Monday, October 30, 2006

Moving time

I've had it with Blogger and have moved my blog to 8feet.ca. I haven't gotten the chance to move all my previous posts as of yet, but should have it there soon. See you there.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Trash talk

Bruins fans sick of the garbage they've been watching, vented their frustrations last night following a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Canadians. Andrei Markov scored the game winner with 1.2 seconds left on the clock which proved to be too much for Boston faithful. Fans showered the ice with all manner of trash which prompted officials to let the clock run out without a final face-off. With that loss, Boston is now tied with the Flyers for last in Eastern conference. It was this same kind of start last year that prompted the team to trade all-star Joe Thornton to San Jose. Who knows what Boston has in mind this year to reverse their fortunes. A good idea might be to start trading off their older assets and starting rebuilding in earnest. God help this club, lord knows they can't seem to help themselves.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What would you do?

Talk about having a good problem. Pittsburghs general manager, Ray Shero, has the difficult task of deciding whether or not to keep 18 year old Jordan Staal in the NHL for the season. This looks like a no-brainer at first glance as Staal has been playing well in all aspects of his game. However, Shero has to take into consideration the contracts of all 3 of his talented centers. On the 'Con' side of it, Malkin and Staal's rookie contracts would end the same year. Can Pittsburgh afford to give them the hefty raises they would surely deserve a year after giving Crosby one? We should also consider the fact that Staal would be lost to free-agency at the tender age of 25 if he stays. The 'Pros' of keeping Staal up is that he is NHL ready now. Sending him down would be nothing more than a budget decision, not a hockey one. What kind of message does this send to Jordan or the Pittsburgh fans? Also, if Staal is flourishing in the NHL, would sending him back to juniors hurt his development? Staal is more than likely to stay in the NHL this season, so what will this mean to the Penguins long term? They could go the way of Tampa Bay and sign all 3 to huge contracts but we've all seen how that experiment is working out. Chances are that one of Crosby, Malkin or Staal will be traded before they hit 25 to address another club need. This gives Pittsburgh a window of 3-5 years where they need to be a Cup contender while their talent is still young and relatively cheap. Ray Shero needs to surround these guys with established, proven talent to take full advantage of this opportunity. Much like Carolina did with the elder Staal last season. Every Stanley Cup champion has had young players who played beyond their years. Yep, tough choices in Steeltown but one that every GM in the league would like to have. Much like trying to decide between Miss October, Miss July and Miss September. I guess we'll find out how this all plays out in the coming years.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Live in the now, learn from yesterday

Question to the NHL: Why bother wasting your money coming up with lame hockey commercials when you can get others to do it for you better? I've sent the email to Gary Bettman thousands of times and am starting to get the feeling he isn't sending one back, so I'm posing the question here. Can't the NHL do better than it has been? Over the last decade or so there have been some memorable advertising from outside the NHL that have made them looked silly in comparison. Here are a few of them to get you all going. ESPN aired this little ditty back in the days when they actually used to show NHL games and highlights. Really. I'm not kidding you. Mats Sundin is front and center in this Nike ad. Didn't really like this one all that much but it's still better than the NHL's advertising. Nike is at it again. I have to say that this one is probably my all time favorite. Nike yet again. Same premise, still good. Look, even the Fox network was able to put out a decent NHL ad. Look at it closely and you'll notice the blue hue around the bowling ball for the American audience (now I am kidding you). Ahh... remember this commercial from Baeur/Nike? Lindros must long for these days again. Nowadays he needs the GM in Dallas to tell the security guys to allow him into the building. Molson Canadian. That's right a beer company can make anything look good. Another Molson commercial which may just answer the question on why I drank so much beer during the lockout. The boredom or the subliminal messages? At any rate, who can say no to such a powerful media campaign. Certainly not I. Of course we'll never see any action on the NHL's part to reverse their ads failings. They're still too pumped on the whole "Game on!" slogan from Waynes World back in 1992. Well Mr. Bettman as Garth once told Wayne in that movie, "Live in the now!!!" Party on Gary, party on.

Who's bad?

Here it is, the Micheal Jackson post we've all been waiting for... Well not really. That's just not going to happen on this site anytime soon. But, since most teams are coming to the 10 game mark of the season, I thought I'd take a look-see at which clubs were stinking the league up the most. More specifically, the three teams currently scraping the bottom of the NHL standings who were either supposed to be doing well or doing better this season. Which, if any, of these teams are going to pull it together and climb back into respectability?
The Flyers record through 8 games is 1-6-1 for a miserable 3 points. So far they've managed to score 15 goals while letting in 33. These guys haven't just been bad, they've 'looked' bad doing it. This start has already claimed the heads of the likes of Petr Nedved, GM Bobby Clarke and head coach Ken Hitchcock. Although the Flyers 15 goals is last in the league right now, scoring goals isn't this teams biggest problem. With the roster boasting players such as Forsberg, Richards, Carter and Gagne, the goals should eventually come. The problem with this team is their big sluggish defense. Hatcher and Rathje have become the leagues pylons as forward after forward blows by them. Bottom line is, if the Flyers can't find a maneuverable dman or two, this could be a long season in the city of brotherly love. Their goaltending is not good enough to be hung out to dry. If they figure out a way to upgrade their defense, they're as good as in the playoffs. Ugh, what can you say about Phoenix? Their key acquisitions from the summer have been playing sub-par hockey. Owen Nolan has a goal and a assist, ditto for Roenick who is -5. We won't even talk about Georges Laraque. The Dogs top line of Comrie, Nagy and Doan are playing well but outside of that it's slim pickings. The defense that Ed Jovanoski and Nick Boyton were brought in to stabilize has let in a league leading 38 goals. Goaltenders Cujo and Mike Morrison have been playing like they are ECHL backups. It's this brutal combination from their own end that spells out another mediocre season from the Desert Dogs. The best this team can hope for is that their youngsters like Lisin will mature faster. The Flames addressed their anemic offense by trading one of their valued defensemen for winger Alex Tanguay and promptly signed him to a large contract. Sutter probably would have been better off trading for 2 or 3 forwards at lesser prices. Besides Iginla, who has looked better this season, there isn't much else. The Flames offense has looked an awful lot like their offense last season, bad. The Kipper has looked human some nights in this young season which isn't good enough on a club that struggles offensively. The Calgary backend has keep the opposing teams from scoring more than a couple of goals a game if this team is going to go deep. So far they've been letting in a average of 3 per game. I have little doubt that this team can tighten up the D, but I have huge doubt in their ability to get their offense going.
All in all, Philly and Calgary have the best chance to turn the tides of the season. Some tinkering of their offense and defensemen, perhaps even a trade, and these clubs will be in playoff promiseland. That said, I don't believe they are Cup Contenders or even close to it. A few key injuries to either club and they'll be right there with Phoenix at the bottom of the barrel at the end of the season.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bobby's biggest trade

Tim Panaccio from the Philadelphia Inquirer was remembering those bygone days of Bobby Clarke on Hockeybuzz.com. More specifically, the trades Clark pulled the trigger on during his tenure with the Flyers. Amazingly, his list of the good and the bad didn't have one of the biggest trades in NHL history... Eric Lindros gets traded to Philly. You can make the argument that this 'was' the biggest trade in NHL purely on the quality of talent going in both directions and the impact it had on both clubs. I'll save the 'Gretzky to LA' or the 'Leafs and Flames gangbang swap' argument for another day. Back in 1992 while we were all listening to the likes of 4-Non Blondes, Blind Melon and Blur, Quebec traded Lindros to the Flyers in exchange for Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, and two first-round picks in 1993 and 1994. Oh yeah, and $15 million in filthy, cold hard cash. The 1993 first rounder was used to select Jocelyn Thibault. Quebec then traded Mats Sundin, Garth Butcher, Todd Warriner and a first-round pick to Toronto for Wendel Clark, Sylvain Lefebvre, Landon Wilson and the Leafs first-round pick in 1994. Questionable trade, but Quebec felt they needed the toughness of Clark. They must have figured that they already had Joe Sakic to man the center position. Another center, Peter Forsberg, plays his first NHL in the 1994-1995 season. He scored 50 points in the strike-shortened season and won the Calder Trophy. Quebec drafts Wade Belak and Jeff Keatly at 12th and 22nd in the 1994 draft with the their two first round picks. More importantly, they draft Chris Drury in the 3rd round Milan Hejduk in the 4th. In 1995 the Nordiques are moved to Colorado and hire Marc Crawford as Head Coach. Shortly before the beginning of the 1995-96 NHL season Wendal Clark is traded to the New York Islanders in a three-way deal that brought super pest Claude Lemieux to Colorado and Steve Thomas to the New Jersey Devils. Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky, and Andrei Kovalenko are dealt to Montreal in exchange for Mike Keane and Patrick Roy in December of 1995. The Avs go on to win the Cup for the first time. The Flyers? After acquiring Lindros, Clark was able to pull off one of the most productive trades in team history in 1995 when he acquired Eric Desjardins, Gilbert Dionne, and John LeClair from the Montreal Canadiens for Mark Recchi. The Flyers were a powerhouse for almost a decade but never managed to win it all, mostly because of less than stellar goaltending. Lindros had his famous feud with Clark after sustaining concussion after concussion and eventually was traded to the Rangers after holding out for a season. All of this, because of Bobby Clark. What will the NHL do without him?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tragedy in the Big Apple

CNN is reporting that a small airplane has crashed into a residential high rise building in New York City. The plane is registered to New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, who is believed to have been the pilot. My thoughts go out to Lidles family and the Yankee organization.