Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
ITS VERY USER FRIENDLY!
HOPEFULLY SEE YOU THERE,
ALSO LOOKING FOR ADVERTISERS INTERESTED? LET ME KNOW! email@example.com
First of all sorry about all the template changes today Hockeybums has decided they want a new look. I have decided to switch back to original template for the time being as our NEW WEBSITE IS BEING CREATED. I HOPED IT WOULD BE DONE BY THE END OF TODAY HOWEVER I THINK IT MAY BE TO MUCH. SO HOPEFULLY BY END OF TOMORROW OR UP AND RUNNING SUNDAY NIGHT WE WILL SEE!
Anything new you want included in new site drop me a comment!
Sopel and Byfuglien were late minute healthy scratches for tonight's game against the Stars. As for Nylander he had to play because the Caps were short on bodies, because of multiple injuries.
Nylander's cap hit is $4.875 million, as for Byfuglien it's $3 million per year and Sopel it's $2.5 million per season.
Nylander still has a house in Chicago; therefore, he is expected to lift his no-trade clause to move there.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
1. Nylander has a No-Trade
2. Hawks don't have enough cap room with Khabibulin there.
Bob Mckenzie reported a couple teams in need of goaltenders:
Perhaps Dallas or Columbus
We shall see.
Montreal had last year’s number one power play in the NHL, but they are now sitting 26th with a poor 14.6% success rate, while the Islanders power play has improved slightly from 29th to 25th overall. Streit has 12 points (he would be the Habs' 5th scorer) in 18 games, with only six of them coming with the man advantage.
Many thought Streit would struggle as a full-time defenseman, but he’s only minus-2 on a very ordinary islanders team. Streit has logged the ninth most ice time in the NHL with an average of 25:53 each game, including over six minutes on the power play.
Meanwhile, Ryan O'Byrne and Patrice Brisebois, who play with Roman Hamrlik, Streit's former partner on defense, have a combined 1 goal and 4 assists in 27 games this season...
Streit was the shooter on a very effective 1st unit last season along with Markov, Kovalev, Plekanec and A. Kostitsyn. This season, newly-acquired Alex Tanguay is also manning the point with Andrei Markov.
The latter was asked to be the shooter without great success, Markov being more of a passer than a shooter, as shown by his 1 goal and 13 assists in 17 games this season. As a result, the Habs have became very predictable on the power play, and the defensive team is putting much more pressure on Koivu (0 goal on the PP) and Kovalev (1 goal on the PP).
Guy Carbonneau has yet to adjust his strategy and the problem is more and more evident recently as the Canadiens have lost 4 of their last 5 games.
Will Carbonneau change his strategy or will Bob Gainey pull the trigger and acquire a power play specialist with a hard shot (Philippe Boucher anyone)?
Montreal is 'Canadian-dollar bad', tumbling drastically from last year's impressive highs but not yet at critical mass. The core strengths of last year's team, including team speed, sharp passing and Alex Kovalev in particular have in large part disappeared, which has consequently had a similar effect on the Habs' fortunes to that which the drop of commodity prices has had on the Loonie. Guy Carbonneau has reacted to the situtation by shuffling the deck once again, hoping to find some chemistry and balance among his offensive lines.
Ottawa is 'Global-finances bad', falling further and further into the depths of a terrible depression with no end in sight following an extended period of inflated expectations without the necessary fundamentals (toughness/goaltending) to support them. Adding injury to insult, Mike Fisher and Chris Neil will both miss at least two weeks of action with knee injuries. In an effort to rescue/stimulate the sagging Sens, coach Craig Hartsburg will reunite the Spezza-Heatley-Alfredsson line while the players, for their part, have elected to grow mustaches.
My condolences go out to Jason Spezza's upper lip and the shame it is soon to know.
1. Boston(Tim Thomas is UNBELIEVABLE)
This photo clearly shows the prominence of silver in the sweater design, especially the new logo.
It's obvious the Kings had their Gretzky (and for that matter Melrose) days in mind when when putting this one together.
In the image to the right you get a close-up of the new crest. Silver is all over it, trimming the banner as well as the LA. You can even find some in the crown.
Surprisingly, the silver really helps to keep this jersey from looking boring. I think it would've looked very flat just in white. Wait until you see the Kings on the ice with all the bright arena lights reflecting off the silver. They're going to look good.
If you can't make it out well in the picture above, there's silver piping running the length of the sleeve from the collar to the wrist. It's broken up however by a broad white stripe that wraps around the elbow. That stripe is trimmed in silver. And the thin stripe at the base of the jersey appears to be silver as well.
Overall, I think the Kings really got one right. It looks nothing like what they're wearing now, but it totally looks like the L.A. Kings.
Photos and article courtesy of Icethetics
Needless to say the season has gone better than many had originally thought (including yours truly) as evidence of tonights' 6-3 defeat of the Eastern Conference leading Rangers coming on the eve of Thursdays tilt against the Minnesota Wild. A battle that will determine the division lead at the quarter pull.
Not bad for a team that many had written off not only 8 weeks ago.
Talk to you soon...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We will see.
Months of uncertainty and speculation are likely to come to an end in the next week when Brian Burke and his associates meet with Richard Peddie and the MLSE. The groups have already spoken albeit lawyer to lawyer last weekend to confirm the Anaheim Ducks had signed papers allowing their former GM to talk with other teams and if reports are to be believed, groundwork was laid on the forthcoming negotiations.
With conjecture and rumor placing Burke in a potential cavalcade of locales in the week after his resignation, the reality is that, foregoing disastrous contractual talks, the Toronto Maple Leafs will name Brian Burke the organizations 13th general manager in its storied history with few other suitors looking to materialize at the eleventh hour. The move will be seen as a particular success for Peddie and sports lawyer Gord Kirke who have courted Burke from the moment they drew up a bullet point list of candidates and criteria early this year.
For Burke it will offer a chance to return to a hockey hotbed after three years in the sunbelt and an opportunity to combine his differing experiences in Vancouver and Anaheim with a side perennially teetering between media expectation and failure. Whilst Cliff Fletcher has done the best he could under the moniker of interim GM, development has been stunted and the popular veteran knew that he was merely laying a Schenn shaped biscuit base unto which the blue and white cheesecake would be built.
Burke will herald a much needed change of pace and common logic dictates that the incoming GM will be looking to put an early and indelible stamp on the Leafs be it waiving a high salary star such as the recently scratched Jason Blake, or trading big to secure a high level draft pick as he did in Hartford for Pronger. Whatever it may be, Burke could be seen as an accelerant to the rebuilding process the Leafs are undeniably facing after the era of stagnation seen under John Ferguson and with a modus operandi for rapid transition Burke is unlikely to wait it out in the Air Canada executive boxes.
With Burke’s arrival seen as an inevitability; many have decided to take the pre-incumbents period of grace as a chance to autopsy his past accomplishments to see what acumen the executive will bring to Toronto. Unavoidably most have chosen to draw comparisons between his most recent position in California and the dynamics of the Leafs organization he is about to inherit. Taking over the reigns of a Bryan Murray team steered for one season by Al Coates, Burke acquired control of Anaheim in 2005 fresh from the board room fallout in Vancouver. Securing a Stanley cup in just two seasons, Burke adopted a side that had drafted well under Murray and had built under its previous executives. Burke merely anchored the potential with Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer making minimal changes to an already winning formula.
Obviously the 2008 Maple Leafs are a different proposition to the 2005 Ducks. Half gutted in a stage of pre-rebuild and a roster so thin it would snap in the breeze, the Leafs don’t share the kind of prospects ladder Anaheim took into the lockout and don’t possess the brother of a blue chip defensemen, unless you consider Frantisek Kaberle a franchise blueliner.
With many subsequently looking to the successes and failures of the Anaheim franchise he left behind as a barometer for his suitability, it seems more likely that Burke will draw upon his four years in Vancouver as a starting point with the Maple Leafs physically small, short in depth and overtly European roster. Obtaining a Canucks side that had peaked and troughed under a decade of Pat Quinn, Brian Burke took charge of a Vancouver side that had finished dead last in the Pacific Division in '97-'98. With top scorer Pavel Bure refusing to play in Vancouver, Burke shipped the Russian megastar to Florida for franchise D-man Ed Jovanovski. With next to no offense Vancouver finished with the second worse record in the league but also the second overall draft pick. With twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin expected to be split for the first time in their careers on draft day, Burke rolled the dice to secure the third overall selection and both twins with a trade that saw Bryan McCabe and Vancouver's 2000 first round draft pick go to Chicago. With the Sedin's still gaining experience in the Swedish senior leagues in '99-'00 Vancouver punched above low expectations to just miss out on a playoff berth. Regardless with Burke getting the puzzle pieces in place early, the next three seasons saw Vancouver up their points tally from 83-90-94-104 before slipping to a still princely 101 points in Burke’s final year in charge.
Relying on unfashionable players to put up career points year in year out, Burke built on an early draft move to push the Canucks from bottom feeders to an elite unit that just lacked the quality required come the post season. Where he was shackled by the off ice salesmanship required to fill the General Motors Place, the guaranteed Air Canada sellouts will grant Burke the opportunity to tune the hockey formula that served so well in Vancouver. Furthermore with a fondness for physically strong and aggressive forwards Burke will find common ground in the west coast playing system currently favored by head coach Ron Wilson geared into a squad that currently lacks the prototypical Burke style players that could take the Leafs run and gun methodology to another level.
Subsequently when you take the Vancouver model into the context of the contemporary Leafs, the recruitment of Burke makes a lot of sense albeit with the idiosyncrasies common only to Toronto. Currently wavering in and about the fringes of a playoff place, Burke will be aware that finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference will only harm Toronto’s future on draft day. Expect Burke to fire sell players who do not fit into his long term plans early, fundamentally weakening the team for 2008-’09 with the goal of attaining a top two pick in the Tavares-Hedman draft. Don’t be surprised if Burke attempts to ship a big name for a first round draft pick, even if the trade bait is somewhat more scant in the 2008 Leafs than it was in the 1999 Canucks. Finally expect Burke to trade for west coast board runners and grinders and a full time enforcer in the George Parros mould, Mayers and Hollweg will not suffice on a Burke team that with little trade leverage are going to have to build from youth and development.
Burke’s era is upon us and, despite the naysayers, is a man with experience in rapid and successful rebuilds, you just have to look past Anaheim to see that he has succeeded before. Many may argue that the clash of personalities and the obstructive hand of Peddie could be a powder-keg in the years to come; but here and now Burke is the best man for the job.
I couldn't help but think of this line as I brought myself to write this amidst my workday... as busy and mundane as my typical workday can be, it doesn't suck as much as thinking of the Canadiens' play of late.
This blog was supposed to be a fun diversion. Yes, there was to be a fair amount of work involved, but it was new, interesting and full of possibility. Rather, I am at a point where it has become painful to watch the team, let alone write about their performances. Likewise, the Canadiens have seen what was supposed to be a phenomenal season, ripe with celebrations and expectations, turn absolutely sour.
If 'coming to the rink' every day isn't much fun for me right now, I can only imagine how much the 23-man roster representing Montreal must be enjoying themselves...
But maybe that's just what they need... and I don't mean a 'wake-up call' or a reminder that skill won't get them anywhere without the effort backing it. These guys are professionals, and should need no such prompt to get their asses in gear.
What I mean to say is maybe these guys need to stop enjoying themselves so much. I would even hazard to say that they need somebody to blow up. This team needs to hate losing, and I mean HATE it, like Kevin Lowe hates Brian Burke.
I don't believe there's any need to panic just yet and no need to shake things up via trade or other roster changes. All that's needed is for this foul funk to permeate and linger just long enough... right up until the point that somebody, or everybody, erupts.
The common excuse that guys are beginning to grip their sticks too tightly isn't nearly enough... I want to see a few guys snapping sticks and slamming them against the walls in frustration... I want to see some emotion.
I won't go so far as to say that losing is a good thing... getting your ass handed to you over and over again is never good for confidence... but somewhere along the way, confidence will no longer matter as the distaste of losing will consume this group, stoke their competitive fires, and get an undeniably talented team back on track.
All it takes is a shared vision or, in this case, a shared hatred.
Timmy C. will not play tonight due to Keith Tkachuk's massive hit.TIP: Connolly, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!!!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Claude Lemieux, who had been working out in Arizona to prepare for an NHL comeback attempt, was somehow convinced to play hockey in Asia with the China Sharks. The move happened quickly and he has already suited up for the Chinese team against Anyang Halla in the Asia League games this past weekend and recorded his first point with an assist in the Sunday game.
Looks like Lemieux's dream comeback turtled and went to China.
Mathhias Ohlund (he has a no-trade clause) for Antoine Vermette
Jordan Leopold and Tyler Arnason for Antoine Vermette and Chris Neil
- Marian Gaborik is more than ever on the trading block according to various sources. The Rangers, the Senators and the Canadiens are rumored to be interested.
- Brendan Shanahan is down to 4 teams. Washington, New Jersey, Boston and Philadelphia.
Eastern Teams In The Running(Check out my earlier post for the list of western conference teams)
Washington is the leader to land Max Afinogenov at this point and it seems that it's only Western Conference teams and the Capitals to land him.
Washington: Michael Nylander, Jeff Schultz, Milan Jurcina
That's what I've been hearing but if I hear more, I'll keep you updated
Carolina has lost 3 of their last 4, with Eric Staal (whose quasi-justified 7-year, $8.25M/year contract extension was just recently out-crazied by the Avalanche signing Paul Stastny to a 5-year deal worth $6.6M/year... straight out of his entry-level deal) putting up just NO goals and just 1 assist in his last 7 games.
Eric must be looking forward to playing Montreal however, with 8 goals and 8 assists in his last 12 games against the Habs, putting together a strong case as heir-apparent to Erik Cole's 'Canadiens-killer' throne. No matter how poorly things may be going for the 'Canes, no matter how desperately against the wall their backs may be, they seemingly always find a way to work their way past the Canadiens.
If Luke Decock's intuition is right, failure to pull one out against the Habs tonight may be a nail in the coffin of coach Laviolette's suddenly precarious tenure behind the bench in Carolina.
The Canadiens will look to avoid playing a prolonged game of 'Where's Wardo?' by putting some pucks on net in the first ten minutes of play (a feat they have not accomplished in their last few outings), and may look to an unlikely source for some offensive output tonight... Josh Gorges, goalless as a Hab in 97 games now, was provided a stick-sacrificing ritual courtesy of Carey Price, who shredded and scattered the bits of Gorges's stick around the RBC Centre to help break the curse that has kept him off the scoresheet.
Finally, in today's installment of "All is Right with the World", Sergei Samsonov has 0 goals and 3 assists in 18 games and stands at minus-10, allowing Hurricane fans to feel our pain... only they now have him under contract until 2010-11. He is pictured above in his favourite position--the perimeter.
In other news, Darren McCarthy has been waived by the Red Wings.
Pisani broke his ankle when battling the Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom for the puck in the third period on Monday. The hard-luck Pisani missed the first two months last season with ulcerative colitis.
Pisani had 6 points in 16 games this season.
The Ottawa Senators, 1st overall choice in 1995, was invited to the Flyers training camp on a try-out basis but had to be let go because of cap restrictions. In 619 NHL games, Berard, a power-play specialist, has 323 points.
I'm suprised Berard couldn't find a job in today's goal-starving NHL.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Montreal was coming off their worst performance of the season in Boston, and was heading into a gut-check weekend with back-to-back match-ups against Philadelphia on Saturday and St-Louis less than 24 hours later.
I was coming off a busy week at work and had planned a nice weekend with my girlfriend to celebrate her birthday, not knowing we'd wind up checking our own guts... as things turned out, it was to be a near-disastrous weekend for us as well as for the Canadiens.
Saturday morning came upon us in our suite at the Bed & Breakfast I had booked, though my girlfriend was not feeling up to par and passed on the breakfast that I was hoping would justify the cost of the room. The day had been set aside for leisurely shopping, though we would visit just one store before Jade gave in to the nausea she'd been experiencing all morning.
Just blocks away from our room, I was given urgent warning to pull over and so I did, stopping just in time to witness Jade vomit downstream (thanks to steady rain and a steep incline near Mount-Royal).
We followed by heading directly to our room, where Jade tried to sleep off her sudden illness and I wrote up my game preview for the Flyers game. True to form, she decided to tough it out and make an appearance at the Irish Embassy, where friends and family were to meet up with us to watch the game.
The Canadiens were playing respectable (if uninspired) hockey through 20 scoreless minutes of play and our company was beginning to loosen up when, nearing the end of the 1st intermission, I suddenly felt a tinge in my stomach. I mentioned to Jade that I wasn't feeling well and motioned towards the bathroom, instantly feeling disoriented. By the time I reached the stairs, I was dizzy and out of breath.
Next thing I knew, I was being picked up off the bottom of the stairs, lifted out of a puddle of my own puke. The bouncer was telling me he had already checked my ribs in case any were broken during my tumble down the flight of stairs, which was apparently overheard by the bar staff. I tried to regain composure, washing myself off in the bathroom, only to be consumed once again with the illness that ravaged me for the remainder of the evening.
Between spells of vomiting, I could overhear the displeasure of the fans at the Irish Embassy, disgusted with the performance of their team. Making my way back to our room in time for the 3rd period, I could overhear on the TV in the other room that they had fallen down 2-0 and were showing few signs of life.
The Habs did very little to appease my condition and, upon watching the seconds tick down on yet another discouraging outing, I was incited to unleash one final torrent of vomit into my trusty garbage can (apologies to the housekeepers).
Still feverish and bruised from head to toe, I watched the Canadiens slip out of St-Louis with a much-needed but far from convincing victory.
The weekend could have been worse, though I'm sure we all wish it would have been much better... well, less nauseating and far less painful, to say the least.
Finally, an enormous thanks to the wonderful staff at the Irish Embassy for their genuine concern and selfless assistance through a scary experience. Your help and hospitality were immeasurably appreciated!
As per a team release:
DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that it has signed 22-year-old center Paul Stastny to a five-year contract extension beginning with the 2009-2010 season. The deal is worth $6.6M per year.
“Paul has clearly established himself as one of the bright young stars emerging in our game today,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President & General Manager Francois Giguere. “At a young age, he’s demonstrated tremendous skill, vision and composure on the ice and is recognized as one of the most complete players in our league. “We’re pleased that Paul will remain with the Colorado Avalanche franchise long-term. This is another sign of our ownership’s commitment to winning.”
Great move by the Avalanche to lock their #1 centre to a long term contract, especially with Sakic's retirement looming.
Possible Interested Teams and Possible Players Going Other Way:
-St. Louis: Jay Mckee, Lee Stempniak, Cam Janssen
-Colorado: Marek Svatos, Paul Stastny(package for), Tyler Arnason
-LA: Kyle Calder, Alex Frolov(package for), Michal Handzus
- Vancouver: Kevin Bieksa, Mattias Ohlund(package for), Alexandre Burrows
Watch the Columbus Blue Jackets as they are in need of offense(well, and defense, but that really doesn't pertain to this matter) and at a crucial time too which means they will probably make some moves whether it's Afinogenov or whoever
Just some quick hits, leave your thoughts
17 games into the 2008-09 season, the Senators are sitting at the bottom on the Eastern Conference, a mere point in front of the lowly Florida Panthers and they are tied with the NY Islanders, after losing both games a back-to-back series against the latter team.
GM Bryan Murray signed Hartsburg to a three-year contract last June to replace John Paddock who had been fired in February. After a torrid start unded Paddock, the Senators stumbled, leading to his firing at the end of February. Murray, who is not known as being a patient general manager, finished the season behind the bench.
This season, the Senators have had troubles scoring goals, averaging only 2.4 goals/game after finishing 2nd overall offensively last season. Secondary scoring has been a problem all season, as Mike Fisher (2 g, 4 a, 6 points), Antoine Vermette (2 g, 2 a, 4 points) and Nick Foligno (2 g, 2a, 4 points, a team worst -11) haven't been able to get going as they are in a season-long slump.
Bryan Murray, because of the salary cap, hasn't been able to add a puck-moving defenseman nor a veteran forward (Mark Parrish anyone?) to help boost his anemic offense.
And since Bryan Murray will not fire himself because of his inability to make a trade, Craig Hartsburg is the likely scapegoat if the players don't turn things around.
Tonight in Madison Square Garden, the Cash line (Spezza, Alfredsson and Healtey) will be reunited in order to sparkplug a team that has only scored 12 goals in November (the Sens are 2-4-1 in 7 games). Rearguard Brendan Bell has also been recalled from Binghampton to help with the powerplay and the transition game.
This week will be critical for Craig Hartsburg as the Senators face the Rangers in New York tonight, before they host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday and those same Rangers on Saturday night.
Should his team doesn't manage to earn 4 points out of 6, look for Bryan Murray to pull the trigger and let Craig Hartsburg go. The Senators have 4 days off next week...
In 9 games this season Ersberg is 4-3-1, 1.96 GAA and .910 sv%. Last season he played in 14 games posting a 6-5 record with a 2.48 GGA and .927 sv%. He started in back to back games this week, against Nashville on Saturday and the Ducks on Sunday. Thats a huge confidence boost for the youngster and it tells the fans they have a new starting goalie.
Ersberg was signed by the Kings as a unrestricted free agent in 2007 after playing in the Swedish Elite League and spent a short 30 games on the Kings minor league affiliate, Manchester, before being called up to the big show.
Fantasy Tip - If you dont have a solid #1 starter or if your points are suffering because of injuries (Brodeur, Nabokov), Ersberg is a diamond in the ruff. He will start a majority of games and the Kings defense has been exceptional.
McDonald was having a great season with six goals and a team-leading 18 points in his first 16 games. He is slated to have an MRI on Monday.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
He underwent an MRI on yesterday which revealed the full extent of the injury. Beauchemin appeared in 18 games with Anaheim this season and scored five points, including four goals and one assist.
Right winger Bobby Ryan and defenceman Brett Festerling were both called up in Beauchemin’s absence. Festerling will try to step into Beauchemin's spot and help the Ducks blueline.
Update: Komisarek is out with a dislocated shoulder. He will likely out more than one week. Stay tuned.
In 16 games this season, Boucher had 3 points. He was in his 6th season in Dallas. Boucher, a right handed shooter, should help Pittsburgh powerplay.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The Canadiens are coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins, while Philadelphia has been struggling out of the gate, posting a 5-6-4 record to date. If you think things have been getting hairy here in Montreal after a couple dismal performances and a 9-3-2 record, imagine what must have been said during Philadelphia's team-meeting, which they called in place of their scheduled practice yesterday morning in Verdun.
These teams have played some wickedly entertaining games in the past couple seasons--Montreal's speed against Philly's toughness--though its impossible to guess which two teams you are going to see tonight.
Will Montreal effectively utilize the speedy, skilled transition game that allowed them to dominate the Senators on Tuesday, or will they resemble the soft, sluggish and uninspired club that never really showed up in Toronto and Boston?
Will Philadelphia come out with the smashmouth mentality and explosive firepower that has been the trademark of the Flyers, or will they be exposed as the defensively inept and uncharacteristically disorganized club that needed 7 games to record their first win.
Photos at Habs Inside/Out's photo gallery may provide a hint as to Montreal's performance tonight: images from yesterday's practice session do not show a single smile... photos taken during practices prior to Columbus/Toronto and Boston were full of happy Habs, including this gem of Robert Lang. Happy Habs are bad Habs... will the reverse apply? One thing is (hopefully) for sure... with all the hullabaloo surrounding Georges Laraque's non-action so far this season (and don't think for a minute that he doesn't know it), the slightest affront by a Flyer tonight will awaken the big man from his slumber to re-assert himself as the Heavyweight Champion of the World... but then, maybe no affront is needed...
With “100” emblazoned across every conceivable item of memorabilia lest the ice at the Bell Center there is undeniable pomp and pride being wagered at the Canadiens centennial and why not. With North American sports so often criticized for their lack of heritage a storied and historic franchise like the Montreal Canadiens with their wealth of traditions can do nothing if not enrich the NHL itself.
Indeed the NHL has taken unprecedented steps to accommodate its most iconic property in this landmark year allowing the dual hosting of the 2009 NHL All Star game as well as the 2009 NHL entry draft.
Naturally the season was shaping up to be a spectacle with the Habitants taking center stage and even the most partisan rival would find it hard to grumble. Unfortunately the same regard cannot be shared with the current bias in the preliminary all star voting.
Baseball fans first received the all star vote in 1947. Utilizing a simple at-the-gates ballot slip procedure, the all star election remained a populist mechanism of the MLB to draw fan participation and subsequent interest into the game. Whilst the tactic worked for a decade, the system quickly collapsed in 1957 with the ballot box stuffing scandal in which 7 Cincinnati Reds were elected by virtue of pre rendered cards in the Cincinnati Enquirer alongside reports of bartenders refusing drinks to none Reds voters. Forced to lose face and replace players, it took the MLB a further 12 years until it would entrust the integrity of its showcase game to the fans again.
Despite the rigors experienced by the MLB, the fan vote was brought into the NHL equation in 1986 amidst a down turn in media interest in the all star event. Instituted in much the same way as the MLB had done in 1947, the vote remained an innocent enough marketing tool for a game perceived as ever more meaningless in the era of multi million dollar contracts.
Regardless the fan vote continued to thrive throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, even if the event didn’t and evolution came in the form of digital online voting once more changing the complexion of fan interaction towards the end of the 90’s. Now any supporter with a computer and an internet connection could cast their choices with minimal fuss, opening up the All Star game to an even greater audience. The move was not without its risks however, where it was possible to issue constraints on a pen and paper system within reasonable margins of debate, the open online system became a prime target for automated voting, rigging and bot activity skewing numbers intolerably. Indeed whilst the MLB was struggling with its own online teething problems in the form of the Nomar Garciaparra incident in 1999, the NHL was doing little to curtail anomalous online voting, further complicating mattes with the inauguration of the multiple voting procedure in 2006.
What resulted was the embarrassing Rory Fitzpatrick fiasco a year later when a ground swell of fans tried to get the unfashionable defensive defenseman into the All Star line up using various online avenues such as social networking sites, YouTube and pop up advertising alongside more traditional t-shirts and banner campaigning. Whilst the “Vote for Rory” movement was an innocent enough mockery of the NHL’s multiple voting system, the leagues ham fisted dumping of Fitzpatrick votes in light of automated balloting created an statistical imbalance between the Conferences ballots as well as fierce disgruntlement. In the meantime Slate web magazine noted that the automated Rory voting was no more a peculiarity than the unusual voting patterns enjoyed by underachieving San Jose Sharks nominees since 1999 causing a considerable loss of integrity for the All Star event and the league, particularly as the purported 100,000 votes for Fitzpatrick removed from the final tallies robbed the now infamous Canucks blueliner of first place in the Western Conference defensemen poll by proxy a place in the the game. The aftermath left considerable ill feeling between a large number of supporters and NHLfigureheads who had spoken against the genuine “Vote for Rory” campaign whom after the controversy, transcended the initial sending up of the NHL system into a more meaningful argument for the inclusion of a hardworking veteran player.
It was later noted that the NHL had shown little regard for security with a CAPTCHA system with limited randomizations allowing a staunch Rory Fitzpatrick supporter to draw up a program in short time to circumvent the failsafe. Whilst one would assume the league had learnt from its own disastrous shortcomings two years ago, early voting for the 2009 All Star game in Montreal has shown a worrying bias towards the six Canadiens players on the ballot. Currently Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay lead out the polls for Eastern Conference forwards by more than 100,000 votes over Washington Capitals ever popular Alex Ovechkin and current scoring leader Alex Semin. To put it into perspective, Kovalev currently has 14 points on the season tying him for 47th in league scoring whilst Semin has 27 points for 1st. Meanwhile Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek lead out Boston’s giant all star d-man Zdeno Chara by 130,000 and Carey Price has an enormous lead for the starting goaltender position by 137,000 votes over Rangers net minder Henrik Lundqvist. Were voting to end today the complete Eastern Conference starting line up would be Montreal Canadiens, an unparalleled occurrence.
Where the victors of the MLB’s All Star game take home advantage in the World Series adding some spice to the event, many hockey fans are left questioning the consequences of the NHL All Star game in light of the post-lockout league. The game has been viewed as a dull no hitting goal fest that in no way depicts or showcases the true drama of the NHL for many years and the latest voting problems are going to add fuel to the fire of an increasing corner of the hockey world who would be happy to see the event canned altogether.
This leaves the NHL with precarious decision making in the coming days. Whilst voting has been opened early presumably with one eye on potential rigging, the sheer number of Canadiens elect, as well as the almost insurmountable figures, mean the NHL face the real possibility of having to shut the vote down or reset, a move the pragmatic Fitzpatrick felt the league should have done for the 2007 edition. Indeed one Canadiens web forum implored fans to use a program called Greasemonkey to auto vote the Canadiens on the ballot, again circumventing the NHL’s flawed use of CAPTCHA and illustrating an early lack of veracity in the figures.
There are now obvious feelings of disinterest surrounding this season’s All-Star game, not least from fans of the other 14 teams that make up the Eastern Conference. Whilst the NHL has begun monitoring the vote it awaits to be seen if the league will intervene and rain on the parade of the franchise it has done so much to promote in its centennial year. The other option seems to be allow the vote to run as it has done, broken and partisan, providing a massive draw for the home fans of Montreal. However if the league do choose to take a back seat it will not only face the ire of Fitzpatrick supporters whom became a sizeable crowd of disenchanted fans following 2007, but also supporters of every other team that will see this as another failure in the increasing annual debacle that is the All Star event. Furthermore if this seasons election are to be seen as yet another embarrassment it could provide a death blow for the All-Star game heading into the 2010 Winter Olympics break with a slew of scorned fans unlikely to buy into the event no matter its location in 2011. What began as a marketing scheme for an event that receives a mixed response at best has now put the NHL in a perilous PR position and many are left wondering why the league has allowed it to happen again?
Friday, November 14, 2008
Pock will be suspended without pay by the NHL for an elbow he threw out to forward Ryan Shannon during yesterday's game between the Islanders and the Senators.
Pock received a 5-minute major for elbowing on the play as well as a game misconduct.
It's already the 3rd suspension handed this week by the NHL after Tom Kostopoulos and Jarkko Ruutu.
Pock has 2 points in 15 games for the Islanders this season after being claimed off waivers from the Rangers.
You can list live on Team 990's website
Josh The King
Nylander has a no-trade clause, but he still owns a house in Chicago which could be one of the few cities to where he would agree to lift his NTC.
Sergei Fedorov is still bothered by an ankle injury and won't play during the weekend's games. He expects to come back next week.
Defenseman Shaone Morrison will alo miss tonight's game due ton an injury.
Jose Theodore will be in goal tonight. Scott Clemmensen will in goal for New Jersey.
On a side note the Capitals have signed 2008 first round draft pick John Carlson to a three-year entry level contract.
However, everything changed later during the summer as Barry Melrose became the new head coach of the Lightning after a 13-year hiatus away from an NHL bench.
After yesterday's loss to the Red Wings, the Bolt has played 16 games, posting a 5-7-4 record for 14 points, 4 points out of a playoffs spot. Meanwhile the Lightning offense is dead last in the NHL with a mere 2.02 goals per game. Even the defensive-minded Panthers and Devils scored more goals than Tampa Bay.
Lecavalier only has 6 goals and 11 points in 16 games this season, a projected 56-point season for Vinny, far from the 92-point and 108 point seasons he posted the past 2 years.
I watched a few Lightning games this season and Lecavalier is not putting the second effort this year, he's on the cruise control. He doesn't hit, doesn't go to the net, doesn't forecheck with energy and makes bad decisions with and without the puck.
He only played 16:32 minutes in yesterday's game vs the Stanley Cup champions. Less time than players like Mark Recchi and Radim Vrbata, while Martin St. Louis and Vaclav Prospal played around 23 mins each.
Lecavalier is averaging only 19:31 of ice time this season compared to 22:57 last season under John Tortorella. Lecavalier criticized Melrose earlier this season for not playing his star players enough. Melrose said before the season that he wanted to ease the load on his veteran stars Lecavalier, St. Louis and Prospal.
Lecavalier said he needs to play top minutes to be effective and in his game. When he doesn't play enough, he doesn't find his groove and therefore he is not producing offensively.
Melrose is a very stubborn coach. The Lightning is not winning, not scoring goals, and is not showing a good effort on most nights, especially on the road, and Melrose keeps using the same game plan. He's only playing top rookie Steven Stamkos 11:47 minutes despite a lack of offensive depth. Evgeny Arthukin, Adam Hall and Radim Vrbata are not the solution to improve the offensive production.
After Sunday's game at Carolina, the Lighting will play 4 consecutive games at home against Florida, Nashville, New Jersey and the NY Rangers. If they don't start winning, Brian Lawton could very well show the door to Barry Melrose before things get too ugly in Tampa Bay.
Bieksa was injured by Michel Ouellet shot during their 4-0 victory over Nashville.
The 27 year-old defenseman has 3 goals and 11 points in 13 games this year with the Canucks.
Here’s one of the many perils of using a 100% digital voting process for the all-star game.
Ingenious? You bet. In “the spirit of the thing”? Absolutely not.
It’s a completely ludicrous process anyway.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
We saw what this team is capable of against Ottawa, and thought performances like the one against Toronto were mere aberrations...
We were wrong.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
SETTING: TD Banknorth Garden in Boston to 16,816 fans, many of whom looked stunned and near-suicidal in their bleu-blanc-rouge.
PLOT: I had predicted the game would resemble Mike Komisarek and Milan Lucic colliding at full speed... little did I know, the most notable collisions between the two would be Lucic's fist connecting with Komisarek's face, and the game played out more like a fat kid against a twinkie. Montreal looked absolutely listless, uninterested and uncompetitive. Boston didn't exactly look like a group of superstars, but did enough to humiliate the Canadiens from start to finish.
HEROES: Few and far between on the Montreal side, though Saku Koivu, Francis Bouillon and Guillaume Latendresse in particular appeared as though they at least cared... a little. The rest of the team's greatest contribution? Making Shawn Thornton, Marco Sturm and Stephane Yelle look like the second coming of the Legion of Doom.
ANTAGONISTS: Anybody wearing black and yellow, but mostly Milan Lucic... what can I say about this character? I'm quite certain I would love to have him on my team, but playing for the Bruins, he shall heretofore be the focus of Habs fan hatred for the duration of his career, and maybe longer... the big galoot runs all over the opposition and runs his mouth all night long with a perennial smirk on his face. Give him the spotlight after a goal or a fight and he comes across like a jacked-up wrestler after one too many Red Bulls. Funny how quiet he was when Laraque wanted words with him earlier in the game... Lucic voodoo dolls available soon.
CLIMAX: Price's penalty for 'playing the puck in the restricted zone' (the first time I've seen that call)? It became rather clear following the Dandenault-Komisarek misstep that led to the B's first goal and a couple more deflating goals that it was gonna be 'one of those nights'. The penalty to Price was just the nail in the coffin.
DÉNOUEMENT: It was a long, painful unwinding, from the end of the first period to the final siren... Komisarek, you may have noticed, did not play again following his fight with Lucic. Barring an injury (oh please, no), his absence was a message from Carbonneau, who does not want his #2 defenceman goaded into fighting; that's not Komisarek's responsibility anymore.
THEMES: Humiliation, deja vu (Re: Toronto), inconsistent efforts... 4 straight listless outings on the road now. The Canadiens didn't lose like this when they were bad, so why now? Still only one line performing, and the Carbo-carousel of line juggling has officially begun. Also, why is Laraque so important to this team if nobody will fight him? Komisarek and Bouillon shouldn't have to do that job anymore.
Some of the rest is too hard to talk about right now... on to the next--Philly on Saturday, and a good test for a team struggling to assert itself.
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Remember way back when the Bruins last defeated the Canadiens in the regular season?
Yeah, neither do I... I can hardly remember what I did last weekend, let alone what happened in March of 2007.
Still, the Bruins keep coming back for more... and yet, of late, these match-ups have proven less and less preordained and much more interesting.
Boston gave Montreal a very rude awakening last spring, dragging them to a deciding game 7 of their opening round playoff series after losing all 8 regular season games to les Glorieux (most of them convincingly). The two teams followed a similar arc in their first encounter this season, with Montreal jumping out to an early 3-0 lead then hanging on for dear life as they defeated the Bruins 4-3 in a shootout.
To say the Habs and Bruins don't get along would be an understatement... anybody who believes Montreal/Toronto currently amount to anything remotely resembling a true rivalry obviously has not seen a Habs/Bruins game in the last couple years.
The whole thing really goes to show, overloading the schedule with intra-divisional matches has very little to do with generating rivalries in the NHL (which was the league's justification for having to bear 8 games a year against the Leafs); playoff battles (especially long ones) are what make teams genuinely dislike each other. Montreal upended a heavily favoured Boston squad in the first rounds of both the 2002 and 2004 playoffs (in 6 and 7 games, respectively), then defeated the 8th seed Bruins in 7 games last year.
Bad blood abounds in these matchups, fueled most recently by animosity between Shawn Thornton and Steve Bégin (after fracturing Marc Savard's back last season) and subsequently Thornton and Georges Laraque (who are very likely to rekindle their love affair this evening).
Need more cause for fireworks? You've also got Lucic/Komisarek (who compete with Ovechkin/Malkin for most obvious mutual-dislike in the league), and Claude Julien and Michael Ryder playing against their former team, one with deserving beef against the Canadiens organization and one having merited the ire of Hab fans everywhere.
Tonight's game, like those that preceded it, promises to be rough, nasty and full of entertainment value. It should also be a hell of a goaltending duel between Carey Price (who currently leads All-Star balloting by a landslide) and Tim Thomas (who sits second as a 'write-in' candidate after being snubbed by the NHL once again... but will be named to the team based on performance anyways, so why is everybody so up in arms about this crap all over again?).
The Canadiens will look to continue their dominance against the Bruins and stretch their regular season unbeaten streak to 13 games... the Bruins will do everything in their power to stop it.
The resulting game ought to resemble Mike Komisarek and Milan Lucic colliding at full speed.
Scotty's Take: This could be freeing up for Shanahan as the Flyers are in the run to.
- The Thrashers have recalled goalie Ondrej Pavelec as Kari Lehtonen hurt his back. He is once again injured...
- Daniel Briere will miss at least three games because of a groin pull, which is not related to the abdominal surgery he underwent recently.
- Michel Ouellet was sent back to the AHL by the Canucks after going scoreless in 3 games.
- Flames' defenseman Jim Vandermeer will be sidelined 6-8 weeks with a broken ankle. Vandermeer sustained the injury during the warm-up before November 6th game against Nashville as he was hit by a puck.
- The Blue Jackets have activated goalie Pascal Leclaire from the injury list.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Marc Savard with 16 points for Boston (6 goals) and Patrick Kane with 18 points (7 goals) for Chicago are the scoring leaders for their respective teams.
Michael Ryder has to start scoring goals if the Bruins want to keep going. With only 2 goals in 14 games, Ryder is proving everyone right now that he does not deserve the big contract Bruins' GM Chiarelli gave him this summer.
Prediction: Hawks win it 5-2 with 3 points by Toews.
TSN GUYS (PIERRE MCGUIRE,DARREN DREGER AND BOB MCKENZIE) ARE QUICK TO POINT OUT THAT THIS IS NO SLAM DUNK. Mckenzie is saying at least a week before anything substantial goes down.
Also start voting at vote.nhl.com NOW!
GIVE A GOOD PICK: Perry,Sharp,Keith
STUPID/FUNNY PICK: Belak, Fitzpatrick...
Morrow then initiated a fight with Brown that resulted in an instigator penalty and a game misconduct for Morrow. The fight happened with 1 minute left to the game.
The NHL has rescinded its one game suspension to Brenden Morrow. Morrow was set to receive an automatic one game suspension for drawing an instigator penalty on Brown. The league also rescinded the automatic $10,000 fine to coach Dave Tippett.
Lapierre did not appear to suffer any injury on the play and Ruutu was assessed a two-minute minor for charging. He had to hustle Francis Bouillon right after the play to pay for his dirty hit. Both players received major penalties.
Ruutu was later assessed a 10-minute misconduct with less than 10 minutes to the game. He waved to the crowd as he left the ice:
Burke refused to accept the organization's contract extension they offered to him a short time ago. His reasoning behind the move seems to be family motivated.
LIVE BURKE NEWS UPDATES ALL DAY LONG HERE ON HOCKEY-BUMS
4:05PM Josh is speculating that the Kings could be in the mix to land Brian Burke when he starts fielding offers from other teams. The Leafs are probably the likeliable landing spot for, although teams would ditch their GMs to go after Burke.
I'm not sure about the KIngs, because if he has family issues around Anaheim, maybe LA wouldn't be a viable spot then.
4:00PM Bob Murray seems very esctatic to be taking on his new role, and has nothing but respect for the man who brought him to Anaheim (Burke).
1:58PM Sportsnet (Canada) says that the press conference will be issued at 12:30 PT, and the only thing they mention is that the conference is related to the general manager position. TSN has broke the news that the GM switch between Burke and Murray is indeed occuring.
1:54PM: We have our Josh the King trying to get the latest info for you all, as to why this is occuring and if it has anything to do with any opportunity to become the Leafs GM
1:52PM: TSN'S latest briefing:
The Anaheim Ducks have called a news conference for this afternoon to
announce that Bob Murray is taking over as general manager for Brian Burke.
More info as it comes in.
1. Eat, Sleep and Breathe the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge...
2. Devote himself to the cause of producing totally unnecessary blogs about his beloved Canadiens (but hey, at least I'm beginning to make use of that lengthy and expensive education!)...
3. 'Borrow' ideas from other writers (what do you think English Lit. is all about?)... thanks to Four Habs Fans for the contextual bullet-point inspiration (check out their Game Previews), by the way...
4. Attempt to be clever by molding said 'borrowed' ideas into a format that echoes his own background of literary study while putting a previously unseen spin on recaps of games that have already been covered by umpteen different media outlets...
So with that being said, welcome one and all to the first of many 'Literal Analyses' of the night that was in Hab-land... you'll notice I've structured my past two entries in a similarly literary fashion, providing a 'Foreword' and 'Afterword' for last night's game.
With a little tinkering and maybe some luck, I hope my current vision of a Coles Notes style synopsis of games will translate effectively... anyways, here goes:
. . . . . . . . . .
SETTING: Montreal's Bell Centre, to its usual capacity crowd of 21,273 fans.
PLOT: Two teams looking to put it all together clashed in a fast, skilled and physical affair last night, with the Canadiens emerging victorious after playing what was easily their most complete game of the 2008-09 season. Montreal battled for every puck, from end to end, and got the better of an Ottawa club that also competed very hard from start to finish.
HEROES: Chris Higgins scored his first career NHL hat-trick, skating hard and making the most of his opportunities with 3 highlight-reel goals (2 of which were on breakaways). Carey Price was perfect, stopping 28 shots for his first shutout of the season, and had to be especially sharp against Ottawa's Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley in particular, who were both buzzing around the Canadiens' net all night long. Finally, the Montreal Media got the in-game 3-Star Selection exactly right by naming Josh Gorges the night's 3rd Star; Gorges was an absolute rock on the blueline last night, making great one-on-one plays, winning battles, completing smart and effective passes out of his own end, and aggressively defending his blue-line. Gorges simply epitomized the Canadiens' effort last night, and was rightfully recognized for it.
ANTAGONISTS: Jarkko Ruutu finished the game with 9 PIM, a 10-minute misconduct and a failed attempt at decapitating Maxime Lapierre... the hit is currently under review by league officials. Following his ejection from the game with 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd, Ruutu waved goodbye to Montreal fans, confirming earlier suspicions that he is in fact completely devoid of class. Aside from this, Ottawa's persistent crashing of the net and Montreal's aggressive forecheck were equally disconcerting for the opposing team.
CLIMAX: Though a high-intensity affair from start to finish, Montreal's penalty kill following Robert Lang's delay-of-game penalty in the latter half of the second period should be singled out as the tipping point in this contest. Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev, on a rare shift together, were brilliant with the puck and controlled the play in Ottawa's zone to the thunderous approval of the Bell Centre faithful. Immediately following the conclusion of Lang's penalty, Higgins potted a pretty feed from Sergei Kostitsyn to make the score 2-0 and take control of the game's momentum for good.
DÉNOUEMENT: Guillaume Latendresse threw a dart into the top corner off a draw at the 15:39 mark of the 2nd period, and Montreal never let up with a commanding lead, finishing with a 4-0 win after Higgins' third marker late in the final frame.
THEMES: Following their dismal performances in Columbus and Toronto, Montreal's players absorbed the coaching staff's message and took it upon themselves to right the ship. Hard work and discipline ruled the day as the Canadiens managed to out-skate and out-will the Ottawa Senators. The Habs wanted this one, and it showed, as they put together their best 60-minutes of the season.