Monday, July 31, 2006


Hey, Rocky watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

The Detroit Red Wings have taken the hockey world by surprise by signing UFA goaltender Dominik Hasek to a one year deal. Terms of the contract have yet to be released.
This is pretty shocking stuff! I think the Wings need to give their heads a shake. After losing Steve Yzerman to retirement and Brendan Shanaham to free agency, the time was ripe for a youth movement in Hockeytown. It definitely begs questions concerning Manny Legace. After posting a record of 37-8-3 and a 2.19 GAA, his play dropped in the playoffs, and the Red Wings were upset by the Oilers in the first round. It was Legace's first stint as a starter after years of being a faithful backup.

Could off ice behavior factor into this decision?

By turning to Hasek, the Wings may be opening old wounds. The 41 year old former "Dominator" injured his left adjucator muscle while playing for Czechoslovakia in the 2006 Olympics and never returned between the pipes with the Ottawa Senators. His rehab was openly questioned in the media as his convalescence became a daily soap opera. Hasek would state one day that he felt he would be able to play in a week, and declare the next that he was unable to perform certain basic manoevers. In light practices, he would coil from bending his knees and then declare he would not play until he was 110% healthy. Come playoff time, certain teammates felt he could have stepped in at a moments notice. One well founded rumour had Hasek holding out for his bonus money up front before agreeing to suit up.

The Red Wings are familiar with this sideshow. He pulled similar stunts with them in 2004 after appearing in only 14 games The Wings had signed FA Curtis Joseph in goal for the 2002-03 season. Following a rough start the next season, Hasek came out of retirement and appeared in a handful of games before bailing on the team. By the new year, he was forced out of the picture as co-habitation with Joseph had become a major distraction in Motor City.

Curiously, Detroit's three Stanley Cup wins in the last decade came while being backstopped by different goalies. In 1997, Mike Vernon led the way. In 1998, current Wings tender Chris Osgood raised the Cup. In 2002 Hasek realized his dream of hoisting the mug. Hasek promptly retired after the season, a hero in Detroit.
The Red Wings are notorious for playing the blame-the-goalie game. They have ample ammunition this time. Time will tell whether Hasek's health becomes an issue again. His play between the pipes, the Wings have decided, is apparently less concerning than the five-hole between his ears!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Vancouver's seen 'em all - Except One!

Hey Nucks fans! Waiting for Stanley? I got a few to spare!
From left to right: Paul STANLEY, STANLEY Laurel, STANLEY Cup, STANLEY Mikita, STAN Lee, STANLEY Kubrick, STANLEY Cowalski, STANLEY the Bear, STANLEY Tools, STANLEY Brownlee, STANLEY fans, STANLEY Williams, STANLEY Stan Marsh, STANLEY the Cat

What's In A (Russian) Name?

Origins of words, dialect, and languages themselves can be pretty funny. Proper names if traced back in history all find significance somewhere in time. Just think of names such as Barber, Baker, Miller and Horne - all proper nouns as well as surnames. Likely in their families ancestry someone took on the name of their trade. Heck even the word "shit" has a well founded origin.

This all came to mind when I stumbled across an English - Russian dictionary. Although the former USSR has a slightly different alphabet, translation of Russian surnames was done with ease. Interestingly, the common suffix "ov" is verbal rather than noun based. As the English were predominantly named after proffesions, it seems Russians were named after actions, traits, and situations. Applying this theory to the surnames of Russian born hockey players was extremely enlightening and only sometimes difficult. It shed a lot of light on the language. It was almost as if it was the opposite of french, where long sentences say one simple thought. In Russian, a surname can encompass entire behaviours. Using this dictionary, what I came up with was revealing. Though I am sure my attempts to translate were not always 100% accurate, it made for a fun exercise. Here is what I came up with.

Fedorov - Give her food and kick her out
Perezhogin - Father eats pork
Malakhov - Bad sore throat
Samsonov - The son of Sam
Malkin - Something done to a cow
Fedotenko - Give her food and charge ten bucks
Markov - A checklist
Antropov - Bring Mom's sister to a hanging ( I might have missed something here! )
Ponikarovski - Ride on top in backseat
Brylin - very smart
Kostitsyn - Tax included OR expensive boob job ( Not sure on this one, may be a combination of both )
Kovalev - Lives with woman in sin
Kovalchuk - Gay marriage
Konowalchuk - Menage a trois
Korolev - Adultry
Kondratiev - Congratulations on your newborn
Krivokrasov - Swings both ways
Khavanov - Have your cake and eat it too
Kozlov - Expensive divorce
Koltsov - Shy girl
Kalinin - Everybody agrees
Frolov - Prostitute
Yashin - Costly renovation
Zitnik - Shaving accident
Datsyuk - Cheese gone bad
Morozov - Another beer please
Bure - Slippery
Arkhipov - Decendent Of Noah
Salei - You're in like a dirty shirt Bud
Skrastins - Venerial disease
Karpotsev - Potholes
Butsayev - Nice cheeks
Nikolishin - I want back my nickle
Kasparaitis - Vanished in thin air
Bryzgalov - Got wise and left him
Novoseltsev - Masturbation
Saprykin - Damn dyke ( Could be redundant )
Afinigenov - Gay prostitute
Ulanov - Dildo
Smirnov - Party
Zubov - Expensive dildo
Zubrus - Orgy
Tretiak - Talks too much
Tverdosky - Teach your dog to sing ( ? )
Mogilny - Bandage
Zednik - Bleeding scalp
Suglobov - Sweet nothings
Visnofski - Nothing man
Svitov - Free of charge
Nabokov - Amputation

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Maple Leafs head of scouting Craig (Panic) Button recently made an unannounced pilgrimage to the Vatican in hopes of receiving some divine intervention on behalf of the teams Stanley Cup aspirations. The chief of scouting arranged a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and explained to plight of the Leafs long suffering fans, comparing them to nomad Palestinians who have roamed the deserts in search of the Holy Grail since the beginning of mankind. The Pope, who's english is slightly inferior to that of former Leaf Mariuz Czerkawski, is reputed to have said "Yeah, well, we haven't been able to help them either!"

Buttons plan was sidetracked when he offered up the sacred stick of Bill Barilko, which scored the Leafs OT winner in 1951 for the Pope to bless. "Thank-you for the gift", said Pope Benedict. I'm not a Leaf fan but I quite enjoy the Tragically Hip's musings. Nifty Fishing Cap is one funny tune!" When Button suggested the stick was not a gift but simply offered up for blessing the Pope balked and called him an "Indian giver".

After returning to Toronto bummed and empty handed, Button alerted the Hockey Hall Of Fame about the loss of its prized possession. A prepared statement issued by the Hall read. "This is an almost one of a kind rare artifact and we are not pleased about it changing hands. Sticks that have scored Leaf Cup winners are about as rare as Popeshit. Litigation will be following unless the stick is returned unused and an apology from the Pope is forthcoming".

A spokeman for the Vatican replied, "Don't get your hopes up, dipshit!"

Islanders coach Ted Nolan is allegedly tendering a lawsuit on behalf of all Native Canadians for defamation of character.

Undeterred, Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. plans to try the scheme again next summer. "I'm convinced this can help", said JFJ. Maybe we'll try it with something different that isn't so close to the Pope's heart. I'm thinking Johnny Bower last jock or the first prototype donut from Tim Horton".


According to stories swirling about in the news in the last ten days, there appeared to have been as many as 6 bids to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins. One such offer was from a consortium that included former NFLer Dan Marino and Marc Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The only other bid made public revolved around a group of Hamilton, Ontario businessmen. Groups behind the four remaining bids were not known. It has since been revealed that the Marino / Cuban headed offer was insuficient and had been turned down. Both sports figures are originally from the Steel City area. The Hamilton group pulled an initial bid, only to resubmit a more detailed and lucrative proposal.

Owners of the team stated that offers accepted would not be tied to any relocation plans for the franchise, but were conditional upon the building of a proposed arena and casino complex in downtown Pittsburgh. The project has yet to be given the green light by the city in what has been a stalling process at times. The outdated igloo shaped Mellon arena holds a capacity of 16,940 seats and is the oldest building in the league. The Lemieux Group Limited Partnership, the current owners, have been trying to sell a new arena idea to the city for eight years. Majority owner, former Penguins star Mario Lemieux stated in 2004 that the team would be put for sale pending approval of a new building. More recently, Lemieux has let it be known, that the wait is compromising the eventual sale.

The Penguins currently enjoy a crop of rising stars led by Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury. Top picks Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal will solidify the teams on ice future. Owner Lemieux knows that he is finally sitting atop a valuable commodity after suffering many years as a small market team. The NHL's new CBA and the winning of the draft lottery allowing them Crosby changed the teams fortunes overnight.

Holding up the building deal, is a confirmation from the state of Pennsylvania as to how much it will contribute to the project. The city for its part has made clear it will not foot the bill for the casino for budgetary reasons. It has also stated numerous times that it is not willing to proceed with the arena without a commitment to the casino being built and funded by the state.

It is beleived that a Winnipeg led consortium is behind one of the stronger bids to buy the team. The Manitoba city financed the building of a modern arena after losing the NHL Jets to Phoenix in 1996. The group has purchased the rights to the Jets name and has been pursuing the Penguins franchise for six years now with the intent of relocating it in Winnipeg.

Lemieux is adamant that a final decision regarding the new arena be made during the next Penguins season. Lemieux purchased majority ownership of the franchise in the mid ' 90 's with money owed to him on deferred contracts thus saving the team a second time. Rounding up prospective co-owners, Lemieux prevented the team from bankruptcy. The planned sale would see Lemieux recoup more than triple his owed salary for his efforts.

Meanwhile time is running out on the city of Pittsburgh. It may be with jets that the Penguins finally fly.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ten Canuck Moments To Make You Grin, Giggle, or Grind Your Teeth

It's not easy to pick on the Canucks. They're just too lovable in a kicked around kid brother kinda way. Their ups and downs have been endearing to all of Canada. Few have had a hate on for our west coast wannabes other than series versus Calgary over the years. Even that venom didn't last long. As the third oldest Canadian team in seniority, they've suffered their fair share of hard luck. Here are ten random facts comprising the good, the bad, and the ugly, from 36 years of Canuckism.

10 - The Wheel of Furtune. Prior to their initial season, a wheel spin decided who would grab Gilbert Perrault first overall. The Canucks lost and choose Dale Tallon 2nd. Not a terrible way to start a franchise, but hindsight reared it's ugly little head down the road. Tallon became an adequate if not quite offensive defenseman. Picked 3rd and 4th that year were future 50 goal men Reggie Leach and Rick MacLeish. Don't feel bad, they were drafted by the Bruins and not the Flyers who they eventually won Cups with. This might make you feel even better, or not. Montreal chose two zeros in the 5th and 6th spot. Toronto made their best pick in franchise history that year also. Taken eighth, Darryl Sittler. Oops, oops, and ouch!

9 - Who designed these things? Andy Warhol. The most brutal of jerseys have been worn on the coast. It took some a decade to realize that the Nucks original green and blue logo was in reality a stylized "C". To most it just looked like a rink! Its simplicity is actually quite endearing as the new vintage jerseys attest. Make them permanent please! Next up was the big "V" on a yellow jersey without a logo. Now I've always believed yellow should stay on Big Bird, piss and mustard, not on anything to do with hockey. They then kept the color scheme, toned down the mustard and made the home sweaters white, and added the ridiculous logo of a skate going downhill. The last decade has seen it go back to a stylized "C", only this time the logo is half eaten up by an Orca whale. Keep trying!

8 - The Neilson Towel of Surrender. In the Canucks '82 Cup run, coach Neilson waved the white flag at referees and endeared himself to all of Canada with the gesture. Vancouver was outmatched in the end by the Islanders dynasty in the making. Nevertheless, they battled hard and made the country proud. Unfortunately, Neilson gave way to Harry Neale the following year. OK, that makes us even!

7 - Jason Herter. Who you say? Best thing to be said about the guy, is with a name like that, at least he was never arrested for spousal abuse. Herter was the Canucks 1st round pick in '89, 8th overall. His only claim to fame was a dubious one - for well over a decade he was the last top 10 pick to have never appeared in a single NHL game. His career trail is a downward spiral through the minor leagues. Who else could this happen to but the Canucks? They made amends commendably four rounds later, taking one of the most exciting players in NHL history 113th. The Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure was the Canucks first true superstar, surpassing the 50 goal plateau 4 times. The first recipient worthy of the Rocket Richard Trophy.

6 - Orland Kurtenback, the Nucks first captain and third coach, nurtured the early history of the team. He had toiled previously with the Rangers and was picked up in the expansion draft. Injuries cut his career short, but until then he was a well respected two way player who put up decent stats. What may be forgotten about the Big O was that he is reputed to be the best fighter in NHL history. So feared was he, that he faced few challengers after destroying a dozen unsuspecting goons in his earlier years. Even John Ferguson learned a lesson from him and steered clear. It is told that certain coaches wouldn't let their players challenge him for the sake of giving their team a boost - it simply wasn't going to work out that way. Kurt had the habit of drawing blood on the first lick like no one before or since. After rearranging a couple of faces in his first Canuck years he settled into sweater tugging by the time the Broad Street Bullies were at their peak. All in all, a mysterious hockey gentleman.

5 - Marc Crawford, recently canned coach of Canucks, played for 6 seasons with the big team where he was sent to the minors at least two dozen times. The farm team at the time was in Fredricton N.B. He began his coaching career there while still a player and the following season in Milwaukee. He won back to back Memorial Cups in '80 and '81 while playing for my hometown Cornwall Royals. Two years later he married my reason for joining the social committee, Helene Campeau, who like a great woman, stuck with him through all the travels. Craws most infamous moment came when he ended the career of the Bruins Normand Leveillee with a solid hit against the boards. It could be suggested that Crawford, who is a pussycat when not behind the bench, was never the same player again. His junior linemate was none other than Dale Hawerchuk.

4 - Two of my other favorite Canucks also played for the Royals. Both starred in Cup runs. The revered King Richard Brodeur and the post pinging Nathan LaFayette. LaFayette's crossbar heard cross Canada almost capped a surging Canucks Cup run in 1994. Damn, he had Richter beat!

3 - Cam Neely. Astutely drafted 8th overall in '83 by the team, Neely took three season to become a regular. GM Harry Neale likely couldn't believe his ears when Harry Sinden, GM of the Bruins came asking for the wingers services and offered star Barry Peterson. The Bruin had started his career with seasons of 96, 107, and 116 pts. Neale jumped at the deal. Pederson became slowed by injuries after posting 76 and 71 points for the Canucks. Neale threw into the deal a first rounder that turned out to be Glen Wesley. As Pederson's star dimmed, Neely' shone. He came to personify the term power forward in an illustrious career. Again, doesn't this just seem to happen to the Canucks.

2 - The Bertuzzi incident. Hockey most shameful incident played out before disbelieving Nucks fans. Bert, teamed with Markus Naslund, was on his way to a brilliant career. He will now forever be linked with this sad happening. Too bad, the fans deserved better than having to stand up for the coward.

1 - Fleeced by the Canucks. Not often has it happened, but two of the most one-sided trades in history went Vancouvers way. Catching a forever dim Mike Milbury, The Canucks sent captain Linden to the Isles for three players who would be pivotal in their success for years - Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a pick that became Jarkko Ruutuu. McCabe helped to land the Sedins while Bertuzzi recently fetched them Roberto Luongo, who Milbury let get away years before. The other robbery was the Naslund deal. Markus was just coming into his own as a player when the Penguins came calling asking for toughness in the name of Alex Stojanov. The Nucks captain is the NHL's top scorer over the past 4 seasons while Stojanov is a carpenter in Hamilton. Word has it he struggles with dove-tail joints.


(NOTE: I stumbled upon a strange blog this past Tuesday. The more I looked at it, the less I could decide what it in fact was. I found it cruising through some Leafs fan blogs and didn't check the link. I retraced my steps more than once, later after reading it all through, and what I found was a completely different blog. I missed something along the way I guess. Possibly it got taken down. As I'm not exactly all that knoweldgable with blogs yet, I'm not sure if I can assume anything. I'm sure alot of bullshit gets passed around, but this thing had a serious tone that suckered me in. I have a habit of doing the cut and paste thing while I add up reading material I usually get back to later. I didn't go through much of this dude's blog unfortunately. All I can say that I recall of it, was that it was quite young. It had very few posts to it which I didn't read. I clicked the comments hyperlink to this piece to read the only reaction it got. Not many comments had been left on the blog. As for the dubious content of it, I still have doubts. I hesitated to post it at all. Seeing as things like this, I have heard, tend to grow legs and create questions of integrity as to it's nature, I had many second thoughts. Possibly others have seen it also. I'm posting it because I almost sounds surreal in that it details some inner workings of the hockey business. I make no claims as to it's validity. It's quite possible it is just the bored meanderings of some smartass kid looking for attention. But juicy it is! Can this really be real? You decide.)

Following up on the last information I told you about pertaining to what Neil has been up to with Anselmi and Lastman. Neil's been annoyed with me asking questions of him lately and immediatly hits the yard when the cell rings. Since he told me he was hired to study the CBA in 2004 it's become clear that he's poking for loopholes and ways to play with the cap. Taking what little he has been willing to say to me before I got excited and way too curious, I am beginning to put some pieces together. The following are notes culled from the things I over heard him say while pretending to not pay much attention in the last days.

- The Marlies have no cap. Salaries from minors do not count against NHL cap. Neil has been going on and on about two way salaries in the case of one particular player who wants to sign. I could only guess it's one of the five I named in the last post. The offered deal was something like 2.2 on the NHL side and 2.1 for the minors. As you saw last year, players were called up and sent down after almost every game, saving the team cap room. This thing he's looking at is how to do this without costing the player when sent down. I heard him say something like the Marlies can only have x amount of names on the roster at one time. Since they run into 4 and 5 days off without games, Neil said it's tricky.

- The initial thought was to get McCabe to sign a two way for it to only cost the Buds half the salary by him being in the minors - imagine that. Neil said that Bryan was only going to do this if a certain other player would too. Neil said to whoever was on the phone that the other player declined, but that Lindros was willing to and actually put his name to paper on it. From what I gathered is that even though Eric is signed to Dallas now, he signed earlier with us, only the team didn't file the contract. Neil said Lindros panicked.

- He mentioned Ferguson for the first time in days today. I don't know if he was speaking with Anselmi at the time, but he kept saying "just fuck him" over and over. He also said "Pat wouldn't either" and was let go for those reasons. They had a little argument and Neil said something like "he tended his resignation and pulled it back a minute later". Only Ferguson was mentioned after so I assume that is who they were arguing about. I almost laughed out loud when Neil reacted to something by saying "that's probably why he hired Snow". Way weird.

- Deon Sanders name came up. Neil said something I cannot connect with. Something stupid like Nike paid him to play for Dallas and not the Cowboys. If that is a known fact, what was ever done about it.

- Neil said something about Peter and Martin and their agents being willing only if others followed. I took this meaning Rucinski and Sykora as a pair. What Neil seemed to say was that they are waiting to see if anyone else wants to buy into the scheme. He used the word "perogative' seven times in a three minutes.

- At one point he had some document in his hand and was quoting from it. Wish I had a pocket recorder. It was a lot of legal lingo. Some terms I can recall are "player prohibition", "nuisance clause", and "option period". No idea why they were brought in to the context. I can't tie it in. Lawyers!

- When Jennifer came home she noticed Neil sweating like he often does and asked if the central air broke again. I was sitting on the sofa with my headphones turned down pretending like I was rocking out to something. She looked over at me and called my name. I pretended to be off somewhere. She said to Neil, "If you're nervous about all this I know just the cure!" When I came into the kitchen she asked if was taking Cin to the movies tonight. No wonder her divorce was pro bono.

- The names of Cross, Anson, Bondra, Daze, and Denny weren't brought up in any of the calls I heard today. I assume that is who the others are. Neil mentionned one agent "won't even go there with his client".

- One of the last things he said seemed to be about some high up at MLSE. He said he shouldn't " fear the flack because all this would make him look genius. It will be how things get done from now on for wealthy teams under this deal".

I received two really sarcastic comments Monday after the last post and deleted them. The "my Daddy works there too" one, and one from a guy naming himself after a Leafs player who was pretty brutal on me. I don't know how they got on here and I'll have to do something about it. This is only supposed to be between you guys and me. This isn't linked to another blog as far as know. All I can say is all this may or may not happen within the next week. Won't matter then I'll be at college getting ready. I'll surely that it down with me. Talk to you guys when I get there. That's all for now.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Inmate #10096-111 in Fort Dix ( ! ) Prison

A federal judge has refused to revisit the sentence he handed Mike Danton for the former St. Louis Blues wingnut's failed plot to have his agent dufflebagged, again foiling the inmate's push to be transferred to his native Canada to serve his time. A petition to return Danton back home stalled at two signatures.

In throwing out Danton's appeal, U.S. District Judge William Stiehl found that Danton knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to challenge the 7½ year sentence he got in November 2004 after accepting a deal with prosecutors and pleading guilty to murder conspiracy charges. It's not unlikely that drugs were involved in the deal, as Danton's continued behavior was described as "emotionally erratic and retarded".

The ruling assures that Danton, a native of Brampton, Ont., remains inmate No. 10096-111 at a prison in Fort Dix, N.J.

In rejecting Danton's transfer request in March, the U.S. government said the move "would not serve the ends of justice.", which is correct because the man is criminally insane. Danton could reapply for transfer in 2008, with that application "more likely to be approved" if the prisoner maintains the best possible prison record and has tries to address "those reasons for denial over which the prisoner has some control. His release is contingent upon the condition he continues to drop the soap bar", chief of the Justice Department's international prisoner-transfer unit has said without need to elaborate.

In an April letter to media outlets, Danton claimed he was a "perfect" prisoner and was making progress with a psychologist, tutoring other inmates, studying French, taking computer courses, and learning to play the U.S. anthem on his skin flute.

Danton pleaded guilty to orchestrating a conspiracy to commit an interstate killing targeting his agent, David Frost. The FBI learned of the plot in advance, and Frost was unfortunately unharmed. No charges have ever been brought against Frost for questionable conduct as a player agent, confidante, guru, and butt reamer.

In September 2004, a federal jury acquitted Katie Wolfmeyer of Florissant, Mo., of charges she took part in the plot. She did, but probably got off by getting off on Stiehl. such is justice.

RAKING LEAVES (Part 1 of 67)

Oh yes, we Hab fans love raking leaves (read leafs). It's not that they're such easy targets with all that ammunition loaded against them....hey wait a minute, IT IS!

This Top 10 List of dubious Maple Leafs facts and achievements cannot be accreditted to me. It happened quite by accident. I was sitting on my washroom throne a day ago, musing with notebook and pen in hand. Don't laugh - you do your best thinking there too! All of a sudden, my phone rang, calling me off to a family emergency. Seems my Uncle Harold took a seizure upon learning that the Maple Leafs had resigned Wade Belak. Anyway, I still don't get it.

When I returned to my unflushed toilet, notepad, and pen, I found this. Some shit just writes itself I guess! Thank the Lord I don't have call display!

10 - In 1967, the Leafs won their last Stanley Cup. I was 5. I'm still pissed! The Beatles Sgt. Pepper wasn't even realeased yet and Woodstock was two years away. No wonder all the pics from it at the ACC are in black and white.

9 - The last Leaf to win Rookie of the year was Brit Selby in 1966. Who? His name sounded like a Mustang, but his career was an Edsel. He managed to linger for seven more years, moving to the Blues and Flyers, never regaining form. In 350 NHL games, he tallied 55 goals and 62 assists. The runner up was Bert Marshall. Again...who? Bobby Orr took it the following season. No Leaf has won it since. A 40 year drought.

8 - Peter Ihnacak still holds the Leafs record for most points by a rookie. He recorded totals of 28G and 38A in the 82-83 season. Flock of Seagulls were huge that year.

7 - Gordie Drillon would tell you, if he was still alive, that he was the last Leaf to win the Art Ross, way back in 1938. They made talkies then, didn't they?

6 - The Leafs, apparently, no longer retire jersey numbers. Not that there aren't Leafs worthy of the honor. I can think of Sittler, Gilmour, Salming, and Wendel Clark. They have retired the numbers of Bill Barilko (#5) and Ace Bailey (#6), but have only "honored" jerseys since then. Being a standout player and winning the Cup for the Leafs, obviously isn't good enough, one must die tragically in the process.

5 - Those honored jerseys are #1 (Turk Broda and Johnny Bower), #7 (King Clancy and Tim Horton), #9 (Charlie Conacher and Ted Kennedy), #10 (Syl Apps and George Ferguson), and # 27 (Frank Mahovlich and Darryl Sittler). There you have 10 players all worthy of jersey retirement. A pair share each number. Trouble is, unworthy players have been wearing them year in and year out. That is not respect. Someone correct this please!

4 - More awards gone missing. Last Leaf to win the Hart, Kennedy (1955), the Vezina, Bower and Sawchuk (62), and Smythe, Keon (67 of course).

3 - Most recent meaningless awards won by Leafs: Randomly, the Bud Light NHL All-Star Game award, Damphousse (91), the Lady Byng, Mogilny (03), the Selke, Gilmour (1993, 127 pts, +32), and Pat Burns, winner of the Jack Adams for Coach of the Year in 1998. No Leaf has ever won the Pearson, the Rocket, the Norris, the Clancy, or the Masterton.

2 - For the Leafs the Entry draft has never held much consequence. Maybe that is why they traded their #1 pick in '91 to New Jersey five games into the 1990 season for well travelled defenseman Tom Kurvers. They were 0 and 5 at the time, and for reasons still not known, panic struck. Kurvers was decent enough to keep the Leafs from last overall. Too bad. The first pick that year was Eric Lindros. NJ used Toronto's 3rd pick to choose Scott Neidermayer. First rounders that year included Peter Forsberg 6th, Alexei Kovalev 15th, and Markus Naslund 16th. One may suggest that hindsight is 20/20, but foresight is priceless. Pay for an expensive scout - he may tell you that a certain draft down the road is loaded!

1 - Reiterating #2. The Future is not now. The Future is not a bargainable commodity. The Future may not be survival, but it is the key to success. Have a nice sophomore season Brad Boyes!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Me!

Robert L Note: I am reprinting this from today's Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, the paper who publishes my pieces. Three people with the same name as I are associated with the paper and our work and endeavors periodically coincide. The paper has lots of fun with this coincidence. This piece is courtesy of S.F. sports editor Kevin Gould. Enjoy!

If you enjoy the thoughts of Robert Lefebvre - whose views on sports and music appear in this newspaper - you might want to check out
Lefebvre (again, not the photographer, not the runner) you see, has joined the blog nation. Kind of like Leafs Nation, only here full sentences are used. If you have the opportunity, I'm sure he would appreciate the feedback.

And now, for something completely confusing. As we have mused before, three of the area's Robert Lefebvres have ties to this newspaper, usually in the sports section - the aforementionned correspondent/blogger (Writing Rob), the photographer (Photo Rob), and the runner (Running Rob).They have often been confused for one another, but a while back it played out like a Laurel & Hardy skit.

A run was being held in the city. The organizer? Running Rob. I asked Photo Rob to shoot it. I was off the day of the event, leaving editor Greg Peerenboom (a.k.a. The Boomer) to juggle the Robs.

Photo Rob was supposed to be asked to get the e-mail of Running Rob, in case we needed to identify any of the competitors. Somewhere in the translation, it came down to this: The Boomer telling Photo Rob that Writing Rob was covering the event.

Writing Rob of course, was nowhere to be found, seeing as he knew nothing of the plans gone astray.

Next day, Writing Rob stops at Photo Rob's gas station. Photo Rob wears many hats, including gas station and sports card shop owner, computer afficionado and, I think, oyster shucker.
"Where were you last night?' asked Photo Rob.


"You were supposed to cover a run."

"I was?"

"You were."

"Wouldn't that be Running Rob's department?"

We still haven't fully sorted out the mess.

Three Rob Lefebvres walk into a bar. Actually, one was running.

Photo Rob's website is

LOMBARDI: It's Time Someone Put Their Foot Down, And That Foot Is Me!

Interesting quote from L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi Monday, when asked upon the resgning of controversy magnet Sean Avery, how he would reel in the tempestuous winger's behavior.

"We have him placed under Double Secret Probation", alluded Lombardi, to behavior clauses that can be tied to player contracts once they have exhibited a tantamount of displeasing on and off ice infractions.

It makes one wonder whether Lombardi was placing himself in the disciplinary role of another infamous Dean who once uttered the same terminology on the silver screen. In the 1978 classic, Animal House, Delta college Dean, Vernon Wormer, fed up with the shenanigans of the rival Delta House, warns the derelicts of impending hard hitting discipline should they step out of line.

"They're already on probation? Well as of now, they are on double secret probation!"

Avery comes with a checkered past. Who knows if he seized the allusion Lombardi made. The GM wants to point the player in the right direction in hopes he doesn't become a cross between Oggie Ogglethorpe and John "Bluto" Blutarski.

The Kings forward became an important tangent in the teams offensive cog last season. Avery had a career year with 15 goals and 39 points. His aggresive play on the ice took a backseat to his mouth, which spewed insanities all season long.

It began in the pre-season, with Avery making derogatory remarks towards Phoenix blueliner Denis Gauthier. Gauthier had levelled the concussion prone Jeremy Roenick with a hard hit and Avery retaliated verbally by calling French Canadian players who wear visors "Chickens". It wasn't the fowl remark that landed Avery in hot water. He issued a half hearted apology after the league tagged him with a fine. Roenick ironically sided with Gauthier, terming the hit "clean and hard".

No word as to whether he shouted "Toga! Toga! on any of the teams training camp road trips.

A month later, the loose cannon was at it again. In an October matchup in Edmonton, Avery allegedly uttered a racial slur at the Oilers Georges Laraque. Avery denied the allegation. Without proof of the incident, the league warned him once again.

Towards the years end, Avery let go with venom of a profanity filled nature aimed at Anaheim Ducks TV commentator Bryan Hayward, off camera. Days later the Kings sent him home for the balance of the season after he got into it with the teams assistant coach Mark Hardy.

Avery began forging his outspoken repution during the owner imposed lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 campaign. With the owners gag-ordered by Commisioner Gary Bettman, Avery took the opportunity to rant on about the unfairness of the whole situation. In the process, he may have helped divide several factions of the NHLPA, as his comments made them look nothing but greedy. For a week, the PA seemed more upset with Avery than the owners. He was politely told to shut up by none other than equally biased and biting Chris Chelios.

While he may not have dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into a swim meet, toyed with medical cadavers and filled trees with underwear, Lombardi is seemingly put the clamps on Avery. He'd best be advised to stick to the game at hand.

Many have suggested that what the outspoken Avery is actually up to, is sowing the seeds of his post career, perhaps in broadcasting. Then teamate Roenick, under the L.A. lights, was a quote-a-minute guy for the teams media. Wannabe Avery seemed to take the cue and run.

It remains to be seen, whether a few months down the line, Lombardi pulls out the Animal House quote book once again as a door closes on Avery.

"It's time someone put their foot down", he may suggest, "and that foot is me!"

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Good news for fans of Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour! Seems the Florida Panthers have had a change of heart and have signed the former Leaf, Blackhawk and Star to a one year deal. Hopefully Belfour's back problems are behind him ( ! ) and he can look forward to a healthy final season in the sunshine state. He will split puckstopping duties with Alex Auld and should see action in roughly 35 to 40 games. With 457 career wins Belfour can solidify his hold on second place on the all-time list. Placement in the HHOF surely awaits the end of this illustrious career. Hopefully he will not be inducted on his back


I've seen lots of photos and poses with the Sacred Chalice in my time. Never have I seen Stanley looking so happy and satisfied! So erect, shiny and proud. The biggest winner here is the Cup itself. Damn! Talk about a menage a six.

What would you do if you had such a photo op with the big mug?

I surely wouldn't let a horse drink from it like certain Rangers did in '94! I don't think I could be so absent monded as to forget this babe by the roadside like members of the Ottawa Silver Seven did in the early 1900's. Want to induce a curse, that's a good start. Hmm wonder what the Leafs did in '67 to bring on 39 years of Cupless misery. Perhaps being an inferior team winning it in the midst of Canada's centennial year and breaking up a second string of five right before the Summer Of Love will get you cursed! Who knows?


Seems like everybody and their blog have one of these Top 10's lists, so being the original plagiarist I am, I might as well give it a whirl. Here is the scab that scratches the itch. What were they thinking?

10 - Lose that damn delay of game penalty for tossing the puck into the crowd. I know the league has the flow of the game in mind by instituting it, but what kills the flow more than stopping not just the play, but the actual game itself, to call a penalty. More often than not it has been affecting the game's outcome. At least they could treat it like they do a deliberate icing, and not allow the changing of lines before the faceoff. They could start by making the glass the same height throughout the league, that would make sense. Having uneven dimensions is akin to only calling it in the Western conference. Hey, I could go for that!

9 - The instigator rule. I'm with Don Cherry on this one. Remove it and there's more fights. Is that a problem?

8 - Bye bye 4th official. Why exactly do we need 4 zebras for? By reducing them back to three it decreases the odds of one of them being hit by a puck by 25%. They want to increase the game's flow, this is one way. Maybe fitting Kerry Fraser with a helmet is a step in the right direction, his coif will no longer nullify icings on it's own. If fighting is down, the red line has been eliminated, and all goals are reviewed, the need for two refs and two linesman is obsolete.

7 - Bring the draft age back to 20 as in pre 1974 days. Prospects will mature and the draft won't be the crapshoot it is now once the first round is complete. GM's and hockey fans alike would have a much better idea of the calibre of player they are getting. Scouting will be a simpler science and junior hockey will thrive again due to increased familiarity with the players. It's not like three dozen 18 year olds make the jump to the NHL each year. Imagine the excitement in a junior league that gets a Crosby-like player for four years instead of two, not to mention the revenue increase. With stronger supply leagues comes more developed prospects. A win - win deal in my eyes.

6 - Cut down on the forcing of divisional rivalries and increase the cross conference games. Raise your hand all those dying for eight games versus the Florida Panthers! A Canucks fan, as it stands, gets one chance every three years to see a player such as Alexander Ovechkin play in their building. That simply doesn't cut the ketchup. The price of oil and gas are the true culprits here, though Gary Bettman remains in denial about that and every other issue facing him.

5 - Bob Cole and Harry Neale. Out to pasture! Enough said.

4 - Eliminate games on back to back nights. Not only is this a road trip killer, teams records on the second night are usually brutal. It's akin to mailing in the two points. Ever wonder why players take nights off - some can't help it, it's a grueling way to schedule such a physical game. Doing this makes big time sense and would enable other smart moves. Read on! Did I mention it would cut down on injuries?

3 - No point for OT or Shootout losses. Rewarding a team for losing is insane any way it's looked at. It artificially inflates the standings and turns third period play into boring formalities. Dallas and the NY Rangers looked good till the playoffs hit. Wonder why? Look no further than their OT records. That luxury left them come April.

2 - Lose the freaking shootout completely and forever. Send it the way of the glowing Fox puck. It is an absolutely amaturish way to settle the score. Imagine a football game ending in a field goal kicking derby! The Masters with a round of mini putt? Trying to hit Barry Bonds in the noggin with a wild pitch? A team game should be decided as a team. Not with an extra point going to the side whose individual skill is superior in that nights context. Ridiculous! Settle it with a 10 minute 4 on 4 - way more exciting! If still tied, that's it - you get one point. Trashing games on consecutive nights enables the extra OT. no scheduled flights out of town three hours after a game.

1 - Better enforcement of protection rules for goaltenders. If I'm Sean Avery on a breakaway against Roberto Luongo, what's going through my mind? Increased penalty time, fines and discipline is in order for extreme cases of goalie abuse. Goalies are the bread and butter of many a team and are the easiest to injure. The league did their best to alter every rule to expose them, now is the time to balance the scales.

There you have it. Can I run for commisioner now?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Vokoun Fails Examination, Passes Audition

The Nashville Predators issued a statement regarding the status of goaltender Tomas Vokoun on Monday. Vokoun has been undergoing treatment for a condition called pelvic trombonephlebitis.

The condition arose late last season when chunks of brass began protruding from the goalies lip area. As the growth took shape and Vokoun began talking like Donald Duck on quaaludes, he was rushed to the Metropolitan Opera for diagnosis. He was immediatly treated, which stopped the usual growth of the instrument into the groin area where it usually sucks in the pelvis, hence the term. Fortunatly for the goaltender, the disease ended there and he was declared on key, in tune, and ready to blow.

''Today Tomas had a follow-up appointment at the Julliard School Of Music in NY State in which his status was and performance on the instrument was reviewed,'' said general manager David Poile. ''The information we received indicates that his situation has stabilized and was likely a result of a childhood love of blowing his own horn as opposed to a more recent development of blowing big games under presure. While we will continue monitoring his status, there will be no on-going treatment of the condition. The reed implanted his in his anus in an attempt to redirect the growth has been removed but Tomas will be fitted with a specially designed goalie mask. He has been given complete clearance to return to action.''

If Vokoun blows his chance with the Predators he will entertain an offer from ROCK STAR: Earth, Wind, and Fire for the upcoming season.
Montreal Canadiens President Pierre Boivin announced Monday that GM Bob Gainey has accepted a three year contract extension until the end of the teams centennial 2009-10 season. This is great boost for Habs fans Stanley Cup hopes as Gainey has assembled the team with an eye on stability on consistency of growth. In short, Gainey's plan is not to attempt winning it all by spending every dollar at his disposal in the space of one season.

What Gainey has quietly done this off-season is quite remarkable when it is considered that the new CBA template all GM's are using is getting it's first run through. While big free agent signings have grasped the headlines during the summer, Gainey has gone about getting the entire team under contract before August.

The team payroll sits at a reasonable 38M for 19 players, allowing for much ease in dealing with any rising secenarios, be it injuries or trades. In comparision, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit at a suffocating 43M for 23 players on one-way contracts. They have a mere stiffling million (reletively speaking) to play with and ease their worries. The Ottawa Senators have dealt with some significant players movement and have had to dump salaries to unsure the youth core remains in place. The Canadiens future sits stable for the most part, with it's stars on multi-year deals and the younger players on a pay scale.

Since last season finished, Gainey has lost only forwards Jan Bulis and Richard Zednik from his starting lineup. Bulis is testing freeagency with no takers yet, while Zednik was dealt back to the Washington Capitals for a third round draft pick. Assuming their positions on the team are speedster Sergei Samsonov and Mike Johnson, a multi-use winger. Samsonov was signed for a fait price tag of 3.25M while Johnson cost Gainey a fourth rounder. Both players constitute an upgrade.

The GM got to work early by giving slight raises in pay to last years rookies Tomas Plekanec, Alexander Perezhogin, and 23 goal man Chris Higgins. He then tackled the Cristobal Huet file without fuss, awarding the Habs new backbone with 5.75M over two seasons. It must be noted that former goalie Jose Theodore was set to cost the team 5.5M had he remained in a Habs jersey. Contracts signed by D's Mike Komisarek, Francis Bouillon, and Mark Streit were done in the GM's quick, quiet, and efficient manner. There were little to no salary scandals for the rumour hungry Montreal press to get excited over. Gainey also avoided the messy arbitration process with F Michael Ryder, doubling his salary from the 1.1M he received for the campaign. Not a bad price to pay for your leading goal scorer.

Gainey is left sitting on some assets that will likely enable him to make moves down the road. Radek Bonk at close to 3M will be enticing to some teams come the trade deadline. Though he is useful in defensive roles, his offensive game has slipped. As he is overpriced some, it's unlikely he will return for a third season in Montreal. C Mike Ribeiro will be playing his future and must develop consistancy. He will become quick trade rumour fodder if he continues to slip. G David Aebischer, contrary to Gainey's wise denials, is also not in the teams long range plans. Several trade partners have already made inquiries but Gainey will shrudely allow the netminder to up his value with consistant play. The Canadiens possess two fine and capable backups in Hamilton and have highly touted prospect Carey Price in the wings. Moves will be made, Gainey will rule over their timing.

Keeping an eye on next year at this time, Gainey surely sees that certain raises in pay will be upcoming. The Habs best defenseman, Andrei Markov is underpaid relevant to his value to the team. Komisarek, Ryder, and Higgins form the core of the teams future and will deservedly get what's coming to them. Free agency status awaits the likes of Sheldon Souray, Craig Rivet and Mathieu Dandenault. Gainey's thinking is that with room left under the cap at present, and the expected rise of the cap in yearly 4 to 5M increments, he will be able to maintain the teams salary structure enough in the coming years to give the Habs a legitimate shot at not only competeing highly, but bringing the Cup back to Montreal after a 14 year absense.

What is comforting for fans of the team is how well everyone has bought into Gainey's plan. Gainey, evidentaly, has not stolen his worthy extension.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

COACHES - 66.6% TURNOVER! Part 1 of 3

I'm surprised not much has been made of this so far!
I'm talking about the coaching changes to Canadian teams. Since last season, it has spread faster than a rash on Paris Hilton's ass!
Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal have all done the suit and tie juggle. Coaching changes are a 50/50 thing. Half the time the coach being replaced lasts no longer than 2 years. Sometimes a coach impresses in his first year and earns an extension which enables the lucky stiff to wait until his third year to turn into an idiot. It's always funny how only brilliant coaches are hired and dumb ones are fired. Like a backwards metamorphosis from Einstein to Forrest Gump!
Pat Quinn went from the "coach who will finally bring a Cup (R.I.P. 1967) to Toronto", to, "we'll never win as long as youth isn't given a chance!"
You get the idea!
Nevertheless, consider this a pre-autopsy for future firings, free of charge.
Starting with the 33.3% who got to stick around for another kick at the can.
Craig McTavish is rightfully rewarded with a four year deal for getting his Oilers within a 7th game win of the Cup. The simplest translation is GM Kevin Lowe has found a compatible coach. As it is unlikely McT will fulfill the entire deal's length, the contract does send a strong message to Oiler players that he will stick around for at least the first two years. With the Oilers being such an unlikely finalist last year, it is doubtful they can regain such heights this year. Throw in the losses of Chris Pronger, Mike Peca, and Sergei Samsonov, and the 2006-07 squad is a touch less experienced. They have smartly resigned all of their core young players, making them a solid contender, but it is hard to repeat and surprise as they did. Ask Calgary!
The Sens Bryan Murray would have been my choice as the first coach in Canada to get axed. Simply because, after an awesome regular season, he failed miserably at bringing out the blood and guts mentality out of a team such as Ottawa. With their supposed stature, he couldn't dig out of them what they needed to go beyond the second round. It must be noted that in over 10 years of coaching, Murray has never seen the 3rd round. There is a reason for such failings. Murray just doesn't have the knowledge or the ability to squeeze balls tight enough to convince his team of what it takes to plow through adversity. How do you talk it if you haven't walked it? A healthy Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatly trio will all accumulate 100pts, but until 2/3 of the line learn how to lose teeth, they will again, thanks to Murray's passiveness, be final four spectators. If Murray makes it past 82 games without a Cup to show for it in the spring, he will be bounced. There is a whole other rant from me on this later. Trust me, I'll get to it!

COACHES - 66.6% TURNOVER part 2 of 3

Similar scenarios emerge out of Calgary and Montreal. Last seasons coaches are now/again full time GM's and have promoted their assistants to bench bosses. Both Jim Playfair (CAL) and Guy Carbonneau (MON) have previous NHL experince as players. Comparisons between the two are quite futile as they are coaches in opposite conferences. For the sake of Leaf mentality, I'll render this distinction; Playfair has played more games (21) in six seasons than Carbonneau has won Stanley Cups (3) in 19 seasons. Just goes to show that stats don't mean squat and that Cups (Hello Leafnation!) don't mean much!
Playfair will be a drop in intensity from the overbearing and attention-to-detail paying Sutter. An accent on offense will suit the need for regular season wins. Still a sturdy team, the playoffs may be a crapshoot. The team has three pillars of envy in Kiprosoff, Phaneuf, and Iginla. How the supporting staff plays off this will impact the effect of Playfair's abilities. They will miss Chris Simon, oddly enough, but still win their division. The shadow of Sutter will loom large in the teams style of play. If they begin winning more games by a 5-4 score than they do 3-2, look for Sutter to bring his scarecrow face back behind the bench before the season is out! It is to be seen whether Playfair has the same intolerance level as his GM.
GM Bob Gainey, it is commonly believed, is a patient man. After chucking a good coach in Claude Julien, he will surely not be rash in his evaluation of Carbonneau behind the bench. Good thing - because Carbonneau will be a cunt to deal with! Players who are prone to take a night off, such as Alexei Kovalev, be forewarned - the new boss won't mince words or icetime. Carbonneau is hardly afraid of the over-analitical Habs media horde, and isn't likely to give them a dimes attention. Players such as Koivu, who were around during Carbo's first assistant coaching stint will fare better than those who are new to his demands. Defense, in the Hab tradition, will always be the first responsability. Those who defy it will see press box time. I see two different beginnings to the Habs season. They will either fly from the gate like last year or go through an adjustment period of unprecedented turmoil. The wildcard in all of this is how well the abundance of youth adjusts to the new coach. How do you say "La Galerie de Presse" in Russian?

COACHES - 66.6% TURNOVER Part 3 of 3

In Vancouver and Toronto, bigtime playoff disappointments led to the axing of very capable coaches in Marc Crawford and Pat Quinn. It is ironic to note that these two warriors were the last two coaches of Team Canada at the Olympic Games. Though both teams seasons were letdowns from previous years, it can be said that the Canucks underachieved, while the Leafs, with a late meaningless surge, overachieved. Ironically, Crawford, who won a Stanley Cup (Toronto 39 years and counting) with Colorado in 1996, started out in the Leafs system with St.John. Many saw him behind the Leafs bench this year. Instead the Leafs opted for Paul Maurice, who's had all of one successful season (2002) flipping lines and withstanding the obscurity that was the Hartford/Carolina spectrum. Canucks GM Dave Nonis mimicked John Ferguson Jr. by promoting his AHL farm teams coach. The similarities do not end there. Both Maurice and the Canucks new boss Alain Vigneault are former NHL coaches with something to prove. Curiously, the Canucks were at one time pondering the rehire of former Vancouver coach and GM Quinn. Similarly, both GM's would not hire coaches (Crawford and Quinn) who could eventually have their back.
Bevied by a slew of off season signings, Maurice will need to get off to a good start in order to slay off a media lynchmob horny for Fergusons head. With an appetite rivaling Hannibal Lector, the Buds press scrum will be disecting each move the sacrifice known as Maurice will make. The coach will keep one eye on a Leaf powerplay that was killer last year, while keeping the other eye focused on the need to improve the D. Maurice may live and die with the quality of his goaltending. G Andrew Raycroft, an expensive draft day aquisition, has proven in the past, to be only as good as the quality of the shots the defense allows. Maurice could be forced to coach a trap system he's familiar with that Toronto hasn't seen since the days of Pat Burns. Not unlike the Montreal Canadiens, the youth of the teams makeup may go far in deciding where it eventually places. On the positive, new blood in Toronto has a habit of being motivated from the get-go. It better be - a bad start here is akin to a tolling bell!
Promoted from the AHL Manitoba Moose ( what is the plural of moose? ), new coach Vigneault is a logical step. The former Habs skipper is a past runner up for the Jack Adams trophy (Coach of the Year) in a season where his team fought valliantly through almost 400 man games lost to injury, only to miss the playoffs by one win. Vigneault's main asset is that he manages to get the most out of his supporting staff. The criticism is that he does this to the detriment of star players demands of icetime. To this end, in Montreal, he coached around the bitching of F's Mark Recchi and Vincent Damphousse while riding the efforts of more defensive players. The Canucks loss of D Ed Jovanovski was countered by the addition of G Roberto Luongo. The coach should feel that luck is on his side. When Vigneault inked his deal, his goaltenders were Dan Cloutier and Alex Auld. Days after his signing, he was handed Luongo. Kinda like going to bed with k.d. lang and waking up next to Pamela Anderson. The Canucks are only slightly better than a year ago's finish. Goaltending will be the difference.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Domi and Belfour Out In The Cold

Wondering where Tie Domi and Ed Belfour have been working out these past few days in hopes of finding a way back to the NHL. Look no further than the most northern resorts of the Yukon! Seems our hard working boys are willing to work their way back to the top by starting all the way at the bottom. Seen here with two young female players in the WTFHL, the boys are seemingly trying to show Garth Snow just what lengths they'll go to play for the Islanders. Next week, the has-beens will be surfing through a tsunami in an ill-suited quest to get a tryout with the Hurricanes.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Garth Snow - On The Job

Give the man due credit.

In just days, Garth Snow, newly appointed GM of the Islanders, has filled out his secretarial staff with two hires from (literally) just around the block. No word yet as to why the pregnant lady in the middle holding the Pepsi can failed the interview/audition process. Isles owner Charles Wang (ahem!) applauded the moves with his one free hand, stating, "You should have seen the smiles of the front office staff when the moves were made!"

Next on Snow's list is the likely hiring of Chris Pronger's lawyer and Jose Theodore's marriage counsellor.

Lamouriello Fills Diaper, Regier Borrows Muckler's Depends

The dreaded arbitration days are upon us, starting this morning. This is the process in which players go head to head with GM's over their (usually inflated) estimated worth. Each submit a salary request. The arbitrator chooses one of the two salary demands. There is no choosing a middle ground.
The player makes cases in point by finding alike scenarios of pay escalation with players from teams league wide. The GM will beat down this players tactic by suggesting weaknesses in the players game, and by downplaying his overall team worth.
"He checks worse than Paris Hilton at a drunken orgy!"
It is hardly a friendly procedure. All contracts awarded are for one year, after which the parties may again choose to dance this reckless waltz again. Players may choose to sign longer termed deals at lesser amounts. Owners may choose to walk away from the deal completely giving the RFA total free agent status. The most likely scenario is the sign and trade options GM's always have.
The Sabres F Daniel Briere's case gets it rolling today and the award he gets will impact many ongoing negotiations. Other cases to watch will be NJ F Scott Gomez, Phoenix F Ladislav Nagy, the Habs Michael Ryder, the Oilers Ales Hemsky, and literally half the Buffalo Sabres.
With certain teams already close to capping out, these hearings may well unleash a trade flurry. It could also cause certain GM's butt cheeks to remain tightly squeezed over the next two weeks.
For a list as to what's going on - follow this link.
Stay tuned!

Last Thoughts On Stevie Y

(For the sake of adding some content here, while this blog is in its infancy, I will from time to time toss in one of my published newspaper articles to fill up space. Here's one from two weeks back that's close to my heart. I'll skip my recent review of the Alannah Myles concert at Lift Off/Baloonfest for now, barring such a particular request for the rocking stuff. -Rob)

In what appreared to be the most agonizing of decisions, the heart and soul of the Red Wings, Steve Yzerman has called it a career after 22 seasons. The Captain of 19 years tells that his decision went back and forth on a seemingly daily basis. It couldn't have been easy. Yzerman became the King of Hockeytown in Detroit after leading the Wings to consecutive Stanley Cups in 1997-98. The battle worn leader has left the game he loves so much, sratching and clawing to hold on. Father time always has the final say.
Drafted 4th overall by Detroit in 1983, the offensive dynamo immediatly made an impact in Motor City, notching 87 pts and establishing rookie records that stand to this day. In his third season, coach Jacques Demers named the 22yr old Captain. His numbers peaked in the early 90's when he surpasses the 60 goal plateau in successive years. For all the regular season glory Yzerman experienced, holes existed in the playoff resume.
As Yzerman helped build the Wings into a perenial contender, 1st place finishes turned into bitter playoff disappointments. With coach Scotty Bowman at the helm beginning in 1993, the team became favoured to win the Stanley Cup, but came up emptyhanded three years running. Promoted to Director of Player Personnel, Bowman sought drastic changes to put an end to the teams ill fortunes. Bowman was on the phone with Ottawa in the midst of including Yzerman in a multi-player blockbuster deal that would have seen Alexei Yashin become a Red Wing, when the Captain happened into the coaches office. Seeing what was going down, Yzerman stopped Bowman in his tracks and requested that they speak. He did not want to give up on his dream of bringing a championship to Detroit.
The men discussed at lenghth about what it took to win. Bowman ( who named a son Stanley! ) talked, and Yzerman listened. The coach spoke of what kind of complete player a captain needs to be in order to guide a team all the way. Bowman theorized about sacrificing offense and making Yzerman a player he could put on the ice in any game situation. Yzerman listened intently and offered that he would do whatever it took to remain in Detroit and win the Cup. Bowman called off the deal with Ottawa.
In the second half of his career, the player changed his game. He killed penalties, blocked shots, and played injured - often. In certain years, he took pay cuts to enable the team to stack the roster with stars such as Brett Hull and Dominik Hasek. The numbers were still up there, but became irrelevant, and were ably replaced by Stanley Cups. Yzerman came to finally be included on Team Canada, after years of frustration, from being one offensive center too many. He won a Gold medal in the 2002 Olympics, and a third cup that fall, playing one on good leg.
It is likely that lasting image of the man that will remain with hockey fans worldwide.
Asked how he would best like to be remembered in light of the supreme stats, career longetivity, and silverware, Yzerman shrugged, without false modesty. "I guess it's for everone else to determine', he said. He stated that he was simply a player who came to the rink each day and tried to give his best. No doubt. Simply the best!

The Sens Are Not Chokers!

So I'm going against the grain of a widely held opinion here - just follow me, you'll see where I'm going in a bit.
The Sens were favoured to beat the Sabres this past spring by just about everybody in the press. My own local paper had all seven contributors pick them to take it - only one went so far as to say it would go seven games. Too bad I wasn't asked to spit up! I saw it as Buffalo in six.
The reason: Ottawa had a brutal record in close games last year. Yes they blew out opponants in many contests by embarrassing scores. In the games most resembling playoff hockey, they came up short. Buffalo, were a primed and gritty bunch and seemed to me, ready to pick apart the Sens most obvious offensive assets. And they did!
So, in my eyes, no choke.
In the three series losses to the Leafs, the grit factor reared it's ugly little pointed head each time. The first two I thought the Leafs were just a better team and the odds on favourite to win. In 2004, the Leafs finished the regular season a whole point ahead of the Sens, giving the blue and white home ice advantage in what turned out to be the deciding game. Patrick Lalime and a five-hole the size of Fat Bastard was the difference.
Still, teams evenly matched, so no choke.
On 03 against the Devils, both teams were divisional winners with Ottawa having home ice. The Devils with a pile of Stanley Cup rings dancing in their jocks, I thought, should have been the odds on pick to win. Again a dying minutes goal did them in.
Maybe they ought to sign up Nieuwendyk! Who knows?
Not a choke!
What the Sens haven't learned yet is how to swallow. They have made neccesary tinkerings with sandpaper and stubble, gaining some grit along the way. The identity of the team has taken a hit this off-season, maybe for the better.
Now all they have to do is learn to spit!

Opening A Wound

I will indulge myself with a little self- plagiarization here.

Commenting in another blogsite, I lent myself to fessing up my POV on the Leafs and their fans, as a Habs fan. This could be taken as my mission statement on all things Leafs related. This is how I've felt since seeing Harold Ballard tear apart a Leafs team with a lot of promise in the late '70's. I will likely refer back to this rant, over and over. Expect it!

I feel sad that Leaf fans have not shared what what I have been able to experience. My anger, or rather, disappointment at different Leafs organizations over the years, stems from the fact that this great rivalry has not been re-consumated in 40 years. I'm still waiting for the blue and white to step up to the plate. Almost got my wish in '93.

I get the feeling all Canadian hockey fans are missing out on something special. Until the Leafs get their act together, my disappointment just turns to contempt. I find the majority of Toronto fans applaud or defend every move they make, without any vision towards the future. An example of this is the recent Peca signing. Does anybody think he'll actually be around by the time the Leafs finally win the Cup. I doubt it big time!

The bottom line is the Leafs are uncapable of building a team with eyes on the future. It's always about NOW. I imagine a 40 year drought will do that for your mindset. Leafnation has been brainwashed into such likeminded thinking. Years of free spending GM's didn't help.

Believing a team is perenially one player away from winning it all is generally stupid. With all teams on equal footing thanks to the salary cap, the Leafs have yet to adjust their thinking. Oh well, more years of turmoil and rivalry absense. They can't even kick the Sens around any more!

There ya have it. Swallow hard!

Gilligans Islanders Shipwrecked Again

Looks like the New York Islanders are stranded, with shipwrecked ineptitude, between an abyss of common sense and a deserting crew. Just as the characters in the infamous sitcom Gilligans Island never quite found their way home before being cancelled, those seemingly in charge of the good ship Islander are at a loss for leadership. It has been learned that the hired Skipper and the Professor do not see eye to eye. Trouble is, Gilligan is in charge on this island.
In early June, when Islanders owner Charles Wang, picked the pieces of his new management staff, many had doubts. With reason! Wang's kitchen cabinet team resembled a rumage sale of hockey who's who, hired separately and in reverse order and guaranteed to implode. It took a mere 40 days!
Former Ranger GM Neil Smith as new GM. Ted Nolan, once Sabres coach of the year and percieved blacklisted in league circles as a GM backstabber, as new head coach. Islanders Hall Of Famer Bryan Trottier, and past Rangers coaching disaster, as executive director of player development. Rounding out the crew, former Islander great, the well respected Pat Lafontaine, as senior advisor to the owner.
When Smith admitted to philosophical cockeyedness with the group, the ship sprang a leak. Wang, rather than defer leadership to Smith preferrably, uses a "business model" of a group think tank. Unfortunately, he hired a mess of opposite thinkers. It's common practice to let a GM fill out his own staff, but the Mike Milbury years had a tsunami effect on the Islanders. The tycoon Wang didn't envision the typhoon on the horizon when putting this crew together. He has now swabbed the deck of Smith.
It's interesting to note that when Wang purchased the team, he admitted he was not hockey smart. Quoted in the Asian News, he fessed, "I've been reading my Hockey For Dummies book. A lot of this is new to me, but it will be run like any good business".
Wang was president and CEO of Computer Associates, a Long Island firm. In 1999, Forbes magazine ranked Wang as the highest paid executive in the U.S. His compensation package alone totalled 650 million. He purchased the Isles for 190M. Evidently, he is a proven financial whiz. Assembling a crack hockey staff, to the contrary, is hardly his strong point. The ill-advised and surprising hire of former Cornwall Aces goalie Garth Snow, has raised eyebrows, sparked guffaws, and sent panic throught the remaining Islander faithful. He was apparently impressed that Snow had read the new CBA.
In the press melee announcing him as the new GM, Wang spoke of a man with an astute hockey mind. To ressure the assembled horde, the owner parlayed what he saw as smiles throughout the teams front offices as positive confirmation when the news of Snow's hire hit. Smiles can also be interpreted as the first sign of laughter. No word yet as to the ticket vendors inflating rubber dingies.
It is almost as if former Islander ship sinker Milbury were still in charge. These latest moves are not unlike past Milbury chaos. It's almost as if he were still manning the sails.
Minutes after announcing Snow's hiring, Wang's so called new right hand man Lafontaine curiously tended his resignation. That speaks alot. The ship is taking in water! As senior advisor to Wang, it is obvious Lafontaine had little say in this decision and his action speaks for itself.
Trottier, for his part, was eaten alive by the Rangers job in 2002-03. Ill suited from the get-go, he was unable to corral the Rangers overpriced stars into a team concept. Instinct and drive make great players in the Trottier mold. These characteristics do not always transfer when the player trades in the jock strap and helmet for a suit and tie. He is likely clutching a paddle now. Since retiring as a player, Trottier has battled alcoholism and dealt with bankruptcy issues in his personal life. How he will float with Snow and Nolan remains to be seen.
In his six weeks before he was shipped out, GM Smith made credible moves signing free agents Mike Sillinger, Brendan Witt, Tom Poti and Chris Simon. It had appeared that the uncozy entanglement was producing some positive results. Senior advisor Lafontaine urged Wang to judge Smith's moves once the product hit the ice. When the owner refused to listen to his advisor, Lafontaine, instead of saying "Aye Aye, Captain", jumped ship.
Never has a manglement by committee worked in a sports front office. Like guiding a ship, one man must be in charge. With this cast of castaways, it's only a matter of time before another crew member rocks the boat.