Finally

For the few years I was scribbling nonsense on the Internet before I landed over at NBCSports.com’s ProHockeyTalk, every June would turn into a soap box for me to sound off on why Adam Oates belonged in the Hockey Hall of Fame. His case was always easy to make. No, really, it was super easy to make.

Now? Now he’s a Hockey Hall of Famer.

The fight is over and a childhood hero is enshrined for eternity. Bias accepted here, there’s never been a doubt as to Oates’ career being Hall-worthy.

I am as happy as a hockey fan can be. The complaining, the indignant stat-prattling, the case-making, the whining about it all… It’s over. I don’t have to crow about an open-and-shut case anymore.

There’s no need to talk about the injustice of it all and continue alternating between banging my head against the wall and shouting from the mountain tops. Adam Oates: Hall of Famer.

Back in late September during the preseason, I wanted to interview Oates about being snubbed by the Hall. With him being the Devils assistant coach and it also being the team’s first preseason game of the year, the Hall was the last thing on his mind. All business, all the time. That’s part of what got the Washington Capitals to hire Oates as their head coach today on top of it all.

It feels a bit silly to feel as happy for what someone else accomplished, but that’s part of being a fan, right? Embracing those that helped bring the love of the game to you. Oates is the key figure on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of hockey. Oates, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, and Teemu Selanne. There are plenty other players I have a great appreciation for, but those four? They turned hockey from something I watched and enjoyed into something I obsess over and love dearly, maybe a bit too much if you ask some of my friends.

But Oates? He was the guy who sparked it all for me. Seeing a guy like that play live in person when you’re a kid leaves an impression on you. Seeing him win your favorite local team a championship hammers it home even more. Watching him excel as a professional for nearly 20 years is icing on the cake.

Adam Oates is a Hockey Hall of Famer. What a great day.

 

So long UAH hockey; Now let’s point some fingers

After two years of trying to fight the good fight, Alabama-Huntsville hockey will be no more after this season.

Oh sure, interim school president and Alabama education hitman Malcolm Stopera will say that moving UAH hockey from Division I down to club level isn’t a big deal because there’ll still be hockey at UAH in some form, but this a needless killing and one that leaves a lot of blood on a lot of different hands in the college hockey world. The Alabama education system can justify their decision citing costs all they want to, but college hockey on the whole should feel sick about this as should the UAH leadership.

This wasn’t just one new conference coming to rise and writing UAH’s death warrant, this was a total failure on the part of college hockey world to help out a weakened brother. This is the fault of a hired gun brought into the UAH leadership to make the big decision and get the hell out of town as fast as possible.

This was a hired hit and one that the leaders of the CCHA, WCHA, NCHC, and Big 10 all helped bring about.

The CCHA’s failure to throw UAH a bone years ago when they added now-soon-to-depart Nebraska-Omaha to the conference was the first, and most deadly, shot across the bow for the Chargers. Tom Anastos and his group of ignorant conference leaders, who got their own come-uppances when the Big 10 Conference was formed, helped provide the example of how to ruin a school’s program. By leaving UAH to be independents, a team without a conference to call home, they left them to perish.

Here’s to hoping that Anastos, now the Michigan State head coach, can live with his decision. Of course, he comes out smelling like a dead rose through all of this mess after ditching the CCHA to coach Sparty who is conveniently ditching the CCHA themselves for the Big 10. Convenient, eh?

The conference realignment jumble, confusing in its own right in seeing the WCHA and CCHA try to save face after the Big 10 was formed and then seeing their own plans shot to pieces when the NCHC was created putting a final bullet in the CCHA and turning the WCHA into a conference filled with also-rans. Neither the NCHC nor the soon-to-be brand new WCHA even cast a glance toward UAH for membership.

Rather than help out UAH, the NCHC waited to see if Notre Dame would join their elitist hockey party only to be spurned in favor of Hockey East. An Irish middle finger is a middle finger nonetheless. The WCHA took on fellow death bed program Bowling Green in their scramble to put something that resembled a conference together. Did they call UAH though? No friggin’ way.

Instead, they ignored UAH. They let them sit around as an independent left to wither away and die without the help of a conference to call home and a conference schedule to give them a host of home dates. Take a look at UAH’s schedule for this, their now final season. The last games they play in Huntsville are in late February against the US National Development Team. Games like that are an exhibition meant to show the school off to guys they could potentially recruit.

Oops.

Instead, they’re going out at home with a whimper after a schedule that sees them play on the road in games they had to beg and plead for to play anyhow. This is what the college hockey landscape turned into – one that saw schools turn on each other to save their own skin and left the weakest of the litter out to starve.

Now these Chargers are being put down while a bunch of different hands are pushing off pulling the trigger on everyone else.

It’s sad. It’s sad and disgusting to see things play out this way for the south’s lone outpost for college hockey; A program that rose up from the lower levels of college hockey to become the little school in Dixie that could. They’ve made the NCAA Tournament, they’ve put the scare into top seeds (just ask Notre Dame about what they think of UAH).

Community and student support (both in showing up and financially) didn’t matter to the state of Alabama. All this was for them was a bottom line move, a correction of the books. College hockey, meanwhile, looks the other way while another one of their own dies. A family of 58 is now a family of 57 and there won’t be a single team that will care. The fans of college hockey all care and they’ll make it known at the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida in April. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that it’s UAH playing the role of the host school, holding the celebration for the crowning of a new champion.

A disgusting end to UAH’s Division-I status concludes with a party on their grave.  While I doubt that Portera gives half a crap about his choice to demote the program, I wonder if the heads of these conferences that all had a hand in this slow killing can accept losing a team in an outpost where hockey is growing in a sport that needs a higher profile, not one that sees it let its hurting brothers die.

A long overdue update and a “thank you”

I figured it was high time that I gave you my most loyal of followers here the update as to what’s going to happen with this site. As you may or may not know by now, I’ve moved up in the hockey writing world accepting a position as the lead writer/editor at Pro Hockey Talk on NBCSports.com. This means that I’m spending my days and evenings making sure we’ve got all the news and opinions on what’s going on in the NHL updated on our site to make sure we all stay informed.

It’s a very exciting time for me, personally, as this opportunity has come up rather suddenly, but it’s one I’ve accepted with great eagerness for what it can mean as far as a career goes. As you all may or may not know, this humble little site here based on poking fun at just about everything hockey related as well as appreciating all things that have come from college hockey has been a labor of joy. I got my start with this on my own on a Blogger.com set up, deviated into the “semi-professional” ranks for a short while with my home on Fox Sports 980′s website for a short while and after being laid off by Clear Channel, I went full time into the world in the basement where all sports bloggers come from.

Coincidentally enough, after starting this fancy-pants looking page here with my own domain a year ago (nearly to the date) is when I was offered and accepted the spot with NBC Sports. To say that things have been a whirlwind of different emotions over the last year would be to downplay things tremendously. It’s been straight up bat-shit crazy.

I want you all to know that this site here is not going to go away nor will it fade off into oblivion. I like the stuff that I’ve done here too much to let it all go to waste and disappear into the ether. Updates here are going to be extremely sparse. If you’ve had this page bookmarked and checked back on occasion you’ve noticed that things were already sparse here as it was. Expect that to continue.

What will happen here is going to involve me putting away my nasty snark and saving those bullets for NBC. Hey, come on, that’s what they’re paying me for. Thankfully the Internet is still free so if you want to keep up with that, you can still find me rather easily. Instead, I’ll use this page to post my thoughts, photos and random musings about following college hockey. Next season, I will be a full-fledged RPI Engineers season ticket holder. I may or may not get to pop on WRPI radio now and again to call some games, but for the most part, I’ll be a loudmouthed, heckling idiot sitting on the north side of Houston Field House with some of my best friends both in the real sense and in the “fan” sense.

If you’ve become a fan of the Photoshops, those will be extremely rare and may only occur when I’m inspired. As it is, I think I killed all of your will with the Twilight-themed one anyhow. If you stayed with me through that, God bless your sadistic hearts, I owe you a beer.

I also owe all of you my most heartfelt thanks for encouraging me to keep at this, for enjoying whatever it is I was doing here at any time and just continuing to have fun with what is ultimately a game for grown up kids. Being a guy that just writes about said game doesn’t really make me much of anything in the big picture of things, but I am blessed and flattered and humbled to have the opportunity.

For now though, this isn’t a good-bye by any stretch of the imagination, but this site is on hiatus in the meantime. You’ll hear back from me again come September or if there’s RPI news to be had before then. But expect September. If you’ve enjoyed what I do here, come join me over at Pro Hockey Talk and stay awhile, I plan on sticking around there for a good, long time…. At least until they don’t want to have me anymore.

2010 NHL Draft: The worst mock draft in history

Are you ready for the NHL Draft?! Come on! GET EXCITED! There might be four or five guys that play in the NHL next season taken in the first round!

Yes, the NHL Draft is a different beast than the NFL and even the NBA drafts in that the vast majority of guys taken won’t see any action in the NHL next year. Hell, most of them you won’t be able to see unless you’re an avid watcher of the CHL or NCAA hockey. Yeah, there’ll be a handful of Europeans taken as well, some even play in the KHL but there’s no one in North America really paying attention to that.

In the spirit of keeping up with the fun and games on the Internet I managed to come up with the world’s worst mock draft ever conceived. When I wrote this up on Saturday night/Sunday morning for part of our thought process over at Pro Hockey Talk, I really didn’t read up on a lot of these guys. As the week wore on I learned more about the players and the teams and what they need so I’m already really embarrassed by a few of these picks and that’s while I’ll share them with you as they are.  I’m here for the LOLZ after all.

I’ll add my comments with the selections as well to help spice this up a bit for you. Just reading names is weak sauce, this isn’t a police blotter after all. I already made it clear this wasn’t like the NFL Draft.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Tyler Seguin – C – Plymouth (OHL)
Everyone else is saying that Hall will be the man here, and I like to live a contrarian lifestyle

2. Boston Bruins-  Taylor Hall – C – Windsor (OHL)
This is the guy the Bruins want to get and they’ll get him because, apparently, the Oilers are dumb. Hint: You can’t lose with either guy.

3. Florida Panthers – Cam Fowler – D – Windsor (OHL)
He’s an American defenseman with all the skills. You could see any one of Fowler, Gudbranson or Gormley go here. It’ll probably be Gudbranson just because I picked someone else.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets – Erik Gudbranson – D – Kingston (OHL)
Same deal here although there’s an outside chance Columbus trades this pick for a veteran player and picks. Gudbranson is the guy they’d like to get.

5. New York Islanders – Brandon Gormley – D – Moncton (QMJHL)
Given how things are shaking out, I’ll be stunned if the Isles stay at this spot. They could stand to get a scoring forward prospect but if they stay here Gormley or Connolly could be it.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning – Nino Niederreiter – LW – Portland (WHL)
His nickname is “El Nino” and he’s Swiss. He could end up on the Lightning. Write your own nonsensical weather joke for this one.

7. Carolina Hurricanes – Brett Connolly – RW – Prince George (WHL)
He likely could’ve been a top 5 pick had he not suffered a tough leg injury. As it is, he’ll have to settle for being just outside the top 5. Tough life. If he falls this far, Carolina will be thankful.

8. Atlanta Thrashers – Jeff Skinner – C – Kitchener (OHL)
He’s a goal scoring freak although some folks worry about his skating speed. Given the numbers he put up in Kitchener this past season (64 games, 50 goals, 40 assists) it’s really tough to argue. Atlanta will be happy to have him.

9. Minnesota Wild – Nick Bjugstad – C – Blaine HS (MN)
He was Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey and the Wild could stand to do something good to make the home fans not want to start a lynch mob, especially after dealing last year’s first round pick (Minnesota Golden Gopher Nick Leddy) to the Blackhawks for Cam Barker.

10. New York Rangers – Alex Burmistrov – C – Barrie (WHL)
The Rangers sure could use a skilled center in their system, couldn’t they? If Burmistrov falls this far even Glen Sather can’t screw this one up.

11. Dallas Stars – Derek Forbort – D – USA Under-18
This is almost a unanimous selection across all drafts and from what I’ve heard from folks on the inside (I do have SOME connections) Forbort is the guy they really want to get at 11. I figure they’ll get their man.

12.  Anaheim Ducks – Austin Watson – RW – Peterborough (OHL)
So here’s the first pick where I really screwed the pooch. The Ducks could stand to use some centers in their system. Badly. If Watson gets picked by Anaheim I’ll fall on the floor. Twice.

13.  Phoenix Coyotes – Mikael Granlund – LW – Helsinki
The Coyotes love them some Scandinavian players (Sami Lepisto, Mikkel Boedker) and Granlund would help fill the team coffers at left wing. It also helps that the kid has some slick skills on offense. Done and done.

14.  St. Louis Blues – Emerson Etem – C – Medicine Hat (WHL)
He’s a California kid and the fans will go nuts for him. The Blues could use some more solid talent up the middle and Etem is capable of fulfilling those hopes as he’s impressed people quite a bit lately. The Blues would do well to get him.

15.  Boston Bruins – Dylan McIlrath – D – Moose Jaw (WHL)
So this pick now belongs to the Florida Panthers thanks to the Nathan Horton trade and if they take Gudbranson early, they’re not taking a defenseman here. If they hang on to the pick at all that is. Rumors are swirling that they’ll deal this pick to collect more goodies. Still McIlrath has an awesome name, is a huge physical defenseman and he played in Moose Jaw. What else could you possibly need?

16.  Ottawa Senators – Jack Campbell – G – USNTDP
He’s America’s hero in goal. He won the gold medal for the WJC team over Canada. That’s good. He turned down a commitment to Michigan to play in the OHL. That’s bad. Still, he’s the best goalie in the draft and Ottawa could really use a prospect in goal at this point. Brian Elliott and Mike Brodeur won’t be around forever, nor should they be.

17.  Colorado Avalanche – Jon Merrill – D – USNTDP
So the Avs could use some defensemen after hitting the jackpot on Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly in last year’s draft. Merrill’s talent is outstanding but he’s got a bit of an attitude problem. Locking him up for five minutes in the room with Adam Foote should straighten him out.

18.  Nashville Predators – Ryan Johansen – C – Portland (WHL)
If Johansen falls this far in the draft, I’ll eat my hat. This was a total mistake on my part. Nashville, however, is praying that I am a psychic as Johansen is ranked behind Tyler Seguin as the best true center prospect in the draft (Taylor Hall is viewed more as a winger than not).

19.  Los Angeles Kings – Vladimir Tasarenko – RW – Novosibirsk
A very talented Russian winger playing in Los Angeles. Where have I heard this one before and is it something we’ll see again during free agency? Alexander Frolov has had a nice career in LA and perhaps Ilya Kovalchuk could be headed there next. Tasarenko, however, is KHL committed so a team picking him has to be content to wait a bit before having him, maybe, come to the NHL.

20.  Pitttsburgh Penguins – Quinton Howden – LW – Moose Jaw (WHL)
A quick, two-way winger that can score goals. The question is: What could the Penguins really make great use of while they’ve got Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Well then, glad I settled that. The Pens could go for a winger or defense at this pick here though. Going defenseman wouldn’t be shocking in any way at all. In other words, I probably punted this choice.

21.  Detroit Red Wings – Tyler Pitlick – C – MSU-Mankato (NCAA)
All right, so he’s listed as being a Mankato State player as that’s where he was this past season. Truth is, he’s headed to the WHL next year to “better prepare for the rigors of professional hockey.”  What the fuck ever, Tyler.  Still, kid is talented. He’s probably not getting picked by Detroit though. Oops to me.

22.  Phoenix Coyotes – Mark Pysyk – D – Edmonton (WHL)
He’s a steady two-way defenseman. Nothing mind-blowing, but also doesn’t have many deficiencies. Sounds perfect for the Coyotes system doesn’t it? I thought so too. Obvious pick is obvious.

23.  Buffalo Sabres – Riley Sheahan – C – Notre Dame (NCAA)
Given how other things are likely to shake out, I can’t see Sheahan lasting this long but in my pool of madness, the Fighting Irish forward will get to do his thing someday for the Sabres and he’d make for a nice fit there.

24.  Atlanta Thrashers – Jarred Tinordi – D – USNTDP
This pick now belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to the Dustin Byfuglien trade. He’s big, he’s bruising, he’s former NHL defenseman Mark Tinordi’s son and he’ll (likely) be playing at Notre Dame next season. If he’s anything like his old man, he’ll have a long and serviceable career. Fun side note: His brother Matt is going to be a freshman at RPI this year so expect to hear about him here.

25.  Vancouver Canucks – Brock Nelson – C – Warroad HS (MN)
Consider this one a failure on my part. The Canucks are more than likely aiming for a defenseman here, but Brock Nelson, who is headed to the University of North Dakota next season, is a big and bad mofo. 6’3″ 205 and he’s 17. Yikes. He’s been moving up on draft boards of late so if he does end up being this far down in the first I’ll be surprised. Also, how great is the name Brock Nelson? It’s a modern day Big McLargehuge.

26.  Washington Capitals – John McFarland – LW – Sudbury (OHL)
The Caps have a wealth of riches and adding fast winger with a nice wrist shot that occasionally fights sounds ideal for a team that lacks that kind of edge up front. The Caps can draft a guy like this and be content to have him develop as their minor leagues are rather full at the moment. Nice problem to have.

27.  Montreal Canadiens – Jaden Schwartz – C – Tri-City (USHL)
He was the USHL’s leading scorer and he’s 5’10″ so he doesn’t break the Habs’ height barrier for forwards. It’s a match made in Munchkin Land. Also, he’s committed to playing at Colorado College next year. He’s already won me over for wanting to play in college.

28.  San Jose Sharks – Calvin Pickard – G – Seattle (WHL)
The Sharks don’t need a whole lot of stuff in their organization but goaltending is a severe deficiency throughout and Pickard is one of the best you can get. Seems like a no-brainer to me but Doug Wilson is one shifty mofo as a GM.

29.  Anaheim Ducks – Beau Bennett – RW – Penticton (BCHL)
You don’t really see a lot of BCHL kids go so early but Bennett is pretty impressive and moving up lists late. He’s also another California kid so expect a huge ovation should he fall to the Ducks… Which he may not do as the Kings could be a landing spot for him earlier in the round.

30.  Chicago Blackhawks – Evgeny Kuznetsov – C – Chelyabinsk
What does a team that just won the Stanley Cup need more of? Great talent. Kuznetsov won’t be in North America this year but word from Yahoo’s Dmitri Chesnokov is that he’s set to come to North America next year to compete for a job be it in the NHL or AHL. That’s the right attitude to have as it seems there’s a great fear of Russians throughout the draft worried that they’ll stay in Russia and never come over. Jeez guys, didn’t the wall come down 20 years ago? Let’s chill out.

The NHL and Twilight Unify For True Horror

You brought this one on yourself NHL. Just remember that this is your fault because you shared this information with the world via Twitter.

A few top prospects and current players will attend the LA red carpet premiere of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on 6/24. Details on Tuesday.

Stunned. First you get Jonathan Toews on a music awards show to hang out with Miley Cyrus and now this. God help us all. If I catch Sidney Crosby hanging out with Lindsay Lohan, I’m quitting the business.

I get who they’re marketing to and they’re looking to cash in on a ridiculously insane obsession a popular series of movies and tag-along with the hype in the off-season. But are these fans the type we want to invite into the NHL Asylum of Psychos?

Actually… After reading that, they sound like the perfect kind of crazies to send to Philadelphia wearing opposing team gear and saying awful things about Chris Pronger.

I said on Twitter shortly after that announcement that the NHL is going to get a load of mocking Photoshops done to celebrate this kind of horrifying news and who am I to let the people down? Enjoy.

Preparing To Riot: Adam Oates’ annual Hall of Fame bid

It’s time for the annual boning over of the most unappreciated passer in the modern era of the NHL. Last year I was resigned knowing full well that Adam Oates wasn’t going to be voted into hockey’s hall of fame. I said it last year that if Adam Oates didn’t go into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, we were going to riot. It’d be more like Internet rioting and not the cop car burning rioting we see in beautiful Montreal, but it’s something, right? Instead, now it feels as if I’m going through the five stages of grieving.

First up: Denial.

No way. How can you leave the guy who is sixth all time in assists out of the Hall of Fame? He had more assists than Steve Yzerman and Gordie Howe. There’s clearly been a miscalculation of the voting here.

Then it’s anger.

Are you kidding me? The guy who sits 16th all time in NHL points scored can’t crack through the ballots on the Hall of Fame vote?! What the hot shit is this all about?! What kind of jerks vote on this!? I AM OUTRAGED!

Then it’s time to start bargaining.

All right, so if you’re not taking Adam Oates into the Hall of Fame, then let’s just  get him hooked up with a Canadian folk hero who is right behind him all time in points with a ravenous fan base looking for any kind of good news. After all, guys who spent a lot of time in Canada seem to get breaks with the voters.  All right Doug Gilmour, you work with us, we’ll work with you and we’ll both get through this together and down some brews in Toronto to celebrate.

So the bargaining thing might pan out, but I’m not holding my breath on that just yet because it’s making me fall into the fourth stage: Depression.

I don’t see what else you can say for the guy. I mean, he hasn’t worn as many ugly sweaters as my favorite emo band but my favorite emo band makes me want to drink a bleach coolatta. Sure that Mighty Ducks of Anaheim sweater was a Disney side show, but that’s no reason to keep a guy out of the Hall of Fame. I mean, he might be the only guy to get stuck having to wear hideous jerseys in his only two Stanley Cup final appearances in 1998 with the Capitals and 2003 with the Ducks.

Blue eagles and teal ducks?  Rock the red my ass, Washington. Adam Oates had to wear the stupid eagle and get swept out of the final by the Red Wings. I was asleep for most of that 2003 final, but when I came out of my coma I saw that Oates hadn’t gotten his name on the Stanley Cup again. At least he’s still got that 1985 National Championship to hang onto. You know, the one where RPI beat a Minnesota-Duluth team with Brett Hull in the semi-finals and a Lou Lamoriello coached Providence team in the finals. Ahh, memories.

Who knew that one would ramble so much when depressed, eh? Never mind that though, it’s all part of the grieving process and it brings us to the big one here and the one I’m pretty much set with as it is: Acceptance.

It’s pretty clear that being the one, lonely voice out here on the Internet clamoring for what should be a slam-dunk Hall of Fame career isn’t doing very much to help bring attention to a man who didn’t live to score goals, but rather lived to help create goals for his teammates, two of which he helped get into the hall of fame already in Brett Hull and Cam Neely. He’s a man who as a center for mostly pedestrian teams managed to do everything possible to make his teammates better and to help power plays become lethal with his playmaking ability.

These things matter not though, at least that’s what I’m telling myself in hoping that by setting the bar as low as possible the Hall of Fame voters will do the right thing and surprise the hell out of me on Tuesday by saying that they’ll be swinging the doors open for Adam Oates. My head and heart say that this will be his year and it makes the most sense as this year’s first-year eligible players have only one stand out person in Joe Nieuwendyk (a fine college player himself, albeit at Cornell).  Other interesting names including Pierre Turgeon, Peter Bondra, Eric Lindros and John LeClair also sit there, but they’re not getting within sniffing distance of the Hall because the wait list of guys that belong in the Hall is too long already.

Dino Ciccarelli (who I’ve lauded here before) as well as Dave Andreychuk (he of 640 goals), and the aforementioned Doug Gilmour are the main egregious omissions from Toronto’s hallowed hall. Two 600+ goal scorers and the man who is 17th all-time in points NOT in the hall of fame. That’s not even taking into account the cases for guys like Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny. Ridiculous.

Even more ridiculous is that if they do try to get things right, someone will still get left out because the Hall of Fame will only allow four players to be inducted at a time. I’m certainly not advocating swinging the doors open and letting everyone and their mother in, but just to put some of the differences aside (Dino and the media not seeing eye-to-eye, for instance) and instead of being petty dicks about the past, doing the right thing and opening the Hall up to those who have been more than patiently waiting for a long delayed call.

Or else there’s hell to be paid.

RPI Hockey’s A-Team

I shared this over at Without A Peer first, but I figured it was time to let the rest of you in on the madness that prevails when my mind gets a little too active. After RPI announced their captains for the 2010-2011 season, I got struck by a little pop culture inspiration.

I pity the fools messin’ with this line.

Is it October yet?

I was on the radio – For real

Big thanks to Matt and Jeff on The Weekend Warmup at 96.3 the Big Jab in Portland, Maine for having me on the show with them this morning talking about hockey. Being a one-time radio producer, it was fun to be on the other end of the phone this time.

We talked Bruins failure, Bruins future and whether or not Joe Thornton is finally being Chokie Chokerson or not in the playoffs.

Part 1 is here.  5-22-10-BigJab-Portland-ME-Part1

Part 2 is here. 5-22-10-BigJab-Portland-ME1-Part2

The guys are still smarting over the Bruins and who can blame them really.

Coyotes sale failure means Gary’s business failure

You knew it was too good to last. The Coyotes have a season to remember only to get unceremoniously dumped in the playoffs and then the harsh reality of doing business with a fink like Gary Bettman set in.

Last summer when Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy and tried to sneak the team off to Jim Balsillie and into southern Ontario, I warned the hell out of Coyotes fans about putting their faith in an unthrowable snake like Herr Bettman and while fans were grateful that someone stepped up to save the team last year. This summer, same bottom line with the story and a new cast of characters.  If you’re not caught up on things, here’s a couple of links from what I’ve done at Pro Hockey Talk on this insane situation (May 6th, May 8th).

So what have we got here now? A real fine mess. Yes, the City of Glendale is going to do as much as they can to help out Ice Edge Holdings and keep the Coyotes in Arizona and while everyone has a vested interest in what they want to have happen (Arizona media wants the team to stay, some Canadian media is more interested in the NHL indeed making it seven) Bruce Arthur of the National Post seems to have some middle ground on everything, even if he is Canadian.

And that is where this league was going. In its final attempt to keep a team in a non-traditional market — or at least, in the display of something resembling an attempt –the NHL seems to have been reduced to proposing municipal blackmail.

“Municipal blackmail” reads like something out of a John Grisham novel and in this situation, it’s all too fitting. While things have yet to play out for Ice Edge and the City of Glendale, the city council meeting next week should be fascinating to see just how far a city will bend over to keep a team. By all accounts, it appears that Ice Edge Holdings wants reassurances from the city that they won’t be the ones on the hook for losing any money next season. The City of Glendale doesn’t want to hold their citizens over a barrel because of a sports franchise, I’m sure, but feel caught in the middle of keeping the community happy and trying to ensure the city doesn’t become a ghost town with an empty arena. And then look who is warding over the whole thing anyhow, Gary Bettman.

Once the NHL took control of the Coyotes after they were able to send both Moyes and Balsillie packing, the onus to get something done to actually help out Glendale shifted to Bettman and the league. Bettman said all the right things and promised to get things done because, damn it all, hockey was going to succeed in Arizona come hell or high water. They had a name for characters like Bettman in the old west: Snake oil salesman.

He got the fans in Glendale and Phoenix all amped up and hyper about the Coyotes and the team followed suit by winning a ton of games and making the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Perfect storm to win the support of the locals to ensure that you get pressure on the politicos to give into the demands of either Jerry Reinsdorf (who’s all but out of the running for the team), Ice Edge Holdings (the unanimously denied by the city council group now being asked back to the table) and Herr Bettman and his less-than-artful way of toying with the fans in Arizona.

You know who else comes to mind in this situation? Lyle Lanley. Don’t know the name, do you?  Let me remind you who that is then.

Professional hockey? That’s more of a Winnipeg thing anyhow.

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.