Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

05/31/2009

Game 1: House of Bounce – Detroit Wins 3-1

Tell me you predicted this would happen.

OK sure, you may have predicted Detroit would win the game. That’s possible.

Did you predict that Sidney Crosby would be held off the scoresheet?

Did you predict that there wouldn’t be a true highlight goal scored?

Did you predict that the one goal that would be the highlight goal would be scored by Justin Abdelkader?

What you can’t see there is Abdelkader smacking the puck out of mid-air and floating it into the upper corner to put Detroit ahead 3-1.

As for the other goals scored in this game, well, the Joe Louis gremlins were in full effect and the Hockey Gods enlisted a Hanna-Barbera least-favorite to lend a hand in scoring tonight:


Don’t know this guy? Yeah, we’re not surprised.

That’s right, it’s Ricochet Rabbit.

You don’t know him? That’s OK, he’s not worth looking up on YouTube or trying to find him on Cartoon Network – he sucks. Given what went down this evening with Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury we’re sure he feels the same way.

Check out the two other goals he allowed this evening:

I know the best way to sum that up is, “Shit happens” but yeah – ouch.


How Marc-Andre Fleury felt in Game 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.

That said, as bad as Marc-Andre Fleury had it, Chris Osgood had it going the other way for the Red Wings in stopping 31 of 32 shots and while a bit shaky early on in controlling rebounds, one leading to Ruslan Fedotenko’s seventh goal of the playoffs, Osgood was a rock.

What’s turning out to be one of the crazier phenomenons of the NHL Playoffs is that the more folks seem to discount the work of Chris Osgood, the better he gets. From the second he set foot on the ice in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals as a desperate replacement for the struggling Dominik Hasek, Osgood has been a playoff freakshow.

His efforts in Game 1 brought his playoff goals against average this year to 2.00, second only to Tim Thomas of the Bruins. His save percentage sits at a lofty .928 yet some folks out there more than happy to discount whatever he brings to the table.

But see, now’s the time when I act like a dick and trample all over what I just wrote about him and say: You just never know with Osgood though.

Old memories fade slowly and while you’d like to think the visions of Osgood leading both the 1998 and 2008 Detroit Red Wings to Stanley Cup titles would be the lasting vision of him… The ugly goals and previous poor performances out of both Osgood and some past Red Wings teams tarnish his now incredibly sick and lofty NHL legacy.

Chris Osgood through all this remains the NHL version of Rodney Dangerfield. If he keeps up with the tremendous output and numbers and wins… He’s the benefit of a great defense. If he gives up a few and Detroit loses in rough ways, it’s “typical” Osgood and he has to do better than that for Detroit to win.


No respect I tell ya! No respect at all!

For all that talk about having the great defense in front of him, Chris Osgood sure is facing a good amount of shots. After Game 1, Osgood has faced an average of close to 29 shots per game (28.5+ for those wanting more accuracy). Obviously he’s not having boring games in goal and his 2.00 GAA proves that he’s been on top of his game.

Of course, if he goes the way of Cam Ward and melts down completely all this talk is moot and Osgood will probably never shake off the, “You’re not good enough” demons for the rest of his career and eventual heated debate on whether or not he’s a Hall of Fame goaltender.

After all of that, however, it wouldn’t be an official Penguins game if Sidney Crosby didn’t get involved in some way. This time it came after the final horn:

Ah jeez. Now, honestly, what is the point of doing that? According to Sidney Crosby, well… You figure it out:


“Yeah, Kirk, he was doing what he always does. Giving guys lip service and things like that. I two-handed him I think on top of the foot there as we were skating by. He felt it was necessary for him to keep talking after the game, and I thought I’d whack him.”

Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

Signs of early frustration from Crosby? No, that’s dumb so punch yourself in the yambag if you think that’s the case.

Trying to bait Kirk Maltby and the Red Wings into doing something stupid to go running around after him in Game 2?

Well… Crosby can’t be that naive to think that that would actually work. Detroit has already gone through two teams that are both a lot better at that sort of thing and a lot more nasty about it (Anaheim and Chicago) than Crosby thinks he is being in this case and Kirk Maltby running his mouth and getting that kind of reaction out of Crosby means that he’s doing his job well.

The storylines for Game 2 are going to be about whether or not Maltby and the Red Wings respond to Crosby’s petulance (they certainly won’t go out of their way to do it) and whether or not Crosby can give his team a lift and a split before the series turns to Pittsburgh.

Both teams played this game very well and for all intents and purposes it was a very even game. Some folks will be critical of the officiating both ways and there were certainly a lot of non-calls but the key here is that the flow and pace of the game was not affected by it. It didn’t become a slow, plodding, slug-it-out sort of game with both teams playing dump and chase all night and if that sort of thing can continue throughout the playoffs and matters stay consistent the series will stay entertaining to watch.

With the quick turnaround for Game 2, this will provide a good test for both teams fitness level because neither one is going to want to head to Pittsburgh gasping for air.

05/29/2009

A Stanley Cup Preview – The Prophecy Revealed?

Filed under: Detroit Red Wings,Pittsburgh Penguins,Stanley Cup Finals — Joe Yerdon @ 4:26 PM


“It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Simple brilliance plays its way out all the time it seems and the Stanley Cup Finals this year are no different, especially since it involves the same two teams we saw there last year.

Detroit and Pittsburgh: Let’s dance again.

When I wrote my preview on last year’s Finals, I surprised myself with how tuned in I was. To make a long story short, I shocked myself with how I was able to sound more competent than a CBC Color Analyst.

Obviously I watched a lot of hockey.

One of the things I said last year about the Finals seemed to come through in how the Pittsburgh Penguins played this entire postseason and it’s how they have to approach the Red Wings this year as well. Last year, Michel Therrien was too stubborn and too foolish and too immature to implement a plan of attack that took it to the Red Wings and he ignored this sage advice from the relatively unknown blogger who calls himself Hockey Joe:

Pittsburgh’s plan of attack here has to be to push, pressure and force the issue. Make Detroit get back on their heels and defend, to throw the puck at the net and keep control of it themselves. If Pittsburgh does indeed decide to pile into their zone defensively and rely on blocking shots and trying to stop Detroit at the blueline…they’re going to spend a lot of time waiting for Detroit to just give up the puck to them on a dump in or turnover.

Pretty brilliant stuff there, right?

This year’s version of the Penguins, at least the ones coached by Dan Bylsma anyhow, have shown that they’ll attack and forecheck and pressure the living hell out of the other team and force them to make bad passes and turn it over.

Well how about that?

Then again, I like to pat myself on the back as it is anyhow with regard to the Penguins because the Pens have shown that they’re begrudgingly listening to me from afar as it is anyhow.

Again, a flashback to something I wrote last year after just Game 4 of the Finals:

It’s tough to say that you want to run a guy out of town after he takes his team to the Stanley Cup Finals, but these finals have shown me that Michel Therrien is the absolute wrong guy to take the Pittsburgh Penguins into the future. He’s certainly not Glen Sather, who in the same position with a similarly young and talented team in the early 1980s, was able to take his lumps against the New York Islanders and use that as a building block to take the league over. I don’t recall ever seeing Glen Sather hitting the press and setting a bad example for Gretzky and Messier and Kurri.

Given what Michel Therrien has shown here, he can only lead this young bunch to more bad habits. There are some good coaches out there waiting to be hired right now that would suit this team a lot better. It might behoove the Penguins to make a move once the series is over and should the Penguins, indeed, lose out to get Therrien out of there and get someone who can mold this team better for the future.

On February 15th, 2009 Michel Therrien was mercifully fired by the Penguins. Not-so coincidentally enough, the Penguins got their collective heads out of their ass and steamed their way back into the playoff picture and now they’re in the Stanley Cup Finals after disposing of a gassed and punchless Carolina Hurricanes team.

So what did we learn here? We learned that I’m an idiot savant and master of the obvious. We also learned that ONE YEAR AGO I was using the already-tired comparison of the current Penguins squad to the 1980s Edmonton Oilers.

Then again, it doesn’t help that the Oilers in the 80s got smacked around by the Islanders in 1983 and then bitch-slapped an old and on-the-way-out Islanders team in 1984 to win the Stanley Cup. I feel I have to be the guy to put this nonsense comparison to rest.

The Islanders after 1984 have been irrelevant to the NHL outside of a few stunning and spectacular finishes in the playoffs, but they never made it back to the Finals after that drubbing at the hands of Gretzky and Messier and Kurri and all the other Hall of Famers on that team. The Oilers, of course, moved on to be a powerhouse for the rest of the decade until Peter Pocklington needed money and Wayne Gretzky got too big for the City of Edmonton.

These Penguins are set for a while with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Coincidentally enough, these Red Wings while some of the parts are old (Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood… I guess) this isn’t a team that’s going anywhere.


Andrew Divoff, the Wishmaster, says: Fulfill the prophecy.

Should Detroit lose to Pittsburgh and fulfill the Gretzky Prophecy, these Red Wings won’t fade into oblivion, they’ll be back again and again and again as long as Mike Babcock is behind the bench. I’m not going to prattle on about the depth of Detroit, that’s been shown off enough already in Game 4 and 5 against Chicago.

No Lidstrom and no Datsyuk? Meh, no problem.

As for this Final… Good luck breaking it down because there’s a lot going on here that doesn’t point to any definitive answers.

What do I know? Crosby and Malkin look a lot better and are teeming over in confidence, a lot more so than last year. Are they as dangerous offensively? Sure they are… As long as they follow the guidelines I told them to follow last year – which means not changing a damn thing from what they’ve been doing in the playoffs so far.

The Penguins have stayed healthy most of the playoffs and the one guy who may still be iffy out there is power play guru Sergei Gonchar whose knee hasn’t been the same since having it knocked around by Alex Ovechkin in the second round.


Christopher Walken in “The Prophecy”: I thought prophecies were my thing. I mean, jeez. Come on!

As for Detroit, a lot of the attention on them is on injuries. After all, Nick Lidstrom missed the last two games against Chicago with a mysterious “lower body injury” rumored to be a problem with his ankle. Pavel Datsyuk has been out with the same “lower body injury” since after Game 2 against Chicago, of which no one can really guess what the deal is although rumors of a broken foot have swirled.

Kris Draper has missed time with a groin problem although his replacement in the lineup, Darren Helm, seems to be doing all right for himself and had his definitive game of the playoffs to this point in Game 5 doing a masterful job killing a penalty and scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to vanquish the Blackhawks.

I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for the Keyboard Cat.

The reason why I say it’s tough for me to gauge just how well Pittsburgh is doing is because the Eastern Conference has been a joke all year and that really showed through in the playoffs.

No, the Penguins aren’t a joke – settle down. The Penguins (along with the Bruins) were the two teams I was banking on to find a spot in the Finals. Everyone else? Flawed beyond belief. Flyers, Capitals, Devils, Rangers… flaws everywhere. Boston getting bounced by a hot Carolina team (and they were red hot coming into the playoffs) was about as shocking a result as you could ask for in these playoffs. The Hurricanes having to go through brutally tough defensive teams with a penchant for falling asleep offensively like the Devils and Bruins drained them and the fact that they were able to make their way to the Conference Finals blows my mind. There’s no reason why they beat the Devils and it’s unreal that they beat the Bruins.

Cam Ward should get a medal of honor for his work having a bum squad of defensemen playing in front of him like Joni Pitkanen, Denis Seidenberg, Anton Babchuk, Niclas Wallin, the mentally fragile Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason, Frank Kaberle.

Really, who the hell are these guys? Whoever they are, they couldn’t handle Pittsburgh and Cam Ward only had so many horseshoes up his ass to sustain the ‘Canes.

What I do know about Pittsburgh is that they’re immensely talented and can score in bunches but are they the dominating buzzsaw we watched in the latter stages of the series with Washington and all throughout the Carolina series?

Can’t answer that without making myself into some jerk, so I won’t bother.

A lot of folks want to harp on the goaltending for these teams and frankly any fair praise and criticism lobbed at either guy is earned and fair. Many folks are waiting for the “real” Chris Osgood to show up, same goes for Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury got through his potential buzzsaw series with the Capitals and Osgood got through his nightmare with Anaheim.

I’d like to say I’d be shocked if I saw Osgood or Fleury get lit up in the Finals… But I can’t in good faith say that. If either or both goaltenders fell off the wagon in this series I would be confident in saying, “Yeah, you could see that coming.”

Them’s the breaks but anyone looking to cite the regular season performance and trying to apply that to how these guys have done in the playoffs so far is an idiot, a jerk or both. Apples and oranges there kids and it makes me wonder what the hell the deal is with Detroit and I can’t help but feel we’re getting played by Mike Babcock.

The Wings for the better part of the regular season played sloppy, made folks buy into the talk of a Stanley Cup hangover and Osgood was often outplayed by backup Ty Conklin this season. They were defensively sloppy, Osgood looked lost more often than not and the team would seemingly take two out of three periods off in a game only to turn it on to show that they can still do it.

The playoffs start and Detroit has to deal with a Columbus team that gave them fits all year long and then promptly mops the floor with them in four straight.

Wha… What happened?

They draw Anaheim and predictably struggle with a team that rolls rough and tumble with the best of them and Detroit even manages to get through some suspect rulings and find their way into the Conference Finals against the new up and comers of the NHL and the feel-good story for the Original Sixers in Chicago and manages to get through them seemingly easily in five games.

What’s at play here? I think Babcock and the Red Wings have been giving everyone the Milton Berle treatment. Yes, that’s right, I’m going to give credit to Bill Simmons here. What’s the Milton Berle treatment? From Simmons:


In case you didn’t know, Berle was famous in Hollywood circles for being more endowed than anyone else. Basically, he was the Dirk Diggler of Hollywood. (Note: There’s a hysterical anecdote in the SNL book “Live From New York” about this. Highest of high comedy.) Anyway, the famous story about Berle (maybe an urban legend, maybe not) was that somebody challenged him to a “who’s bigger?” contest once, and Berle soundly defeated the guy, then bragged to someone else in the room, “I only pulled out enough to win.”

I don’t 100% believe that’s what the Red Wings have been doing all season, but the final two games with Chicago showed me something that Mike Babcock has been in his own way trying to keep a lid on and that is how sickeningly deep and talented this team is. The regular season for all NHL teams is an unending grind filled with unlimitless potholes and boredom. The playoffs is what it’s all about and for teams like Detroit where they’re playing 82 games just to get to the real show… Well, why open the bag of tricks right from the get-go so everyone knows how to prepare for your team?

Just ask the Sharks about how that worked out for them.

Add in the new mysteries here in the playoffs with Lidstrom’s injury (which I’m not buying for a second) and Datsyuk’s injury (which I do sort-of believe to be mostly true) and the whole thing stinks to me of Babcock only breaking out just enough to win.

After all, when your team dismantles the opponent 6-1 in a game where Lidstrom is out, why suit him up again and risk injury when everyone had everything sealed up nicely without him? Why not rest him up for what could be a short turnaround to Game 1 of the Finals if you win Game 5. Worked out well this time I’d say.

Kris Draper goes down with the same groin injury he had previously and Darren Helm and his fresh legs and speed to burn get to jump in the lineup without controversy? Sounds pretty ideal to me.

Same thing with the talk of Osgood being “dehydrated” during that 6-1 flogging and not playing the third. I don’t buy into that for a second, but Mike Babcock will feed that to all the beat reporters and they’ll all report it as fact meanwhile he’s back in the office laughing at them knowing full-well that he wasn’t going to leave his main man in a game where the other team is skating around like a bunch of angry kids and you don’t know what they’ll do next. Why risk a needlessly stupid injury at the hands of guys that could give a crap about your players in that kind of hornets nest – just sit him out for the third period and get him ready 20 minutes sooner for Game 5.

Will they need all hands on deck to make sure Pittsburgh doesn’t run wild like Macho Man Savage on Detroit? Absolutely, although I don’t think Babcock is terrified of the Penguins the way many folks seem to think they will be.

I’m just wondering if my Milton Berle supposition here is going to play its way out and say, perhaps, Pavel Datsyuk has a “good enough” morning skate on Saturday and he’s a go for Game 1. I think Babcock is playing everyone here and look out if he is, because if he whips it out all the way… It’s going to be a freak show out there.

If he’s not doing that and Pittsburgh is exactly what they’ve looked like the last few weeks this is going to be a series for the ages and the official start of a cross-conference rivalry for all of us to sit back and enjoy for the years to come.

Just remember, if the Penguins win and writers from across the Internet start proclaiming their ability to predict the Gretzky Prophecy just remember that it was right here where the comparisons began in earnest a year ago and that Andrew Divoff and Christopher Walken are going to kick their asses for fulfilling the prophecy.

05/25/2009

Keeping It Real – The Day After

It’s funny, I figured that by citing the Chappelle Show in my last entry about how Brian Campbell was maybe the last guy to step up and start swearing vengeance was going to go over poorly, but Ike th didn’t think it would actually play out lie skits do on the show.

So how did Brian Campbell and the Chicago Blackhawks enact their revenge on Niklas Kronwall and the wildly short-handed Detroit Red Wings (who were missing Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper in Game 4)?

Well…

First there’s this. You’ll see Brian Campbell in this video pinched in too far on the power play (he’s behind the Detroit net!) leaving Cam Barker by himself as the Red Wings break shorthanded the other way two-on-one.

Then there’s this one where Campbell is used as a screen by Johan Franzen who proceeds to shoot the puck BETWEEN HIS LEGS and over the shoulder of Cristobal Huet.

And then there’s Valtteri Filppula who scores off a rebound untouched after Marian Hossa uncorks one from the left wing side.

Who jumped out on Filppula after he gained the zone in the first place?

You guessed it… Frank Stallone.

Er, Brian Campbell.

What makes this all the more amusing is that the third goal, a power play goal for Filppula (one of three power play goals the Red Wings would score in a 6-1 rout of the Blackhawks) is that apparently Joel Quenneville had some issues with how the Red Wings got that power play in the first place.

That’s right folks, the worst call in the history of sports. I can’t rip into Quenneville as well as his own fans can, so leave it to the folks at Second City Hockey to step in and do the job for me:

Joel Quenneville – You were brought in to keep your cool and provide a guiding hand for a young team. Your players saw you lose your composure, and promptly followed suit. That outburst was unacceptable.

Unacceptable, immature, and about a thousand other adjectives you could throw in there. As for me, let me just offer up one suggestion for Joel Quenneville:


Wire Brushes: Guaranteed to get the sand out of your vadge or your money back!

Use that in your nether regions to get the sand out of the most delicate of crevices. Perhaps you could get away with whining like that in just about any other series.

Not this one though, not after what happened with Niklas Kronwall in Game 3. This is frustrated petulance at its ugliest out of Coach Quenneville. It also allows me to quote myself:


Hyperbole is a dangerous verbal weapon because it often renders the user stupid.

As for Martin Havlat, he played in this game.

Ballsy? You bet.

Gutsy? Absolutely!

Stupid? You bet your sweet ass it was and here’s why:

You won’t get a closer view of that, but that was Havlat getting taken out by Brad Stuart. He left the ice and did not return to the game after that. What Havlat is doing out there in the first place will remain a mystery as Coach Quenneville already made it a point to cover his tracks and proclaim that all was well.

You can lie to us all you want, coaches do it all the time, but you can’t lie to us about this one because this is what Marty Havlat looked like in Game 3:


The guy from The Karate Kid was heard yelling, “Get him a body bag! YEAH!”

You cannot tell me he had it all together enough to be even thought of as remotely ready to play. Jesus, looking at this picture hurts my head and I’ve never had a concussion. James Mirtle at From The Rink has a great entry just on this angle and whether or not Havlat should have played.

James hits it home on this closing thought:


He’s fine. He’s ready. He’s all right.

Perhaps. But he didn’t look all right, at least to my eyes. I wish the question was asked if Havlat had suffered a concussion and what treatment, exactly, he’s had in the interim. It’s not impossible that he recovered just fine from having his bell rung a few days earlier, but why then does he have to leave the game after taking a routine check early in the game?

Isn’t that cause for concern? Perhaps especially so for a player with Havlat’s extensive injury history?

You bet your ass it’s a cause for concern and the question of whether or not Havlat BS’ed his way into the lineup or the Blackhawks trainers and Quenneville would willfully ignore Havlat’s condition is something that I hope the beat writers will try to find out more about.

As for this series, for all of Brian Campbell’s talk of the Red Wings being a “gutless” team, the ‘Hawks have a lot of soul-searching to do after putting in a putrid performance like that in a game that was set up for them on a platter to take. Two of the best players in the NHL, nevermind just on the Red Wings, the entire league were in the press box for this game as well as one of the top defensive forwards and Chicago comes out with that performance?

Brutal. Simply brutal and a truly gutless performance out of this team that was too caught up in seeking redemption for a guy who ended up wrongly suiting up for the game. I’ll let the guys at Hockee Night wrap this one up for how Chicago “performed” in this crucial Game 4:


Christobal Huet. What a sieve. He probably wound up with sunburn fro the red light. He gave up a lot of goals, and none of them were particularly tough. He was absolutely brutal.

VERSTEEG! When you’re down 4, you don’t skate out of the box and get chippy in open ice. That’s dumbshit hockey, and that isn’t what makes a good team a top team. Oh yeah, calling out guys when you’re down 5? Nice set of balls you grew there, kid.

The Hawks’ passing. They’ve gotten this far by opening up the ice with stretch passing, but the Wings have just run a passing clinic, everything has been tape-to-tape. At times the Wings looked like they were doing some Harlem Globetrotters stuff out on the ice, moving the puck at will.

Things are not looking up for Chicago and this is setting up for a blowout of even more embarrassing fashion for the Blackhawks because if you can’t nut up and strap it on for a game where the other team is ridiculously shorthanded from the get-go… Then what game can you get up for?

05/23/2009

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

By now you’ve already seen the Niklas Kronwall hit on Martin Havlat from Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

Far be it from me to prevent you from viewing it all over again.

The last time I saw a look on a guys face like that was a couple years ago…

Oddly enough, that’s the last time Brian Campbell ever checked a player. Even stranger still, that hit looks pretty similar to the one Kronwall delivered to Havlat.

I bring this up because in the press conferences today, Brian Campbell had something to say about Niklas Kronwall and his bodycheck:


“I thought [Kronwall] jumped,” Campbell said. “Marty didn’t have the puck, I thought his forearm came up high. I thought it was gutless all around. [Kronwall’s] done it hundreds of times in the league and it seems like nothing ever happens. He could as easily came in and used his shoulder and hit him with his side and it would have been fine. Instead he comes up and explodes with his fists and his forearms and jumps. I just don’t understand it. It’s unacceptable and it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened with that guy.”

Hundreds of times? Yikes. Hyperbole is a dangerous verbal weapon because it often renders the user stupid.

As for what the Blackhawks plan to do about it, Campbell added this juicy tid-bit.


“These guys gotta pay for it, guys that are taking shots to the head. It’s unacceptable, and it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened with that guy.”

All right, I get it.

A guy lays a clean hit, and this one certainly was, yet people are going to blow it up into something worse. It just follows suit with everything else that’s gone on this year and allows Mike Milbury to hang on to the one thing he’s ever been right about.

Oh sure, some folks are arguing that it’s interference, others are arguing that it’s charging – some folks even whipped out the rule book thinking that it helps solidify their case that’s turned into an Abraham Zapruder-inspired Internet brouhaha.

Problem now is that Brian Campbell, of all people, has laid down the gauntlet and said that Kronwall is going to pay. This threat would sound more imposing if it came from just about anyone else on the Blackhawks roster. Adam Burish, Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager… Pick one.

Brian Campbell though? What’s he going to do to Kronwall, sweat all over him?

This is when keeping it real goes wrong.

05/21/2009

Charles Wang Wants To Flex His Nuts

Filed under: Charles Wang,Kate Murray,New York Islanders,Relocation Radar — Joe Yerdon @ 6:03 PM

Everyone’s pretty well consumed with what’s going on with the Coyotes but there’s another team to get on the radar, a team whose owner has already warned the locals about his plans to get out of town (well, he’d take a look around at least) should they not work with him to improve their facilities.

Get your relocation radars prematurely locked in on the New York Islanders.

We know that Charles Wang is a loose cannon and that his trust in people is sometimes bizarre and greatly unwarranted, take a look at Rick DiPietro’s contract and Mike Milbury’s tenure on the Island for examples.

Give Wang credit where credit is due, however. He’s been battling the Town of Hempstead and more pointedly the town supervisor Kate Murray. Two of the NHL Blogosphere’s biggest Charles Wang backers are B.D. Gallof at Islanders Independent and Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank.


Strange things are afoot at the Lighthouse.

Chris Botta offers the perspective of a guy who has worked for the Islanders as a PR man for Charles Wang’s operation. Botta’s name came up in the news today after it was announced the Islanders were mysteriously letting go of Corey Witt, the PR man that replaced Botta. As is mentioned over at Islanders Independent, it’s curious that Wang’s operation would do this as both Botta and Witt are perfect PR people for the organization since they’re local homegrown guys that genuinely love the Islanders.

The thought presented at II is that strange things are afoot in Long Island and none of them mean good things if you like the team where it’s currently located.

Sue me for jumping to conclusions, but this organizational change is just another indication of why I am just about convinced that the Isles will not be in NY (much less LI) very much longer. I won’t list my “indicators” here, but I have been pointing them out on Logan’s blog for about 3 months now. (No anticipated free agent signings, failure to secure or even make an honest attempt at Mr. Hobey Baker, etc etc) Greg describes Corey Witt as a lifelong, born and raised, love LI til he dies, Islander supporter. Not much different than what Chris Botta brought to the Wang Organization. Botta is gone…and now so is Witt…..Another “home grown, ties to the community, press and media relations” guy. Someone that Wang WOULD NOT want involved in certain details about the long term plans of the organization……if those plans were dark.

Now that’s the kind of tinfoil hat talk I like. No, seriously, I dig it a lot.

Aside from drumming up more of your own bad public relations, what’s the point of letting go of people with strong local ties to the Islanders and have been life-long fans? You know, the kind of person you’re ideally looking for to fill that position.


Strap it on, we’re going deep.

OK so Charles Wang made sure to say that if the Town of Hempstead doesn’t get something done to allow him to build his impressive and paid-for-with-his-own-money Lighthouse Project that he would begin to look for other options on where to go and whether or not he should sell the team.

And this, to me, shows that in this era when sports teams are busy yelling at locales to build them a new arena to sell luxury boxes in and getting the cities to pay for them it’s stunning to me that Charles Wang, a guy people don’t realize is solely responsible for the Islanders remaining on Long Island, is willing to plunk down his own money to build this sprawling and, honestly, incredible project in Hempstead.

Yet the town wants nothing to do with Wang’s money or development seemingly citing the lack of support the Islanders get as their reasoning for not allowing an eccentric millionaire to build what he feels the team needs to survive and help draw crowds to see the Islanders once again.


Dear Hempstead: LET ME SPEND MY FUCKING MONEY ON YOU!

This is where I question Kate Murray and her seeming vendetta against the Islanders because what are people coming to Hempstead, New York for in the first place? If you were to believe Hempstead’s website for tourism, the Islanders are one of the main attractions.

Well then what the fuck gives?

Charles Wang isn’t a totally crazy guy and he can tell when he’s not wanted and with the Town of Hempstead continues to dick around with him, as is detailed at Islanders Point Blank:

And so it goes with the Town of Hempstead and the Lighthouse Project, the development of Tom Suozzi’s HUB that Nassau County has tried for decades to get off the ground. So it goes for the revitalization of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as set forth by a Request For Proposals by Nassau County and approved by a 16-2 margain.

Wang, who is said to be completely satisfied by the stewardship of the proposal by Suozzi and the County, has set a October 3 deadline for Town approvals for obvious reasons. The Islanders lease expires in 2015. A “transformed” Coliseum would take four off-seasons to complete. The math is simple. Wang has to decide if he’s finally done losing at least $20 million a year with no development deal in sight.

So, there’s a method to all the madness here for Charles Wang – who’dve thunk it? So much for being an eccentric millionaire if you’re not going to just haphazardly make deadlines and want to spend loads of money on something a town doesn’t even want to bother with.

So what if there’s nothing in place by Wang’s October deadline to get things started?

Just like Islander Independent said: Start lining up ownership prospects and new locations.

Sure, if Balsillie’s attempt to land the Coyotes fails (and there’s virtually no doubt in my mind that it will) he’ll make a move on the Islanders and for that, all I ask is a seat in the board room at that meeting between Balsillie and Wang.

Imagine that pow-wow. Amazing.

Outside of that, perhaps Bruce Ratner gives Charles Wang a call since the roadblocks in his development of his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn appear to be falling and construction may begin soon. Why not add another tenant to join the Nets in what would be a huge piece to revitalize Brooklyn?

Then again, maybe Wang will be thoroughly tired of dealing with being unappreciated and asinine politics in New York and just look for the first readily available green pasture that wants to have a hockey team.

I don’t know, maybe that pre-season audition they’ll get against the Los Angeles Kings in Kansas City is a nice way for the folks at AEG to shmooze it up with Wang to show him everything the Sprint Center can offer the Islanders.

I know this was all theorized before when the game was scheduled (as is proven by that TSN link) but with Hempstead’s seeming disdain for anything and everything Charles Wang tries to do perhaps he’s left with no recourse but to aggressively start looking for a new place to call home.

It’s easy to be critical of Charles Wang, he brings it upon himself quite easily by playing outside the norm and operating his team like a maniac but in his dealings with Hempstead in trying to revitalize the Nassau County Coliseum and develop the area around it and turning it into a place people will want to go to…

Well, perhaps Charles Wang is just the alchemist the Islanders need.

05/05/2009

Don’t Make Me Hate You, Sid

I’ll come out and say it and I don’t give a crap what it makes you think of me or my opinions.

Sidney Crosby is a gift to us all.

I know what you’re thinking now…

“OH SHURE HOCKY JOE! U R A BETMAN SUCKUP!! LOLZ!1!”

Right, sure, whatever.

Like it or not, Sidney Crosby is awesome and the NHL is a million times better off having him, his talent and his presence around than without it.

Is he over-exposed? Maybe to NHL fans, but not to the world that’s for damn sure.

Is he a great player? Fuckin’ A right he is.

He’s phenomenal and his talent is a once-in-a-generation kind of talent and we’re blessed as NHL fans to have three other players in the NHL that are on that same kind of unearthly level of talent (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Lidstrom).

Are NHL fans pissed that three of those four players are playing in the same series in the second round? Maybe the jerk-off fans that are self-loathers are – but me? I’m tickled. Gary Bettman is tickled too, no doubt, because he gets to see the two prizes he cares about most finally have their “Bird vs. Magic” series.

Never mind that it’s taking place in the second round, that’s irrelevant. What matters is that it’s happening and, as of right now, it’s absolutely electric.

Just like most things in the NHL, sometimes things happen that help amp up the story. Sometimes when superstars collide, the best is brought out of them. Case in point, Game 2 of this series. Hat tricks from both of the superstars (their first hat tricks in the playoffs) including this stirring series of bombs from Alex Ovechkin:

As it goes, as it has always gone, when you’re the home team and your home guy nets a hat trick, the hats come out on to the ice. It’s a tradition that’s been around since the dawn of time (give or take an epoch) and it’s awesome. Flat out, it’s awesome.

Unless you’re on the visiting team.

Enter the man in the white uniform and the black hat, Sidney Crosby.

From the DC Sports Bog:


“People kept throwing hats,” Sidney Crosby said tonight. “I was just asking if he could make an announcement to ask them to stop. I mean, the first wave came and then I think they were all pretty much picked up, and then more started coming. So for us, we just wanted to make sure we kept kind of moving and kept the game going, wanted to try to get back in it. So wasn’t complaining about anything.”

Ah, jeez.

Listen, I get that he’s being the captain of the team. That’s good, that’s fine, that’s the admirable thing to do. He’s also being brutally honest with the press when asked about this.

As a person who has done plenty of sports interviews and gotten nothing but Athlete-speak from them, to get a freaking gold mine of a quote like this is awesome because then jerks like me cite your website, give you more hits and all that fun.


No, they ain’t sippin’ on some sizzurp – that’s straight Haterade.

When your name is Sidney Crosby though… Stuff like this gets a lot more run. Like it or not, Sid’s got the reputation for being a whiner. As a fan of hockey, it sucks more than life itself to see that one of the most marketable guys in the league, the like-it-or-not face of the NHL is labeled a big pansy bitch.

That sucks a lot and it drives me nuts to see Sid continue to do things that feed into this image. I want him to be Captain Cool, I want to see him make people that hate him shut up by delivering every damn time. I want him to be The Terminator and crusher of souls. As an NHL fan I want the biggest name and the league’s icon to be the man.

Simple as that.

In a series that features the two guys that are fighting to be the A #1 icon of the game, some folks might point to this game as the one that separates them for good. They both deliver hat tricks in stunning performances. Ovechkin with his bomb shots and Crosby doing the down and dirty work in front of the net putting home rebounds.

Had the Penguins won this game, Sid would rightfully be getting the praise for throwing a change up at the Capitals and doing things differently. Sure, maybe that quote gets some more run, but at least that can get spun off to make him more of an honest-to-badass villain. Like, say…


“Hey ref, tell these chumps to stop throwing hats – this game is fucking over with because I said so.”

Cutthroat? You better believe it. Cocky? As hell. Bad-ass? Hell fucking yes it is.

Instead, reality deals us a Capitals win with Ovechkin waving his junk at everyone because he’s that damn good. In his case, being a Russian helps add to his allure. The interviews are tougher to do with regular schmoe reporters because his English skills are mostly limited to Athlete-Speak.

The one time he did let loose was in an interview with Maxim Magazine and he was instantly villified for what came out there.

Thanks for nothing mainstream media. Dicks.

So now what’s the fallout from this for Crosby? He unfortunately solidifies a reputation that’s already been made bad enough to handle by a well-paid PR firm.

After all, when you’re playing a rough game like hockey where there’s a delicate balance between being a cocky braggart and cutthroat competitor, being a crying wuss wins you no favor and makes the job of sticking up for your boy even harder.

At least if I was Sid, I’d be happy to have the guys at The Official PensBlog on my side, I’d hate to see how they’d handle having that kind of ammo to use against him. For that alone, I’d hope to never leave Pittsburgh without a Stanley Cup or two if I were him.

What kills me about all this is that I enjoy how Sid plays the game and he makes it so incredibly difficult to love Sidney Crosby the player. Whether it’s the opinion of the other players that he’s a whiner or the consistent cries from fans all over the NHL that he’s a diver on top of all of that… It’s incredibly hard to embrace him as the MAN when there’s a guy doing all of those things that you admire playing against him. It creates an instant divide amongst fans.

You’re either a Sid fan or an Alex fan.

Simple as that.

When you’re put on the spot after a tough game, a tough loss particularly, and you’re getting a thousand different questions about the game and someone mentions the other guy, the other big gun outshining you for a night and you’re frustrated that you couldn’t do more than your own three goals and your answer is to just blurt out that you wanted the officials to make an announcement about the hats being thrown on the ice for the other guy’s hat trick…

The best way for Sid to answer all of this is to flip the script and do it right back and let the fans at The Igloo shower the ice in hats. Then to do it again the next game and not relent.

Sid’s shown us he can wear the Black Hat and be the villain by driving hockey fans nuts with these things like whining and diving, now it’s time to fully embrace the darkside. Be comfortable with being thoroughly hated in places like Philly and Washington and New York.

Score that game-winner in overtime some night and then proclaim afterwards that you knew you’d get it all along. Sid is referred to as “Bing” over at PensBlog, but I’d rather seem him break out something a little more like another cocksure legend:

Is it wrong to want all of our new hockey heroes to be bad-asses? I don’t think so.

Snap out of it already Sid.

Do it.

05/04/2009

Hockey Wilderness: Cheap Plug

Filed under: Hockey Wilderness,shameless plug,Wheel of Justice — Joe Yerdon @ 5:25 PM

I’ve been laying low here soaking in the first few games of the playoffs and getting a kick out of Colin Campbell’s Wheel of Justice acting funny again.

In the meantime, I’ve got a new piece over at Hockey Wilderness with my friends with the Wild talking about their search for a new general manager and how the Toronto media is looking to hook their friends up again.

Oh joy, more teams to be bad like the Leafs – wonder of wonders!

Go check it out because it’s awesome and they’re bored not having anyone to root for in the playoffs.

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