Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Cup’

NHL.com Is Pretty Damn Accurate

May 25th, 2011

It wasn’t pretty, but none of that matters. Kevin Bieksa’s overtime goal on Tuesday night put the Vancouver Canucks into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. It’s an incredible achievement for the NHL’s top regular season team, although Bieksa was quick to point out the goal was a bit of a “duck.”

For anyone who missed it, the puck took a crazy bounce off a glass partition known as a stanchion. No player on the ice knew where the puck had bounced to, except Bieksa, who took the quickest shot possible to beat San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi. Although the shot beat Niemi, the “duck” comment came from Bieksa in a post-game interview admitting he fanned on the slapshot.

What makes the unique goal even more incredible, however, is the accuracy of NHL.com’s game stats. In fact, I was so blown away how precise the stats were, I had to take a screenshot. Check it out:

(Click here for a hi-res image)

In all seriousness, congrats to the Vancouver Canucks. Boston or Tampa: you have your work cut out for you now.

Stay classy, Vancouver Canucks. Stanley Cup finalists.

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.

The Vancouver Canucks. Wait, who???

October 4th, 2010

Recently I was asked to write an article about the Vancouver Canucks. I figured “why not,” I’m always up for a challenge. Trouble is, I really didn’t (and still don’t) know much about the Canucks, beyond the fact they are easily Canada’s best shot at a Stanley Cup.

Obviously that doesn’t say much since everyone knows Canada’s next best hockey team might not make the playoffs. Despite my embarrassingly poor knowledge of the Canucks, I’m reasonably comfortable stating the Canucks are the best team in the Western Conference with identical twins.

Image of the Vancouver Canucks

I’m a bit of an optimist (well not really, but still), so maybe this will be one of those “fun” posts where I do research and learn something new about the team. OK, I’m totally in for doing a Canucks article. I’ve convinced myself! *Begins research*

Researching and learning about Vancouver’s hockey team started out well, too. For example, I just read the team cut Brendan Morrison from his pro tryout. Instantly, I’ve learned the difference between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames. But that was the only “easy” information to learn. I started reading more about the on-ice tendencies of all Canucks players and got really confused. The article described how hockey goalies often dive and flop around on the ice. I found this weird and confusing because I didn’t think Alex Burrows was a goalie. What the hell???

Then I discovered there’s a small controversy over who the new team captain will be. I even talked to several Canucks fans about the issue. It seems the consensus choice is either Ryan Kesler or Henrik Sedin. Both seem like great choices to me, especially since neither of them will require a bilingual stepping stool in order to jump over the boards for each shift.

Throughout my research, it was clear the Vancouver Canucks are considered a top contending team for this year’s Stanley Cup. No one has declared this an “all or nothing” season (although typically that’s something you do to justify signing a checking center to a $7.5 Million contract, or something like that…), but this year probably stands as the year the Canucks Stanley Cup window begins to close. I’m told this window will shut far quicker since it doesn’t have to close over top of Shane O’Brien and Kyle Wellwood. Wellwood is apparently going to the KHL. O’Brien, well, I’m guessing he’ll just hibernate over the winter months after being placed on waviers.

Perhaps the biggest reason many see this year as Vancouver’s chance to win the Stanley Cup is because the arch-rival Chicago Blackhawks lost some of their depth and skilled players during the off-season. Of course, Dustin Byfuglien’s trade to the Eastern Conference means Roberto Luongo will only have to worry about his own teammates trying to kill him.

It also means Luongo has one less person to blame during the four or five times he fakes an injury each game…

After doing all this research, I’ve concluded this will be an interesting year for the Vancouver Canucks. The pressure is on to win, but the players and management should be used to that since Canucks fans have expected a Stanley Cup win for the better part of the last decade. Even if they don’t win, the Canucks can take comfort knowing they still have their first round pick in 2011′s Entry Draft.

Stay classy, Vancouver Canucks.

Things to consider when picking a new team captain

September 29th, 2010

On Wednesday morning, the Montreal Canadiens officially announced Brian Gionta as their new team captain. It’s a great selection too, even though it took the Canadiens way too long to figure it out and announce it. I think the long awaited announcement took longer than most of their Centennial pre-game ceremonies last year… ouch.

Brian Gionta - Montreal Canadiens newest captain

Is it Captain... or "Chaptain?"

Anyways, choosing a team captain for a storied franchise can’t be easy. There’s literally hundreds of thoughts and factors that go into such an important decision. A good friend of mine, who is very connected with the Canadiens, recently sent me some interesting criteria the Habs had for picking their new captain. With today’s news, I figured many fans would be interested to see how Gionta ended up with the “C.”

Consider: Is the player American?
Reason: The last Habs captain who was American played in the NHL until he was 100.

Consider: Is the player 25 or younger?
Reason: Historically, the last two Stanley Cup winning teams have had very young captains.

Consider: Is the player a goalie?
Reason: Fans will forever wonder if the “C” on the face mask stands for “Canadiens” or “Captain.”

Consider: Can the player fight?
Reason: It’s important that the captain be able to occasionally defend teammates on the ice or in dark alleyways.

Consider: Does the player have a strong sense of humour?
Reason: He’ll need to know when and when not to laugh during Carey Price interviews.

Consider: Does this player have any Stanley Cup experience?
Reason: We’re not picking captains for the Toronto Maple Leafs…

Consider: Is this player’s name easy to spell?
Reason: Spelling C-A-M-A-L-L-E-R-I or P-L-E-K-A-N-I-C-H-X is a pain in the ass.

Consider: Is this player photogenic?
Reason: Former Canadiens captain, Saku Koivu, didn’t always have his eyes open in some pictures.

Consider: Can this player speak French?
Reason: He needs to be able to hold conversations with media and fans like “Je suis d’accord, nous aurions dû garder Halak.”
(Translation: “I agree, we should have kept Halak.”)

There you have it! That’s how Brian Gionta ended up as the Montreal Canadiens captain. Please don’t hate me, Habs fans.

Stay classy, NHL team captains.

Unwritten hockey rules

August 24th, 2010

Last night I was involved in a very minor post-whistle scuffle during a rec hockey game (whatever – it was playoffs!!). Basically, I drove the net and gently rubbed up against the goalie. The opposing defenceman didn’t like it and wanted to let me know how he felt about it. That provoked me to communicate my feelings about his mother, blah blah blah. Of course when I say “gently rubbed up” I really mean whacked and bowled over.

This is one of those unwritten rules within the game. Defencemen always stick up for their goalies and players (probably) shouldn’t hit opposing goalies. Given this story, I thought it would be appropriate to look at some other unwritten hockey rules that exist on and off the ice.

Fighting after a hit
In the New NHL, you have to fight after making a big hit. Hell, you have to fight if you thought about making the hit but decided against it. This rule pretty much applies to every NHL player except Tomas Kaberle. Come on, we all know Tomas wouldn’t ever think about making a bodycheck, much less make one!

Celebrating Stanley Cups when you’ve been traded
As we saw with Dustin Bufyglien, it’s sort of a faux-pas to celebrate your day with the Stanley Cup in your new team jersey (Buff’s case: Thrashers jersey) when the Cup was won a few months ago with the Blackhawks. Or maybe the mini media frenzy that spurred from this was a subtle play by the Canadian hockey media to voice their opinions of struggling sunbelt teams??

Inappropriate commercials
The NHL, owners and players all frown upon bad and/or inappropriate TV commercials. When Bruce Boudreau continued making terrible TV commercials, the hockey Gods punished him by making his Capitals lose a playoff series against team who boasted players like Hal Gill, Dominic Moore, some “out of nowhere” goalie, coached by Jacques Martin. When George Laraque did the Octane 7 Energy drink commercial, the Montreal Canadiens basically terminated his NHL career. The combination of losing your NHL contract and ending up working in Canadian politics is a pretty rough punishment by anyone’s standards.

Faking injuries
The line between drawing a penalty and faking an injury is blurred at best. Most players barely understand where that line starts and ends. In an effort to help, let’s just put that line at Albert Haynesworth and that night Sean Avery nearly died.

Trash talking
No matter what is said, trash talking on the ice during a hockey game is perfectly acceptable. Even if you have zero intention of fighting. However, the following are places that aren’t regarded as appropriate for trash talking: Dressing room treadmills, on-ice Stanley Cup celebrations and Twitter.

Ease up on icings
The NHL wants to create dramatic and exciting races to pucks by continuing with touch-icing. The players seem to be against “trying to kill each other” and – for the most part – do their best to not hit one another while racing for the puck. In my opinion, this is a good example of the NHL’s inability to fully conceptualize ideas… The most exciting part of touch-icing is seeing how quickly the ambulance can get to the hospital. Hello CAM-bulance.

Stay classy, unwritten hockey rules.

Signs your hockey team is in trouble

June 23rd, 2010

It’s a busy time in the hockey world. The NHL Entry Draft and the start of Unrestricted Free Agency are both days away and teams are actively trying to better their rosters in any and every way possible. This even includes making trades, something I’m not accustomed to after last year’s “trade deadline”.

For most teams it’s a very exciting time. For others it’s a time of hopelessness and despair. Here are some signs your hockey team might be in trouble:

  • You recently traded for a player who once won a Stanley Cup for your franchise. Problem is he’s twice as old as your best player, Zach Parise.
  • Glenn Sather is still employed by your organization.
  • Your designated number one goalie for next season has averaged just 42 games played in each of his last five seasons.
  • Your GM is heavily considering offering the league maximum salary to Lebron James.
  • Recently Pierre McGuire was considered a finalist for your vacant GM position. I’m looking at you, Minnesota.
  • Your head coach just stepped down to be a (another) team advisor. Between you, the braintrust of Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, Mike Sillinger and others, you are one really old guy away from becoming the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • It’s been more than a full season since you last had a team Captain. Even the Leafs recently named a Captain!
  • You resigned Matt Cooke to a 3-year contract extension.
  • The core players of your franchise were the considered core players of your team before the lockout. I think one those core players might retire this summer too.
  • Steven Stamkos’ 2010 Rocket Richard trophy win is probably the highlight of your team’s season, next season.
  • It’s been almost a week since I last heard a ‘truculence/tough’ speech from Brian Burke.
  • Doug Wilson, your General Manager, intends to follow the Flyers goaltending model by “not paying very much for it.”  This should help you get closer to the Stanley Cup and finally not choking next season…
  • You legitimately believe “he didn’t object to the fact that maybe it’s time – the way (he’s) been received – now maybe it’s time” makes any sense to anyone.

Stay classy, troubled NHL teams.

Saturday Chat Roulette Sessions (June 12 edition)

June 12th, 2010

Good afternoon hockey fans. Are you bored? Do you not know what to do with yourself now? Yeah me too. Instead of sulking that the NHL season is over (congrats again to the Chicago Blackhawks on their Stanley Cup win), I decided to take some Chat Roulette screenshots.

This week’s Chat Roulette escapades are an all Philadelphia Flyers special featuring Mike Richards-the Price of Wales trophy, Bobby Clarke reviewing the season with team executives and a professional giving Chris Pronger advice. Enjoy.

Stay classy, NHL Chat Rouletters.

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.

This is the weirdest Stanley Cup Finals. Ever.

June 9th, 2010

Does this not feel like the strangest Stanley Cup Finals ever? Each of the five games in this series have felt a little off and a little wrong. In fact it barely feels like the Stanley Cup Finals… provided you ignore the patches on the jerseys and CBC/Versus reminding us every few minutes of every broadcast.

And although many of us probably felt Chicago and/or Philadelphia would be playing for the Cup back in October, I think we all secretly assumed they’d be doing so with different goalies miraculously acquired during the season via trade or act of God or something.

Ha Ha! I’m laughing at the thought of this… can you imagine if Washington hadn’t shit the bed and gotten to the Finals to play Chicago??? We’d be seeing scores like 15-14 every game! NHL Marketing could call it the “Baseball Series” or something stupid like that. That would be in theme with the Winter Classic too (It’s also clever because both cities legitimately have baseball teams… Wait. You already knew that… crap!). I’m sure that would go over well with the average American sports fan who hates hockey!

(To all the great American hockey fans who read this, you are exempt from my mockings… for now).

Let’s talk about the Conn Smythe trophy for a second. Could there be a less unanimous Playoff MVP? It reminds me of 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks won the Cup and Scott Niedermayer was named MVP. That one totally felt like a “Ahh, whatever” pick. Allow me to explain with a relatively accurate depiction:

Dudes who pick the Conn Smythe winner: So who should we pick?

NHL: Well the Ducks did win so you should probably pick someone from Anaheim. Also, every Senator player sucked in the Finals so yeah, pick a Duck.

Dudes: How about Niedermayer? He’s old and probably worthy. In a Dave Anderchuk kind of way.

NHL: Sure. Sounds good.

Gary Bettman: Yeah sounds really good guys!!

Dudes/NHL: Shut up Gary!!

In all likeliness I suspect one of Jonathan Toews or Chris Pronger will win the Conn Smythe. Patrick Kane might have an outside shot but I think it all comes down to which team wins the Cup. Speaking of Pronger, what the hell kind of Cup Finals is this when Pronger is the good guy (sort of)?? CBC’s done a great job of selling that one (the experienced and savvy vet who’s enjoying the moment blah, blah, blah…). But what the hell? Aren’t we supposed to hate him? Wasn’t he supposed to get suspended at some point during the Flyers run to the Finals? I’m confused. I guess I’ll continue rooting for Toews.

Want to know why the NHL agrees with me that this year’s Finals are weird? They pulled all those current “What if…” commercials and replaced them with the “Speechless” ones that feature winners from years past (Bret Hull, Mark Messier, etc…). Ha ha, “What if the Stanley Cup Finals didn’t suck…”.

Now let’s end with goaltending. Somehow Hawks goalie Antti Niemi has won three games this round, yet has allowed four or more goals in all but one of those games. Ouch. What’s even more surprising is that he hasn’t been pulled in the series despite allowing 19 goals in five games. And then there’s Michael Leighton – perhaps the worst goalie to ever play in the Stanley Cup Finals. I know that sounds harsh. He legitimately seems like a great team guy (in all sincerity). But it’s like he’s pulled once per series. At least. It’s like that Anchorman line, “60% of the time, he works every time”. Fitting, I know.

Anyways, we’ll see how tonight’s game 6 in Philadelphia goes. Imagine the score is something ridiculous like 8-6 Chicago and we see both goalies pulled on a night where the Stanley Cup is awarded. That would be hilarious and amazing. Enjoy the game!

Stay classy, Stanley Cup Finals. Even if you are the weirdest one ever.

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Saturday Chat Roulette Sessions (June 5 edition)

June 5th, 2010

Hello and good Saturday evening. Is there anything better than getting a glimpse into our favorite NHL star’s Chat Roulette happenings on a Stanley Cup Final off-day? I think not.

This week’s Chat Roulette escapades feature Kerry Fraser-Jim Joyce, the always mature Jason Spezza and Taylor Hall with an MTV darling (sort of). Enjoy.

Stay classy, NHL Chat Rouletters.

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