee and look what you get with him. TSN putting a microphone in front of an 18 year old Cam Fowler minutes after completing the excruciating VO2 max test was a hilariously bad idea. Interview fail?
  • “It’s mad in the Madhouse”…
  • Today the six-time Norris trophy winner and 40 year old Nick Lidstrom signed a one year-$6 Million contract extension with the Detroit Red Wings. That’s exactly $1 Million more than what 27 year old Anton Volchenkov (reportedly) wants for five or more seasons. Since you already know my views on Volchenkov’s (reported) salary demands, I thought it would be fun to look at other things you could buy for $5 Million:
    • One year of Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury’s current contract
    • Half of the rights to Sidney Crosby’s new Reebok endorsement for the next seven years
    • This house (complete with 11 bedrooms, six bathrooms and nearly 9,000 square feet in Vancouver – a perfect hiding place for Senators to stash Alex Kovalev)
    • Like, 1/150th of that ridiculous Phoenix Coyotes Arena lease (according to the ever-reliable Yahoo answers…)
    • More than two Brent Sopel’s (current salary cap hit: $2.33 Million)
    • Half of the Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Club/Don Waddell’s Poor Decisions Ltd. (Probably).
  • Thinking about it, I’d pay a 50 year old Nick Lidstrom $5 Million per season before doing the same for a 27 year old Volchenkov. OK, I’m done ranting about Volchenkov… for today.
    • … “It’s mad in the Madhouse”…
    • How awkward/hilarious was Marian Hossa’s goal celebration last night? Yikes… can you image how awkward/hilarious it’s going to be when he finally lifts up the Stanley Cup? Actually, that’s going to be must-see TV!
    • Not hockey related but check out this article on Lebron James. James says the Cavaliers have an “edge” in trying to resign him because of his history and personal connection to the city of Cleveland. As sports fans, we’re all stupid for allowing athletes to get away with saying stupid crap like this. What the hell…
    • … “It’s mad in the Madhouse”… see Jim Hughson!!!! It get’s really annoying when you keep repeating it!

    Stay classy, NHL news that get me all hot and bothered.

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    Weighing in on Anton Volchenkov

    May 24th, 2010

    Amidst months worth of speculation it seems certain shot-blocker extraordinaire Anton Volchenkov is leaving Ottawa. And after months of my own personal speculation I’ve decided to weigh in on the “A-Train” situation. Finally.

    Whenever I do a piece on the Ottawa Senators I’m overcome with this vague sense of loyalty and familiarity – much like Glenn Sather is with the New York Rangers. On one hand I feel like I should know a great deal about the team, but on the other hand I really have no clue.

    Anton Volchenkov - Ottawa SenatorsIt’s well understood that the Senators would like to resign Volchenkov. But they can’t because the other very well known detail in this whole saga is the fact that Volchenkov wants a big pay raise – one the Senators cannot afford within the NHL’s salary cap.

    Ever since Montreal stunned the Washington Capitals in the Playoffs, it seems there’s a better chance of Volchenkov becoming a Capital on July 1st than the NHL ever saying “no” to NBC. And why not? The Caps have room in their player salary structure next season (I’m doing my best to avoid saying “the Caps have cap space”) and have finally figured out their trademark “run and gun” style doesn’t win Championships.

    There are a few things that I find insanely ridiculous about Volchenkov’s upcoming unrestricted free agency this summer. Especially when the majority of the interest is from Ottawa and Washington. Let’s assume the suggested asking price for Vochenkov is in fact $5 Million per season for anywhere between 4-6 years (as speculated by many media outlets all Spring).

    Why would either of these teams pay a defensive defenceman $5 Million annually when they don’t even pay their goalies that much? Last season Jose Theodore made $4.8 Million (and probably won’t be resigned this summer) and Pascal Leclaire made $3.6 Million (next season, he’ll make $4.8 Million – a cap hit of $3.8 Million). Last season the Capitals allowed 2,534 shots on net while the Senators allowed 2,333. How many blocked shots did Volchenkov have? 200-300?

    Volchenkov scores roughly 17-20 points per season and averages a plus-10 rating each year. Given his lack of offensive powerplay time and the fact that goals scored against while killing penalties don’t affect plus-minus ratings, being on the ice for 10 more goals than scored against isn’t exactly elite shutdown defencemen numbers.

    Fact: Volchenkov doesn’t necessarily do anything at an elite level. It’s insane to pay a defenceman that much money to do a bunch of things “pretty well”.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is Anton Volchenkov isn’t worth anywhere near $5 Million per season. He wouldn’t be the first overpaid UFA signing but I believe he could rank as one of the worst if he collects on the speculated contracts. Volchenkov is a solid NHL defencemen but not an elite $5 Million+ player on any team.

    Stay classy, Anton Volchenkov.

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