Thursday, November 30, 2006
The third game was then of no consequence and promptly lost it 2-1. PC did well though, earning "Outstanding Player" of the game. That's her third from the left with her medal.
In the semi final against Nepean we got the lead and lost it. Three PP goals in a row set us back. We made it 3-2 with 2 minutes to go and pulled the goalie. Nepean scored. We kept the goalie on the bench and got it back with 40 seconds left. With the ticks winding down , we pressured but couldn't find another one. It ended 4-2.
Hopefully, they'll be as much suspense this time.
Hopefully, not on highway 401!
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Toronto Maple Leafs did themselves a favor and aleviated the goal crease menage a trois by dealing seldom used Mikael Tellqvist to the Phoenix Coyotes in return for winger Tyson Nash and a 4th round pick in the 2007 entry draft.
Tellqvist had been relagated to third-string duty this season, appeareding only in a 2-1 loss to New Jersey on Nov. 16. J.S. Aubin, who has been backup to Andrew Raycroft most games, won the backup role with a string of wins down the stretch last spring.
"This will give Raycroft and Aubin each a full net in practice, and we like what we're getting back," said Leafs GM John Ferguson.
Nash, who has barely played at the NHL level in two seasons, will likely head to the Marlies. He is not an unknown quantity to Ferguson, who worked in the Blues organization in Nash's best days.
While he won't be mistaken for Rick Nash anytime soon, Tyson Nash's game is that of an aggresive, agitating style, with small offensive output. At best, he'd fill a role left vacant by the retirement of Tie Domi, if he earns a shot in the bigs.
Nash, 31, had been playing for the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He had six goals and six assists in 19 games. He'll report to the AHL's Toronto Marlies.The five-foot-11, 191-pound native of Edmonton has been hampered by injuries the last two years.
Ferguson has done well to add the draft pick, essentially getting two bodies in return for one that was no longer desired. He has also shortened the path of top prospect Justin Pogge to the NHL, while clearing up the always necessary cap room all clubs look for as the season progresses.
Who knows? maybe fergie is getting the hang of this job after all!
Also Tuesday, Maple Leafs defenceman Jay Harrison surprisingly cleared NHL waivers and was assigned to the AHL's Toronto Marlies.
With many an NHL team thin at the defense position, one wonders why Harrison was not snapped up in light of the cheap cost.
Now if only the Leafs can get back to winning on a regular basis.
If there are any remaining doubters, they are fewer!
Cristobal Huet is the best goalie in the NHL. With stats to back his stature, no one can make claims otherwise.
After posting tonight's shutout / shootout win over the Panthers, Huet's lofty stats now sit at the top of both meaningful goalie categories. He leads with a .940 save percentage and a miniscule 1.94 GAA. He has 2 shutouts to go with his 9-2-2 won / loss record, and is unbeaten in his last six starts, in which he's given up only 6 goals. He has been beaten a mere 27 times in 15 starts this season.
One may tend to credit a tight Habs defense for the numbers, but it's hardly the case. Huet faces on average 30 plus shots per game. Due to the Habs water pistol offense since the loss of Chris Higgins to injury, they would not be in a position to win without Huet standing tall.
As steady as Huet has been between the pipes, he is sturdier between the ears. This is no Jose Theodore come lately I am talking about.
He goes about his business so sedately and robotic, he leaves interviewers wondering if they even have a quote. He's no spotlight hound, that is for sure. When asked about his play, Huet uses the word "I" almost hesistantly, quickly turning the subject to team play and efficiency. He seems completely unbuffed about raves going his way. The professionalism he exudes spreads a calmness over his team mates I've seen only in the likes of Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, Grant Fuhr, and Bernie Parent. He's a winner. The hardware is only a matter in time.
While he may be heading for Vezina and possibly even Hart Trophy honours, there is little fear that he capitulates, Theodore like, into believing his press clippings or finding endorsement heaven in the media mad hockey mecca. Huet just doesn't seem interested in anything but his next game. In two seasons in Montreal, he has revealed little of himself personally. Last seasons winner of the Roger Crozier saving grace Award would prefer it kept that way.
Not bad for a throw-in from the Radek Bonk deal!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
A little sidetrack here from the daily hockey goings on that do little to affect the course of our lives.
I recently read about this shooting in New York City and it got me upset big time.This is not, as you will read, a rare occurence. It has happened more than once. Why it is allowed to go on is nuts. The police are supposed to protect and serve. How they can unload their weapons without shots fired at them is unfathomable. How they are allowed to get away with it is ridiculous. This is murder in my eyes. Just because an officer wears a badge, it should give no justification for events like these, it's beyond simply fucking up!
New York Times reported on Sunday that 23 year old, Sean Bell, died under a hail of over 50 police bullets after leaving his bachelor party at a strip club in Queens. Apparently, a fender bender involving an undercover police vehicle precipitated the shooting.
Bell was supposed to be married the following day. His family had the sad news of informing the attendees that the wedding was off and a funeral was being arranged. Unthinkable!
An angry crowd later gather to demand why police officers killed an unarmed man on the day of his wedding, firing dozens of shots that also wounded two of the man's friends. Some called for the ouster of the city's police commissioner.
At a vigil and rally the day after 23-year-old Sean Bell was supposed to have married the mother of his two young children, a crowd led by the Rev. Al Sharpton shouted "No justice, no peace."
At one point, the crowd of a few hundred counted off to 50, the number of rounds fired.
"We cannot allow this to continue to happen," Sharpton said at the gathering outside Mary Immaculate Hospital, where one of the wounded men was in critical condition. "We've got to understand that all of us were in that car."
Some in the crowd called for the ouster of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, yelling "Kelly must go."
The story surely recalls events in February of 1999, when African immigrant Amadou Diallo was brutally killed in a hail of bullets on Wheeler Avenue in the Bronx-Soundview section of New York City. The 4 officers, members of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit, fired 41 shots at the 23 yr old believing he was pulling a gun when Diallo was in fact reaching for his wallet. 41 shots! Think about it! Why 41 bullets were fired is a question with no good answer.
A national uproar ensued over what was obviouslya case of racial profiling and police brutaility.The four officers were eventually acquitted of any wrongdoing. A $61-million lawsuit filed by the yound man's parents was later settled for $3-million.
A number of artists wrote songs that decried the plight of this young man, one of the most memorable being "American Skin (41 Shots)" by Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen sang, outraging police organisations in New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and sections of the media.New York's State Fraternal Order of Police, Bob Lucente, promptly bestowed the 'floating fag' tag upon the singer when he debuted the song live in Atlanta, rhyming the lines "41 shots/Kill a fuckin' cop".
A week later, Springsteen appeared at Madison Square Garden for a sold out 10 date stand and the NYC police department refused to provide him any escort. As he played the song nightly, off duty police hired as garden security, gave Springsteen the finger from the edge of the stage during each performance. Springsteen never relented in performing the song on the remainder of the stand and the tour, going so far as to release it on CD and DVD versions of the "Live in NYC" concerts. For his part, Springsteen adressed the songs controversy by simply stating the track attempts to understand the human dilema involved in the shooting by retelling the events, then placing it's context in the eyes of a mother preparing her son for school, while providing him with a lesson on how to react when approached by police.
If all this leaves you untouched, check your pulse and heart.
41 shots....and we'll take that ride / 'cross this bloody river / to the other side / 41 shots.... cut through the night / you're kneeling over his body in the vestibule / praying for his life
Is it a gun? / Is it a knife? / Is it a wallet? / This is your life
It ain't no secret / No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
41 shots.... Lena gets her son ready for school / she says "on these streets, Charles / you've got to understand the rules / if an officer stops you / promise me, you'll always be polite / that you'll never ever run away / promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight"
Is it a gun?.... You can get killed just for living in your American skin
Is it a gun? / is it a knife? / is it in your heart / is it in your eyes / It ain't no secret /41 shots... and we'll take that ride / 'cross this bloody river / to the other side / 41 shots... got my boots caked in this mud / we're baptized in these waters / and in each other's blood
Is it a gun? / is it a knife? / is it a wallet? / this is your life
It ain't no secret / no secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
First the Habs:
Last time we saw Robbie DiMaio he was traveling with the Tampa Bay Lightning with no idea whether he’d ever play again.
The former Boston Bruins forward is still suffering post-concussion syndrome from the pre-season from-behind hit delivered by Guillaume Latendresse. The Habs rookie never bothered to phone with apologies and that still irks Robbie.
"A phone call," DiMaio told the St. Petersburg Times Damian Cristodero, "He could say, ‘I didn’t mean for it to happen’ and it’s over. If it had been me, I would have tried to make some kind of contact."
(RC Note - The Montreal media reported weeks back that Latendresse had attempted calls and could not reach the player. When Tampa played the Canadiens a little over a week ago, Latendresse was told by Lightening players upon inquiry that Di Maio holds no ill will for the hit. Guillaume apparently told players he felt badly about the injury, explained himself and offered his words of encouragement. He has yet to get to speak to DiMaio by phone.)
On Leafs coaching and management, Fischler had these to say:
John Ferguson’s contract re-up proves that the Leafs’ ownership is wise not to heed media advice. Fergie took an unconscionable, unfair – and just plain wrong – beating from Toronto columnists since his hiring in August 2003. In another town, ownership might have read that crap and dumped the GM. Fortunately, it didn’t happen with the Leafs brass. The renaissance of Ferguson’s Blue-and-Whiters is one of the season’s best tales. A story that should be told in the T.O. papers is the classy manner in which Fergie turned the cheek on his tormentors. Or, as the song goes, "Who’s Got The Last Laugh Now?" .
(RC Note - What Fischler fails to detail here is that the Leafs simply took the option on the contract. It is not the vote of confidence that a new prolonged deal would have suggested. Point blank - the jury is still sitting on Ferguson. That is what is wise about the move!)
There’s a lot to like about the Paul Maurice regime but one of the least-mentioned sidebars happens to be the availability of previously-unavailable Leaf players after practices or games. Our man in T.O., Rob Del Mundo, writes:
"Under the Pat Quinn era, players were often withheld from reporters, or delayed from speaking to the media by as much as 30 or 40 minutes after a game. Last season, when Mats Sundin played his first game after returning from his orbital bone injury (Nov. 12, 2005 vs. Montreal), several reporters attended the game-day skate, only to be left hanging when it was discovered that the captain had been permitted to leave the dressing room via a back-door entrance without speaking to the media. Players now are generally immediately available to the media, following games and morning skates. This past Saturday, Sundin did not leave by the back door following the morning skate for his game-day return. This is a strong measurement of how the player accessibility has vastly improved."
(RC Note - It should also be mentioned that the Leafs were mired in a losing streak at that point last season. This year things are slightly different.)
Enough with Fischler's spins! Check him out at his site, and read between the lines for yourself.
Why isn't Cristobal Huet on the All-Star ballot? After posting great numbers last season, why were M.A. Fleury and Andrew Raycroft preferred? Prediction, he'll get there on write- ins!... The rot at the core of the Black Hawks woes goes by the name of Wirtz. When will Chicago go out and get a proven GM or coach with a track record of success and stop retreating unsuitable candidates from their own organization. I like Denis Savard, but with the behind the scenes buffoons, he's as doomed as perdecessors....About Savard and numbers. It was surely not his # 18 he wore in Montreal that was retired last week, but a funny coincidence nonetheless. While playing hockey at the age of 8 Savard formed a line with two players also named Denis, Cyr and Tremblay. They remained together until their final year of junior, a good ten years! They all were from the same neighbourhood streets, and here's the topper: all three were born on Febuary 2, 1961. Cyr was drafted by Buffalo, and received a tryout with Chicago at one point. Tremblay went undrafted, but was also sent a ticket for the Windy City....Brendan Shanahan was offered a million more, 5 that is, over two years and not one, to sign with the Canadiens. Given a helicopter ride over the city with Habs GM Gainey, Shanahan was ready to ink the deal and conferred with his wife. Shanny admitted she chose New York. He left it in her hands due to family raising responsabilities. His better half felt there would be a rough adjustment in school systems for the kids. That tilted the deal. A shame!....Darcy Tucker, also off the All-Star ballot, is on target for a 50 goal season. Can Toronto afford 6 players near the 5 million tag?... Hey did I predict that Habs loss to the Flyers or what? It was a given as soon as Aebischer was named the starter. Players on the team lack confidence in him and play on the their heels....Another ten day slice of comparing back to back games is coming soon. I should do the whole damn season and mail it to the NHL offices to make my point!....If Hitchcock had waited a week, could he be in Chicago? Did he pass, or was it even offered?....Talk of changes have somewhat subsided in Ottawa. Only in a government city do troubles get swept under the rug so quickly. Nice move by Murray in one game, he benched Spezza for all but two minutes of the 3rd period to help preserves the win!.... A local scribe in town came up with a new angle solving the Sens issues. Switch Muckler and Murray's positions. Each has clearly had more success in the opposite roles. Funny when you think about it?
Has the NHL ever thought of polling fans, writers, and broadcasters, on what areas of the game need the most fixing? There are dozens of issues ostriches named Bettman, Campbell, and Daly seem to shrug off at every suggestion. The fact they keep coming up ought to be a clue. Along with that brutal schedule of back to backs, issues such as imbalanced meetings, inconsistant calls, crashing goalies at will, mounting injuries, and immovable roster players, are frustrating fans league wide. Get on it guys! Fans in certain cities are missing in droves!
Why on God's Earth doesn't the NHL expand the 5 minute sudden death OT to 10 minutes. Contrary to the shootout, this IS the most exciting hockey played. Several games I have seen lately have been total thrillers and I was completely let down when the shootouts began. I still say, settle the game in ten, then live with the few ties remaining. Presently, out of 30 teams, 22 have a .500 record - which is nuts! Three other teams are one game under. The five remaining are virtually eliminated from the playoffs before December - how smart is that. Blame it all on those extra shootout and overtime points handed out like candy. It's a mess!
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The Buffalo Sabres have been at the top of the NHL standing from day 1 of the current season and are now considered to measuring stick for other teams success.
Friday night it was the Canadiens turn to rub shoulders with the Northeastern Conference leaders and they pulled it iff in OT, with Sheldon Souray's rising wrister being the difference with one second remaining in the game.
With all contests against Buffalo, it was a hard fought battle at both ends with tons of chances on either side. Again Cristobal Huet played his steady game. The only shot to beat him was a screened blast from the point he narrowly missed.
Saku Koivu, who turned 32 today celebrated by notching a goal and an assist in the win.
I failed to catch the game in real time. Sleep was a priority after coming home from a pair of games in Kanata earlier in the day. I wake up in time to watch the 5 minute OT, and Souray's marker brought me to life some.
I caught the Mini Express game an hour later to get a sense of how the game flowed. Second period action was again killed by penalties, a Habs trait so far this year. The PK and Huet's goalposts kept the game close until Koivu knotted the tying goal.
It was a long day in the Ottawa area for the family. Poke Check played two awesome games for her team - probably her best two efforts of the year. The first was a scoreless tie in which we outshot Kanata 34-11 but couldn't beat their agile little goalie. We won the second contest 1-0, scoring with 3:35 left, enabling us all to breathe a little easier. PC had 5 shots in the first game and six more in the second, most from close in. Her line was simply dominant today. I've waited a while to see this.
We brought Poke Check's little sister Cross Check along for the day, and thankfully she wasn't her usual handful.
Tomorrow will be just as hectic, with a game at 3 in Kanata, and a Xmas party back in town at 6. With all this furious activity, I'm coming down with a cold!
Back to the Habs.... Tomorrow, a dreaded back to back game against Philly.
I hate this scenario!
Philadelphia beat HItchcock's Blew Jackets tonight. Hopefully they are as worn down as the Habs will be for tomorrow's game. David Aebischer ets his first start in a week - acrucial game for him after he has lost a little of the teams confidence with consecutive losses a week ago.
I'll be checking it out, one hand over my eyes, sniffling and drunk at the Canadian Tire bash.
Hope their is no lineup for the early shuttle ride home!
Blogger Ingmar Berman, Sweden's only St. Louis Blues fan has commited virtual suicide. Bergman, a well known photocrop expert have done the equivalent of placing the head of Jesus on the body of Saddam Hussain in the ultimate NHL sacrilege.
As you can tell by his creations above, Bergman will be a wanted man, that is if he isn't hung and quartered as of this posting. Ingmar was last seen fleeing on a dogsled in the direction of the Swiss Alps. The dogs were later found wandering aimlessly throught the winterland mountains with no Ingmar in sight. When questioned on Bergman's whereabouts, one Husky began wimpering before stopping to lick his gonads. Trackers are still on the case.
Bergman began receiving threats a week when he posted the blasphemous original six jersey with reversed logo's for each. The taunting must have spurred him on. Sadistically, only days later, he created and posted the now infamous Rocket with the Cup in a Leafs jersey. Funnily enough, Habs fans weren't offended, and simply chose to laugh it off as the sad dreams of a disheartened Leafs supporter. The entirely of the wrath apparently comes from Leafs nation, who were upset at the off colour jerseys most. Some it is told, did not appreciate the cropping of a French socialist into the blue and white Buds duds.
While it was first assumed that this would hardly affect the molecular construction of the average Leafs fans brain, those views have t cast off by the investigating branch of the RCMP, in tandem with Swedish government officials.
RCMP constable Harry Stoggies strode down Young and Bloor streets in Toronto this morning accumulating general opinions on the prints.
"Most folks bitched about the colours", said Stoggies, who added "Some asked that I cover Richard's face before it started a riot'.
As for the pictured Stanley Cup, Stoggies went on, "None even recognized it, except for one oldtimer who squinted and gave it a second look, seemingly disturbed".
The RCMP ask that if Bergman is n fact still alive and well, to contact the offices of John Davidson, GM of the Blues. "He has a basement apartment for him at a secret Missouri location next to his mother's house", says Stoggies.
"Hopefully, he does not call John Ferguson Jr by mistake!"
Production begins on film comedy about fictional former Maple Leaf
Nov 24, 2006, 11:37 AM EST
(RC Note - This is taken from this link. The title is mine, but I otherwise haven't changed a word! Honest!)
TORONTO (CP) - It's time to start laughing about the Maple Leafs. (Ahahahahahaha!)
The team and the NHL have given permission for their logos to be used in a movie called "Breakfast With Scot." The producers call it "a thoughtful comedy," about a gay ex-Leaf and his partner, the team's lawyer, whose lifestyle and relationship are turned upside down when they become the guardians of "a budding queen of an 11-year-old boy."
The movie stars Tom Cavanagh of "Ed" and "Scrubs," and Ben Shenkman of "Just Like Heaven" and "Angels In America" star along with Noah Bernett of "Gothica."
Laurie Lynd is directing Sean Reycraft's script based on a Michael Downing novel. Miracle Pictures and Capri Releasing are behind the project.
The 25-day shoot in and around Toronto is slated to end Dec. 15.
(RC Note II - A more detailed article at www.star.com goes a little deeper. Ouch!)
Movie Features Gay Leaf
NHL, Leafs give flick full supportDue out in theatres next December
Nov. 24, 2006. 08:23 AM
The appearance of the first gay Toronto Maple Leaf will be groundbreaking, even if it is only in celluloid.
Actor Tom Cavanaugh plays a gay ex-Leaf in a comedy film Breakfast With Scot currently being shot in the GTA and Hamilton. He's one-half of a homosexual couple — his partner is the team lawyer — whose lives are turned upside down after becoming guardians of Scot, "a budding queen of an 11-year-old boy," according to the storyline.
What makes this movie even more unique is that the NHL and the Maple Leafs — part of a sport where no player has ever come out of the closet — have given the filmmakers their blessing to use their logos and uniforms. The Leafs have even agreed to let them do some filming with them at the end of a practice next month.
Cavanaugh, a huge hockey fan who was born in Ottawa, admits to being shocked they got the go-ahead from the league and Leaf brass. He vividly recalls his first thought when he read the script a year ago and saw in the opening scene that his character, Eric McNally, was a Maple Leaf.
"I never in a million years thought when we finally went to shooting we'd be donning Leaf sweaters," Cavanaugh said yesterday. "I thought it'd be that thing where it's the Toronto Razorbacks or whatever. There's something instant to the viewer when you put on a Leafs jersey or any Original Six jersey.
"It's harder to tell the story asking the public to remember this is supposed to be the NHL, even though we have to call it the NHA. You have to give full credit to the NHL and the Leafs for signing on. It also shows the possibility for if someone were to come out, perhaps it wouldn't be as big a deal as we think."
That remains to be seen, of course.
Leafs general manager John Ferguson, for his part, said it wasn't hard for them to give the project the go-ahead after it got the green light from the NHL, which had screened the script.
Click here if you really need to read on!
Friday, November 24, 2006
Ken Hitchcock is heading back to Philadelphia for his first game with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
One month after being fired by Philadelphia, Hitchcock was formally introduced Thursday as the Blue Jackets' new coach. Columbus, dead at the bottom of the NHL standings, will play the Flyers, who are just a point ahead of the Jackets, Friday in Philadelphia.
"When I was on the plane flying here, I felt like, `Man, I'm in The Twilight Zone.' Hitchcock said. "I hope the players have a lot better day than I'll have tomorrow. It's going to be a tough day."
Could it be that Hitchcock has been having too many cocktails in the Voodoo Lounge!
I'm still wondering what made him consider the Jackets a suitable destination. My guess is he took the first available post. If Columbus don't turn this nightmare season around, it could leave Hitch scratching his noggin real fast.
Hitchcock said his first goal is to restore the team's confidence.
"We can't hang our heads and roll our shoulders," Hitchcock said.
Sounds to me as though he's been watching Jeremy Roenick dance videos!
With the recent rise in his level of play, Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet is beginning to silence critics who claimed the French netminder was a one year wonder.
Huet's main claim in his climb to elite heights are his GAA and save percentage stats, which after an average start, are back to where they sat last season. Many pointed to the fact that Huet essentially played but half a season for their doubt in the validity of his final numbers.
While Huet's stats with the L.A. Kings were decent enough prior to his trade to Montreal, it must be noted that while the game has gained a more free flowing style, the stats have improved contrary to most goaltenders.
Huet is once again tops in save %, with a .932 ratio. Last season, he led the league in winning the Roger Crozier Saving Grace award, with .931 stats. His GAA is currently 2.20, on a par with 2005-06 when he ended with the exact same numbers.
After alternating two game stints with David Aebischer, Huet has seemingly wrestled the starters role that most thought he would be given come October. While winning his last four starts, he has relived Aebischer in back to back appearances that ended in loses.
The defensive stragegy of the Canadiens D consists of keeping shooters to the outside lanes while blocking whatever shots possible. This has allowed for good vision on the initial shots while neatly cleaning up rebounds. This system is imperitive on goalies stopping the first shot, while the D - men do the dirty work - Janni Niinimaa included.
Now that both the injured Francis Bouillon and Mathieu Dandenault have returned from injury, the Habs D will be even more stable than it has been in the first 20 games. Look for Huet's numbers, as well as those of Aebischer's, to get evem more attractive as games pass.
What Huet offers the Canadiens is a very relaxed style and demeanor. Conversely, the defenseman, who are known to give up a high quantity of shots during a game, can continue in this manner as Huet has regained form.
A flash in the pan? Doubtful!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The reason for the time vice squeezing me so tight is I have finally been punished at work with night shifts for the next few days. This robs me of my prime posting time, not to mention the window of opportunity that enables the beer drinking behind the creative process. This weekend Poke Check has a tournament in Kanata. We aren't doing stay overs, but four games cover Friday to Sunday. The following weekend we are in Whitby, near Toronto, so there will be time left to work my shifts and that's about it.
It's too bad because I have dozen things I want to get to.
I haven't had much to write about as far some good classic rock topics but lo and behold, two bands from my youth (I'm still IN my youth, damnit!) have released interest repackages in the past week. The Beatles "LOVE" mishmash for the Cirque De Soleil soundtrack is getting critical barbs and roses upon release. My copy comes to me tomorrow and so far I'm a touch hesitant to even like the idea. Out of left field yesterday, I got my hands the KISS Kissology 3 DVD set - I won it on "Rock and Roll Jeopardy" courtesy of the local rock station. Soon as I finish this post, into the player it goes!
As far as NHL hockey is going, the Sens, Leafs, and Habs all continue to baffle for different reasons. Too much to get into quickly, but stories unfold daily.
I want to do a crystal ball gaze into the future of a team, two years from now, and then five years down the line, just to get a whiff of how the new CBA may affect teams. I have yet to choose which team to do it on - I have a feeling I'll be surprising myself here!
I have a great story about one of the most controversial Memorial Cup wins ever, that is taking me lots of research to get done. It'll be worth the wait, I promise.
As you may have noticed, I've made a slew of changes to this blog, staring with the overall look, which I'm very pleased with. I've added the site meter, which enables me to know more about how much the blog is viewed, and sheds some light into how it's perceived. I can follow the odd thread now and trace reactions to the postings in other blogs, which is pretty nifty.
The Crosby 2012 post went nuts! A whole whack of Penguin related sites picked up on it, and weren't very kind to me, here in this blog, and elsewhere. I added the site meter just in time to monitor it, and it's been furious and fun.
Doing that allowed me to find and add some pretty cool sites to my links section. I've got a handful more to get around to adding when time allows. Extra links equals widening perspective in a sense. There's lots out there to read and enjoy for sure.
I will be posting about the best ones and recommending them soon. For now I'll bring one to Tapeleg's attention - it's called "Hockey's Greatest Legends" and is loaded with stories of "Old Time Hockey", one of the JAHL writer's favorite subjects.
I look forward to stealing the time to get to these things soon!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
It appears that Eugene Melnyk's "Everybody Remain Calm" message has bore some short term fruition. With two surprising wins over rival Buffalo, the Sens may have begun to turn a nightmare start around.
It could be that the return of goalie Ray Emery to the fold had as much, if not more to do, with the renewed confidence. Coach Bryan Murray ought to be relieved he has not been relieved.
Melnyk was quite concise when he spoke. While appearing to appease the fans, it was evident the words were aimed at the players. In this case, the owner settled the rising dust by being firm on the notion he was not going to capitulate with the usual remedies of trades and axes. While past trades have been questioned, leadership probed, and dedication and conviction analysed, Melnyk refuted calls to take the easy way out. Good on him.
It remains to be seen however, if the Sens can maintain the frantic winning pace required to qualify for the post season. They may need to win close to 40 of their remaining 60 games to pull it off. A tall order for any team, and a taller one for a squad lacking confidence. The talent is there but it will take much more than Emery's heroics to reach their goal. Should they cling to a 7th or 8th position, they'll make for one curious first round underdog. It just might suit them!
The Maple Leafs are fortunate a light schedule is theirs while injuries are healing. Without the pivotal Sundin leading, and the comfort of Raycroft between the pipes, they have slipped a little with recent back to back lossses. You know all hell will break loose in the Big Smoke should this streak reach deeper into the loss column. The good start they have enjoyed so far is benefitting them in this regard and they have played well under the circumstances of late. What we are seeing happening now, is that opponants are adjusting to how they play the Leafs, and without Sundin to counter, the perspective is simplified. The short term nature of the injuries says that no alarm bells ought to sound off anytime soon.
The Canadiens have had an up and down week, while taking 3 of 5 games in an eight day span. Two spiritless undoings at the hands of the Leafs and Panthers were cause for concern, while wins against Ottawa, Tampa, and Atlanta, were some of the Habs best "team games" so far this season. Not coincidently, goalie Cristobal Huet has returned to form in those three wins while the team played a more relaxed and poised game in front of him. In both the losses, Huet replaced David Aebischer, and looks to have wrangled a steadier turn of starts from the rotating goalie system. Huet has a 6-2-2 record, with a 2.22 GAA and a .931 save percentage, good for 8th and 2nd, respectively in the league.
In the six games since top winger Chris Higgins has been out to injury, Guillaume Latendresse has aquited himself well on the Habs top line for a 19 yr old. With 4 goals and 2 assists in that time, Latendresse has also led the team in scoring chances and hits on most nights.
At the top of the Canadiens scoring list are defenseman Andrei Markov (2-15) and Sheldon Souray (8-8). The oddity due in large part to the Habs power play prowess. Before saturdays game against Atlanta, both the PP and PK ranked 4th in the league. Of prime concern for coach Carbonneau is the teams continuing habit of taking untimely penalties. The coach's constant yapping and laughing behind the bench at the nature of some of the calls is hardly the manner in which to deliver a message to players, no matter how frivolous and unpredictable officiating is becoming.
Career years are the making for such former softies as Dainus Zubrus, Alexander Frolov and the seemingly back in business Alexei Yashin. The Islanders captain has been prodded and pampered by coach Ted Nolan, and it seems to be paying dividends on the .500 team....Will Ken Hitchcock, itching to get back behind a bench, reel in the first nibble and grab the Blue Jackets job. It has been noted by the coach that he has been viewing up to 6 hours of game films per day, keeping up on prospective destinations. A story to follow for sure...Upon Saturday's retiring of Habs great Serge Savard's # 18 jersey, former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers likened the 70's troika of Savard, Guy Lapointe, and Larry Robinson to a team in today's era lining up Pronger, Neidermayer, and Lidstrom on the blueline. An astute comparison despite the era's....In other Habs tribute fallout, a Toronto journalist attempted a splash by suggesting Patrick Roy may have been Leafs bound upon his trade to Colorado. Trouble is, there was nothing to the story except a notion suggested by Roy that he was on a short list of destinations that included Detroit ( confirmed by Scotty Bowman ), Chicago, and Toronto. Leafs GM at the time, Cliff Fletcher stated he has no recollection of taking a call concerning Roy. To add insult to the jounalist's reputation, he goes on to suggest that former Canadien greats would balk at the retirement of Roy's number, claiming that some would ask that theirs be taken down should it happen. He then fumbles all credibility by saying it looks like it will a long time before # 29 gets its day. Precisely, # 29 will be hung this coming January 29th - in honor of one Ken Dryden. Quick, revoke this tools press pass....Look for a mid-season retirement press conference for Jeremy Roenick. He imposed a put up or shut up gag on himself before the season, and has done neither....On the Coyotes subject, all they'd done smartly so far is grab Yannick Perreault from the unemployment line. Very quickly, he is close to leading the team in goals, and will eventually finish out the season as bargain trade deadline pick up....How many teams are kicking themselves in the groin over passing by Dominik Hasek? This cheapest of signings has so far been one of the best....The much despised Sean Avery, who was put on "double secret probation" by LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi in pre-season is responding by being a key player for them so far. Unfortunately, it's done little to alter their outcomes...Why is it Don Cherry gets booed in the House of Commons? He does get a bit too Canadian at times for Quebec stomachs, but this is like Flyers fans booing Santa Claus.
There was some suggestion in Montreal media circles that former Habs GM Rejean Houle was given little choice of accepting the position when president Ron Corey purged all staff and cleaned house in 1995. The always humble and respectful Houle would never say so much, but it looks more and more like Corey was true architect behind a decade of decline in Montreal. Houle was a puppet GM who never pointed a finger, to his credit. Much maligned as he was in the GM's chair, Houle is as decent a person as you'll ever meet. As president of the Habs Oldtimers Association, he has done great work over the years and surely deserved a better fate.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Savard was as dependable as a defenseman gets. Flashy at times for his era, he was a player coach Scotty Bbowman could throw on the ice in every crucial situation.
Serge Savard's blood pumped red, white, and blue, the colors of his beloved team in his youth.
Born on January 22, 1946 in the village of Landrienne, Quebec, Savard followed the results of the Canadiens from childhood, and when the eleven-year-old, already standing close to six feet tall, moved to Montreal his passion grew even stronger. By fifteen, Serge had been placed on the Habs reserve list. He progressed quickly through the minors, joining the Montreal Junior Canadiens in 1963-64 where he was made captain.
He graduated to the big club in 1967-68 and the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup for the 3rd time in three seasons.
In his second NHL season, Savard was becoming the dominant team player we reflect back upon today. For a second straight season, Montreal not only finished first in the East, but proceeded to capture the Stanley Cup. Savard was outstanding, blocking shots, clearing the zone and collecting ten points in fourteen games. His four goals was one shy of an NHL record for playoff goals by a defenseman in one season and helped earn Serge the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable playoff performer as his Canadiens swept the St. Louis Blues in four games.
But injuries hampered Savard's continued progress. In a March 1970 game against the Rangers, Serge crashed into a goal post and broke his leg in five places.
"There was a time when I was afraid I wouldn't play again. My leg was broken in three big places besides the chips and I got scared after the doctor took off the cast for the first time. The break was moving inside," Serge recalls.
To complicate matters, Savard returned to the Canadiens only to break the same leg again in February 1971. Caught by a Bob Baun hipcheck in a game against Toronto, the break put Serge out of action for close to a year. But the break did more than put Savard out of action; it changed his style of play.
"When I was younger, I was more of a rusher but after the two bad leg injuries, I didn't have the same speed so I became more of a defensive defenseman," states Serge.
Although never afraid to carry the puck, Savard was found to be invaluable in his own end.
"Not many guys are hurt stopping shots," Serge explains, describing his skill as a shot blocker. "You could get killed if you get hit in the temple but the average is good. I turn sideways from twenty to twenty-five feet away and let the goalie take it. He can see it better. To me, there's no danger if you time it right. You have to be almost on top of the shooter before falling."
Despite missing substantial portions of two seasons, Serge Savard was chosen to be a member of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviets.
Serge Savard played fourteen seasons as a Montreal Canadien, and was part of eight Stanley Cup championships during that time, including four consecutive between 1976 and 1979. Serge was Montreal's captain from 1979 to 1981.
On August 12, 1981, Savard decided that he had had enough. The team had been struggling and Savard, who had proven to be a savvy businessman through his years with Montreal, decided to pursue those interests outside of hockey. After turning professional with Montreal in his early 20s, Savard had begun purchasing apartment buildings at low cost and refurbishing them. His business acumen was enough to make Serge stand out in a sport where but a handful of players oversee their own affairs. While his teammates were playing cards or reading sports magazines, Serge was reading The Wall Street Journal.
That afternoon, Savard stated, "This is the most difficult decision of my life. As a player, you know this day is coming but you never want to believe it."
Toe Blake, the former coach of the Canadiens, added, "It's been said that anyone can be replaced, but that's not the case here."
Savard's old roommate, John Ferguson, plucked the star defenseman in the waiver draft that summer and attempted to convince Serge that he should reconsider his retirement and become a Jet in Winnipeg. Ferguson and Savard were partners in several thoroughbred racehorses, and the sales pitch was solid. "
I didn't really want to come back," Savard explains. "I was receiving calls from John. I saw that the Jets weren't the same as the year before or else I wouldn't have come back, but the club had Dale Hawerchuk, a rookie phenom, and was going for first place. I hadn't enjoyed the game the previous few years. Things were on a sour note with the Canadiens. There were a lot of young defensemen waiting in line. I made the right decision. I felt wanted by Winnipeg and the atmosphere was very different."
Savard spent two seasons with the Jets, guiding the team to the division semifinals both seasons.
Then, with much fanfare, the Montreal Canadiens hired Savard as Managing Director on April 28, 1983.
"It was a fantastic feeling to be back with the Montreal organization where I had so many friends and memories," remembers Savard.
Montreal sent a third-round draft choice and $50,000 to Winnipeg to get Savard released from the final year of his contract with the Jets. He retired as a player having played 1,040 regular season games in which he accumulated 106 goals and 333 assists for 439 points. Savard added 19 goals and 49 assists for 68 points In 130 playoff contests.
Besides the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1969, Serge won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication in 1979. That same year, he was selected for the NHL's Second All-Star Team. But individual awards eluded the wily veteran, even though his considerable presence contributed greatly to the eight Stanley Cup championships won during his prestigious career.
"I never pay attention to individual awards and I think that sometimes, too many people place too much value on them" , savard has said.
As the Canadiens GM, Savard was easily as clever as he had been both on the ice and in his personal business career, which had amassed him a considerable personal fortune. In 1986 and 1993, the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, while the team went to the finals in 1989.
Five games into the 1995-96 season, the club replaced Jacques Demers as coach with Mario Tremblay and fired Serge Savard, replacing him with Rejean Houle.
Hurt, Savard commented, "My personal feeling was that it was unfair because I was convinced I could find a way to turn things around. I'd done it before, but I understand that the team wanted to make a change."
Savard turned his attention away from hockey and continued developing his business ventures. He built a new career as a real estate developer, hotel owner and investor, and garnered considerable power in both the business and political arenas.
"I guess I'm like everybody else," Savard admits. "You've got to have something in life that you're proud of. You have to achieve something."
Serge Savard has achieved a considerable amount and has considerable reason to justify his pride. His hockey legacy includes ten Stanley Cup rings (two in management and eight as a player) and representing Canada in the 1972 Summit Series and the 1976 Canada Cup. The piece de resistance for Serge Savard came with his 1986 Induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Call them unnoticed and underappreciated, breakout players, or rising stars under the radar. Here are 10 players making an impact for their teams this season, who will rarely grab the headlines.
In no order of importance, the unheralded top ten is:
1 - Brian Rolston - Minnesoata Wild: Handy on both the PK and PP, he is a player shaped in the Jacques Lemaire mold. Speedy and intuitive, Rolston plays a role in every Wild win. A gamer 29 other teams would throw on the ice in any game situation, Rolston is enjoting what could be a career year. Won't belong on a list such as this much longer.
2 - Justin Williams - Carolina Hurricanes: An unsung hero of the 'Canes Cup win, this forward is no treat to deal with in corners or in the slot. Consistantly puts up decent numbers while countering the oppositions best threats. Can adjust to any game and tempo, and plays in all game situations. Undid Montreal in last years playoff (in more ways than one) as much as Cam Ward.
3 - Yannick Perreault - Phoenix Coyotes: Reigning facing king has been a late season signing two years running. Missed by each team failing to resign him, YP has offensive flair to go with defensive competance. Though he's never met a corner he's comfortable in, he's put up numbers with limited icetime, won draws at close to a 60% clip, and faced the other teams best while keeping a decent plus/minus. Ottawa, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, and Toronto, really missd the boat on a player who settled for $700,000 year.
4 - Alexei Ponikarovsky - Toronto Maple Leafs: The Buds man of all lines is heading for a career year. Used to shifting line mates, Pony has nonetheless continued to improve offensively. While he adjusts to new linemates by habit, defensive liabilities about him have vanished. The best plus player on his team is on his way to a key componant role.
5 - John Michael Liles - Colorado Avalanche: JML has found himself the unlikely anchor of the Avs D, a role in which he has aquitted himself quite well in. He Q.B.'s the PP and kills off penalties while maintaining close to a point per game ratio. While his rise to the Avs #1 D-man was accentuated by others departures, he has learned and adapted well to his role. As the Avalanches youth matures, so will he.
6 - P.J. Axelsson - Boston Bruins: A role player extraordinaire, P.J. surely underestimated his value in last seasons open market. A proficient pest and speedy thorn, Axe is the type of player every team needs. He stirs, grinds, and needles with Tucker-like instinct. His one drawback is he disappears once games are lost causes. On a winner, he'd be noticed more.
7 - Chris Neil - Ottawa Senators: An old time crowd pleaser with fists, hands, and heart. Shows up, game in game out, despite the score. This sparkplug has desire to spare and has produced surprising numbers while playing in reduced and limited roles. Has greatly overacheived despite what was thought of as a limited talent. Ought to be the next Senators captain.
8 - Chris Clark - Washington Capitals: Parlayed what he learned with Darryl Sutter's Flames into a sound defensive game, he now covers and rides shotgun for Alexander Ovechkin's offensive outbursts. Though the numbers come with the linemates, Clarke is a solid bargain in both ends of the rink. OV won't play a shift without him.
9 - Mike Komisarek - Montreal Canadiens: This former 1st round pick is coming into his own. Call him a subtle Dion Phaneuf, Komi has gained confidence while being the best plus player on the Habs. His hits are painful without needing a highlight reel windup, and he has adapted to the freewheeling new NHL to the surprise of many. A leader in the making and a vital cog in the Habs future.
10 - Olaf Kolzig - Washington Capitals: How does a former All - Star get termed underrated? Forgotten in dismal Caps years, Olie the Goalie has the knack of beating teams singlehandedly on odd nights. Facing close to 40 shots per game, Kolzig is at his best when peppered. A shame he isn't on a contender! Olie is the missing link to many teams Stanley Cup dream. Has stolen his fair share of games so far, and the season is still early. An unsung MVP.
"Crosby, in large part because his father Troy was drafted by the team, was always a big Montreal Canadiens fan. Prior to the 2005 entry draft it was widely assumed he would have liked to have been drafted by the Canadiens. Now 19, Crosby will be eligible for free agency when he turns 25, at which point he can sign with any team".
Friday, November 17, 2006
Whoa Nelly! I hope this isn't just another photoshop mockup. Could it be that rumours suggesting Canucks GM Dave Nonis wouldn't part with Jan Bulis in a one for one deal for Alfie be exaggerated? Would the Canucks immediatly hand him the "C" ? All these questions?
The sight of this just makes me ponder a wish list of top 10 photoshop creations I'd like to see and bloggers everywhere could eventually make use of. Don't take this too seriously!
Crystal ball vision of Alfredsson courtesy of Hodge at WFS.
1 - Pat Quinn behind the Senators bench.
2 - Tie Domi, who once belonged to the Predators for a day or so, in their mustard jersey - puking!
3 - Saku Koivu, with his head amputated, scoring the winning goal in the SCF.
4 - Bobby Clarke, unsnapping his skull cap, and eating his brain Hannibal Lector style.
5 - Bryan Murray doing a headlong swandive into a sump pump.
6 - Darcy Tucker and Belinda Stronach doing the Wango Tango in the penalty box.
7 - Martin Gerber's head on a block of Swiss cheese, with every sports ball imaginable in the net behind him.
8 - Ken Hitchcock delivering a half eaten Pizza Pizza order.
9 - Bruce Garrioch giving birth to his own head, anally.
10 - Jose Theodore stopping a puck.
There is currently much debate going on in NHL circles having much to do with balanced schedules. Certain teams are citing a desire for less games versus divisional rivals and more games against traditional opponants. Teams are also crying foul over the obscenity of seeing the likes of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin in their buildings only every once in three years.
While both those claims need imperative fixes, another blasphemy on hockey is occurring - the senselessness of games on back to back nights!
This travesty robs hockey of it's purest goal - to entertain!
As any professional player will attest, hockey, with it's accents on speed and body contact, is in essense the most physical of sports. Demanding that players reach peak levels on a nightly basis is key to its entertainment value. Having players play two games within 24 hours of each other diminishes the possibility of the spectacle reaching its highest of heights.
Unless you subscribe to the notion that bad hockey creates its own excitement, the idea of back to back games is hardly appealing.
Imagine that you have laid down your hundred bucks while waiting a month to catch a favorite player appearing in your city and he shows up tired and flat from playing the night before. Imagine you finally get a hold of primo seats to catch the hometeam of your choice and they are dying halfway through the contest from having just come off the road 24 hours ago.
This is not selling the game at its very best.
The NHL heads will roll the obligatory travel expense / arena booking / jammed schedule excuse, as usual. I say it's a bunch of narrow thinking refried balony. It's fixable if they want to. The benefits ought to be obvious, especially to businessmen only looking at greenbacks.
Simply put, a better quality game will surely lead to more cheeks in seats.
Proof that back to back games are a detriment to fair play, predictability, and excitement, is not hard to find. Doing reasearch over the last ten games of the current schedule, I found shocking and revealing results.
From November 16th, back to November 6th, an 11 day span, there were 17 instances of teams hitting the ice on consecutive nights. 13 of those, a whopping 83% ended in losses.
Below are the games in question. The result in brackets signify the second of two games whereas non bracket scores are the previous nights result
Fla 5 Mon 1 (Mon L)
Min 7 Nas 6 (Nas L)
Nas 5 CBJ 4
Mon 3 TB 1
Edm 2 Col 1 (Edm W)
STL 5 Edm 3
Ana 3 Min 2 (Min L)
Bos 4 Ott 3 (Ott L)
Buf 5 Phi 4 (Buf W)
Was 3 NYR 1 (NYR L)
Car 6 Pit 2 (Pit L)
NJ 4 Fla 2 (Fla L)
TB 5 Atl 3 (Atl L)
Nas 1 Col 0 (Nas W)
Cal 3 Van 2 (Cal W)
Min 3 LA 2
Edm 4 CBJ 1 (CBJ L)
Ott 6 Pit 3
NYR 4 Atl 2 *
Det 3 Nas 0
Buf 5 Fla 4 *
Chi 3 STL 1 (STL L)
Cal 3 Ana 0 (Ana L)
CBJ 4 STL 2 *
Ana 6 Van 0
Det 3 Edm 0 (Edm L)
Mon 3 Edm 2
Cal 3 Dal 1 (Dal L)
Van 2 Dal 1
Some points to make on these stats.
- Of the four teams who managed wins, three of them ( Cal, Buf, Nas ) are hot and ought to have been expected to win.
- Six of the 13 losing teams lost games they would have normally been favored to win.
- Games marked by asterics note two teams who both played the following night. One is inevitably destined to lose.
- Of the 13 teams losing, 9 currently have .500 or better records.
- Six of the 13 losers, also lost the previous game.
I offer these stats, as the devils's advocate to the argument, to point out that winning teams win, while losing teams continue to lose - theoretically. As these figures make clear, such instances hold true only 50% of the time in back to back games. While close to 20 of the leagues 30 teams are playing what appears to be .500 hockey (thanks in no small part to points awarded for what is essentially losses), these findings would tend to suggest a good many of these losses can be found in situations of back to back games.
The NHL always rhetorics that the number of back to back games evens out per team over a seasons course. A handy spin, but that's hardly the point!
Fans want fairness in the spectacle and the outcome decided by factors having nothing to do with scheduling.
When 83% of these games are lost, the argument makes its own point.
We often decry the athlete who does not give their "all". Little do we understand that many times, giving it everything they have ends 7 minutes into the second period.
"Yes, but they are professionals, and ticket prices being what they are, they should..."
Trust me, even the most finely tuned of physical specimens have limitations. Yes, the Rocket, Gordie, and the Golden Jet were hardly ever flat. Their schedules didn't consist of 82 games either. The time frame reference doesn't hold up anymore, but we have still based our hockey ethics and values on these notions we were raised with.
The thinking must now change to allow our best to be the best on a nightly basis.
Come mid - December, I may crank out this method again, for consistencies sake. I doubt the findings will alter much.
Upon hearing Patrick Roy's induction speech into the Hockey Hall on Monday, I was disappointed and not totally surprised, that he chose to convey the majority of what he had to say in french. Disappointed, because it was an impassioned look into himself, that would unfortunately pass by those unable to understand it. Unsurprised, for Roy was never quite at ease pouring his heart out in English, and remained linked to his province, being back in Quebec City, ties to his junior hockey team and all.
An intensly proud man, Roy felt it only natural to be himself in his moment. Some would call it crass, some would term it class - not a word associated with the man often enough. In the coming years, when European and Russian born stars make their way into the Hall, we may be treated to Swedish and Slovakian interpretations, who knows?
After having heard Roy's words, I wanted to hear them again, or at least read them. That led to the idea of transcribing it if I were to get my hands on the script. I did a few searches in that regard, coming up emptyhanded, save for some bits and pieces. I'll admit, I'm a pretty lazy Internet search - If i don't find what i'm looking for in a couple of hits, I'm outta there!
I had a longshot brainwave idea that I thought stood a chance. I e-mailed the Quebec Remparts site asking if they would be able to point me to where it could be found. Using my best french grammar, I explained why I was asking for it using the language sadness angle while commending Roy's bristling career review. I doubted the chances of it working, as my french writting skills would hardly impress a native Quebecer. I've always been proud of my bilingual abilities while knowing their limitations. Like a frenchman speaking english, it is just as easy to place one word erroneously and alter the meaning of what you want to say. I knew my quest was far from a sure thing when I sent the e-mail Tuesday at noon.
Late Tuesday evening, I received a reply from a woman named Lucie Cloutier, who is in charge of the Remparts public relations. She thanked me for my kind and thoughtful words while telling me they themselves would post it on their site in a matter of days. I was a little blown away, to say the least!
Here is Roy's "discours", as they say in francais!
Ladies and Gentleman, and dear friends in hockey, good evening!
I would wish to start off by thanking the members of the selection committee for this greatest of honors. I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate fellow honorees, Dick Duff, Herb Brooks, and Harley Hotchkiss, on their induction this evening.
While it doesn't seem all that long ago I was hitting the ice for my first NHL game, I realize tonight what a long road it has been.
A road filled with challenges, hard work, and perseverance, but also filled with profound friendships, teamwork and togetherness.
It's a road lit by a passion and a thirst for winning that still burns stringly inside of me today.
My journey through the NHL, with Montreal, and then Colorado, is loaded with special memories and emotions.
My first memory goes back to when I was about 8 years old when my parents brought me to the arena for the first time. It was then, that I started believing in my dream: becoming a professional goaltender in the National Hockey League.
It was at that moment that I chose to dedicate myself entirely to it, gaining inspiration from the likes of Daniel Bouchard and Rogie Vachon, while every ounce of my heart, my guts, and my passion.
I dreamt of this league where only the best played!
I dreamt of being one of its stars and being a winner!
I dreamt of playing alongside the game's greats!
I dreamt that my talent, my inner strength, and my never ending desire to win, would rock hockey fans!
Today, when I look back, I feel very lucky to have been a part of the National Hockey League and to have played in the best possible conditions on teams such as the Canadiens and the Avalanche. I sure do remember the pain, the sacrifices, the discipline and the efforts…
But I also remember partnership, friendship, and mostly, the awesome feeling of being part of a team.
I remember that it was our thirst for winning that made wins possible. There is no sensation quite like being on a team whose mission is to go for the Stanley Cup.
Hockey taught me discipline. It also taught me to believe in my dreams, to go for it and to never give up.
Had it not been for my mother and father, who believed in me and backed and supported me in every way when I was filed with ambition...
Had it not been for my children, Jana, Frederick, and Jonathan, in addition to their mother. who enabled me with the freedom necessary to reach this day...
Had it not been for my agents, Robert Sauve and Pierre Lacroix, and their advice and guidance in my time with Montreal and then Colorado...
Had it not been for team mates, with their constant support and confidence in me...
Had it not been for opponants, who defied me to continue to surpass myself...
Had it not been for the coaches who taught me to persevere and become consistant, and who knew the ways in which to bring out the spirit which brought out the best in me...
Were it not for hockey's ardent fans who love and cherish the game...
Were it not for hockey itself, the most exciting sport in the world...
I'd never have had the joy of travelling down this cherished road, to stand here today before you, receiving this honor and these tributes on a night I will never forget.
Thanks to Adam Foote, my friend, my roomate during 8 years and probably my best English teacher. (Maybe I should have played longer!)
Thanks to Ray Bourque, who inspired, not only myself, but an entire team, to surpass themselves in our Cup win in 2001.
Thanks to Mike Keane and Pierre Turgeon, who I became great friends with.
I am very proud, and would like to make special note of the presence tonight of my sister Alexandra, and my brother Stephane.
I had often heard that I was compulsive and had a hard head. Today, with hindsight, I'd term it as empassioned and driven, a warrior who welcomed a new challenge.And doesn't a champion have to step out of line every once in a while?
I have also been credited with inventing the butterfly style of goaltending. Not true! That style existed well before. With the dogged dedication and vision of Francois Allaire, I was able to perfect and advance it.
Today, it makes me feel extremely proud to see the many up and coming goalies that will use this for future generations.
To all the younsters of today, dreaming of one day being in the NHL, I want to take this moment to urge you to believe in yourself, to persevere, make the best of yourself in pressure situations, and surpass yourselves.
Nobody will be a champion without efforts. Nobody will become a winner whitout discipline, faith and passion.
Each day, as a coach, I see talent on the ice.
Each day, I see young players who remind me of myself, who have a burning desire and a profound respect for hockey.
Tonight, I'd like you to grasp and retain one word, a word that guided and led me all down this road, each morning when I laced up my skates:
It's up to you to draw the most from the passion that encompasses you, and transform it into unforgettable experiences underlined with success, challanges, friendships, and lessons in life.
Finally, I would also like to congratulate my colleague inductees and award recipients, Herb Brooks, Dick Duff and Harley Hotchkiss.
Thank-you very much, and long live hockey!
After hearing and reading this, much of what was always misunderstood about Patrick Roy, seems alot clearer.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Holy Moly, is this guy stressed or what? Damn good thing Ray Emery came to his rescue tonight and saved his sorry ass for the time being!
I'm not sure of the time referance for this little clip, I just know Murray wasn't in this mood last season. The wall logo's still say Corel Center and not Scotia Bank Place. Not sure if that's relevant or not as certain areas still have the decade old Palladium logo's here and there. At first I assumed it was from last Saturday's Montreal game, owing to the guy wearing the bleu, blanc, rouge, Habs jacket in the background.
I'm thinking Murray would have been in the mood for a fight after that game.
As for the content of this little beauty, it's sad that it isn't more audible. I can make out most of the F-bomb peppered strip tearing despite Murray's split tongued, swallowed Indian whistle voice.
The gist of his rage seems to be that the reporter wrote that Murray could not control his players. What that is in refernce to, who knows?
The dialogue goes something like this.
Murray: "You're telling me I couldn't control my guys?'
Murray: "That's a f*ck*n' cheap shot on your part...you f*ck*n' have the right...you don't have the f*ck*in' right to f*ck*in' cut me up...I haven't done anything like this in my f*ck*n' career...it's f*ck*n' wrong...you're full of sh*t...you yappy f*ck*n' prick..I should..."
Not bad - in 19 seconds there were 7 references to intercourse, 1 to erect male genetalia, and for good measure, one term leaning towards th ereporters diet of excrement.
Tell me he's not pissed!
Somewhere owner Eugene Melnyk is going, "Heads it's Quinn, tails it's Hitchcock!"
(RC-Note: A reader has tied this clip to a Kings-Sens tilt from last December. If you check out the box score, Murray's outburst is more in context. It was a brawling game that had the effect of annoucing to the league that Ottawa would no longer be shoved around. 17 calls totalling 78 minutes were handed out to Ottawa in the 5-1 win. Hasek was pulled late in the game for fear of injury and the usual suspects (Avery, McGratton, etc) combined for 6 majors. Misconducts were parking tickets on this night! The scribe may be Jim Fox who covers the Kings. Apparently he said something on air and Murray disagreed with his claim. Ah...the good old days!)
Roy, the unquestioned star of the 2006 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction class, is the only goalie to appear in more than 1,000 games and the only one to win more than 200 games for two different franchises. He has 551 career wins to top that category and surpassed the 30-win plateau on 13 different occasions during a 19-year career with Montreal and Colorado. Read More...
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I ventured out onto a limb late last week and tended a bet to Wardo at Leafs Club. I suggested that I'd post Paul Maurice's mug under the title "God" should the Leafs beat the Habs on Saturday night. I countered that should the Leafs not win, an "Almighty" Koivu post in the same manner would be the losing price.
I figured that since both Higgins and Sundin were out of the lineup, it wouldn't make a difference - he would still go for it. I didn't pause for thought on Raycroft being out, thinking that J.F. Aubin was due a game and had a better GAA anyhow.
Still Wardo didn't bite! "No deal", he said and explained that he felt his team was weakened by the injury.
I figured it a good test of faith all along and since I made the wager knowing the Habs hottest guy was also out, I might as well be big balled about it and say a good word or two on Maurice.
Hopefully for Leafs fans and players, this ain't some kinda honeymoon thing with a new coach, but it seems that Maurice's fresh approach was just what the doctor ordered for the team. Though they have had the odd stumble, they have so far surprised overall. The Leafs seem more energenic and focused. A different hero emerges nightly while players the Leafs depend on to lead, like Sundin, Tucker, and Kaberle, regularly deliver the merchandise. I'll skip picking at what I believe may be trouble spots this time around - what would be the sense!
For now, kudos to the coach!
A reader of Leaf Club, a true original calling himself Friknguy, urged me to follow through with my thoughts of posting this anyway, and asked that I include a picture of puke!!!
So, there you have it! Not sure if it had the desired effect of reminding you of the Senators recent games or not, but WTF! For a hoot and howl check out friknguy's site, if you have a strong stomach!
Thank goodness it's not the Leafs making fans ralph, otherwise my hometown would be in for a hurl. Newly elected Mayor of Cornwall, Bob Kilger can thank son Chad for the assist in getting elected. Had the Leafs been blowing chunks lately, Bystander Bob may not have gotten the nod. Hopefully the Buds stay in the playoff hunt or else we may become known as the "Village of Puke!'
Yes, I voted for the guy, and no, I don't entirely like him. He just played out as the best of five candidates in the run, mainly due to a decade of connections made Federally as our city's MP. While BB is so politically correct when speaking, I've always found him more oily than smooth. While a Liberal MP, he virtually spent 10 years accomplishing squat. This lameduckedness was evident when he last ran for MP and was defeated two terms back. He barely campaigned figuring his "track record" shoed him in. Instead, he got the boot. This time out, he broke an autumn sweat and hammered his victory home by stricking nails into the largest election signs this city has ever seen. They literally dwarfed more modest approaches by a 3-1 margin, which was not coincidentally, his margin of victory also.
I just hope that in the coming years, when our long promised 4 pad arena gets built, it doesn't get named the Chad kilger Center or something of the like. As much as Chad is a favorite player of mine, that would totally heave projectiles!
After a lacklustre (a generous term for dreadful) game against the Leafs on Saturday, the Habs bounced back tonight against the porous (an oblique reference to sucking) Senators with a 6-3 win at a Scotia bank place filed with Canadiens fans.
Ottawa put up a decent fight for 30 minutes, giving it what I truely beleive is just about all they've got, in a pretty rugged game. Eugene Melnyk is proving himself to be the most patient of owners while this team digs itself into a November playoff crevis they will be hard pressed to crawl out of. Many still believe the Sens can still turn it around. They won't find evidence to back that claim in this game.
On the Habs side of things, the were led by solid goaltending from Cristobal Huet, especially while the Canadiens were outshot in the first period. As I see it, he is slowly wrestling the starters job away from Aebischer as contnues to resemble his last year's self more and more while string together consecutive strong performances.
Latendresse got his first two goal game while looking comfortable on the top line and Mike Komisarek was +4 while being almost dominant on the ice in both ends. In the first Komi flattened Brian McGratton face first in the glass, leaving the goon slightly dazed on the ice. While the play was not called, it clearly should have been. McGratton rose from knees after a good ten seconds passed and charged at Komisarek, all the while being held off by a linesman during a viscious struggle which earned him a ten minute misconduct.
Word of warning to the rest of the teams, referee Ian Walsh is garnering a rep as the most incompetant and inconsistant ref out there. This is the 4th time I watch him in games involving Montreal, and he is totally out of control. His calls tend to go to one side periods at a time, he hands out unsportsmanlikes way too easily, and spends the third evening his calls once games get out of reach for the team trailing. He also misses tons of stuff along the way while being completely oblivious to the leagues crackdown on obstruction fouls. I won't itemize where he has steered the Habs in certain games, but be forewarned - Ian walsh is a nightmare coming soon to a rink near you.
Back to Komisarek, following his play on McGratton he had a great PK sequence where he stripped the uninspired Alfredsson of the puck twice as the Sens captain came over the blue line, turned the play down ice with Tomas Plkanec two on one, and headed straight for Martin Gerber to redirect the feed five hole for his second shorthanded goal of the year. Quite a play - unthinkinkable that Komi would outhustle Alfie!
Comments by the Sens after the game reek of their defeatist attitude. Jason Spezza actually found positives in this game. He'd make a shrink rich with statements like, "It's not as good as we want, but at least it's getting better. If we had the answers we would definitely solve the problems."
Reminds me of that great Barenaked Ladies lyric, "If I had a million dollars, I'd be rich!"
Spezza, one of the game's deep thinkers!
The answers Jason, are intensity, commitment, and perseverance, in that order. Get some!
In Poke Checks school there is a program called "Spelling With Spezza" - it is a spelling bee type promo in which the winners get Sens tickets and meet with him post game. If she wins, I'd love to take her - just to hear her ask him "What does B-A-L-L-S spell?
It would be priceless!
Having a coach who continuously provides the bleariest of silver lining excuses in the face of embarassing defeats in the guise of protecting his players and his own incompetance, surely doesn't help. Bryan Murray had this beauty to offer on the state of his goaltending, "The guy gave up five goals and he gave us a chance to win the hockey game. That's the way I felt about it. That was as strong a game as he's played for us. He made huge stops in a couple of cases".
He should have said, "Gerber let us down big time, when it was 4-3 in the middle of the third. An NHL goalie simply does not let in a 30 foot Mike Johnson shot when the game is on the line!"
Perhaps Melnyk's biggest problem in figuring out how to disassemble this mess is where to start. Do you address the teams lack of grit and passion? A GM hellbent on finding excuses to his lame deals that have watered down the lineup? A clueless coach with no system to preach and no track record to back it up? An uninspired captain with a "Trade Me Please" sign on his back? A goaltender who winces and blinks under pressure?
Maybe Melnyk ought to own up to not doing what it would have taken to get Zdeno Chara resigned in the off season. Chara was evidently the glue that kept this team together, and the Sens screwed up big time in not identifying that fact.
As Habs D Craig Rivet said on Sunday, Chara WAS the Senators!
A final note on Ottawa. It's got to be damn annoying to play in a building where the visiting teams fans outnumber yours. It has always been my theory that Senator fans are comprised of former Leaf and Hab supporters whose allegiances have never been totally cut off. I saw proof tonight. Even Montreals hit were fervently cheered. Ouch!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
With Patrick Roy's imminant Hall Of Fame induction, many tributes have poured forth from those associated with his during the course of his extraordinary career. Former Habs coach Jacques Demers and current coach Guy Carbonneau, who remains close friends with the former netminder, had much to say in a variety of Montreal based dailies over the weekend. Guy Lafleur, a likeminded dropper of shocking declarations, weighed in with his take on Roy's Latendresse comments. Perhaps, I'll get around to that at some post down the line.
Carbonneau for his part spoke about the hour drives he and Roy took from their Ile - Bizard homes to the Forum - talking hockey all the while as students of the game. They would analize the evenings oposition, go over strategies, exchange ideas and perspectives, all the way to their dressing room stalls, seated next to each other. Carbonneau made reference to Roy's leadership and noted that as captain he passed many of the goalies thoughts and observations along to team mates. Roy felt that not being able to be captain himself would hinder his ability to get things across.
Demers stated that Roy had a profound impact upon his life and that his performances in the 1993 playoffs allowed his to savour his only Stanley Cup championship. The former coach testified to Roy's leadership abilities by stating that he had the qualities of a virtual captain. Along with players such as Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, and Vincent Damphousse, Roy assumed leadership of the team and guided it to glory.
Roy's biggest asset, Demers said, was the fact that he was never in doubt of his means. His fierce competitiveness and desire to win were second to none, his hatred of losing legendary. Roy aligned himself best with those who treated games in the same manner and motivated those less determined to follow his lead. Those who missed the message risked suffering Roy's wrath and were often pointed out before team mates. Players got in line, fearing Roy's thoughts would go so far as the papers, were he angered enough to spout his feelings.
Demers said Roy prepared himself for every game in the same way, with absolute professionalism and focus. In practices, he never stopped trying to find ways to improve himself. That, Demers noted, had a profound effect on those who were at his side.
In a relationship that was based on a mutual respect, the coach and player never had a single run-in. Upon his hire with the Canadiens, Demers immediatly identified Roy as his go-to guy, his smoothest path to victory. Demers has often dropped Roy's name in with greatsports leaders such as Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, and Wayme Gretzky, all icons who were given every inch of leverage when it came to carrying their teams to destiny.
Demers says Roy's stature among the games greats is not for him to determine. Having watched players of different era's, it remains a task to compare legend to legend.
In regard to his accrimonious parting with the Canadiens organization, Demers is still convinced that this was hardly the way Roy wished to end it. In the coaches personal opinion, he feels that Perhaps Roy had had enough of Montreal, felt the team in decline, and sought a change of scenery. These things may have weighted heavily on the goaltenders mind, during the infamous Red Wings game of December 1995.
Demers suggests that if Roy's storied exit was such a blemish on the Habs organization, there would be no plans inthe works to retire his jersey during the teams 100th anniversary in 2009.
The former coach and player sat side by side during the Habs - Leafs telecast on Saturday on RDS, while Roy fielded questions from different sources. When asked to name an all-star team of players he faced during his career, Roy responded with players motivated by the same win-at-all-costs motto he shared. In goal, Martin Brodeur, the likeliest goalie to break some of his records. On defense, two foes who also played alongside him, Raymond Bourque and Chris Chelios. He chose Lemieux over Gretzky at center, having faced him on more occasions. His choice for wingers, Cam Neely and Michel Goulet, were notorious for picking Roy apart during the playoffs especially.
Roy was asked the difference between winning at both the pro and junior levels, and whether he one day saw himself behind an NHL bench. Roy's answer caught me by surprise, but was testament to his honesty. The goalie turned owner summised that certain coaches are destined to teach youngsters and that others are more equiped to lead the pros. He suggested that his experiences are more aligned with the kids and guiding them.
As for rules in the game he'd like to see changed, Roy did not hesitate to mention the curbing of goalies handling the puck and delay of game / puck over glass catastrophy.
The banter between the parties and Roy was very friendly and reached comedic levels when Demers asked if Roy remembered what line combinations he'd slipped the coach prior to his last game before being fired in '95. When a commentator pointed that there was time for one last question, Demers asked Roy for an exact quote of what he'd told Canadiens then president Ron Corey from behind the bench. Roy, laughed heartily, and passed.
Never a dull moment with Roy, it seems.