Monthly Archives: April 2010

No Consistency – No Surprise

I really should just change my website to keep track of the lack of consistency in the meting of punishment when it comes to dirty hits. This time around, we get a noob to the dirty hit pool in Marian Hossa.

Where have I seen a hit like that before…

Oh right.

So what’s the difference here? Well, Alex Ovechkin was suspended for two games for his hit and Marian Hossa gets to keep on playing since he’s never done something like this before.  Wait, sorry, that’s the reason I’m assigning to him. The master of the Wheel of Justice himself, Colin Campbell, had something different to say:

“I have made the decision that this play does not warrant supplemental discipline after considering all of the facts, including reviewing the video and speaking with Mr. Hossa.   This play is distinguishable from recent incidents by a number of factors, including the degree of contact involved; the fact that the consequences of the play do not appear to be as severe; that this was a hockey play involving a race for the puck; that Mr. Hossa is not a repeat offender and that the call of a major penalty by the Referee was significant and appropriate.”

Smell that? Yup, that’s the barn yard so let’s pull a Mike Rowe and go Dirty Jobs on analyzing this steaming pile of poo.

Colin says:

This play is distinguishable from recent incidents by a number of factors, including the degree of contact involved

Joe’s translation:

I know what you’re all going to say, it’s exactly like the Ovechkin hit and I’m going to put my foot down and say that it’s not. There, now it’s the Gospel According to Colie. If I can call Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard a shoulder instead of an elbow, I can tell you that if you compare this hit to Ovechkin’s on Brian Campbell you must be some kind of jerk. Sure they’re both a push from behind that helped the player crunch himself into the boards and get hurt, but that’s where it ends. Hey, at least it didn’t happen on an icing play. Suck it.

Colin says:

The fact that the consequences of the play do not appear to be as severe

Joe’s translation:

Dan Hamhuis didn’t go get hurt for 6 weeks like that big pussy Campbell, therefore I get to be thoroughly inconsistent and make all you armchair geniuses get your Cheetos stained undies in a knot. By judging this hit based on the lack of severe outcome, whereas with other plays that are as dirty or less so that result in serious injuries, I can make a total mockery of the system every time I say that we don’t dole out suspensions based on the outcome and do so instead based on the act.

Colin says:

That this was a hockey play involving a race for the puck; that Mr. Hossa is not a repeat offender and that the call of a major penalty by the Referee was significant and appropriate.

Joe’s translation:

Races for the puck are OK, except on icing. That’s the new rule, bitches! Also, Hossa being a first timer means a get-out-of-scrutiny free pass for Ol’ Soupy! Also, the referee’s did put the guy in the box for five minutes, what else do you want? You want him tossed from the game?  Pssh, nonsense. How else were we to twist the knife in the Nashville fanbase by having him score the game winning goal in OT? Don’t worry though, next time he hits someone like that again maybe we’ll suspend him. If we feel like it. Or if the officials don’t kick him out of the game and give Ol’ Soupy another free pass!  Woooooo!

Pictured: A poor excuse for a sock puppet. Also, Scooter from “The Muppet Show”

I didn’t expect there to be any suspension for Hossa at all. Campbell’s total lack of consistency and his (and the league’s apparent help) with allowing guys who are first-timers to get away with one “oops” moment, especially if they’re stars, has become all too transparent. I know it and Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy knew it would be like this too and so did numerous others. Just because we’ve gotten wise to the game and sheer nonsense that goes into the NHL offices ability to make the waters as murky as possible when figuring these things out doesn’t make it any better.

The glaring lack of consistency as well as the underlying message that’s delivered when first-time offenders get the proverbial slap on the wrist from Ol’ Soupy for pulling off a scummy play is frustrating and yet still entirely too predictable. I know most fans were stunned just to see Marian Hossa deliver a hit of any kind but the fact that it turned into a lightning rod of controversy shouldn’t be all that stunning.

All that aside, my problem here, like always, is the extreme lack of consistency shown by the league regarding these things. I guess it’s what helps my Wheel of Justice become more popular, for which I am semi-thankful, but I wouldn’t feel too bad if it ended up being a product of a bygone era. Until that day comes, spin away you crazy wheel.

Minnesota IS the state of hockey

This is going to end up being a post done in mostly video form to help describe some of the nonsense that went on at the WCHA Final Five. Please excuse the mostly amateur hour commentary from yours truly in any of these videos as.. Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve done any variety of video and/or camera work especially with a device as simple and useful as the Flip Camera.

As I mentioned eons ago in my post leading up to the Final Five, one of my side-missions of the Final Five was to spot an iconic figure known as Siouxbacca. Amazingly enough, of the five things on my list, Siouxbacca was the hardest thing to spot. It’s not as if we didn’t look for him, but he was highly elusive.

Thankfully, my host for the trip Brent clued me in on another legendary figure at the Final Five: Mullet Man. Now, I know what you’re saying, “Gee Joe, a guy with a mullet at a hockey game? That should be really hard to find.” To that I say, “Shut your face.”

The truth about Mullet Man is that he’s got one of the iconic, legendary mullets. Think of Dog the Bounty Hunter and turn that mullet up to 1000 on the Awesome Meter. Thankfully, that search would not fail. The fun comes while you play “Where’s Waldo” with the video.

I know you’re all disappointed that there was no Siouxbacca. He, apparently, decided to not make an appearance this year, unless others saw differently that is and if you did please let me know, my friend Lindsey was able to provide photographic evidence that he does exist.  You better believe this helps add to the Loch Ness Monster-like appeal too.

There he is, dead center of the video board from the 2009 WCHA Final Five. If you’re thinking I feel slighted that he didn’t make an appearance this year… You better fucking believe it.

As for the Xcel Energy Center itself, the facility is phenomenal and it was incredible to be at a building that was built specifically with hockey in mind. I checked out the games from various locations throughout from the lower to the upper levels to the very impressive Club level. Simply put, there’s not a bad seat nor view in the house. Obviously if you’re sitting way upstairs your views can get blocked by inconsiderate fools who can’t help but lean forward, but that’s a problem anywhere.

The hockey, to me, was outstanding. Aside from the Wisconsin-St. Cloud semifinal, most of the games were very entertaining. The folks who have been here more than a couple of times said they were really let down by both the atmosphere and the quality of games. I told them if they wanted to see they were living in the lap of hockey luxury they should come out and “experience” the ECAC Tournament one year so they can see mostly dreadful-to-watch hockey in front of small crowds with little-to-no fire to them.  Their response was only to move out to Minnesota already and spoil myself. Frankly, that wouldn’t be so bad – but I digress.

One of the other things on the list that was completed was taking part in some honest to God tailgating, complete with being shown the ropes in what should now become a nationwide phenomenon: Beer Darts.

Sounds dangerous, right?  Well… Not exactly. First, an introduction.

Not bad, right? Well now it’s time to play – and play I did. Thanks to my friend Kayla for taking reigns of the camera for this one.

I’ll just call that beginner’s luck.

Curious about what the first person perspective looks like while perched atop a cooler, drinking beer in 35 degree weather in Minnesota? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered there, too.

Where there’s beer to be had, there’s also food to be eaten and where else was there to go but the now world famous Matt’s Bar, home of Travel Channel’s Food Wars winning Jucy Lucy.

For what it’s worth, I’ve now been to two places featured on Food Wars and both have come up victorious (Duff’s Wings in Buffalo being the other). I’m open to being paid to come visit somewhere to help spread my special brand of good luck. This kind of good luck also applies to home teams in NHL games (home teams went 4-0-0 in games I attended this year). So, you know, if you’re really hoping to win in the playoffs… You know where to find me.

Anyhow, perhaps the coolest thing of them all, as far as hockey goes, that I got to experience (aside from the greatness that is the WCHA Final Five, easily the best college tournament in the country that isn’t called the Frozen Four) was getting to hitch a ride on the Zamboni. If your computer can handle it, I suggest watching this one in HD.

Big thanks go out to the event staff at Xcel for allowing a big mook like me to get on the Zamboni and to Brandon at Sioux Yeah Yeah for helping set it up.  Even bigger thanks go out to Chris the driver for putting up with my shoddy camera work and asinine questions as we took the tour around the rink.

My conclusion on the trip: Perfect. Outstanding. A hockey-lover’s dream. I only captured a handful of the things actually going on around the Final Five itself because, honestly, I was caught up in soaking everything up myself. Videos from a small camera aren’t going to do the venue justice and they certainly aren’t going to do justice to the atmosphere of the entire thing.

Fans going bonkers over everything before and after the games and the easy-going camaraderie at the local watering holes afterward. Sure, everyone will be saying taunting, borderline awful, stuff to each other while the game is going on, but when it’s time for a beer to celebrate/drown sorrows in… Everyone’s patting each other on the back, having a laugh and most importantly, talking hockey. After all, the Final Five is the WCHA’s final outpost before the NCAA Tournament begins, and more often than not, fans of the WCHA want the conference to do well in the tournament because it looks good on everyone else. Why Boston College isn’t hated more out west than it is further down Commenwealth Avenue in Boston I’ll never know, but that’s just how it is in the college hockey world.

I’ve recommended to folks that seeing the Frozen Four in person is one of those sports fan bucket list sorts of things and after seeing the Final Five I’d add that to the list if you’re a hockey fan. The atmosphere is incomparable to anything else you’ll find in college hockey (and to think, I saw it during a supposed down year) and the knowledge of the game amongst fans is some of the best you’re going to find in any given location at any time, anywhere. Being as big a fan of hockey, college hockey especially, as I am this was akin to a trip to the holy land for a religious person.  Of course, you could argue that hockey is my religion and I really wouldn’t fight you too much on that.

NHL Playoffs Preparation

I’m keeping this one simple for everyone.

Eastern Conference

1. Washington v.  8. Montreal

2. New Jersey v. 7. Philadelphia

3. Buffalo v. 6.  Boston

4. Pittsburgh v. 5. Ottawa

Western Conference

1. San Jose v.  8. Colorado

2. Chicago v.  7. Nashville

3. Vancouver v.  6. Los Angeles

4. Phoenix v.  5.Detroit

For those of you who may have gotten dumbstruck and made completely insane by the regular season, here’s your photo reminder/tool to use on fans whose team loses in extended overtime(s).

You’re welcome.

Why Hockey Is The Greatest: Mike Modano

Want to know why hockey is the greatest game on the planet?  Check out the ovation the fans in Dallas gave to Mike Modano playing in his final home game there at least this season, and perhaps in his career.

I hope you watched that to the end because Stars color man Daryl Reaugh said it right. “That was friggin’ awesome.”

Whether you remember Modano as being the guy part of the team that broke your heart in 1999, as a member of one of the more questionably put-together Olympic teams in 1998, as the face of the Minnesota North Stars before they were yoinked off to Dallas by Norm Green, or as the guy that got jobbed out of winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1990… Chances are that you know who Mike Modano is and the important role he played for hockey in America.

Yeah, I said it.  I said it because when he does retire, be it at the end of this season or at the end of whatever season he damn well pleases, he’ll retire as the greatest American hockey player of all time.  Shocking, isn’t it? For the attention that his contemporaries like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier and Steve Yzerman got – Mike Modano had one thing going for him and it was that he hailed from Livonia, Michigan.  He was a good ole’ American boy and a guy who busted his hump as hard as any of those Canadian wunderkinds ever did.

He toiled in semi-obscurity playing for mostly mediocre teams in Bloomington, Minnesota with the North Stars and got his first taste of success in 1991 as the North Stars made a miraculous run to the Stanley Cup Finals only to be pummeled by Mario’s Penguins in six games.  The big guy he played with in Minnesota was another good American boy (I’m getting a little Don Cherry-ish here folks, bear with me) in Neal Broten, a member of the 1980 “Miracle On Ice” team.  Broten was a Minnesota boy and Modano getting to spend his first few seasons getting to play and learn with him had to do wonders.

Just as Modano’s career was starting to break out and blossom in Minnesota, the team was off to the untested southern frontier of Dallas.  Minnesota fans were left bitter and it was unknown just how Texans would receive ice hockey.  Without a guy like Mike Modano it might have failed miserably.  There, Modano continued to be the lifeline for the Stars racking up the high offensive numbers we’ve become more accustomed to these days pulling in 80-90 points per year.

Dallas then established themselves as a regular playoff team and it paid off in 1999 with the team’s first, and only, Stanley Cup.  Guys like Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour and Brett Hull garnered a lot of the attention on that team, but it was Modano who was the leader and the guy that lead the team in points in the regular season and playoffs. Nieuwendyk might’ve won the Conn Smythe but it’s easy to see who carried the load for the team all year.  If you want a better idea of what Mike Modano’s meant to hockey in Texas, just do a search for “Youth hockey, Texas” and look at everything that comes up. Then take a look at when a lot of these huge leagues formed and you’ll see that a lot of them came about right as Modano’s Stars were on top of the NHL. That’s no coincidence.

Obviously other people can offer a better perspective on what Modano means to them (like Stars beat writer Mike Heika for instance), but for me as someone who wasn’t a fan of the Stars I never properly looked at Modano’s career and what he stood for as an American hockey player. I never once before gave him the proper credit nor looked at him with the proper perspective he’s earned for his career: The greatest American hockey player.