Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Bett and Bals" The Premise

It's been a crazy day, with Mats Sundin retiring (for now) and all, but for the most part, the day was stolen by Judge Redfield T. Baum's ruling that BOTH Jim Balsillie's and the NHL's bid for the Phoenix Coyotes have been rejected. Balsillie's rejected due to the Board of Governors not approving him to buy the team and the NHL's being rejected because it was too low.

However, I would have to say that the best and most amusing result would have been if RTB were to ACCEPT BOTH bids and have Balsillie and Bettman co-exist in a sitcom like fashion. Now, how it would work is that both men would have to live in a condo in Glendale and deal with day-to-day operations of the Coyotes. Of course, this creates bedlum between the two, as they have a strong dislike for one another. Yet, to keep the peace, RTB moves to the condo upstairs thanks to a supreme court order saying he is responsible for making this partnership work since he made this wacky decision. So, you have the two millionaire owners bickering on what to do and the upstairs judge trying to keep the whole thing civil and not get them all thrown out of the condos.

I'm already sold, how about you??

But who's to play each character?? That's simple:

Darren Pang on stilts as Jim Balsillie

It makes sense. They both kind of look alike, they are both very talkative people, they are both hockey nuts. Of course, the stilts get a credit because they are what's carrying Pang and the premise for this whole thing. Granted, it'll look awkward to start off with, but he'll grow into the stilts, I promise.

Count Count as Gary Bettman

This just writes itself. I mean, they look a like, they like counting-- whether it's for the betterment for the children or if it's just the money rolling in from revenue. They are short, balding, and puppets to someone more powerful.

Dana Carvey as John McLaughlin as Judge Redfield T. Baum

When I look at composites of RTB, he seems to me like Dana Carvey in his old skits as John McLaughlin of the "McLaughlin Group", which is a political show. Of course, both are moderators of their forum, both authoritative, and both sick of all in front of them. Fantastic.

Of course, there will be pop-ins from Jerry Moyes, Jerry Reinsdorf, and the Tampa bunch of Oren Koules and Len Barrie. It has the makings of the most fantastic sitcom pertaining to hockey since "The Tournament."

Stay Tuned

EDIT: The Canadian from Canadian vs. the Yanks put some PERFECT ideas for the guest stars in all of this. Just check the comments for her take on it.

EDIT AGAIN: Also, have to give a call to Aaron from Bird Watchers Anonymous for the idea of RTB living above Bett and Bals

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fantasy Draft Flabbergastery

Evgeni Nabokov picked 1st overall. Marc Savard picked 2nd overall. John Tavares picked 5th overall.

These are things I have seen in the fantasy hockey drafts I have participated in this year. I don't think "flabbergastery" is a word, but with something like this-- it should be created as one. While these players are good by their own right, no way in hell they should be going this high. It's not like I went into a public league where there are many people who are blind who the good players are and who to avoid.

And when I'm there watching such absurdity happen before my eyes, it's makes you flustered as an owner. Of course, I'm a psychopath and it could just be me who thinks that, but you usually go in with a plan and course of action of how you're going to pick, depending on your position. You try to forecast where things are going to fall when it comes to those picks before you. Yet, when a swerve like these happen, you often have to catch yourself and rearrange everything you were thinking in terms of what you need to pick. Often, you miss top players in the pool because people forget about them because they don't get picked when you thought they would.

Same goes with positions, like goaltending, going one pick after another. You often rush your next picks to that position because you feel that if you're don't pick someone up now, you're going to be left with the back-up goalie of the minor league affiliate before you know it. Of course, depending on your draft position, you may have to do back-to-back panic picks because odds are, you won't get a chance to get a pick of the litter.

However, to avoid the panicking, you have to have the roadmap to what you're going to do into draft. Even if you are picking late in the odd number rounds, odds are you're plotting five or six picks ahead, just so you have options. With the length of time between picks, you have the time to do the research and run the quick numbers in your head.

Granted, it's late to give away pointers now, but it's just the craziness that I've seen in the past few days when it comes to my own drafts that makes me look back in hindsight and make you wonder what kind of drugs these fellow players in your league are taking and if you can get them where you live.

Best of luck in your leagues and pools. Here's hoping you weren't one of the foolish to actually pick guys way too high. And if you are....consider this your 15 minutes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Eric Fichaud

Oddly enough, this addition of the AGMs is somehow a continuation of last week's inductee, Jimmy Waite. This is another goalie from the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL who was picked in the first round, but for one reason or another-- never panned out as a starting goalie in the NHL. This week's installment of the AGM is Eric Fichaud, a memorable but forgetable goalie at it's best.

After a semi-decent season in midget AAA, Fichaud started off his major junior career with Chicoutimi during the 1992-93 season, immediately being thrown into a split starter's role with Sylvain Rodrigue, who I think is the only Latin-Quebecois in the history of the game. The next season, Fichaud was a key part in Chicoutimi's season, which saw them win the President's Cup, the QMJHL championship. Fichaud went 37-21-3, was named playoff MVP of the QMJHL, the top draft pick award, and the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy for top goalie in the Memorial Cup. With all the accolades, it was easy for the Toronto Maple Leafs to pick him 16th overall in the 1994 Entry Draft. In his final year of juniors during the 1994-95 season, Fichaud's playing time was limited as he struggled at times and had a young upstart in Marc Denis playing better than him in most cases.

Fichaud also had to deal with his first trade in the NHL without even playing a game, as his rights were traded from the Leafs to the New York Islanders for Benoit Houge and a draft pick. So, to start off his pro career, Fichaud went to the Worcester Ice Cats, the Islanders primary affiliate. He had a so-so season, going 13-15-6, but had respectable numbers of a 2.93 GAA and .913 save percentage. Thanks to some injuries and issues with Jamie McLennan and Tommy Salo, Fichaud got his chance in the show to back up Tommy Soderstrom. Fichaud appeared in 24 games that season and went 7-12-2 on a fairly bad Islanders team.

In the 1996-97 season, Fichaud was the starter for the beginning of the year, with Salo as his back-up after Soderstrom apparently got disenchanted with the team. It was a rough start for Fichaud, as he dropped nine of his first 16 starts and the play of Salo was good enough to take the starting job away from Fichaud. For the year, Fichaud finished 9-14-4 with a 3.10 GAA and .899 save percentage.

The 1997-98 season was the start of the end for Fichaud's NHL career. While Fichaud was a back-up to Salo, he got a start in December. During that, Fichaud injured his shoulder and was sidelined for seven games. Fichaud came back for six more games, but then was shelved for the season as he underwent surgery to repair the shoulder. In that season, Fichaud finished with a 3-8-3 record

That summer, Fichaud was traded twice. First, he was shipped to the Edmonton Oilers for Mike Watt, then before the season; Edmonton sent Fichaud to the Nashville Predators with Drake Berehowsky and Greg De Vries for Jim Dowd and Mikhail Shtalenkov. Fichard started out in Milwaukee of the IHL, going 5-2-1; but when he was called up to back-up Tomas Vokoun due to Mike Dunham being down to injury, Fichaud went 0-6-0 and dislocated his shoulder twice, the second time resulting in another season ending surgery.

The summer of '99 saw Fichaud recovering again and getting traded again, this time from Nashville to Carolina for a third-round pick. Fichaud was the back-up to workhorse Arturs Irbe, who didn't allow Fichaud to see much time. Fichaud was 3-5-1 in the games he played, but was placed on waiver in February of 2000 and picked up by the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs then sent him down to their AHL affilate, Quebec Citadelles where he proceeded to go 4-1-1. Fichaud started the season in Quebec for the 2000-01 campaign, having a brief stint in Montreal after being called up for injuries, in which he went 0-2. In Quebec, he played .500 hockey going 19-19-2 that season. It would be the last NHL action Fichaud would see.

At the start of the 2001-02 season, Fichaud announced his retirement from pro hockey, but it was short lived. He played later on in that season with the Krefeld Penguins of the German League, then came back to North America playing for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. He was signed by the Canadiens at the start of the 2002-03 season, but played for the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Habs AHL affiliate, for that season and the next going a combined 30-18-6 in those two seasons.

At the start of the 2004-05 season, Fichaud moved to the semi-pro Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH) and played his first three seasons with Quebec RadioX and another one with St. Georges CRS Express. He is currently a free agent and it's unknown if he'll actually play once again.

There was high hopes for Fichaud when he was in juniors-- a classic butterfly goalie who could become a star player in the NHL. However, thanks to injuries, inconsistency, and horrible teams around him; Fichaud's bright career was stopped short of even blooming. Who knows what could've been for Fichaud if he could stay healthy and have support around him, but that's what happens with most careers of promising players-- always what-ifs.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Clock Strikes Midnight for Theo....For Now

Even though he had a stellar pre-season in the games he played, as well as creating a huge buzz about what could happen with him, the Calgary Flames released the right winger from his tryout contract on Friday. You can only imagine that this only came to money and needs. Even though he could put up the spark in the pre-season, the Flames didn't think he could have done it in an 82-game span.

Fleury is going to wait until Monday to speak, saying he needs time to think about what's going to happen to him in his future. The big question will probably be if he's willing to go somewhere else other than Calgary to play in the NHL. You never know if Fleury only wanted to be with the Flames because of the familiarity he has with the city, fans, and franchise. Would he get the same reception in other cities and would be feel confident to succeed in another city.

It leads me to also wonder if other clubs, who have the cap space, would be willing to take a chance on Fleury. He still has a little bit of the wheels in his favor, as well as the hands to play in the NHL; but would he be considered an asset to the other 29 teams in the league?? You can bet there's some voids in secondary scoring on some clubs and they are salivating at the chance to get someone like Fleury, who could score and would be an affordable pick-up for them. Yet, what kind of onus would he be carrying with him, considering his past-- are other GMs convinced he's cleaned up his act once and for all.

We'll have to find out Monday if there's another chance for teams out there to get a chance at Fleury, but for now-- this Cinderella chapter has closed for Fleury. The buzz created for this little guy again was amazing and the city here in Calgary seemed to welcome him back. In the end, it turned into a numbers game, as it always does with try-out players. Here's to Fleury and what he's done so far, if this is indeed the last time we see him on the ice.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Glen Burnie HC: It's Easy Being Green

Yet another installment of my fictional, but somewhat real, fantasy hockey team. Obviously, this will be more frequent throughout the season, but just bear with the randomness right now-- and if you are always looking at this blog, odds are you're used to it by now.

Another season has come and the draft in the FOHSHL is at the forefront for Glen Burnie HC. The draft that took place on Thursday, GM Scott Wasilewski focused on how to make his team, the much better and maybe win the entire division, as well as the league, for this season. It seemed that'd he be in a decent position picking 6th in the odd numbered rounds, then 9th in the even numbered rounds. Both fairly in the middle, so no extreme waits watching players tick away.

With the first pick, Wasilewski got defensive picking Mike Green with the team's first pick of the draft. Green, who blew up last season with 31 goals, 42 assists and 38 power play points for the season. Needless to say, he'll be a welcome addition to the Glen Burnie HC roster.

"Obviously, early on you have a pick of many guys, but Green really stood out in our minds as someone who would be crucial to our team as a whole," said Wasilewski. "When you can get a defenseman with those kind of numbers, it's something you have to jump on because you can't expect that all the time with guys on the blue line."

After the first round, the focus was on goaltending and scoring, with Henrik Lundqvist, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, and Olli Jokinen going rounds two through five. Defensive again for rounds six and seven with Mark Streit and Pekka Rinne being picked up next.

"Up and down, I'm happy with the way the draft went," stated Wasilewski. "One thing we were able to do was bring back the franchise player in Danny Alfredsson and the next franchise player in Brent Seabrook. Seabrook has been with us every single year he's been in the league, while Alfredsson has been in and out with this franchise since we were the Glen Burnie Hillbillies and he was the captain of our championship team in the FOHSHL back in '04. So, it's great to have both of them back in the stable."

Not only that, but Seabrook joins Patrick Sharp as returning members from last year team. Lundqvist was drafted by Glen Burnie HC, but was dealt during the season. Sharp was the last pick of the draft for Glen Burnie HC and could be considered a sleeper. Another sleeper pick for Glen Burnie HC is the pick-up of young goaltender Jonas Gustavsson as their third goaltender. See the full roster below.

From top to bottom, Glen Burnie HC looks very solid. As they have a variety of scorers and set-up men, as well as consistent goaltending and defense, it should be tough to get by the Glen Burnie HC and even if other teams can, the score will be close enough for Glen Burnie HC to still gain ground.

"It looks to be a good year for us," mentioned Wasilewski. "I think we have a good equal attack for the squad and we could very well get that spot we couldn't get last year and bring home the Lakomyj Trophy. We've reached that height before and I think we can do it again this year. Just have to stay healthy and get the good bounces we haven't gotten in the past. We need to make the playoffs and then we'll be fine."

The season for Glen Burnie HC starts October 1st taking on Halco-maniac and Son for Week One.

Gretzky Finally Put Out of Misery Behind the Bench

While he had an amazing playing career that is literally second to none, I have to agree with The Canadian from Canadian vs. The Yanks when she said on her Twitter: "I'm sorry, but I support this move. He was a great player. I'll leave it at that."

Well, I hope she doesn't mind me picking up on where she left off.

The moment that Wayne Gretzky said he wanted to be coach of the Coyotes, many people I heard will automatically giving him the Jack Adams Award for best coach, but the issue is-- you can be a great player, but you cannot teach greatness. That's just a fact. Ted Williams, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas-- great players, but terrible coaches. Gretzky is definitely going to fall into that mode.

And while his record of 143-161-24 isn't overly awful, the goals-for were progressively worse through all four seasons (246-216-214-208) and the team overall wasn't that stellar. You'd think with the name alone, the players would want to come to play for him, as well as being in Phoenix-- should have been a haven. Yet, nothing really came to be. Plus, you look at how Gretzky's personality changed when behind the bench, he became a stressed out looking fella. Just look at the header picture-- you never really saw that out of Gretzky, even when he was a player. You almost wonder how much of this was a gimmick for him to recoup the money he was losing as an ownership partner and how much he actually wanted to be a coach in the first place.

Yet, as of right now, Gretzky remains part-owner of the Coyotes, but that could change whenever Judge Redfield T. Baum makes his decision. However, Gretzky should take this as a learning experience. Like I said, very few good players make good coaches. You can make a case for Larry Bird and Joe Torre, but more often than not-- the great players can't coach greatness. Maybe with this time off, Gretzky can lick his wounds for his first failure in the game of hockey. It could be used to recharge his batteries and maybe find his smile again, as it has been lost through these years behind the bench for the Coyotes. The stresses of creating a winning team, bringing more fans in by his name alone, and dealing with the off-ice financial strife seem to have gotten to Gretzky and really broke his spirits.

Has Gretzky's allure in the hockey world been damaged by this foray into the coaching realm and failing?? Odds are it hasn't been damaged that badly, but it definitely not good for him to go out like this. Not even showing up to camp for the first two weeks and then finally stepping down, it brought about the ire of many for abandoning his team, like Allan Muir of SI and Stephen Brunt of Globe and Mail questions the difference of Gretzky and someone like Dany Heatley. For the first time in a while, Gretzky could be considered a bad guy in the hockey world. More focus on Gretzky is going to come with the documentary of Gretzky's trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles is coming out called, "A Kings Ransom" on ESPN on October 6th.

While the falling out process will be hot and heavy for the next few days, who knows what the final outcome for Gretzky will be and what he'll need to do in order fix any of sort of damage he's done to his reputation. Odds are many will be able to forgive Gretzky in time, but you can forgive and never forget. Will he coach elsewhere in the NHL?? I don't think he'll be the top candidate for any opening, but to keep him around as an ambassador is always a good thing for whatever team. Who knows if we'll see him for a single team, but you can bet that the NHL will do anything to keep his face in the hockey viewing public's eyesight just because.

Plus, if there's nothing else Wayne Gretzky has given us since he's this greatness from Bud Light and the Bubble Hockey Boys.

Bubble Boys-- Pacific Division

It's time to end this bit and we'll end it with the otherside of the continent. Huzzah.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: With the addition of Saku Koivu, it will be between Ryan Carter, Petteri Nokelainen and Andrew Ebbett for the final center spot. Ebbett seems to be the long-shot in this. Defensively, Luca Sbisa, Brett Festerling, and Brendan Mikkelson will be fighting for the sixth spot, though Sbisa could go back as an overager to the Junior ranks to get more seasoning.

DALLAS STARS: It was a rough season last year, but the Stars got a lot of new stars to fill the void, including one Jamie Benn. However, the battle will be on the blue line with Karlis Skrastins, Mark Fistric, Jeff Woywitka, and Ivan Vishnevskiy for the fifth and sixth defensemen on the team. Though, the defense could be the biggest question mark in the whole line-up, as everything is set for the most part.

LOS ANGELES KINGS: On the right hand side, Teddy Purcell will be in rough with John Zeiler on his heels, as Marc-Andre Cliche and Brayden Schenn will battle for a center spot, especially with Oscar Moller being sent down to the minors. Trevor Lewis will need a good camp in order to get Raitis Ivanans off of the roster. Of course, the battle in net will be something between the three goalies there, though Jon Quick seems to have the edge over Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Bernier.

PHOENIX COYOTES: Wow....what is there to say about this club that hasn't been debated in court already. The battle of the back-ups will be between Jason Labarbera and Al Montoya to see who will catch Ilya Bryzgalov when he falters. Daniel Winnik and Viktor Tikhonov will be fighting for the right wing spot since Radim Vrbata was added back to the roster. With the addtion of Vernon Fiddler, Kyle Turris could be pushed back to the minors unless he surprises people in camp.

SAN JOSE SHARKS: With the addition of Dany Heatley, the pressure will be on. However, that helped clear up the left wing spot. Up the middle, Scott Nichol will be fighting Logan Couture for the last center spot and both could battle Torrey Mitchell for the third line slot.

That's it. Thanks for imploring me through this gimmick and here's hoping for better things ahead on this blog. And for imploring me, I give you this:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thank You, Olie

I'd be a fool to not talk about the career of the great Olaf Kolzig, a man who was really the face of the Capitals for many years until passing the torch to Alexander Ovechkin, but I think I made my mark over a year and a couple months ago. Sure, it was a bit early, but he had a forgettable eight games with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was traded in name only to Toronto and then it was over.

Plus, he could be in the best Caps commercial that we can find on the internet:

So, I leave you with something I wrote in May of 2008 about Olie the Goalie: An Ode to Olie the Goalie

Bubble Boys-- Northwest Division

We continue on our journey as the Bubble Boys dwindle down, we go to the Northwest Division.

CALGARY FLAMES: The biggest buzz of camp is obviously Theo Fleury and whether or not he could make the Flames on a try-out. He's played well in his time during the pre-season and has survived some cuts, but will this Cinderella story come to an end?? Odds are, he'll get signed and go to Abbotsford, but if he does make it, he'll have to fight off Brandon Prust and Fredrik Sjostrom to do it. On the defensive, Adam Pardy will be in deep to make the team, especially with Steffan Kronwall and Anton Stralman on his heels.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: It'll be a three-way fight for the final two spots on defense, as Kyle Quincey, Tom Preissing, and Kyle Cumiskey will be duking it out for an everyday spot. The youth up the middle will be something to be seen, especially depending on what happens with Matt Duchene. The T.J.'s, Hensick and Galiardi, will be jockeying for scoring line time, while Ryan Stoa will be biding his time while something on the left side opens up.

EDMONTON OILERS: Oddly, this won't be about Rob Schremp, who has been on the bubble for years, but it'll be more about if M-A Pouliot will be able to crack the line-up on the bottom line, same with Ryan Potulny, including the fight with J-F Jacques and Liam Reddox on the left-hand side for the final spot.

MINNESOTA WILD: With Wade Dubielwicz being sent to Houston of the AHL, the goaltending situation will be clear with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding. The only fight will be between Derek Boogaard and Colton Gillies, though in a real fight Boogaard will destroy. Also, if Benoit Pouliot will overtake Kyle Brodziak for the final center spot for the Wild.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: With the addition of Mikael Samuelsson, the right hand side has been clogged up, with Jannik Hansen and Rick Rypien going at it for the final spot, maybe an longshot of Tanner Glass coming out of nowhere. Also, if Michael Grabner will crack the line-up over Darcy Hordichuk, on the left side. The spotlight on Cody Hodgson will also be high, as he seems to be ready to go, but could be held down just because he couldn't get a top-six spot.

We'll wrap it up tomorrow with the Pacific Division and then more gimmicks to be had in time for the season to get started up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bubble Boys-- Central Division

John B. L. Soule coined the phrase, "Go West, Young Man" and we shall with this gimmick, as we get back to the bubble players, now in the Western Conference, but still going East to West. That's why we start with the Central Division.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: While many are split on what to do with Kyle Beach, he could be challenging for the final left wing spot, just to add an antagonist to the line-up. However, will the headache of Beach's past be worth giving him a spot, regardless of how good he plays in training camp. Another match-up to look to in the later months will be between Troy Brouwer and Jack Skille, who will be trying to get into the everyday line-up when Marian Hossa comes back into the fold, especially since Adam Burish is done for six months with an ACL tear.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: While the team may be set, especially with the addition of Sami Pahlsson, the battle for the last center spot will be down to Andrew Murray and Michael Blunden, the latter performing well last year in the minors and could be doing enough to get an everyday spot. The rest of the line-up seems pretty set, though Grant Clitsome could get some time defensively with the big club, which would be fantastic for jersey sales of his.

DETROIT RED WINGS: With the departure of Marian Hossa and Mikael Samuelsson, it's finally the time for Justin Abdelkader time. Also known as "Afro Gator," Abdelkader played solidly in the playoffs for the Wings and will be the energy guy for the Wings in years to come. Newcomers Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams will be duking it out for the final spot on the left-hand side, while Jimmy Howard could be looking over his shoulder at Daniel Larsson or some other free agent for the back-up spot to Chris Osgood.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Kevin Klein could be on the hot-seat back on the blue line with Jonathan Blum, Cody Franson, and Alexander Sulzer coming up through the ranks and seem to be ready right now. Though Klein was a regular, the Preds may not be ready to hold them back. Also, I wouldn't be surprised to see Cal O'Reilly challenge Jerred Smithson for the final center slot on the everyday line-up.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: It could be time for Alex Pietrangelo to crack the line-up, which could spell curtains with Roman Polak or Mike Weaver. Of course, they have to hope Pietrangelo can stay out of harms way, unlike last season, and he should be fine. In the opening of the card, you can bet that Cam Janssen and B.J. Crombeen will be duking it out to be the enforcer for the Blues. Ben Bishop could challenge Ty Conklin for the back-up role; but it's not likely he'll be successful, even though he could be legally classified as a giant.

Next stop, Northwest Division because the next closest team is in said division. Fantastic.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jimmy Waite

This installment of the AGMs could be the first goalie we've seen that could be a first-round bust in the realm. That's because it's another case of an all-star in junior hockey not being able to pan-out, even though he was able to be good enough to push Dominik Hasek out of a job in Chicago; which can be the silver-lining and the name of his autobiography. However, Jimmy Waite made a decent back-up and decent goaltender in Europe when he went over there.

Waite's major junior career started off with a bang with Chicoutimi Sagueneens, going 23-17-3 and gaining a spot on the Canadian World Junior's team the year the Piestany brawl broke out and got Canada disqualified from the tournament. Post-season, Waite won the Raymond Lagace Award for defensive rookie of the year in the QMJHL, which upped his draft status. It upped it enough to get him picked 8th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, over the likes of Joe Sakic, John LeClair, and Theo Fleury. Waite was going to be the man who took over for Darren Pang and Bob Mason after another year in juniors. However, it was going to get a lot more jumbled.

Back in junior for the 1987-88 season, Waite had a overall slip-up going 17-16-1 in 36 games, but was able to ganner a gold medal in the World Junior Championship in Moscow over the Soviet Union, plus winning the top goalie of the tournament after all was said and done. Though his season was a little sloppy, everything was looking like Waite was ready to take over the reigns in the Blackhawks organization.

That got off to a rocky start in his rookie year, as Waite got lit up, going 0-7-1 in 11 games and then broke his collarbone in December, which put him out for the rest of the season. It was a craptastic year for the Blackhawks goalie-by-committee they had going with Waite, Pang, Alain Chevrier, and another rookie by the name of Ed Belfour. Waite got back into the swing of things with the IHL Saginaw Hawks when he was recovered, going 3-1-1 and priming himself for a solid year in the next season.

The next season, 1989-90, saw Jimmy Waite get the starting role.....but in the IHL with the Indianapolis Ice, with Chevrier, Jacques Cloutier, and Greg Millen taking the role in Chicago, while Ed Belfour was playing with the Canadian National Team for the year; coming back for the playoffs. Waite went 34-14-4 with a 2.53 GAA for the impressive season, but in his limited time with the Hawks (four games), he went 2-0. In 1990-91, Waite was still in Indianapolis (26-18-4, mind you) while Belfour had his break-out season for the Hawks, leaving the former first round pick fighting to stay in the system. It was a clog in the pipes with Belfour, Millen, Waite, Dominik Hasek, and Cloutier in the system with something to give.

While Waite was able to get past the clog in order to get to the '91-'92 season, it was still unknown how well he's be able to play and if he'd stay up in the organization. The season started off well enough with Waite getting a good amount of starts, going 3-1-1 in his first five, but the wheels fell off as Waite went 1-6-3 the rest of the way and was sent down by January of 1992. In the minors, Waite bounced between Indianapolis and Hershey Bears of the AHL. Waite didn't fair much better going 4-7-1 in Indianapolis, but did better in Hershey with a 6-4-1 record there. Luckily for Waite, after the smoke cleared in the 1992 Cup Run for the Hawks, Waite was left with Belfour as the only two goalies in Chicago. It would be Waite's last horrah in Chicago, as he faltered again going 6-7-1 during his 20 game stint, but it wouldn't be enough for the Hawks to keep him, as they traded Waite to the Sharks in the summer of '93.

It was quite the unimpressive stint along the Bay Area for Waite, as he only played 15 games behind Arturs Irbe going an unspectacular 3-7-1 during that time. The next season was, of course, the lockout for half the season and as things got rolling again, the Sharks traded Waite back to the Windy City for a conditional pick. Waite went onto play with the Indianapolis for four games, then appeared twice for the Hawks; but the Hawks picked up Jeff Hackett, which put Waite as the odd-man out. In '95-'96, Waite was back in Indianapolis posting a 28-18-6 for the season and spending only 31 minutes in net for the Hawks that season. Same went for the next season, with Waite spending the weight in Indianapolis (22-15-4), but played two games with the big club going 0-1-1.

During the waiver draft, the Phoenix Coytoes were the ones who picked up Waite in order to help out Nikolai Khabibulin out for the year. In 17 games that season, Waite carried his slack with a 5-6-1 record in the 1997-98 season. The '98-'99 season has Waite getting some starts here and there, but a bruised thumb and hand during the season pushed him to the minors with the Utah Grizzlies of the IHL and Springfield Falcons of the AHL, along with Phoenix. Waite went 6-5-4 in Phoenix, 3-4-1 in Springfield, and 6-3-2 in Utah.

The summer of '99 saw Waite get picked up by the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent, but Waite didn't see any more time in the NHL. Waite was placed in St. John's in the AHL and didn't impress much, putting up a 20-37-4 record in the 1999-2000 season and a 12-25-4 record in the 2000-01 season. With waining interest and waining stats, it would be the last time that Waite would play regularly in North America.

After that season, Waite signed on in Germany spending his first two years with the Essen Mosquitos and Iserholn Roosters, but has spend the last six seasons with the Ingolstadt ERC Panthers of the German Elite League. Waite has flourished in Germany with three straight awards for most outstanding goalkeeper from 2004 to 2006. However, Waite is still looking for a team, as he is now a free agent after a couple of subpar seasons record wise.

It was a lot of trials and tribulation for Waite, but he found his sweet spot playing in the minor and Europe, which can be the silver lining after not doing too well in the NHL where he was being built up to be the next big thing for the club. Granted, he wasn't the first player to be touted as that and won't be the last. Even though he's 40, here's hoping he'll be able to catch on with another club, as he seems to be able to play at a solid rate at his age.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kessel Runs to Truculence World Order

Another week down and another saga is put to rest. Phil Kessel was sent to Toronto from Boston for a first and second round pick in 2010 and a first round pick in 2011. Kessel then signed a five-year, $27M deal with the Leafs. Thus ends the longest speculation this week.

Now, Kessel was pretty much bumped out of the Boston roster with their spending this off-season, but doesn't mean he wasn't a valuable asset. Even though he's not available until November due to rotator cuff surgery, Kessel is going to add to the amount of young talent the Leafs have stacked up on their roster right now. At 21, Kessel will probably be the focal point on an otherwise lacking Leafs offense.

However, you have to wonder if Kessel will be able to carry the work load of an entire offense right now. While he did pretty well in Boston, he had plenty of help around him. And while on the surface, the Leafs have improved for the short-term in the pre-season, who knows what's going to happen when there's actually competition on the ice playing at top-form. Of course, this is also pending on how he's going to do coming off the shoulder surgery; though his youth could definitely help him in the healing process.

But it comes back to who's going to be dishing him the puck. Kessel undoubtedly benefited from Marc Savard being his centre, but who's going to be the key guy to pass Kessel the puck and give him all the chances to score?? Will Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Blake be capable enough to give Kessel the puck enough for him to be effective in the role?? Obviously there's people smarter on the topic than I am, like those folks at Pension Plan Puppets, who will definitely give you a great fan perspective of the whole thing-- good and bad.

Until then, I have to say that Brian Burke does it again. With the youth movement already via free agency and all, he could give up the picks and get some rostered talent in return. Who knows what those picks could turn out to be, but as it stands right now-- Burkie continues to be one of the smartest men in hockey today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bubble Boys-- Southeast Division

It's been a wild ride in the East for the Bubble Boys extrava-Danza, but the Southeast Division will close us out for the East. If I had something more clever, I'd be a better writer.

ATLANTA THRASHERS: Major knee surgery will hinder the emergence of Angelo Esposito at the start of the season, but some in the Thrashers brass hope that the young center can get healed up enough to contribute mid-season and beyond. It shouldn't be hard for Esposito, since Atlanta is a little weak up the middle and could use any help they could get, I'm sure. Also, Noah Welch will be battling with Joel Kwiatkowski and Anssi Salmela for the sixth and seventh spot in the defensive rotation. The defense will be a big question, especially with the departure of Garent Exelby.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: The last spot on the left side will be determined by two former WHL stars, Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman, both of which have the ability to move up in the line-up, should they prove they are good enough, even though they'll be in tough with Staal and Cole already top two on the left hand side. Brandon Sutter will challenge for the fourth center role, but all three would have gotten better looks if they were on the right hand side. Defensively, the top-6 seems set up now, but Tim Conboy, Anton Babchuk, Bryan Rodney, and Brett Carson will be scratching and clawing to try and crack the everyday line-up or at least get the bus pass back and forth.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: With the departure of Jay Bouwmeester, the defense will be looking for someone to step up and there's where the most bubble aspects are. Two prospects of Keaton Ellerby and recent draft pick Dmitry Kulikov could make a huge push for the Panthers roster, though Kulikov could be sent back to juniors, in order to give him just a bit more experience. Elsewhere, it seems to be really solidified, though the battle between Michal Repik and Kenndal McArdle on who's going to be next in line for the open left wing spot, a spot that seems status quo for the league.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: There's a logjam on the blue-line where there wasn't one last year. However, the bulk of defensive influx will create a big competition. While odds are Victor Hedman will get a spot, but who will be bump?? Will it be David Hale, Matt Walker, Lukas Krajicek, or Kurtis Foster?? Do they now have too many defensemen to go with their absurd amount of forwards?? Forwards, Martins Karsums and Brandon Bochenski will be fighting on the left side, with Steve Downie going against Paul Szczechura and Lauri Tukonen for a position on the right side for a final spot.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: There's plenty of questions abound with the Caps, especially with Karl Alzner and John Carlson waiting in the wings for the defense, maybe bumping Jeff Schultz and John Erskine for their spots from last year. Up front, the acquisition of some free agents have the likes of Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley jockeying for position on the right hand side, Dave Steckel and Keith Aucoin fighting it out for the center spot, while the left side will see Quentin Laing, Oskar Osala, and Chris Bourque going for the final spot there. Not to mention what's going to happen with the goaltending situation with Jose Theodore, Seymon Varlamov, and Michal Neuvirth battling for those two positions. This team is a case of too much talent and not enough spots, which is good and bad at the same time.

That's what's up with the East and starting next week, we're going to be hitting up the Western Conference, which should be just as relevant for most folks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bubble Boys-- Atlantic Division

After part-one, we have to go to part-two....mostly because it's the natural lead of progression from one part to another part. Simplicity, folks.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: There's a couple of people who will be on the bubble in the new-old Jacques Lemaire run team. First, which of either Ben Walter or Tim Sestito will be in the fourth center role. The feeling of Walter taking the spot due to his solid production in Bridgeport last season, but Sestito's grit could put him over in that role as a energy line center. Another question is where could Cory Murphy fit into the defensive scheme, if at all. It seems that the defense is settled in where they are at right now, but signing Murphy is a little suspisicious considering they have a solid line-up as it is for the blue line.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Well-- plenty to say about the Isles, but one of the bubble guys is only there due to happenstance, Martin Biron. Biron is obviously insurance for Rick DiPietro and Dwayne Roloson, but if Biron outplays the latter, what could the Isles do with him-- parlay it into a decent deal for a skater, keep him for the insurance, or try and deal one of the other netminders?? Also, look for a battle between Jesse Joensuu and Tim Jackman for that final right wing spot, as Joensuu has plenty to prove and could turn it up a notch during camp in order to put the heat on Jackman.

NEW YORK RANGERS: A lot of the bubble stuff will depend on what happens with Brandon Dubinsky and his contract. This will put Brian Boyle, Tyler Arnason, and even younger Brodie Dupont in the running for a couple of center jobs. Dupont could sneak in, as his play in Hartford would be a determining factor, as it's within the family. Plus, Dupont has all the tools to be a multi-purpose player for the Rangers. Many would wonder how Matt Gilroy could fit in, but this pre-season is showing he's ready to take the next step and should work out well for the Rangers.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: With James van Riemsdyk coming into the fold now, he's going to be under the microscope and it will be his spot to lose in training camp. He's impressed somewhat so far, so odds are he will have the spot; barring something crazy happening. The one thing for van Riemsdyk is whether he'd be willing to go to his off-wing in order to get a better position, considering that the right side is a lot weaker than the left side in the top-6.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Oddly enough, the Stanley Cup champs don't have much of an issue for bubble players. They lost a couple defensemen, but gained Jay McKee in the process, which is a solid trade off. Though a fight could be between Alex Goligoski and Ben Lovejoy for the sixth spot, though Goligoski would win out seeing as how he's been up on the roster last season.

We'll finish our east coast tour with the Southeast Division tomorrow because that's how we role with things on TSOoA-- only features. All killer, no filler. That's a lie-- which is why we have AGM on Mondays.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bubble Boys-- Northeast Division

While it may not be a debate about the Moors vs. Moops or a terrible movie with Jake Gyllenhaal, but it's a reality for some players when it comes to the training camps. This will be a six-pack series when it comes to some players who are on the cusp of breaking a full-time spot on the main roster and are "on the bubble", hence the name. Starting out from the East to West, we start out with the Northeast Division.

BOSTON BRUINS: The right side could be the big story developing in the Bruins line-up. While the question of whether or not the Bruins will have the ability to bring Phil Kessel back onto the roster is prevalent, but another battle will be between whether or not either Byron Bitz and/or Brad Marchand could make the squad. A lot of heat on Bitz last season with his gritty play could land him on the 3rd or 4th line duty, but Marchand's future this season could depend on what happens with Kessel. Marchand's first pro season was pretty solid, with 41 assists in 79 games, with 15 points in 16 playoff games, ranking third and second in team points respectively. If Kessel isn't brought back, Marchand could reap the benefits.

BUFFALO SABRES: The long and the short of it will be the guys to look at in Buffalo. First, you have Nathan Gerbe, who is a going to be in tough on the left side of the Sabres roster. While had a decent first season in professional hockey, scoring on almost a point-per-game clip in Portland of the AHL, he got brought up for 10 games and played respectable in those, only registering one assist. While his 5'5 stature could work against him, one good camp could get him a spot. On the back-end and taller end, the 6'7 monster on the blue line Tyler Myers could get his rookie year off big if he can crack the top-six, which isn't outside of the realm of possibility. His physical presense and hockey sense could be working in his favor.

MONTREAL CANADIENS: It's been a long-time coming, but the lack of total depth on the right side could bring Mathieu Darche some luck. While Darche is somewhat accomplished in the minors, he's never really hit paydirt in the NHL. While Darche has the size and skill, can the execution come along with it. Also, some wonder if Yannick Weber can crack the Habs line-up over the stacked back-end they have already. Weber contributed two points in four playoff games for the Habs, but his size could be his downfall for this year.

OTTAWA SENATORS: There's plenty of questions with the Senators, let's be honest here-- but a couple interesting notes will be whether or not Erik Karlsson will be able to get into the line-up for the defense and what will become of Brian Lee if Karlsson does crack the roster. Also, whether or not Ilya Zubov can get into the line-up and actually do something to bring some secondary scoring for not only the team, but for himself. Zubov's hot streak could spark a fire under Chris Kelly or Jesse Winchester to actually play to a higher level and stop slacking.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: There's a lot defensemen in the Leafs' orchard (HA!! Arboritum joke) right now, which will make you wonder how they'll be able to deal with eight solid defensemen with six spots available. You have to figure Mike Van Ryn is going to be on the outside looking in, but what will happen with Garnet Exelby. Maybe Exelby will be switch back and forth with Jeff Finger for that sixth defender on a nightly basis and wondering which one will be dealt first. Plus, with Jiri Tlusty's season for the Marlies' last year, if Brian Burke will be put onto the main roster for a full-season or if he'll be put to the side for more seasoning. Also, where Rickard Wallin will fit into the forward scheme and if he can adapt smoothly to the North American game.

Next Bubble Boys edition will be cruising down to the Atlantic, so get ready for that next time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Darcy Wakaluk

For the past AGMs, I've gone into detail about goalies who had a decent amount of "heat" with them when they were in juniors, but some how had that cooled by the time they reached the pros. Not the case with our next installment, Darcy Wakaluk. He gained speed once he got to the pros, but could have been so much more. There are plenty of memorable moments for Wakaluk though.

The start to Wakaluk's junior career was a big flop, as he went 2-22-0 for the Kelowna Wings of the WHL. And while firewagon hockey was the norm for the early 80's, Wakaluk's 6.29 GAA was something more than the usual GAA. Though, to be honest-- the team only had 15 wins all-season, which more is a reflection on the team that season. However, his performance was enough to get him drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 7th round of the 1984 Draft. The next season, 1984-85, was no better, as Wakaluk got the starting position. That season, he went 19-30-4, but lowered his GAA to 4.73. After that season, Wakaluk was moved to Spokane to be with the Chiefs in their first season in the WHL. Again, his record improved going 21-22-1, but his GAA went up to 5.25, but it would be his last year in junior and really a lithmus test to see how he'd do in the pros.

Once he moved to the pros, Wakaluk grew into his own. He started in the IHL with the Flint Spirit, but sadly-- HockeyDB doesn't have stats for his nine games there in '86-'87. So we move to Wakaluk's first season with the Rochester Americans, which was a split from Flint during '86-'87 and saw Wakaluk go 2-2-0 with a 2.86 GAA in 11 games played. Not to shabby, but during the '87-'88 season is when Wakaluk got noticed. During that season, Wakaluk got starting duties over Daren Puppa and shined that season, posting a 27-16-3 season, though his GAA was a big larger at 3.45, mostly do to seeing more minutes than the previous season. That season also gave Wakaluk a milestone for an AHL goalie.

On December 6th, 1987 while playing the Utica Devils, Wakaluk became the first goalie in the AHL to actually physically score on an empty-net. While we all know Michel Plasse was the first ever goalie in the modern era when he played for the Kansas City Blues, that was in the Central League. Two days after Wakaluk's feat, Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers was the first NHL goalie to shoot on goal and score.

After that season, Wakaluk split time between the Americans and big club in the Sabres to mixed reviews. He did alright for himself, going .500 at 10-10-3 with a GAA of 2.99 in Rochester, while when called upon in Buffalo, he posted a 4-5-3 record. Little did he know it would be his last forte in the Buffalo organization, as he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars for an 8th round pick.

After a stint in Kalamazoo in the IHL for a game, Wakaluk was put into the back-up role behind the incumbent Jon Casey in net. That first season, the 1991-92 campaign, gave Wakaluk the most game action he's seen in his short NHL career playing in 36 games going 13-19-1. In '92-'93, Wakaluk saw a little less time, but played adequate behind Casey putting up a 10-12-3 record. When the team moved from Minnesota to Dallas, Wakaluk put up his best NHL season, wins wise, in '93-'94 with an 18-9-6 record with a stellar 2.64 GAA and .910 save percentage in his 36 appearances. It allowed him to get more time behind starter Andy Moog, however it would be the end of his good luck with Dallas. The lockout-shortened season in 1995 saw Wakaluk slip a bit going 4-8-0 in 15 appearances, while his last year with the club in '95-'96 had Wakaluk go 9-16-5 and made Wakaluk expendable from the Stars, especially with the likes of Manny Fernandez, Roman Turek, and the acquisition of Arturs Irbe forcing Wakaluk to free agency.

Wakaluk landed on his feet, however, when he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, another team that relocated from their original space. However, Wakaluk didn't see much time with workhorse Nikolai Khabibulin getting a vast majority of the starts and game time. Though he only got 16 appearances, Wakaluk went 8-3-1 with a 2.99 GAA; very respectable for a goalie who wasn't getting much time between the pipes. Little did we know then, that it would be Wakaluk's last season between the pipes, as he faded out into retirement.

It didn't take long before Wakaluk landed some coaching gigs, first as a goalie coach in the WHL for the Kamloops Blazers, then as an assistant in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, then onto spots back in the WHL, including an assistant coach position for the Vancouver Giants for a season; but since the 2004-05 season, Wakaluk has been the goalie coach for the Calgary Hitmen, dealing with such talent as Justin Pogge and young up-and-coming Kings goalie, Martin Jones.

Wakaluk has been through plenty of ups and downs in his career and has gone through a lot of situations, but he always stood his ground and found a way to make something good of the worse situations, so it would seem. Now, he's passing along his trade to young goalies and seems to be succeeding to an extent. Good on you, Darcy-- and best of luck in the future.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Heatley Gone From Ottawa, Finally

After months and months of bickering, bitterness, and speculation, the Dany Heatley saga is finally over, as the left winger was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks, a team said to be the destination for Heatley for the longest time. In return, the Senators get right winger Jonathan Cheechoo, left winger Milan Michalek, and a second round pick. The Sharks also obtain a 5th rounder.

Citing unhappiness in his role with the team, something disputed by everyone within ear shot, Heatley had asked GM Bryan Murray for a trade in May, for which the news got out and started to spread like wildfire after the playoffs had ended. It was hard to move Heatley, as he had a no-movement clause in his contract. A clause that had twice nixed a deal the Senators had with the Edmonton Oilers.

For the Senators, they get two solid forward, but two that can be very streaky at time. Cheechoo has the ability to be a big points guy, but needs the right chemistry to do so. Especially considering how flooded the right side is for the Sens, with Alex Kovalev and Daniel Alfredsson ahead of the pecking order, he'll have to adjust his game to more of a shut-down role if called upon. With Michalek, he's a solid winger on the left side with three straight 20+ goal seasons and a solid plus/minus rating of +47 in that time, as well. He'll probably be up for the top slot on the left side, which could see a bigger output in his production.

As for the Sharks-- they better hope that Heatley doesn't add to their playoff heartache they've been accustom to. However, Heatley does add another scoring option for an offensively sound line-up. With Joe Thornton as his center, you can believe he'll be somewhat revitalized and get plenty of chance to get back to his 50-goal form from a few seasons ago. Plus, odds are he may get the same amount of ice time he's looking for, though the Sharks are somewhat deep in all positions, so you wonder if this will pose a problem at all should he slump and lose some ice time.

Whatever way you slice it or dice it, the fact is this drama is over. For all the speculation, hearsay, and everything but the kitchen sink; the deal is done and the final destination is where many people thought. Even with Bryan Murray and Doug Wilson denying, they knew that it would come down between them to get a deal done. Also, you have to wonder how seething Murray is and if we would need a rain-slicker to get through his rage. I mean, Murray lost out on valuable free agent time because of not getting a deal done sooner, he missed out on resigning someone like Mike Comrie, who could have given some spark between the second and third lines. I guess it's hindsight now, but Murray must be hoping ownership gives him a mulligan on this off-season in hopes of keeping his job on a possible disappointing season.

Now, Sens fans can move on with their lives for now and get ready for the new season. The only time they'll see Heatley is if the two teams meet in the Cup Finals, a match-up that doesn't seem likely if recent history has shown us anything.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Glen Burnie HC: Looking For That One Spot More

(As many of you know, Glen Burnie HC is my longstanding fantasy team. Also, as many of you know, I love making up fictional pieces because I feel it's much better than most parts of my reality, as well as allowing me freedom to let my mind wonder and go with it. If I only could kick this ADHD, I'd be more accomplished. Also, I have a minor-league team in most other leagues under the Aston HC banner-- but they stink so I don't talk about them. Anyway-- these will be going up throughout the fantasy hockey season of the FOHSHL, so enjoy.....or not.)

Walking through the concourse and up the stairs in the Mello Yello Center, Glen Burnie HC General Manager and Head Coach Scott Wasilewski stopped and turned to look at the ice surface and wondering what could have been. They had come a long way in last years FOHSHL and almost got to their goal, but sadly couldn't add to their championship banners.

As the last seeded team in the playoffs, many thought that the team affectionedly called "The Troubled Bunch" wouldn't last a week in the playoffs, but they soldiered on. With nothing to lose, Glen Burnie HC went all out and got out of the first round, taking out the third ranked RedWhitenRed 7-5, which put them against the 2nd ranked team in LizardInsid'er, a daunting task, but GBHC took them in the regular season. The Bunch was on and they took out the LizardInsid'er easily 7-3. However, that's where the luck ran out, as the Jesmond Jesters took out Glen Burnie HC 7-4; winning the Hirsch Division and ending the run for the upstart GBHC.

"There's a lot of to take from the season," Wasilewski stated while sitting in the upper deck of the empty arena. "A lot more good than bad, of course. I think that there's plenty we could improve upon in terms of who's on our roster-- which, of course, is my duty on this team; build up and guide this team through personnel changes. We'll just have to see what's out there this year, right?? That's all you can do."

As the division forms ups, Glen Burnie HC will have to face some new foes and foes they've known for a long time. While the mix of new and old are a solid thing for most leagues, the fact everyone has to start from scratch is something where it doesn't matter who you're facing because it's a new, fresh start to the season.

"I think that's the beauty of it all," mentioned Wasilewski, "It's something where you could have the worst team ever one year, but win the whole thing next season. It's fantastic and really adds a good parity dynamic to the entire thing. I love it."

Whether or not this season will yield another banner to the rafters of the Mello Yello Center, but it's going to be about consistency all season. While one bad week can't sink you for the season, a losing streak at the wrong time, or not being able to gather up enough points in a win, could be the one thing that pushes you out of a playoff position.

"It's a fine line, a very fine line, that you have to walk in this game," Wasilewski stated. "It's something that we have to make sure that if we win, it's by a lot or if we lose, it's at least close. We won't go undefeated, but we have to make sure we keep things close if all else fails. We also have to worry about the Olympic break as well-- so it should be something to look forward to and take notice....or not, either way."

His light-hearted demeanor off the ice, coupled with his killer instinct demeanor behind the bench and in the office, Wasilewski will be looking for fifth banner in the rafters of the MYC when the 2009-10 season of the FOHSHL closes out in April. If the past is any indication, his chances are better than most would think.

How Much of a Risk is Buccigross Taking??

By now, many people know that ESPN's John Buccigross is putting his neck out on the line saying that Dany Heatley will be dealt soon and even after people have debunked this rumor, he is standing by. Greg Wyshynski has the basic premise of this story and Bucci's determination to stand by the story over at Puck Daddy.

While people are getting their kicks bashing this report, the thing with Buccigross is here is that if this is wrong, he may lose the trust from NHL fans due to it. Buccigross is probably one of the top hockey personalities and fans love him. Having dealt with him in the past on FOHS, he's a great guy-- funny, insightful, and never one to mince words. My fear is that if he's sticking to this story gung-ho and gets it wrong; some people may turn on him and he may lose creditability, like others have in reporting a story from "sources" that go nowhere. We all know who I'm alluding to, so I don't have to really go into it at nauseum.

And if Bucci's sources lead him wrong and they make an ass out of him, how could he personally recover from that?? Will he actually lose more than creditability because of it?? Not saying ESPN will can him or anything like that, but how can you trust a guy who is being led in the wrong direction from trusted sources, sources who are passing on confidential material, as well. It could be a while for people to take him seriously again if he claims to have a story or some kind of inside insight to one thing or another. It could make people turn on him and may make his appeal go downward. Albeit, I don't know how likely it is, but this is all worse-case scenario stuff right now, just to show the doomsday issue at hand.

Of course, if this does go down like he said it would-- then he can throw it in the face of the doubters he had out there. I would like that to be the best scenario because I like Bucci and I think he's good for hockey fans in the States. However, claiming something like this and having it blow up in your face, if that is the case in this situation, could be more damning than not reporting it at all and not following the lead. It begs the question is it better to run with a story that may not have legs and has been falsely reported before, or to keep it quiet and lose out on the scoop that actually had the right outcome to it??

The thing you have to hand to Buccigross in all of this is sticking by the story, even after people in the thick of the situation have crapped all over you about it. He's holding true by what he saw and not going to let anyone else try to sway him differently. If nothing else, he's going to be the captain going down with the ship if he's wrong. If he's correct-- he can basically run the hockey rumor gestapo because Bucci's got the hook-ups.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The CHL Edge is Here

Today, the entire CHL rolled out their Edge jersey designs. I'll go league by league and you can take a look for yourself at the links attached, which will pop up so you could follow along.

WESTERN LEAGUE: While you have some teams that went through the templated designed (like the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Kootenay Ice), the fact remains that some teams actually stuck to their old jerseys, with maybe some piping here and there. The Everett Silvertips kept their forest design at the bottom, while the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Spokane Chiefs, Medicine Hat Tigers, and others kept their trademark look. The Kelowna Rockets stylized their look a bit, but kept rocking the Ogopogo with fantasticness.

The big leap could be the Calgary Hitmen, who will use just a black mask for their white jerseys and, while they keep sort of a template design, they have the team colors on part of the sleeve on each of their jerseys. It looks pretty fancy and pulls off well.

Best Look: Kelowna Rockets-- I have a soft spot for the red, teal, black, and copper look. And they didn't stray away from much of the original design.

Worst Look: Brandon Wheat Kings-- something about their jerseys are much too plain and look like a practice jersey. They could have done much more.

ONTARIO LEAGUE: In this instance, there's some spot of template designs, but it seems that some teams are willing to take some risks. Some took a little much, like Mississauga and the piping and name at the hem; and some took just right like the barbershop design on Ottawa's sleeves. The Brampton Battalion were able to keep their insignias on their sleeves, as well.

London and Kingston both went to retro designs from the 70s, I believe-- though I think Kingston's looks classier than London's, but that's because I hate the Stars design.

Best Look: Ottawa 67's-- something about the barberpole speaks to me, and I enjoy that they were able to do it so classily....though that's not a word.

Worst Look: Mississauga St. Michael's Majors-- The big "M" on it, along with the team name on the hem on the homes and city name on the aways; not to mention the piping-- it's just a jumbled mess.

QUEBEC LEAGUE: The Q could be the template capital of the world. There's too many jerseys that look the same, just paint-by-numbers attached-- it's horrific. Some teams like Rouyn-Noranda Huskies' gradients, the Gatineau Olympiques' bright orange jerseys, or Chicoutimi Saqueneens' shoulder-poles think outside the box to a point. Overall, there's nothing that's breaking too much away from the pack.

Again, some teams stuck to their guns with their old designs like Montreal Juniors and Quebec Remparts; but it just seems like a complete dulls-ville for the Quebec League.

Best Look: Cape Breton Screaming Eagles-- they don't have a template gig, plus they are going with classic colors of black and yellow in sort of a Bruins motif, but lighter on the yellow. Classy look for them.

Worst Look: Montreal Juniors-- with the college number system and too plain design, all they needed was unnecessary piping for me to hate them to death.


So that's that-- the unveiling was nice, not too many leaks out there on the open market and in general, aside from the QMJHL, I'm pleased with what many teams were able to do with the perimeters. They were able to make or keep their old identity without blending in with other teams out there in the league.

Thoughts, ideas?? Leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Twitter Season Previews

You can read any season preview out there for the in-depth analysis and what each team could do, how they'll do it, and what they need to do in order to get there-- but as you know and as I've stated-- I'm lazy and a hack. So, what better way to do that than to use the newest new media craze and apply it to season previews. That's right, I'll sum up each teams season preview in 140 characters or less in these Twitter previews. Thanks to the help of TweetDeck, I'll make sure it's just right, team name excluded. And if you so please, you can follow me on the Twitter by clicking here.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: Hiller and Giguere will need to be their best with Pronger gone. Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry will get assistance from Koivu up-front

ATLANTA THRASHERS: Everyone will need to be in top-form if they want to keep Kovalchuk beyond this year. I'm looking at you Kari Lehtonen.

BOSTON BRUINS: If Thomas and Chara and keep on top of their award winning best, odds are the Bruins will be playing in June with or without Kessel

BUFFALO SABRES: Vanek was a big time player and, along with Miller, will have to keep on top of their games in order to get into the second season.

CALGARY FLAMES: Another Sutter behind the bench could mean success, but heat is on the defense to play better. Iggy, Olli, and Kipper can't do it all.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: Needing to prove last year was no fluke, Staal and Ward need to avoid long droughts for success team-wide.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Off-season issues will be haunting, but maturity will be shown on the ice to make up for it. It's also all on Huet now to shine.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: First full season without Sakic, the young guns will step up. It's Stastny team, while Duchene may be a year away from prime-time.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Mason and Nash must continue to be the prime attractions, as the Jackets try to build off their 1st, though short, playoff stint last year.

DALLAS STARS: If Turco and Richards can rebound, as well as support from others; the Stars can be back in the NHL's elite again.

DETROIT RED WINGS: While the core still remains from last season, but question of which Osgood will show up will always be present.

EDMONTON OILERS: New coaches, new goalie, but the questions remain of how much offense will show up with the brand new systems in place.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: Loss of J-Bouw will hurt a bit, but the young crop of forwards and steady Vokoun should be able to make up for his departure.

LOS ANGELES KINGS: A team that seems to be on the cusp of something great, but will still need seasoning together before the good things can happen.

MINNESOTA WILD: Starting from scratch without Lemaire and Gaborik, Backstrom will be the keystone in the new outlook for the Wild.

MONTREAL CANADIENS: Off-season spree may or may not pay off, but it's up to Price to stay rock steady and give his teammate a chance.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: It'll be a dog-fight to see if Rinne or Ellis will be the main guy in goal, but a healthy Arnott will help them get back into the playoffs.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Lemaire is back, Brodeur seems healthy; but little to no scoring will make the trap system inevitable.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Tavares's addition may help garner attention, but carousel of goalies will be the real story for this once great franchise.

NEW YORK RANGERS: First full year for Tortorella could bring changes, but Lundqvist's big play will remain the story in the Big (Spending) Apple.

OTTAWA SENATORS: All the Heatley drama will continue to play out, which could take the pressure off Leclaire's play, especially coming back from injury.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: With Pronger and Emery in the fold, the Flyers will win the physical game if nothing else.

PHOENIX COYOTES: Will they stay or will they go?? The off-ice drama will trump anything Gretzky and the boys do on the ice.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: The Cup champs better hope for little to no hangover, but they have the talent to carry them back to the Finals for a third time.

SAN JOSE SHARKS: No team has more to prove than the Sharks. Nabokov, Thornton, and (especially) Marleau will need to be in top form to silence the doubters.

ST. LOUIS BLUES: Another team that is on the cusp, but a healthy Erik Johnson will help continue the Blues road to redemption.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Even with their circus, Tanguay should be able to boost Lecavalier and St. Louis. Goalies still sketchy as hell.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Burke will keep the show lively, even if the on-ice product is somewhat lacking. Gustavsson and Schenn will be the key players.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: With Luongo and the Sedins locked up, plus tons of defense; the question is will this game-plan pay off in the end.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Ovechkin will be back again, but Knuble's addition will help out plenty. Theodore and Varlamov will be neck-and-neck for playing time.

There you have it. All thirty-teams, Wazz's season preview-- all in Twitter formation. It's my lazy way to get my two-cents in before training camp gets into full bloom. Enjoy it, don't enjoy it-- I told you I was a hack, so you can't say you weren't warned.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Absurd Goalie Monday: Pokey and The Bandit

For the picture alone, I expect hits out the wazoo (heh), but for the Burt Reynolds reference on the picture; I expect nothing less than legends status. However, even though these fine pre-Bob Essensa Winnipeg Jets netminders look like they would have nothing in common, their careers are more parallel than many people may think. And while the "Pokey and the Bandit" regime only last three seasons in Manitoba's capital, afterwards, both seemed to be buried in the minor league bus trips for the rest of their careers.

But to start off, we have Pokey Reddick, who spent the first three years being the workhorse in the WHL, playing 66 and 50 games in his first two seasons. Then, for his third season, he played 47 in the WHL, before going to the IHL with the Fort Wayne Komets and spending time with the Sherbrooke Canadiens in the AHL. In his first full pro season with Fort Wayne, Reddick went 15-11-0 with three shutouts, though that was not his best moment while in Fort Wayne, but we'll get to that later. Reddick then got his break with the Winnipeg Jets for his first NHL season in '86-'87, where he got the majority of starts over Berthiaume and Steve Penney. He went an even .500 going 21-21-4, but it wasn't enough. The next season, Reddick was bounced between Winnipeg and the AHL affiliate Moncton. His inconsistency in that season, as well as following season when he got the most starts in Winnipeg before Essensa finally took over and Reddick was put out and traded to the Edmonton Oilers.

The next three seasons, Reddick was bouncing between Edmonton and Cape Breton, though Cape Breton was where he spent most of his time during his tenure with the Oilers organzation. However, Reddick was able to get into the Oilers roster during the 1990 playoffs, which was enough to earn him a place on the Stanley Cup trophy. During the '92-'93 season, Reddick went back to Fort Wayne, where he got most of his acclaim. That season, Reddick went 33-16-4, which was a career best for him at that point-- but in the playoffs is where Reddick was able to shine through. In those playoffs, Reddick went the first three rounds of the playoffs without a lose on his record, which is a record that stands to this point on any form of professional hockey. For that, Reddick won the playoff MVP.

While, Reddick was able to get a contract with the Florida Panthers, he only spent two games with the big club; Reddick was again resigned to duty for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the IHL. It was Reddick's last grasp of the big league, but after that, he became a minor league hero. Reddick bounced around the IHL (Las Vegas, Grand Rapids, San Antonio, Kansas City, and Fort Wayne) where he prospered more often than not, until towards the end of this tenure, where he was reduced to more of a back-up role than anything else. After his role diminished in North America, Reddick went to Germany to play for the Frankfut Lions, where his save percentage and goals-against average were amongst the best in his career. He spent three years in the DEL, before coming back to North America for a few games back with Fort Wayne, once they moved to the UHL. After nine games, Reddick retired from professional hockey, though he stays in the game as a goaltending coach for the USHL's Tri-City Storm.

Meanwhile, the second part of this fantastic tandem, "The Bandit" Daniel Berthiaume had a fairly stellar career in his junior days. In fact, during his draft year, Berthiaume went 40-11-2; which was able to get him drafted in the third round by the Winnipeg Jets. Berthiaume spent another season in the QMJHL before making the jump to the AHL in Sherbrooke. The next season, he started out with Sherbrooke before heading to Winnipeg, in which he had an impressive display going 18-7-3 in 31 appearances in the '86-'87 season. That performance gave him the starting role for '87-'88, in which he held his own posting a 22-19-7 season. After that, however, Berthiaume faltered, going 0-8-0 to start the season and was sent down to Moncton in order to give Essensa and Alain Chevrier a chance behind Reddick.

The first half of the '89-'90 season, Berthiaume tried to regain his starter status in Winnipeg, but after going 10-11-3; the Jets decided to ship Berthiaume off to Minnesota in January of 1990, where Berthiaume went to back-up Jon Casey. Five uneventful games later, the North Stars packed up Berthiaume and sent him to Los Angeles. In his first season, The Bandit kind of got his groove back, going an impressive 20-11-4 backing up Kelly Hrudey on a team that was tied for the third most wins in the league. However, that next season, Berthiaume struggled with a 7-10-1 start, for which the Kings shipped him off to Boston. In Boston, Berthiaume went 1-4-2 backing up Andy Moog when Reggie Lemelin went down. During the summer, Berthiaume was traded to the Winnipeg Jets, but never appeared for them again, opting to go to Switzerland for half of the season in 1992.

A free agent, Berthiaume got another chance with the Ottawa Senators who signed him in December of 1992. Berthiaume was on a horrid expansion team, backing up Peter Sidorkiewicz, going 2-17-1 in that first season. The Bandit made one final appearance with Ottawa before being sent down to the PEI Senators of the AHL, where he went 8-16-3 before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings, where he stayed in the AHL with Adirondack-- for which we went 7-2-0 during his 11 games there. Aside from two games in Providence in the AHL and 12 in the IHL with Detroit, it would be the last time Berthiaume would be at that high of a level of play again.

However, Berthiaume made his mark in the ECHL, mostly playing with the Roanoke Express. He started with the Wheeling Thunderbirds, going 6-1-1, before he was shipped to Roanoke; as well as trips up and down to the IHL and AHL. He flourished in Roanoke, going 37-17-5 in his first tenure, then 105-66-19 in his second tenure. Those tenures were split up after a season in the WPHL with the Central-Texas Stampede, which garnered him Most Oustanding Goaltender in the '96-'97 season. Berthiaume spent two more seasons in the ECHL, playing for the Greensboro Generals going 53-32-6. Berthiaume played in the UHL for the Port Huron Beacons for his last professional season, which was dismal at best with seven wins in 31 games.

It should also be noted that Berthiaume played goalie in the ill-fated Roller Hockey International, playing for the New Jersey Rock N' Rollers, Detroit Motor City Mustangs, and Philadelphia Bulldogs.

After leaving hockey, Berthiaume got away from hockey and went into his next love, the outdoors. Residing in Hardy, Virginia; Berthiaume owns and operates a striped bass fishery called "Captain Bert's Fishin' Charters", which is along the Roanoke River in Smith Mountain Lake.


While they may look like they're career paths took different roads, which could have been the case with Berthiaume's longer NHL resume, they both made their mark in Winnipeg and then moved onward to minor league glory. Some times, the success in the minors mean more to some people than any success in the big leagues. Both Reddick and Berthiaume will be remembered by those who knew them in the minor league cities they played in, especially Reddick, who seems to be a legend in Fort Wayne hockey lore. They had paided their dues and at the end of the day, they were able to succeed in one form or another in one league or another.

And now, they are forever immortalized in the AGM lexicon.