Posts Tagged ‘Ilya Kovalchuk’

Dany Heatley’s Decline Reminds Us We’re All Human

July 4th, 2011

Michael Russo from the Star Tribune wrote a terrific article earlier concerning Dany Heatley, his trade to the Minnesota Wild, and his time with the San Jose Sharks.

As fans it’s easy to get caught up in liking/disliking athletes. Dany Heatley’s “heal turn” in the summer of 2009 represents that better than virtually any other example I can think of.  His departure from Ottawa was well documented here, and by pretty much every other blog and sports outlet in North America.

As Russo points out, Heatley’s time in San Jose will largely be viewed as failure. The Sharks didn’t win any Stanley Cups and twice lost in the Western Conference finals (both times fairly convincingly too). Heatley’s playoff numbers aren’t amazing either. In fact, the former 50-goal scorer managed just 22 points in 32 games over his two post-seasons with the Sharks. Frankly, those stats are somewhat flattering too. Only five of Heatley’s 22 points were goals.

Disappointing stats? Absolutely, but it’s not that simple. While it’s clear the new NHL – the way the game is played, the younger and faster players, and the new rules – don’t bode well for Heatley and his style, he’s still an elite goal scorer at this level. Consecutive injury plagued seasons have certainly played a significant role in Heatley’s decline. From torn groins to broken hands, Heatley has probably seen more trainers and medical rooms in the last two years than most nurses.

» Read more: Dany Heatley’s Decline Reminds Us We’re All Human

Other NHL gestures

October 15th, 2010

Image from Puck Daddy

A lot has been made of James Wisniewski’s amusing gesture to Sean Avery during Monday’s Rangers-Islanders game. Some have dubbed Wisniewski a “jerk-off” while others are referring to the incident as “fellatio-gate” (stick tap to Puck Daddy for that one).

Personally, I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. It’s just a silly thing that was done in the heat of the moment. Even Wisniewski regrets doing it. Besides, life can be a slippery slope sometimes – we all make mistakes.

But here’s the thing many fans don’t know: these kinds of gestures are very prevalent throughout the NHL. You may not have noticed them before, but after reading this article you’ll start noticing gestures everywhere.

Here are a few of the more common NHL gestures:

5 Plus 5
Explanation: Spread each of your five fingers out on both of your hands as if you are showing the number 10. You know, 10 as in two-thirds of the average New Jersey Devils line up.

Explanation: Place both hands firmly around your hips and chuckle like some evil villain from the first Die Hard movie. What are you laughing at? The very prospect that the Phoenix Coyotes might actually be sold some time soon.

Explanation: Fully extend and hold both of your arms as if they are tied and bound together. You’ll find this aptly describes Ilya Kovalchuk’s 15-year sentence in Jersey.

Explanation: With your left hand, press your middle finger and thumb together to make a zero. Now show this gesture to the Calgary Flames CEO Ken King and tell him it represents the impact of his number one line. He’ll know the line you are referring to. The one featuring two amazing UFA signings in Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay this past summer.

Can’t See You
Explanation: Place your hands over your eyes, covering them completely. Then make an arbitrary decision based on what you didn’t just see. This is exactly how the NHL’s chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell makes his suspension rulings.

Pure Confusion
Explanation: Stand still and slightly tilt your head to the left. Let your body become totally motionless. Then act completely confused at anything and everything. This is known around the NHL as “Dion Phaneuf interview mode.”

The Wave
Explanation: Raise your right arm until your elbow reaches the height of your chin. Proceed move your right arm left to right in a swaying motion. Dominic Moore uses this gesture to his teammates every trade deadline after he’s traded for a second round draft pick.

The Gun
Explanation: Fully extend your right arm and point only your index finger. Close the rest of your fingers into your fist, raise your thumb and turn your arm until your thumb is pointing upwards. You will need to perfect this gesture by next week when it’s time to fire both of the Sutter brothers in Calgary.

Stay classy, common NHL gestures.

My job interview with the NHLPA

August 11th, 2010

Disclaimer: Everything below is 100% true. I’ve never lied about anything on this site before and it wouldn’t make sense to start now. Ultimately you’ll just have to believe this story. It’s OK if you don’t but you should know I’m not getting anything out of telling the world I didn’t get a job.

About three months ago a recruiter contacted me about “a great marketing job.” Having just started another job, the thought of more meetings and interviews didn’t excite me. I blew off the recruiter several times without any hesitation. She kept following up and eventually told me her client was the NHLPA. Now she had my attention. Obviously I was willing to talk about meetings and interviews for a position within the NHLPA.

Apparently the recruiter had already made herself familiar with It turns out a reader of this site knows her well, knew about the opportunity and recommended she speak with me. I’m totally serious too. During initial conversations with the recruiter, I wasn’t aware she’d seen and read the site.

The first official phone interview with the recruiter didn’t get off to a great start. For whatever reason, we just weren’t on the same page. About 20 minutes into the call, out of nowhere, she asked me about I started to laugh and thought “Oh God, this opportunity is going to end quicker than an Atlanta Thrashers playoff series.” That was when I decided to pull a ‘George Costanza’ and literally do the exact opposite of everything I’d normally do. I figured I had nothing to lose and it would make for a funny story. (Note: Don’t mistake my attitude as reckless or care free. I wanted the job but I knew competition would be strong and probably have more experience than me. It was my intention to stand out by being different. I wanted to push the envelope since I already had a good job).

Several weeks later I found myself at the NHLPA’s headquarters in downtown Toronto interviewing with the Hiring Manager. The meeting was short but went well… and came up several times. (Note: It’s not that I’m embarrassed by the site – I’m not – It’s that the people interviewing me represent the players I regularly poke fun of. Awkward…). I kept thinking this couldn’t help my chances. Stayclassy’s content wasn’t discussed as much as my views on social media and online marketing. I was later told they liked me and wanted to introduce me to other NHLPA staff.

A few weeks later I was back at the PA’s office (by the way, they call themselves ‘The PA’). This time I was meeting with three new people, in addition to the Hiring Manager from the last interview. I was courted from one Director’s office to another. The first interview started with a simple question: “Kevin, what do you think of our website?” Using the Costanza methodology, I spent the next five minutes ripping it to pieces in sheer disgust. My attitude was well received (somehow). The Director told me he liked my critical perspective. Without flinching I cut him off saying “You didn’t ask me to come in and tell you what a great job you’ve done.” Much to my dismay, he was impressed. I couldn’t believe my luck. Even I thought my tone was a little too much. Perhaps the Costanza theory has merit after all…

For every hockey fan out there reading this, here’s a question for you: How much do you know about J.S. Giguere, Wade Belak, Mike Sillinger and Steve Sullivan off the ice? I was asked this very question. The interviewer wanted me to show I follow more than just on-ice stories. I did well because my life revolves around hockey and nothing else. I was then asked to discuss several trades that happened within the last few weeks. I talked about why I felt trading Jaroslav Halak before signing Carry Price was weird. He agreed. We then talked about how bizarre it must be to get traded (mostly because of Mike Sillinger and how often he was traded in his career).

Moving to the next interview, I saw an insane amount of Alex Ovechkin life-size cutouts, framed photos, books, hockey bags etc… around the office. In a lame attempt to stir up a laugh and break the ice, I said to one of the Directors “Is Ovechkin part of the interview process too?”

Dead silence. Not exactly a hit joke. Two of the Directors responded with a firm “NO.” I made a mental note not to attempt any more jokes while interviewing with the PA.

The next interview was a 2 on 1 and I won’t lie, it didn’t go well. Imagine Bryan McCabe fending off two skilled forwards – that basically describes my performance. It was one of those interviews that felt like I was on trial rather than a candidate of interest. I limped out of this interview assuming the dream was over. I concluded the morning by doing another interview with the Hiring Manager. He asked me what was going through my head at that exact moment. I told him I was thinking ahead to my rec hockey game later that evening and how I wanted to continue our winning streak.

About a week later I got feedback from the recruiter.

You’ve probably noticed this process took a long time with several weeks between interviews and news updates. This process was far longer than any job interview I’ve ever been involved with before. I’m not really sure why, although the summer is a very busy time for the PA. The playoffs just ended, unrestricted free agency had begun, Lou Lamiorello signed a ‘reasonable’ 17-year contract and the PA’s search for an Executive Director (ie Donald Fehr) was heating up (according to TSN).

That was a month or so ago. A few weeks passed and I was told I’d be moving forward to the final stage of interviews. This round of interviews would be with the Hiring Manager and the most senior person currently within the PA. For the sake of this story, he’ll be known as Head Dude. I was asked to submit a strategic report of what I would do in the role, how I would tackle various challenges and meet important deliverables. The report was due on Thursday July 22nd.

The next day, Friday July 23rd, I was scheduled to present my report to Head Dude. This was one of the hottest days of the summer. It was face-melting hot. I was a sweaty mess as I made my way into the PA’s office. Head Dude greeted me with great enthusiasm saying “Kevin, great to meet you. This way please” while guiding me to his office. He followed with “It’s a hot one outside today, eh?” With zero hesitation I responded with “Sure is hot, Head Dude. I’m sweating more than Cam Fowler on draft day.” There was a brief pause of silence, which felt like an eternity. Immediately I regretted making that joke. Truth is, it was completely unplanned. It came out of nowhere. Trembling with fear and nervousness I turned my head towards Head Dude. I was ready to be thrown out of their office. But much to my surprise – a recurring theme throughout this entire story – he erupted in laughter. I was so relieved.

We started to review my strategy document that he’d only read part of (which is fair since I submitted the 12-page report the evening before). Part of my plan was to promote NHL events in non-traditional ways to encourage fan engagement and greater connections between fans and players (courtesy of the NHLPA). I talked about how an opportunity was missed at the 2010 Winter Classic by not having Zdeno Chara show fans how to shoot pucks over the “Green Monster” (Fenway Park’s green homerun wall). I explained how the PA could use sponsors, players and fans to shoot pucks through Heinz Field field-goals for the 2011 Winter Classic. Head Dude busted into laughter, again. (Note: I’m not actually this funny. In fact I was a bit weirded out that someone with a great deal of power and authority was actually laughing at or with me. On second thought, it was probably at me). Head Dude’s laughter confused me because I was dead serious. I continued to explain my idea. He was still laughing but said “Kevin, you are crazy. This is interesting and ‘out of the box’, but it’s crazy.”

One thing you should understand about the PA. They were honest about a number of initiatives they had on the go. They were already working on a few of the ideas I approached them with and disclosed additional information for me to better position my talking points. When I spoke about the Winter Classic idea, they laughed and said it was creative. I left this interview as the ‘crazy marketer’ with some different ideas. I figured if the NHLPA wanted to do something different (or very different), I’d be their guy. Remember this whole approach was the only way I felt I could compete with candidates who probably had more experience than me.

On Tuesday July 27th I got an email from a close friend saying “Dude did you see [link included within the message]?” Not knowing what he was talking about, I opened the link. It was a video of the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting media and members of the Washington Capitals to promote the 2011 Winter Classic game (the video was shot earlier that day) at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers stadium where the Winter Classic was set to be played). And yes, they were shooting pucks through the stadium’s field-goal poles. My eyes fell out of their sockets. I could not believe what I was seeing. I immediately wondered if the PA was involved with this promotion. I was furious. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. “Did someone use my idea? Do I look less original?” I was in full panic-desperation mode – like Dean Lombardi was after missing out on Kovalchuk and signing Alex Ponikarovsky. (Note: Earlier this week I found out the PA was not involved with this event).

To wrap this long story up, things ended here. I had a series of great interviews with the NHLPA but they elected to go with the other, more experienced candidate. I have no problem with this. I wish the PA all the best. To their credit, the PA and Hiring Manager called me and gave me a full review of their thoughts on me and my interviews. It was a great phone call and I was proud to hear how highly they thought of me. I will admit I asked Hiring Manager half-way through the call “Wait. Are you sure you are talking about the right candidate?”

I feel fortunate to have gone through this process on my own terms. I wouldn’t change a single thing I did or said throughout the interviews… even the bad jokes! One thing I’d like to make abundantly clear: I’m not accusing the PA or anyone else using/stealing my idea. I believe this was 100% coincidence and you should too. I’m chalking it up to great minds thinking alike…

I’d like to thank the PA for giving me an opportunity to participate in these interviews. I was given a great opportunity from a world class group of professionals. Even the Directors that gave me a hard time weren’t that bad. They take their jobs seriously and I can respect that.

The point of this story is to give an honest, inside look into the experience I just went through. It’s not meant to insult or disrespect the PA or its staff – this was an awesome experience. I’m not trying to blow hot air their way either. In fact I didn’t even ask them if writing this article was OK. It probably isn’t and it’s likely I’m burning bridges by publishing this story. But as a passionate fan of hockey and anything that surrounds the game, I feel this is a story I’d like to read about.

The things I do for you, Stayclassy readers… Thanks for reading this really long story.

Stay classy, NHLPA.

Other people and organizations DownGoesBrown can write for

July 28th, 2010

Hockey news in late July is pretty slim (read: Not Wellwood). And then yesterday a number of hockey stories broke all at once. The signings of Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alex Frolov (Kovalchuk-Lite versions 1 and 2), Max Talbot referring to Alex Ovechkin as a hygienic instrument and of course the big story, DownGoesBrown now writing for the National Post!

(Check out his debut article here).

As many in the online hockey community noted yesterday, this is crazy-awesome news. Kudos to the National Post for doing something different and bringing something fresh to their audience. Following this news, I had many contacts reach out and inform me that DGB’s writing skills could be hugely valuable within NHL circles. My mind began racing and I started calling my insiders to learn as much as I could.

So in light of his new writing gig, here’s a few other people and organizations DGB can write for:

  • New Jersey Devils: Apparently Lou Lamoriello and the rest of the New Jersey Devils are having some trouble writing a simple 17-year contract for a player I’m not overly familiar with. I’m pretty sure DGB could take a look through the existing contract and jam in a few subtle points to make it stick with the league.
  • Kyle Wellwood: We are a full month into free agency and Kyle Wellwood has been offered as many NHL contracts as he’s ordered salads this summer. Maybe DGB can work with Wellwood’s agent to write a pamphlet outlining some of Kyle’s core skills. Skills like “Ability to weave in-and-out of impatient McDonald’s lines on free Big Mac day” and “Literally wrestling every last piece of fried chicken out of the KFC stand just outside of Sunday’s Nascar event.”
  • Junior Hockey Stars: It would be nice of DGB to help prepare top junior stars for the NHL by giving solid advice and handing out reality checks to those who need it. For example, DGB could address how being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs isn’t the end of your career. It just means your NHL career won’t truly begin until you are traded in lopsided exchange that further empties Toronto’s depth chart.
  • NHL11: Later this summer EA Sports will release NHL11 to gamers and hockey fans across the world. If EA Sports are smart, they’ll enlist DGB to write a eulogy script for the game’s announcers each time users try to trade for Phil Kessel.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky: It took nearly a month for free agent Alexei Ponikarovsky to get a contract offer. Given Ponikarovsky’s disappointing results during a brief stint with Pittsburgh last year, the Los Angeles Kings might want to have DGB add a quick blurb in Poni’s contract about the NHL season mattering after February. On second thought, with DGB being a loyal Leafs fan, maybe he’s not the right guy for this assignment after all…
  • Edmonton Oilers Prospects: Everyone knows about the Edmonton Oilers history of winning, great fans and star players with no trade clauses. For young Edmonton prospects, they have no choice – their rights belong to the Oilers. DGB could help educate these inexperienced players that traditionally, you can demand a trade out of Edmonton once you feel like you’ve carried the team for a few years or weeks. DGB will be sure to note that you are obligated to cry like a baby at a press conference when this happens.
  • New York Rangers: Glen Sather confuses the hell out of everyone. It’s clear he could use a translator of sorts – someone who can eloquently explain his logic for trades and signings. Basically, Sather and the Rangers need DGB to explain how prized UFA signing Derek Boogaard is worth roughly 1/25th of Ilya Kovalchuk.
  • Ottawa Senators Goaltending Coach: Recently the Ottawa Senators hired Rick Wamsley as their new goaltending coach. It would be wise of the Senators to have DGB explain to fans that Wamsley probably won’t take part in Bryan Murray’s annual “Blame someone else February firings”… this season.

Stay classy, DownGoesBrown. The National Post just got a lot better!

Reaction to Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract across the NHL

July 20th, 2010

In what has to have been the most uneventful, painful and drawn out free agent signing in recent memory, Ilya Kovalchuk finally signed with the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Kovalchuk put us all out of our misery by selecting the Devils over the Los Angeles Kings and even the New York Islanders by agreeing to an NHL record 17-year contract estimated to be worth more than $102 Million. That’s the good news.

The bad news is hockey analysts will be evaluating this contract for the next … (term of contract X number of days in hockey season / number of boring CBA reports + lack of other talented free agents) … 200 Billion years (give or take).

Regardless, this contract sets a huge precedent for the league moving forward and is sure to draw lots of reaction. Luckily for you, I’ve been able to tap into the minds of players, GMs, coaches and insiders around the NHL to see what they really think of Kovalchuk’s signing:

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils goaltender
“Hey cool! My kids might be able to play with Kovalchuk once Lamoriello finishes tattooing the Devils logo on them.”

Alex Kovalev, Ottawa Senators anchor
“I thought I was the real Kovy???”

Zach Parise, only offensive forward New Jersey has ever drafted
*Insane laughter*

Exploded jam jar, first of many Lamoriello thrown jam jars
“Oh no. More of my friends might hit the wall in years to come…”

Bobby Ryan, soon-to-be former Anaheim Duck forward
“Hey Don Meehan, maybe I should replace you with Jay Grossman. I’ll get my big time pay raise and loads of free hype online.”

Allan Walsh, “How to keep star goalies in Montreal” author
“Did someone say something about Twitter???”

Bill Daly, Gary Bettman’s right hand man
*Get’s brain freeze after looking at Kovalchuk’s contract, similar to the kind you get after eating too much Dairy Queen* “Gary, have you seen this??”

Gary Bettman, NHL owners right hand man
“I have Bill. Can you put out a press release that says we are diligently looking into this contract? Don’t worry this is just a formality. You can go back to sleep once you finish doing this.”

Simon Gagne, benefactor of Steve Yzerman’s sharp negotiating skills
“Am I still traded to Tampa if the NHL rejects this contract?”

Eklund, ???
“When I said the Islanders Kings were going to get Kovalchuk, I meant the Devils. Obviously.”

Zach Parise, awesome player who detests Hockey Canada
*Even more insane laughter*

Steve Tambellini, guy who took 6 months to select the kid we all thought he would
“I’m pretty sure Taylor Hall will retire before Kovalchuk’s contract ends…”

Dean Lombardi, Not-so-good negotiator
“We didn’t want you anyways, Ilya. I digress… Los Angeles is the new Edmonton.”

Charles Wang, crazy-ass owner of the New York Islanders
“I love that my GM is starting to think like me with these long term contract offers.”

Garth Snow, Wang 2.0
“I think I’m really impressing my boss!”

Steve Tambellini, another guy the Oilers will never fire
“…I forgot to add… Obviously not as an Oiler.”

Zach Parise, future former New Jersey Devil
“Wait. Does this mean you aren’t resigning me, Lou?”

Stay classy, Ilya Kovalchuk. For 17 more years.

Hockey resemblances in my office

July 16th, 2010

Well readers it’s Friday, which probably means you are already at home enjoying the weekend. For the few of you still at the office, I have a treat for you (read: a 5 minute time waster). Lately I’ve noticed a ton of similarities and resemblances of hockey and hockey stories in my office. Maybe I’m sinking to new low’s in this brutally slow off-season. Or maybe it’s because the only hockey news I’m hearing about is Ilya Kovalchuk’s sight-seeing itinerary. Or – and this is a huge possibility – I’m going crazy. At any rate, here are some hockey resemblances in my office:

  • The receptionist in my office is a pest. Everything she does is annoying and she yaps way too much. Each time we speak is like a dagger through my eye. When she talks I see her lips moving but I never truly comprehend what she’s saying. And she repeats herself six or seven times per thought, at minimum. Without a doubt, this must be how Ryan Kelser feels when told his linemate for the year will be Alex Burrows.
  • My boss doesn’t do anything particularly well. In fact, he always gets in the way of projects and tasks. He’s a giant road block at life. And he’s paid quite well too. Basically, he’s Anton Volchenkov.
  • Of course offer sheets don’t exist in my office. Never would competition offer a 200% salary raise to someone for simply being employed. What does exist in my office is an immediate “You’re fired if you don’t perform well” offer. It’s valid at any time.
  • My office has a wonderful design team. They are very creative and combined with the marketing department are excellent at taking silly ideas and keeping them in the news for weeks on end. They were thrilled to hear from Dean Lombardi a few weeks ago about a “top secret July news-blitz project.”
  • A few women in my office are engaged and soon to be married. It’s a very happy time for them. They are enjoying the planning process but admit they are slight divas. They are also very competitive people. Can you imagine how much “Z-Snaping” and weird neck gestures I’m going to see after they find out Carrie Underwood had a secret wedding location located “somewhere” in North America???
  • I started working at this office just before the NHL’s regular season ended. Once the summer officially began I noticed the office hours changed dramatically. In fact, I haven’t seen many of my co-workers for months now. You are probably thinking “OK, this is going to be a Leafs joke because they always miss the playoffs.” Yup! You are correct. Leafs suck!
  • All is quiet in our “cowards who don’t back up their words” department. I guess we let those guys intern at Vogue all summer too.
  • This isn’t at all related to my job but it’s good to see Mike Komisarek in the news again. I’m impressed at how much he’s contributed to the NHLPA’s search for a new leader. I think it speaks to his work ethic. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s done more for the PA this summer than he did for the Leafs all last season.
  • My company lost a terrific salesman last summer named Marian. It’s still affecting our sales numbers for this year and the company has yet to get back on track. But we can’t afford to look at the past any longer. It was an employee we should have kept and didn’t. Instead we decided to double the salary of our next best salesman, Mikko. We figure he’ll eventually become the all time sales leader within our organization, surpassing the totals of Marian’s 7-year tenure with us, even if it takes him the rest of his career. And when that time comes – and it might not, ever – we will celebrate by calling Mikko a “franchise salesman.”

Stay classy, weird hockey office.

Other NHL haircuts

May 19th, 2010

It’s that time of year for beards, crazy hair and the occasional blowing of a 3-0 series lead. By now, everyone has seen Patrick Kane’s response to the Playoff beard (see right). That’s right, the mullet. As awesome as the mullet is, Kane has all but said he’s cutting it off as soon as the Playoffs end.

As disappointing as this might be to some, I’ve come to learn that many other NHL players sport interesting haircuts. So before we get teary-eyed about Kane soon chopping off the mullet, let’s take a closer look at other NHL haircuts:

  • The Scott Hartnell – This mess of a haircut is a wall of curls by nature. It’s like Carrot Top meets Hurley from Lost. I find it remarkable that Hartnell manages to stuff a helmet over that ‘do’ before every game. In saying that, I find it more remarkable that Alex Burrows hasn’t pulled Hartnell’s hair yet.
  • The Patrick Kane – What else can I say about Patrick Kane’s ‘Joe Dirt’ look? It’s tremendous that he’s kept the cut for more than a month now. I hope he doesn’t have a problem with change when cutting day comes.
  • The Jaromir Jagr – Similar to The Kane in style, but this haircut acts as more of a pheromone to some in the hockey world. At times, these pheromone’s draw out deadly Russian enemies (mostly in British Columbia), but such an occasion is rare. Most of the time Jagr’s scent attracts individuals desperate enough to think a 38 year old can save a hockey franchise from short term doom.
  • The Ilya Kovalchuk – Few know this, but Kovalchuk’s hair is a clever nod to the way he plays hockey. The parting in his hair represents himself on one side and whichever team he plays for (and their style) on the other. Yeah, I can’t see this haircut matching with red and green colored jerseys.
  • The Carey Price – Always immaculate, Carey Price’s hair is simply stunning. There’s never a hair out of place… largely because he rarely has to wear a helmet. I can hear it now, “Ha Ha ha Burgundy, that joke was a RIOT” – Habs fans everywhere.
  • The Thomas Vanek – This haircut features a ton of dazzle and flair at all times. However, the joints and body of hair in this ‘do’ are frequently damaged by as little as a small gust of wind. Due to the elusiveness of The Vanek haircut in action, I have no image to show for this ‘do’.
  • The Bruce Boudreau – The bald-cut requires a good sized scalp in order to be done correctly. The scalp needs to be adaptable to seasonal changes. In the winter, the scalp needs to be able to expand in accordance with one’s ego (generally between September and April). The scalp must act as  a defense mechanism by contracting and acting as a shield during the rough summer months when activity is low (generally between May and July).

Stay classy, other NHL haircuts.

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The NHL’s 2010 Yearbook

April 28th, 2010

The NHL likes to do things a bit differently than other pro sports leagues. Shortly after the end of each regular season, the league releases it’s annual yearbook complete with typical “Most Likely To” and “Classy Photo” sections. Usually, most players receive their yearbook in the last week of April.

Apparently a lot of time is put into this tradition and players themselves vote on various categories. Don’t ask how, but I’ve manage to obtain a screenshot of a few pages from this year’s NHL yearbook. I’ve cut the left and right pages into 2 separate images for your viewing pleasure (below is a link for the full version)…

The NHL’s 2010 Yearbook (left page)

The NHL’s 2010 Yearbook (right page)

I highly recommend viewing and downloading the high-res image here.

Stay classy, annual NHL yearbooks.


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Choking on bullshit

April 25th, 2010

Following series clinching losses on Saturday night, the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators join the New Jersey Devils in 2010 Playoff disappointment. Apparently.

Detractors of the Avalanche and Senators (mostly the Senators… Honestly, who hates the young, up-and-coming Avs?) say the Playoffs were busts for each club. Some have already claimed the Senators choked in this year’s Playoffs.

Let’s pretend for a second that a Playoff series consists of more than a single game (or period). Let’s take a slightly more intelligent perspective on the Avalanche and Senators series. The opponents in each series – the Sharks and Penguins, respectively – are heavy favorites to play for the Stanley Cup in June. They are considered among the elite NHL teams.

In the case of the Avs and Sens, it’s pretty impressive both teams qualified for the Playoffs. Virtually no one thought Colorado had any chance of being in the post-season. And only a few more of the ‘experts’ thought Ottawa would qualify for the Playoffs. That’s the difference between the Avs and Sens and the New Jersey Devils – a team with larger expectations and a team that should have gone farther than the 1st round.

The Devils choked big time. Consider the blockbuster deal they pulled off to acquire star Ilya Kovalchuk in February. Consider the strong regular season they had and their series opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers. Consider the fact that expectations were higher for the Devils than they were for the Avalanche and Senators combined. And don’t forget last year’s 1st round meltdown against the Carolina Hurricanes. Neither Colorado or Ottawa even made the 2009 Playoffs.

Exactly how can a team (or teams) and their Playoff elimination be considered a choke when they weren’t expected to make the post-season and ended up playing superior opponents? To me, it’s about realistic expectations. You can’t “choke” when you live up to expectations. Many didn’t expect the Avalanche or Senators to advance beyond the 1st round of the Playoffs. Most figured the Devils would be a 2nd or 3rd round team, or better.

Excuse me for getting a little bent out of shape on this, but I’m choking on this bullshit.

Stay classy, Avalanche and Senators. Neither team choked.

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Burgundy’s 1st round NHL playoff predictions

April 14th, 2010's NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Tonight marks the beginning of the NHL’s 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Like everyone else, I’d like to make my predictions for the 1st round. Before breaking down each series, I have two things to say. Firstly, I don’t hate any of the Canadian teams, however, I don’t like Vancouver, Montreal, or Ottawa’s chances. Secondly, I’m far more interested in the Western Conference series than the Eastern Conference series. This means two things. 1- I won’t be getting much sleep for the next few weeks. 2- I’ll be on Twitter a lot and look forward to talking Playoffs with all of you!

Washington Capitals (1) vs Montreal Canadiens (8)
I read about Tomas Plekanec’s quotes from the other day. I don’t understand why he’s playing these silly games, but whatever. He better bury a few goals on Washington or egg will be on his face, goatee and turtleneck. Sure, Montreal probably has the edge in goaltending, but Theordore’s play this year has been pretty good. Honestly, I don’t think Montreal has any chance in this series. Even if Jaroslav Halak plays like he did at the Olympics, Washington will be too much for Montreal’s slow defence. Alex Ovechkin has something to prove and Nickolas Backstrom is fresh off his best season in his young NHL career.
Verdict: Washington in 5 games.

New Jersey Devils (2) vs Philadelphia Flyers (7)
This series could go either way. On one hand, you have a legendary goalie in Marty Brodeur versus 3rd-stringer Brian Boucher (advantage Devils). On the other hand, you have Ilya Kovalchuk/Zach Parise versus Danny Briere/Jeff Carter/Mike Richards/Simon Gagne and more (advantage Flyers). I like Philadelphia’s defence a little more than New Jersey’s, too. And because Chris Pronger has a strong reputation for helping teams over the hump in Playoffs, I have to side with the Flyers as my upset team in the East.
Verdict: Philadelphia in 7 games.

Buffalo Sabres (3) vs Boston Bruins (6)
Boston’s well documented  scoring troubles and Buffalo’s all-star goalie Ryan Miller combine for a tough challenge for the Bruins. In addition, the Bruins announced the possibility of Marc Savard’s return to the team no earlier than in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Given the challenges Boston has faced this year (off years for certain players and injuries), making the Playoffs is a considerable feat. I don’t think they have any chance against the well oiled machine that is the Buffalo Sabres. On a slightly different note, it should be interesting to see which rookie proves most valuable to their respective teams between Tyler Myers and Tuukka Rask.
Verdict: Buffalo in 5 games.

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs Ottawa Senators (5)
This is a tough match-up for the Ottawa Senators when you consider a 6th place finish would have put them up against the Sabres, a team they’ve dominated for years. The obvious storyline for this series is goaltending: Brian Elliott versus Marc-Andre Fleury. As a fan of the Senators, I’m under no illusions, Pittsburgh will win this series, the question is how many games will it take. SensChirp (a blog I respect) believes Ottawa stacks up pretty closely with Pittsburgh. Some of the points are valid, but I’m not sure Ottawa’s defence is that much better than Pittsburgh’s, nor do I believe Ottawa can out-coach the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Verdict: Pittsburgh in 6 games.

San Jose Sharks (1) vs Colorado Avalanche (8)
I really like the Colorado Avalanche and no, I didn’t think they’d come remotely close to making the playoffs prior to the 09-10 season starting. Having said that, I see the Sharks experience and grit over-powering the young Avalanche. The Avalanche strike me as a team very satisfied with their season whereas the Sharks have known all year that their Playoff results is what really matters. I like some of the role players San Jose has acquired between last season and now (guys like Jed Ortmeyer, Scott Nichol, Niclas Wallin, etc…). I believe these guys, along with Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle and Rob Blake will be difference makers in this series. Also, I’m concerned for Colorado that star goalie Craig Anderson might be a bit burned out from his first regular season as a starting goalie.
Verdict: San Jose in 6 games.

Chicago Blackhawks (2) vs Nashville Predators (7)
Most of us could make a living from underestimating the Nashville Predators. And although the Predators are a team built so well for the Playoffs, I simply cannot bet against the Chicago Blackhawks. People will question the Hawk’s goaltending and while it’s been suspect at times this season, I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It’s easily the weakest part of the Hawks roster, but that’s easy to say when you look at their forwards and defence depth. Chicago’s hurting with injuries to their defence, but I believe their talent up front will carry the load in this series. I look for Patrick Kane to lead the way in points and clutch plays.
Verdict: Chicago in 6 games.

Vancouver Canucks (3) vs Los Angeles Kings (6)
Alright Canucks fans, don’t hate me for saying this, but I think the Kings are going to beat the Canucks. Don’t get me wrong, this is the best team (by far) the Canucks have put together in years. But with all the pressure on them, their injuries at defence and Roberto Luongo’s inconsistencies, I don’t have a good feeling for the Canucks. I know the Canucks beat the Kings three times this year, but I think the Kings move pucks better and faster than Vancouver and have a quick transition game that will burn the slower Canucks defence. I know Jonathan Quick’s play recently hasn’t been good, but I don’t see that as a factor in this series. Simply put, the Kings are loose and Vancouver know they need a solid post-season run this year.
Verdict: Los Angeles in 7 games.

Phoenix Coyotes (4) vs Detroit Red Wings (5)
This might be the most intriguing 1st round match-up this year. Like I said with the Avalanche, I believe the Coyotes are satisfied with their season and won’t have the same drive the Red Wings will. Ilya Bryzgalov shed his reputation of burning out down the regular season stretch from previous years, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s at all fatigued from this season. He’s finally gotten used to playing 60-70 regular season games per year, but that’s without playoffs. I think Detroit are too strong and too experienced for the young up-tempo Coyotes. And with Jimmy Howard’s play over the second half of the season, he looks poised to have a great Playoff performance. I don’t like betting against this Phoenix team, but dislike betting against Detroit even more.
Verdict: Detroit in 6 games.

There you have it. These are my 1st round predictions. What are your predictions?

Stay classy, NHL Playoffs.

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