Posts Tagged ‘NHL’

Super Playoff Weigh-In

May 10th, 2011

It’s about time I weigh in with some playoff thoughts. But first one quick thing to mention:

OK. These playoffs have been great. The first round was absolutely killer. Easily the best first round I can recall. For me, some highlights included watching game seven of the Blackhawks-Canucks series in a downtown Chicago bar. You could hear a pin drop in that packed bar for the majority of the third period. That is, until Jonathan Toews did something amazing. Then things got nuts. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Chris Campoli made the biggest error of his career by assisting on Alex Burrows series winning goal.

» Read more: Super Playoff Weigh-In

New Coaches and Early Peaks

April 15th, 2011

Jack Capuano, head coach of the New York Islanders

On Tuesday the New York Islanders officially named Jack Capuano as their head coach. I say officially because Capuano had been the interim head coach since the Islanders fired previous coach Scott Gordon back in November of last year.

So starting next season the Islanders will have another new head coach running the show; their third coach since 2008. The timing seems a bit strange, given the announcement came the day before the Stanley Cup playoffs got underway, and after a number of other coaches were just fired (some of whom posting substantially better records too).

But whatever, I don’t really care about that. What I do find interesting is the shelf life and impact of relatively new (read: inexperienced) NHL coaches. There seems to be a bit of a trend with new NHL coaches who come from the AHL with lots of buzz. They get off to quick success, varying degrees of success mind you, then even out. And then before you know it, are hearing rumours stating they’ve “lost the [dressing] room.”

In other words, they peak early.

I can’t help but wonder if inexperienced coaches who’ve graduated from a club’s AHL team and into the NHL fail to truly command respect from their players. Sure they have good relationships with some of the players who’ve also spent time in the club’s development system, but is the respect there? I’m talking the kind of respect players have for coaches with 5-10 years of experience.

» Read more: New Coaches and Early Peaks

Web Savvy Hockey Fans Aren’t Always A Good Thing

March 23rd, 2011

As far as sports fans go, the NHL’s are regarded as some of the most web savvy on the planet. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons why the NHL has gained popularity in the US in recent years.

It’s not like the NHL and its teams don’t know this or take advantage of it either. These days virtually every team has an official Twitter account. NHL.com is cutting edge. The New Jersey Devils invite fans to a social media-charged box during home games. The NHL’s COO John Collins set out to make the best online sports portal in NHL Center Ice and pretty much succeeded. The list goes on and on.

Collins and the NHL have quickly racked up 1.4 Million fans on Facebook too. That’s more than double what Major League Baseball has, despite the fact that hockey is nowhere near as popular as baseball in North America and beyond.

That’s all well and good. The NHL has loyal online fans and has worked some great initiatives to further engage them. All this feel good online love can’t possibly turn to bad… can it?

» Read more: Web Savvy Hockey Fans Aren’t Always A Good Thing

The NHL Just Got Chara’d

March 13th, 2011

About a year ago, when I wrote about a hit in the OHL, I have to admit that I was close to writing a blog proclaiming that someday, an NHL hockey player will be killed on the ice. I’m not talking about a heart attack, or some one-off freak play involving a skate and a jugular vein (a.k.a. Clint Malarchuk and Neck Guards).

Zdeno Chara hitting Max Pacioretty into arena stanchion

Chara on Pacioretty: One hand off the stick, guiding Pacioretty's head into the stanchion.

I’m talking about a collision. Involving players. Perhaps an unmovable board. Or even a moveable iron hockey net. Or how about a stanchion, a term which until last week, wasn’t even in the vocabulary of most casual hockey fans?

» Read more: The NHL Just Got Chara’d

My take on the Washington Capitals

February 3rd, 2011

For the last few years the Washington Capitals have been expected to go on deep playoff runs and be a serious threat for the Stanley Cup. This we know. However, the 2010-2011 season hasn’t exactly gone perfect for the Caps. This we also know. But tell me, why are so many fans and experts freaking out?

Pictures of the Washington Capitals

The Capitals may not be the league’s top team at the moment, but it’s not like they are the worst. Not even close. It’s not like they are the Senators.

With Washington struggling this year, many are writing them off as Cup favourites and further more, are saying their window to win is quickly closing. Naturally I totally and complete disagree. In fact I even wrote about this very matter on The Score. It would be worth your time to read about it…

Why I think the Caps have plenty of time left to win – Washington’s Stanley Cup Window: Closing or Not Yet Open?

Stay classy, (struggling) Washington Capitals.

My terrible ode to the Great One

January 28th, 2011

Everyone on this planet knew it was Wayne Gretzky’s 50th birthday on Wednesday. If you didn’t you probably live under a rock. Or in America. You know, because all Americans don’t care about hockey. OK I’m kidding. Most Americans. (I’m just screwing around).

Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton OilersAnyways, many were busy compiling lists or remembering the greatest Gretzky moments.
Not me though
. But since you asked, one of my biggest Gretzky memories, aside from seeing him get into a fight and ejected from a Kings-Senators game in the 90′s at the Civic Center (I’m totally dating myself…), was seeing team Canada eliminated by the Czech’s at the 1998 Olympics in a shootout that didn’t feature 99 (but did feature Ray Bourque – Really??). It still blows me away that the world’s greatest hockey player didn’t shoot for Canada.

Where was I? Ahh yes. Gretzky’s birthday. Instead of doing lists and memories and all that stuff that I would have made crappy, I wrote an ode to Gretzky’s talent. Well, sort of. You know… in my “what the hell is Burgundy talking about” kind of way. Not to sound all sissy and lame, but I touch on what it must feel like to be Gretzky in comparison to mere mortals like you and I. To have that kind of skill at anything would be amazing… it’s really not that corny. You should just check it out and I should stop talking.

Read “Feeling Like Gretzky” over on The Score’s Houses of The Hockey.

Stay classy, Wayne Gretzky. Again, happy belated birthday.

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.

Canada/Russia Prediction & Trade Implications

January 5th, 2011

Just a quick post today with the huge World Junior Hockey Championship game less than 30 minutes away. This should be a great game as the Russians have really come together as a team throughout this tournament, improving in each game they’ve played. Meanwhile the Canadians seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment and have a solid physical element that no team has been able to match yet in this two week tournament. This sets us up nicely for a great game.

Prediction: Canada wins 4-2 in a tight but electrifying game with tons of highlights, hits and slick moves. What’s your prediction?

*    *    *    *

Let’s talk about trades for a second.

Sometimes they can have a negative effect on an organization, in addition to on-ice performances. Senators fans know the latter well, but sometimes trades shouldn’t be made to build team credibility. Sometimes it’s better to not trade a veteran, even if he’s a pending UFA. I believe such is the case with long time Senators defenseman Chris Phillips.

* GASP *

“What? What the hell is wrong with you, Burgundy!!?!”

Ahh yes, the inevitable disagreement. I’m sure it will happen with many of you in a matter of moments. But before you cast me off as a complete wanker, check out my latest column on Houses of the Hockey to know why I think the Sens shouldn’t trade “Big Rig.”

Click here to read “Organizational Credibility” on The Score.

Stay classy, World Junior Hockey Championships.

Boxing Day Equals World Junior Hockey

December 26th, 2010

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you all are having a great holiday season. You reading this means you got through Christmas Day with the in-laws and/or survived Boxing Day Shopping. And your holidays are only going to get better with the World Junior Hockey Championships starting later today!

At 3:30pm EST, Canada kicks things off against Russia while Finland plays USA at 8pm. I love the World Junior’s as much as the next hockey fan, however, I find the tournament seems to generate a certain amount of arrogance from Canadian hockey fans. It’s really weird.

Canadians aren’t arrogant about much, but I feel like many assume Canada is the only country that produces solid hockey players. I think there are several countries that are quickly becoming as good as Canada.

Click here to read Canadian Arrogance on The Score.

All that aside, enjoy the day and more importantly, enjoy the tournament. May the best team win.

Stay classy, World Junior Hockey lovers! Happy Holidays to you all.

Waffle Insight: A small chat with THE Waffle dude

December 22nd, 2010

In typical Burgundy fashion, I have another weird-ass story that treads on ‘WTF territory.’ Here we go…

It’s a normal Wednesday night in Toronto which means it’s cold, I’m tired and I’ve got hockey to play.

On a night that saw my team win, take over first place in our league and me scoring a hat trick (seriously – now I can coast like Alex Kovalev for the rest of the year with no questions asked!), something cooler happened. “But how, Burgundy, how? What could possibly have topped such an epic on-ice performance??”

Kevin Burgundy and the Waffle Man (with a waffle)

The picture is real but the waffle might not be. Well, maybe.

I met Joseph Robb. No big deal.

Who? Joseph Robb. You know, the Toronto Maple Leaf fan facing charges after throwing waffles onto the ice during the Leafs loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday night. I’m not even kidding. Where did I meet him? At the local hockey rink of course. My God – Us Canadians are so cliche…

It seems MLSE hasn’t banned him from local hockey arena’s. Yet.

Some teammates and I were enjoying a post-game brewski (or five) after our big win when a few guys from another team entered the dressing room. If you aren’t familiar with unspoken beer league hockey rules, it’s customary to “kick out” the team using the dressing room before you. It’s basically one group of guys telling the other group “Alright, we’ve waited long enough. Get out so we can get dressed for our game.”

As we were leaving, Robb was the first of his team to enter the dressing room. A minute or two later, a few of his teammates jumped into the room with newspaper clippings and screenshots of TSN’s article. They explained (and proved) Robb was and is the waffle guy. Robb was celebrated in the room as though he just won the Stanley Cup. Or as if he was Brian Burke and actually fired Ron Wilson.

Everyone was dying laughing. This man was and is a king!

Robb mentioned he had to take the day off work because his phone wouldn’t stop ringing with national media outlets, radio stations and sports shows all wanting to speak with him.

So I asked him a few more questions.

The obvious one: How did you get the waffles into the building?
He explained he snuck the waffle packages into the Air Canada Center under his coat when entering the arena prior to the game starting. He indicated the waffles (of the Eggo brand) thawed pretty quickly.

Editor’s note: I’m kind of impressed he held onto the waffles for so long (He threw the waffles on the ice in the 3rd period, when the score reached 5-1 for the Thrashers).

The next obvious question: Why did you throw the waffles?
He said he wanted to make a statement. That statement – That he’s tired of the Leafs losing most of their games and playing “like shit.” He couldn’t stress enough how big a fan he is of the Leafs. He wants a better team to cheer for. Tough to blame him there.

Some other bits of info of Toronto’s newest Hero:

  • The beer Robb is holding in the picture above is from my hockey team. It was our last beer and we figured he earned it.
  • According to Robb, he “had to” take the day off work to deal with the amount of phone calls he’s received from friends, family and national news outlets. He said his parents were slammed with phone calls from reporters all day too.
  • A US-based radio station offered to fly Robb to their studio Thursday morning for an in-person interview. He declined because he had a hockey game to play on Wednesday night.Editor’s note: That’s amazing. What a true Canadian.
  • The local bar near Robb’s home apparently has a picture of him with the newspaper clipping that patron’s have cheered for and celebrated since being put up. The picture was brought to the bar by Robb’s father.
  • Robb has been contacted by several Toronto-based lawyers who’ve all offered their services for free on account of “[the pending charges are] total bullshit.” (Sorry for the language – according to Robb, it’s official lawyer-speak).
  • Robb is unsure of his next move, however, he acknowledged it would be wise to keep a low profile for the time being.

Stay classy, Joseph Robb. I hope your crown bares some waffle-like characteristics.