Friday, February 26, 2010

Killjoy Was Here

The hot topic is not that the Canadian women's hockey team won the Gold Medal yet again in the Olympics, but the aftermath that happened. It seems that the ladies stayed at GM Place (or Canada Hockey Place if you're daft and hate sponsors) and lived it up on the ice-- with brews, stogies, and hanging out on the ice and chilling like villains on the ice afterwords.

The one picture that seemed to peeve a lot of people was of Marie-Phillip Poulin was drinking a beer while she was only 18 years old, a year younger than the British Columbia drinking age; but is the age of drinking in her home province of Quebec. It seemed to upset Adrian Dater, who posted on his blog on Versus about what he would have to explain to his kids about it and why the post-game celebrations aren't banned by the PC cops already, because they should be.

I'd like to thank Dater for channeling Helen Lovejoy from "The Simpsons" when writing this.

Here's my thing, what's the big effin' deal with all of this?? It's not like Poulin is the first person to ever drink without being of age-- I mean, that was most people's high school lives. We've had enough teen-angst movies that displayed that, does that mean those should be banned, as well?? That's just something that is as common as the sun rising in the East and the Leafs not winning a Cup. Maybe these critics just can't remember their teen years due to drinking themselves stupid and can't remember how awesome it was.

And let's be honest-- let them live it up. They just won a goddamn GOLD MEDAL AT THE OLYMPICS!! That's instant cause for celebration and they should have lived it up. What better way to live it up than on home soil, on home ice, then just hanging out until they kick you out. It's not like anyone is going to rush stuff to get them out, especially since it's the home team. If this was in Torino, then you could see them getting rushed off, but let the ladies celebrate because they pretty much dominated the World and should celebrate for being at the top of their sport.

This is a non-story. They didn't wreck the ice, they didn't break the glass, the didn't shot-put a couch out the Nagano Olympic Village after not medaling (shoutout to Chris Chelios); they just celebrated the way anyone would celebrate when winning a championship. Hell, beer league teams do it all the time-- win, lose, championship or first win; it doesn't matter. Anyway-- they are just doing what any WINNERS would do-- live it up because you never know when it'll be crashing down.

For the slideshow, check out Yahoo's picture gallery of it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Better Off Eliminated" or "How Front-Runners Got Served"

Three of the four teams who were in the medal rounds in 2006 have been eliminated. One through an upset, one through clash of the titans (which was one-sided at best), and one through losing a tough game against the last of the four teams in the medal round of 2006. While there are plenty a questions a bound about the games themselves, you have to figure out if this is good for their club teams heading into the playoff stretch.

RUSSIA: The Russians had their asses thoroughly handed to them by the Canadians, which showed that there is no "D" in Russia. While they had offense for days, the Russians couldn't get it going against a tight checking Canadian squad and couldn't stop the speed and grind of the team. Yet, with half the team being NHLers, and commonly the best players on their team, the clubs must be happy. The Capitals especially, who hope that the failure of the Olympic will fuel and anger the like of Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, which will make them even more dangerous. Granted, it could make them fall into a deeper funk, but for Caps fans-- let's hope not. Oddly enough, Ilya Kovalchuk was pretty much silent and invisible for the tournament, which can't be very promising for the Devils and their fateful. However, Evgeni Malkin was the leading scorer for the Russians, which will give the Penguins a nice boost after his struggles during the season. Another question will be how the the onslaught of goals will effect Evgeni Nabokov. With the Sharks in control of the Western Conference, you have to wonder if his psyche of not coming through in the clutch will continue when the playoffs come around again.

SWEDEN: With the Swedes only giving up two goals in the the three preliminary game, the shock of Slovakia putting up four goals and then beating the last Gold Medal winners was even more of a shock. Though, it does validate the thought of the people who thought the Swedes wouldn't be much in these Olympics. Henrik Lundqvist looked very good for the Swedes in his two games prior, but somehow the Slovaks were able to get to him, especially in the second period of their game. With Lundqvist's struggles-- this could only break more Rangers fans hearts down the stretch. Two bright sides would be the emergence of youngsters Nicklas Backstrom and Loui Eriksson, who would be the guys who carry the flag of the Swedes in the future. Backstrom is already a star with the Caps, while Eriksson's performance continues the breakout role he has been having in Dallas, which should give some kind of relief to the Stars, who haven't had much to write home about this year. It's also the changing of the guard, as this is likely the last time we'll be seeing the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson, and Peter Forsberg representing the Tre Kronor.

CZECH REPUBLIC: I thought that the Czech could be a squad to look forward too, which was partial true. Yet, at the same time-- they couldn't beat the higher tier teams like the Russians or Finns in these games. While their troubles could be tracked back to the fact that Marek Zidlicky was their leading scorer, the fact they had the fire power of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Havlat, and Patrik Elias; they could have done a lot more scoring than they actually did. Tomas Vokoun could only do so much for that team to keep them in it, he never got too much support when he needed it. Vokoun faced more shots than all the goalies except three: Edgars Masalskis (LAT), Jonas Hiller (SUI), and Pal Grotnes (NOR). Vokoun's GAA was only 1.78 in his five games, which probably boosted his trade value in the NHL once he gets back. Maybe he shouldn't unpack, actually. Yet, you have to wonder what could have been if guys like Roman Hamrlik, Vinny Prospal, Michael Frolik, and Jakub Voracek would have been on the roster, as super agent Allan Walsh pointed out on his Twitter.

But, with all being said and done-- we're not down to four. While these three teams could be considered disappointing-- especially since Sweden and Russia are the big name teams-- there's still four good teams out there, which should create for some buzz; especially if the USA and Canada play each other again. Of course, it may be for a Gold Medal or Bronze, who's to say. Just have to wait until Friday, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Now, We Cue The Music

With the tone set by the last games of the round-robin games, I'm now into the whole Olympic games. From the Norway/Switzerland back-and-forth "nothing" game to the epic USA/Canada game-- the momentum of excitement going into the qualifying round is something that is contagious for now.

Obviously, the big question going into the qualifying round is no doubt what's going to happen with Canada. A team that had so much hype in their hometown Games, a team that was supposed to steamroll the competition has really come up short. With their struggles against Switzerland and then losing to the US; you have to wonder how vulnerable this team is. Maybe the tide will turn with Roberto Luongo in net (who should have been in against USA, but matter of opinion), yet if Germany comes out big against them, the threat of an upset could definitely be out there, as far fetched as it may seem.

Yet, to winning teams-- how will the bye-round effect those teams who won the right to do that?? The USA has a lot of heat and while the rest will be accepted, you may want to think that they want to keep going on with their momentum. Especially with them facing either Belarus or Switzerland in the Quarterfinal, it could be an upset special we're looking at. With the Russians, they'll face the winner of Canada/Germany-- which will be epic if Canada moves through. The only burp was against the Slovakia, which could be a downside when it comes to the elimination play. Finland has looked great as a team, but could be looking at the Czech Republic (if they beat Latvia); which could be another great game in the quarters. Finally, with the way Sweden has been playing, I don't know if either Slovakia or fan-favorite Norway could give an upset special-- which will give the reigning Gold Medalists a nice little path to the medal round.

When you look at the possible dark horse-- you have to see definitely give the advantage to whoever comes out of the battle of the fringe teams-- Switzerland/Belarus. Switzerland gave the USA and Canada fits in their games, thanks mostly to Jonas Hiller; who has been beyond amazing. The teamwork of the Swiss have been the reason they stay in their games. Belarus gave a fit to Sweden and took down Germany, but were definitely exposed by Finland in their first game. Considering what happened in 2002, the Belarussians could always be the shocker in all of this.

Of course, you look at all of these games, you could get a lot of good games from the qualifying games onward. When you look at how the bracket breaks down (which you can check at On the Forecheck), we have a chance of a Canada/Russia quarterfinal-- which could see one of the favorites not medaling at all; then you have the Swiss and Belarussians playing spoiler on the USA's run to the Gold Medal. Can't count out the Czech Republic with their bevvy of talent, either. Then the Finns and Swedes could give us another replay of 2006 if all goes to play, as well.

This will definitely be a nice precursor to the NHL playoffs coming up, especially with the deadline pretty much right after the Gold Medal game ends. This starts the three-and-a-half month long period where hockey fans go into their little hockey viewing mountain bases to take in all the games and all the intensity that comes with it all. Strap in folks, it's going to be a fun ride.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Dominic Roussel

While we all know these AGMs are tales of goalies who names are kept in the back of our mind for one reason or another, and this one is no different. That said, there's much more to this story than meets-the-eye, as it is a tale of family mistrust and could be listed as the start of the troubles with the Flyers' goaltending. This is the tale of Dominic Roussel.

Roussel didn't have a great beginning in Midget AAA, going 7-12-3 with the Lac St-Louis Lions in the 1986-87 season. Even with that, he moved into the QMJHL with the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in the 1987-88 season, in a starting role, no less. With Trois-Rivieres, Roussel went 18-25-4 for his first season, which was good enough for him to get picked in the 3rd round of the 1988 Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Roussel would start with Trois-Rivieres for the 1988-89 season. Roussel got traded to Shawinigan where he would go 24-15-2 with the Cataractes, in which Roussel also had a 6-4 record in the playoffs, as well. His next season with the Cataractes in 1989-90 saw Roussel's time dwindle for his younger counterpart Andre Boulianne. Roussel only got 37 games in, going 20-14-1 for the year.

Roussel would then turn pro, which is where some of his off-ice problems would come, unbeknownst to him; but more on that later. Roussel went to the Hershey Bears in the AHL to start off his pro career, where he was thrown into starting duties in the 1990-91 season. Roussel performed admirably with a 20-14-7 record in Hershey. For the 1991-92 season, Roussel split time between Hershey (15-11-6) and Philadelphia (7-8-2), paving the way for his eventual leap to the NHL. The 1992-93 season saw Roussel get a big role while in Philadelphia, as they had traded former starter Ron Hextall in the big Eric Lindros trade; but he has set-backs, injuring his groin twice during the season-- missing 14 games total. Roussel actually did get 34 games in playing with Philly, going 13-11-5, while he went 0-3-3 in his games down in Hershey to rehab his injury.

The 1993-94 season saw Roussel overtake former AGM Tommy Soderstrom for the starting position, which could be the cause of much bedlam when it comes to the Flyers' goaltending issues, switching year-in and year-out. Roussel got 60 games in that season and went 29-20-5 in his first test as starter for the Flyers. That derailed a little bit with the shortened 1994-95 season, which saw Ron Hextall come back and overtake Roussel's starting role, limiting Roussel to only 19 games; which he went 11-7-0.

However, after the season, Roussel's agent-- his father Andre-- got into his son's head and on the Flyers' nerves. Roussel's father was holding his son out of training camp in order to get a seven-figure deal; which was impossible, as they were paying starter Hextall $900k for the year. Rather than copy and paste the whole thing, the great Joe Pelletier has a great piece on the turmoil, but I'll leave an excerpt here:
Andre Roussel quickly quit his job with the intention of supporting himself, wife Pauline and other son Stephane, with the fees he would receive as Dominic's agent. However Dominic was certainly no superstar who commanded a 7-figure contract. It would be awfully hard for the three of them to support themselves on the 3-4% agents fee on Roussel's $400,000 contract.

While acting as an agent, Andre formed a company and obtained power of attorney and bought three pieces of property, two in Hull Quebec, and 1 in Montreal. Dominic was also shocked to learn that his parent were the beneficiaries of his life insurance policy, not his wife and kids.
I don't know what it was with the family issues in the mid-to-late 90s, but it seems like fantastic times for all involved, mostly involving the Flyers-- what with the two Lindros incidents and then this Roussel incident. This made the Flyers get Garth Snow via a trade, while Roussel was limited to press box duty. Once Roussel got rid of his father as an agent, he got some playing time in Philadelphia (2-3-2), Hershey (4-4-3), before eventually getting traded to the Winnipeg Jets (2-2-0) for former AGM Tim Cheveldae.

That following summer, Roussel signed back with the Flyers, but he would be with Philadelphia's other team-- the AHL's Phantoms-- for the 1996-97 season. With the Phantoms, Roussel went 18-9-3 backing up Neil Little for the year. Roussel would go international for the 1997-98 season, playing two games for the Rosenheim Star Bulls (0-2-0) of the German League before playing with the Canadian National Team. With the national team, Roussel got in 41 games going 25-12-1 in an attempt to regain his confidence and his good name with NHL teams.

Roussel would get a new life with his rights and Jeff Staples being traded from Philly to the Nashville Predators for a seventh round pick in the summer of 1998. Roussel had a good training camp with the Predators, but would never play a game-- as he was traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Marc Moro and Chris Mason. With Guy Hebert being the man in Anaheim, Roussel was relegated to back-up duty in a scarce role, only getting 18 games in for that 1998-99 season, going 4-5-4. He got more time in 1999-2000, with 20 games under his belt and a slightly better record of 6-5-4, while his 2000-01 season was his worse campaign, going 2-5-2 in 13 games in Anaheim before being put on waivers and claimed by the Edmonton Oilers. Roussel would play eight games with Edmonton, going 1-4-0.

With a less than stellar NHL results, Roussel wasn't offered a NHL contract for the 2001-02 season, so he ventured the Quebec Semi Pro League with the Lasalle Rapides, playing in five games and going 5-5-1. After that season, Roussel went to Germany to play for the Frankfurt Lions in 2002-03. Roussel played 38 games, while posting a .907 save percentage, even with an inflated 3.01 GAA for the Lions. Roussel retired after the 2002-03 season and currently runs his own private goaltending school.

While he does have his financial well-being under control and his creditability back in tact, it shows how having too much trust is something that could be detrimental, even if it is your family. Roussel could never get much of a showing in the NHL, aside from those couple of seasons in the early 90s; and even then he couldn't make a big appeal for the Flyers or any team. With his coaching, maybe he can push along the next wave of goalies and maybe not have them end up on this AGM list.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Baltimore Hockey History: The First Team

While the city of Baltimore is rich in hockey history when it came to the end of the 19th century, there was a long gap between the next team that would bust onto the scene after the Johns Hopkins University team came around, a team that disbanded after the 1897-98 season due to transportation issues, arguments with rink management, and lack of support from the student body.

And while there was a lot of amateur and club action, there wasn't much going on for the longest time. However, the first known team in the Baltimore area was the team in the Tri-State Hockey League under the name of the Baltimore Orioles. Of course, the name of the team has been connected to the city forever, with the actual oriole bird having the "Baltimore" mantra because its wings resembled Lord Baltimore's coat-of-arms.

That history lesson aside, the Orioles started as an amateur team in the four-team TSHL for the 1932-33 season and broke out big. In the 18 league games, the Orioles finished second to the power-house Atlantic City Sea Gulls (who had 100 goals for in 18 games) with a 12-5-1 record in the four-team league. They were led by the top-scorer of Eddie Mahoney with his nine goals and 12 points in those 18 games. The amateur game was good for that one season, but they decided to move the name onto something bigger and better.

When the 1933-34 season came along, the Orioles name got transferred to the newly established Eastern Hockey League. The Orioles were one of the chartered members and they got off to another fantastic start in league play, finishing second again to the dreaded Sea Gulls. The Orioles were led by league leading goal and point scorer Vince Papike (35 goals, 45 points) and had assist king Vern Buckles (21 assist) after their 24 games in league play. It started to go downhill after that in the 1934-35 season with a 4-13-4 record, as the other teams were able to stop Papike-- only getting 13 points in 20 games.

It was another rebuilding year with coach Billy Boyd being replaced by Gord Fraser for the 1935-36 season, however Papike left to go to Atlantic City, but it allowed Bobby Lee to step up and put up 19 goals and 39 points for the last place Orioles who went 9-29-2; even though they let up 174 goals in those games. Lee's tenure was short-lived, as he went over to England to play, which allowed Buckles to step up for the O's in the 1936-37 season. However, the Orioles were still in last place, but better with a 16-24-8 record with Buckles having 44 points in 43 games.

The tide turned for the team in the 1937-38 season with the pick-up of Clarence Steele and Ab DeMarco, who were both top-10 in goals, assists, and points in the EHL for that year. Even though they finished 21-29-8, they weren't in last and showed signs of getting to the brink. It finally happened with a breakthrough, this time under coach Bill Hines in the 1938-39 season, with help of the offensive prowess of Norm Calladine, who was second in goals and points, but first in assists in the EHL (33g, 41a, 74 points) and helped the Orioles get to second in the EHL going 26-22-5.

The 1939-40 season was the big year for the Orioles as they ran roughshod over the EHL, ending up in first with the one-two punch of Calladine (53g, 41a, 94pts) and Fred Hunt (31g, 37a, 68pts) rounding up with a 38-21-2 record, taking home the EHL title for the year. While the 1940-41 season brought another good season, the Washington Rovers were too good for the Orioles, outdueling the O's and putting them in second place with a 36-23-6 record, which was the last year for Coach Hines behind the bench. It was also the first year that there were no Orioles in the top-10 in points as John Webster only had 61 points in 65 games.

Elmer Piper took over the 1941-42 edition of the Orioles to mixed results, as the team fell from second to fifth, as an influx of new teams came in and had the luck of better players heading to them. Even though the Orioles has three in the top-10 in points (Andy Chakowski, 89; Ab McDougall, 77; Ducky Skinner, 76) and four in the top-10 of assists (Chakowski, 45; Bud Foley 45; Skinner, 43; McDougall, 43) it still wasn't enough to power the O's through the EHL.

Sadly, it was the last year for Orioles as they disbanded after the 1941-42 season. They finished with a combined record of 194-195-41 in their 430 games. While someone like Calladine went onto play in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, his start was rooted in Baltimore with the Orioles. And while the Orioles went onto become a baseball team, many forget of the past history and how the name was used in other facets of sports.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blown Coverage For Better or Worse

The past few days in the States, there has been a huge to-do about the attention, or lack there of, when it comes to hockey coverage. Over at Puck the Media (very stellar job over there, by the way), Steve Lepore talks about how the NBC family of networks are really screwing the hockey fans out of some games' starts because of other events involving USA teams or individuals. It's a noble undertaking in getting attention for the hockey fans out there to get the coverage they need-- but it's getting close to annoyance rather than nobility.

The fact remains this-- the NBC networks were showing events in which American teams or individuals were involved. They had USA-Japan women's curling on MSNBC and USA-Russia women's hockey on CNBC. Because these games went long, the Canada-Norway men's hockey game was delayed being on any channel. While I agree that NBC kind of "dropped the ball," so to speak; the networks are not and should not be risking removing or short-changing the USA team on any sports to show two non-USA participants play a game, host country or not. The interests of NBC Universal is only to the USA Olympics team and should not have to cater to non-USA nations. The same thing happen on Wednesday with the Sweden-Germany game being delayed due to extra-ends in USA-Switzerland men's curling match on CNBC and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, with the first period being missed almost entirely due to a 22 minute delay.

While NBC has really been dropping the ball in terms of coverage all around, especially with the way Twitter has been buzzing-- people know the result of events before NBC starts to show them; I can give a pass to NBC on this instance. The fact they are showing USA events over non-USA hockey events is admirable and shouldn't be as chastised as it has been. Like I said, the NBC Universal interest is not going to be to hockey fans (as their Sunday "Game of the Week" has shown for a few years now) if the USA team is not in the game. If there is going to come a day where Team USA hockey is being delayed for one game or another, then that's when the outrage should come fast and furious and then NBC can be truly vilified and ridiculed.

When hockey is seen most of the time on the network, the odds are that NBC Universal will show the sports not often seen on TV. Figure skating is a big pull, skiing and speed-skating will get cult followings, much like curling has gotten over the past games-- they will have the niche and appeal, especially if they are seen once every four years. Hockey is shown weekly and while it sucks that hockey fans won't see every minute of every game, you have to pick your battles and fights when it comes to supporting your game.

If you are upset by the NBC Universal snub of all the games, check out Buddy Oakes' Preds on the Glass and his post about how you can get into contact with NBC Universal about their coverage or lack thereof.


On another side, there's a decent story from ESPN's Scott Burnside about Alex Ovechkin being pretty much missing and put away by the Russian Federation in terms of interviews or putting his face out there. His piece states that Ovechkin, and much of the other Russian team, has been only giving interviews to the Russian media over the mass media that's there at the Olympics. Burnside says something to the effect of Ovechkin blowing off the media.

When something come out about one of the bigger personalities in the NHL, you have to wonder how much of this is the athlete's doing and how much is this the Federation. While, I get the Federation's concern, as it is the world's stage and there's only so many times you can go ahead and answer the same questions about the atmosphere and trying to face Sidney Crosby in a showdown later on in the Games. That seems to have been the focal point, at least in the Canadian media, when it comes to the Games; especially when both teams are the favorites, but as an athlete-- that can be a redundant to answer the same question that may or may not happen when the time comes.

On the flip side, what does the the Russian Federation hope to achieve by making Ovechkin scarce during the Games, especially when they know that guys like Ovechkin, Malkin, and Kovalchuk are the high-energy guys-- Ovechkin being the top guy. It's very Soviet-esque for the Federation to basically shutting down the personalities of the guys who are out there. This seems to be odd, considering that there were reports about Alex Semin commandeering a golf-cart and joyriding around the Olympic village and Semyon Varlamov talking about the food in the Olympic Village and having to go to McDonald's. Maybe it was that freedom that the Russians didn't like, thinking it'd become a distraction; thus shutting them down to everything and having them only focus on the games. It's a detriment to the players, the Federation, and the press for the top guys to be shut off like that. Especially when these games are suppose to display the personalities of athlete's many may not see all the time, the Russians seem to be shutting it down.


There have been many mistake in coverage and availability in these Games and if nothing else, this could be the Olympics with the most CFs in recent memory. Of course, there's a chance where there's too much demand for one thing or another for networks, audiences, and countries to keep up with it. Of course, they should have known something like this would happen and should have been prepared. Odds are that even if they were prepared, someone would find something and then bring that up and blown it out of proportion.

Like the Girl said to me when I had the idea to write this-- you're not going to please everyone and someone will always get mad in one way or another.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I Can't Get Into Olympic Hockey (At This Point)

With the men's portion of the Olympic hockey getting underway, a lot of people have rejoiced because of it. Whether it's because it's the end of the hype that comes with it all or because they are truly wanting to see the round-robin play. For me, however, I couldn't be any less into it-- especially with the match-ups on the first day. Whether or not the second day can kick me out of the funk remains to be seen.

It's not that I'm not into the Games, it's just something about seeing countries like Norway and Latvia getting destroyed by Canada and Russia (respectively) that doesn't speak to me. Granted, it's a nice way for the two favorites to kick off their gold medal runs, but at the same time-- you have to feel like it's kicking a puppy when you watch these games.

I see the purpose for the round-robin and it's good to see what some developing nations do against the powerhouses, but at the same time you have to wonder if there's too many games and if you have to narrow down who gets into the Olympics. I'd like to see the World Juniors format of scheduling and amount of teams-- if not having the World Juniors be the Olympic Games after 2014, meaning push the WJC to Olympics time; but that screws up the whole tradition of the WJC and I'm sure that there will be upheaval if that happens. We don't need that. And while I'd like to get into women's hockey, it still seems like it's a three horse race there: Canada, USA, and Sweden. Plus, without body contact, it just doesn't seem like hockey. Sorry, women's hockey fans-- that's just how it goes.

I think once the qualification games start, I'll be ready to roll for it all. At least then, you have something to play for. There's a sense of urgency and you know the players will be playing with the utmost passion-- especially those teams on the fringe of being the spoiler (read: Switzerland). While I'm sure I'll catch a game in the round-robin here and there if it's on, I'm not going to go out of my way to check out a game until the games "matter" in the final tally.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Vincent Riendeau

There are plenty of goalie who have had a crazy way into the NHL.....and this inductee is no exception. While he bounced around before getting into the NHL, he also bounced around the NHL and then Europe to end out his career. This is the story of a guy who couldn't stay in one place for a while, but always had a spot open for him from other teams. This is the tale of Vincent Riendeau.

The start Riendeau had was very interesting to say the least. The St. Hyacinthe, Quebec native started out his career with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL in the US juniors for 15 games. However, it didn't take long before the goalie was brought up to the QMJHL by the Verdun Juniors in the middle of the 1983-84 season. In 41 games with Verdun, Riendeau went 22-13-2 in that half-season. In the 1984-85 season, Riendeau left junior hockey and went on to play with Sherbrooke College, which was part of the College of General and Vocational Education in Quebec; akin to the community college system in the United States. Riendeau came back to the QMJHL in the 1985-86 season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. With Drummondville, Riendeau had a splendid season, going 33-20-3, which was able to garner him the second All-Star award in the QMJHL.

After not being drafted, Riendeau went to go on to be signed by the Montreal Canadiens before the 1986-87 season and sent down to the AHL with the Sherbrooke Canadiens. His first pro season, Riendeau was amazing going 26-14-0 in 41 games with a .902 save percentage and 2.89 GAA. His GAA was low enough to get the Hap Holmes Memorial Trophy for fewest goals-against. It was another year in the AHL in the 1987-88 campaign, with Riendeau going 27-13-3 with a .901 save percentage and 2.67 GAA, which was enough to get him another Hap Holmes Trophy (shared with Jocelyn Perreault) and second All-Star honors. Riendeau was able to get some time in the NHL with Montreal, giving up five goals in a no-decision in relief for Patrick Roy in December of 1987.

It wasn't enough to stick with the Canadiens, as they traded Riendeau in the summer of 1988 with Sergio Momesso to the St. Louis Blues for Jocelyn Lemieux, Darrell May, and a second-round pick in the 1989 Draft. Riendeau was able to go right into back-up duty behind Greg Millen in St. Louis, playing 32 games in the 1988-89 season, going 11-15-5 in his 32 games played for the season. It started to get better in the 1989-90 season with Riendeau, as he took control of the starter's role, as Greg Millen was traded to Quebec. With more time, Riendeau got slightly better with a 17-19-5 record. However, that season also brought about a young hot-shot by the name of Curtis Joseph, which pushed Riendeau. That competition wasn't more obvious than in the 1990-91 campaign, with Riendeau going 29-9-6 in 44 games for the Blues; yet it didn't seem to be enough.

The 1991-92 season became a holding pattern for Riendeau, as the Blues overlooked him for Joseph, Guy Hebert, and former AGM Pat Jablonski. Riendeau played three games with St. Louis going 1-2-0 before being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings for Rick Zombo. With the Red Wings, Riendeau didn't get off to a stellar start, as he injured his knee in his first game with the Wings and was out most of the season. In the end, Riendeau went 2-0-0 with the Wings that season and 2-1-0 in conditioning stints with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL. A much better year in the 1992-93 stint, as he backed-up another former AGM Tim Cheveldae. Riendeau got 22 games in and went 13-4-2 in his role as a back-up, but again-- it wasn't enough.

The 1993-94 season saw Riendeau being pushed aside for younger talent, as Chris Osgood came into the fold as the Red Wings back-up. Riendeau played eight games with Detroit (2-4-0) and 10 games with Adirondack (6-3-0) before Detroit shipped him off to Boston for a fourth round pick. Riendeau played 18 games with Boston behind Jon Casey going 7-6-1 for the season. The shortened 1994-95 season saw Riendeau back-up yet another AGM honoree Blaine Lacher, getting 11 games only going 3-6-1. Riendeau won his only game he played in for the Providence Bruins of the AHL during the playoffs.

The 1995-96 season saw Riendeau heading over to Germany to play for SC Riessersee Garmisch-Partenkirchen and playing 47 games before coming back to North America to play in the IHL for the Manitoba Moose in the 1996-97 season. Riendeau struggled in the IHL, going 10-18-5 in 41 games, which made Riendeau go back overseas.

The 1997-98 saw Riendeau split his season between Revier Lowen Oberhausen of the German League, but left for HC Lugano in the Swiss League after Revier had financial issues. The 1998-99 season had Riendeau go to Scotland to play for the Ayr Scottish Eagles in the British League and played 32 games for the Eagles. Yet, there was a small caveat in Riendeau's contract that allowed him to renegotiate his contract in the middle of the season with Ayr. After playing in tournaments with Ayr and seeing the Russians play against him, he admired their teams. With that, Riendeau got out of his contract with Ayr to sign with Lada Togliatti of the Russian Super League. Riendeau became the first Canadian to sign a contract with a Russian Super League team.

Riendeau played in five regular season games and seven playoff games for Lada Togliatti in that season. In those five games, Riendeau had a 1.53 GAA. The next season for the 1999-2000, Riendeau played in 16 games for Lada again, posting a 2.16 GAA for the season. Riendeau went back to North America to end out his career with the Anchorage Aces of the WCHL going 8-10-2 in his 21 games played before calling it a career. After his career was done, Riendeau went onto the goalie coaching field in various leagues frm the NHL all the way back to Europe with stops in the AHL and QMJHL. He is now the goaltending consultant and associate coach at the North American Hockey Academy in Vermont, where he also hold a summer camp.

It always seemed that Riendeau was getting good just as teams thought he was expendable. Thanks to being pushed out, his career never really grew to what it could have been, as has been said for most of our AGMs. If nothing else, Riendeau had interaction with many former AGMs and could hold the record for most cross-promotions of AGMs.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Regards to Winnipeg

There's this wild rumor going down about the future of the Thrashers in Atlanta and Winnipeg is concerned. Former Winnipeg Free Press columnist Scott Taylor (not "Scotty Too Hotty" from Too Cool of WWE fame) posted something on the CITI-FM blog about a rumor of a change in regime after the Olympics. Here's what he had to say from his February 12th post (hat tip to Andrew Bucholtz for passing this link along):
"OK, here’s the rumour: Wealthy David Thomson of Toronto, the man who most of the shares of the MTS Centre and True North Sports and Entertainment in Winnipeg, has purchased the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League and will move them to Winnipeg for the 2010-11 season. The Moose will move to Saskatoon. The announcement will be made right after the Olympics. Believe whatever it is you want to believe."
The part at the end is very key, since there has been rampant rumors for a while about the Thrashers and the Winnipeg area. While the Atlanta owners have denied to the utmost about any kind of move, we all know that's like give a coach a "vote of confidence" when talking to the press about him. It's never a good omen.

Now, while Taylor had been solid before quitting due to plagiarism claims, you have to wonder how much smoke this has to it, especially after the first sale this team has been having; couple with the long-known problems of Atlanta Spirit LLC. Of course, there's a lot of factors that have to go into this.

First and foremost, the Board of Governors. They have to not only approve the ownership change, but also approve the move. As many of them have balked at the idea of Jim Balsillie moving a team to Canada, you have to wonder what incentive Thomson will make in order to have this go through. Odds are, the fact he's not Balsillie and having a hostile takeover could be a reasoning for pushing this along, but still. The MTS Centre is a small building and probably wouldn't take in as much revenue as the BoG may like, which could block this deal.

Second, having all nine members in three states of Atlanta Spirit LLC to agree to have this go down. It's almost like there's some who will block it so that outcasted member Steve Belkin won't get his share of any moving fees or whatever. With the other eight tied up in litigation with Belkin, there could be some more in-fighting with the group who would like to get out of this racket and those who want to stay in. The fact they can't be located in one place makes one scratch their head and realize how much more of a circus this is than Tampa Bay.

Finally, this could clear up some issues that happened with the whole Ilya Kovalchuk situation. There were many who reported that a contract caveat that was holding up getting him re-signed was dealing with relocation, so if this were to come true-- guess that this was just a matter of time and the reason why Kovalchuk didn't stay.

We'll have to wait until at least March if this thing is actually going to go down, but it's odd that not many others have picked up on it. If it is blown under the rug, it could be chalked up to the Olympics or just that it wasn't true. Only time will tell, but it's not something you can't really avoid....especially with two weeks of no NHL hockey.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baltimore Hockey History: We've Got You Covered

In the last installment, I did mention the fact of the lack of coverage for the first game; giving it a paragraph at most in terms of describing the game. Even when it came to coverage the first game at the North Avenue Rink, there was little description of the the game between Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore Athletic Club. Luckily, there was at least one of the early games documented in Baltimore's hockey infancy that actually gave a solid description of the early game.

This took place on January 31st, 1896; one day before the first college hockey game between JHU and Yale University. Yale decided to take on a warm-up game when they got into Baltimore against the Baltimore Athletic Club. This column was in the February 1st edition of The Baltimore Sun on page 7 in the "World of Sport" category of the paper. Whoever did this must have been the inspiration for Dickie Dunn in "Slap Shot" because they captured the spirit of the thing in this column.

Under the headline, the quick-pull of the score and feeling of the game between Yale and BAC was more description about the game than the past features they did on it.
The Final Score 3 to 2-- The Home Boys a Little Upset by the Dash and Aggressiveness of the Blue-Stockinged Visitors, Who Start the Puck Off With a Rush Each Time.
From that point on, it's setting the tone of the game and really showing they were actually going to paint the picture for the people who weren't there. The tone set is something that will draw the reader into the whole thing.
Yale's blue-stockinged hockey players lowered their head in defeat before the Baltimore Athletic Club team. The games was played at the North Avenue Arena before a large and enthusiastic crowd, whose sympathies were beyond doubt with the home team. A small coterie of the friends of Smith, the Yale goalkeeper, who is a Baltimore boy, applauded his team, but their "rooting" availed not as the final score was 3 to 2 in favor of the BAC team.
To me, this was a great start to a column. It set the scene of the game, showed a small caveat of Yale supporter, if only because they had local boy in the line-up, plus it draws a reader into what's going to happen next. It gets you within the game from a spectators standpoint. As we move onto the game, the writer takes you inside to the travels of the Yale team and their captain as well.
The contest was swift and sharp throughout and was so rapid that time was called twice in the second half to let the Yale players regain their wind. The rest were especially for the benefit of Chace, who was not in good health, although all of the Yale players, who were tired with a day's journey on the railroad, benefited from the recesses. Malcolm Chace is the tennis player who is noted as the intercollegiate champion.
You get a brief look into the Yale's captain background, as well as how the Yalies felt after traveling down from Connecticut. The first half description was pretty solid textbook about how the game went, as well as the feel from the crowd. More game-within-the-game feel to it.
Yale played an aggressive game, taking the puck into the BAC territory from the shoot-off. Chace scored the first goal in two minutes from the time play began, going through the line of interference with a good exhibition of dodging.

The puck see-sawed between the two goals with neither side gaining much advantage until Yale's players rushed the puck close to the BAC goal. In a nervous effort to defend the goal, Jenkins, of Baltimore, accidentally pushed the puck through the post, the fluke counting the second goal for Yale.

BAC rooters were afraid this nervousness on the part of the home team would lose them the game. Corning made some unfortunate fumbles and Bisnau ran over the puck in his anxiety to gain its possession for his team. The players rallied, however, carried it into Yale territory and C. Harrison scored the first goal for BAC after a good run. The first half ended with Chace in possession of the puck and headed for the BAC goal.
With that, you get all the highlights of the first half, with a solid showing of each goals. They focus on Chace, the guy they spoke upon in the start, for Yale and give a great recollection and feel about the fans in the arena when it came to watching the game. Even the first paragraph was more than what was put into print about the game rather than the prior entries I've shot up here. Plus, it shows how much the BAC team was a little slippery in their play against a higher caliber team, like Yale seemed to be.

We move to the second half now, with the scene set for drama, as we have BAC being nervous and Yale looking like they're in complete control of the game thus far.
Yale started the second half with another rush into BAC territory, but lost the puck after a few minutes of sharp playing. T. Harrison made a run two-thirds the length of the rink, skillfully dodging and evading the interference directed at him and scored the second goal for BAC and tying the score.

Again Yale rushed the puck into BAC territory, but Jenkins stopped it, as it would have passed between his feet for a goal, and saved his team. Parmly took the puck from the scrimmage about the goal post, ran the length of the rink and passed it skillfully to Bisnau, who shot the winning goal. The game ended with T. Harrison making another long run for the Yale goal just as the whistle sounded.
While it wasn't as much as the first half, it gave away the description of the BAC comeback. Though it's the final part which showed how much complaining was starting from the early on. Maybe it's because they are Ivy Leaguers and not used to the old-school Baltimore ways, but it seemed amusing to me. Yet, they were able to give it as good as they got it.
Yale protested several times against the stick checking of the BAC team, but Referee Shearer was unable to rule against this playing, as it was so quickly done as to seem accidental. A number of Yale players measured their length on the ice or were twisted around by having a hockey stick accidentally thrust between their feet. They were not above retaliating by letting a stick slip from their hands in front of a flying BAC player.
Now, that's how you do it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The Yalies were ready to defend themselves if they couldn't get it from the refs. Kind of like how it's done today-- almost like policing themselves in as much of a way they could.

There was actually a solid amount of coverage to the hockey games, but it didn't seem to happen often. We saw that the games mostly took a back-seat to the other skating news in the area and the opening of the first indoor rink in the US, but there are times where the game took center stage and got the appropriate coverage it deserved.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Going the Distance

With the announcements of the Carolina Hurricanes having their AHL affiliate move to Charlotte from Albany and the Edmonton Oilers moving their AHL affiliate to Oklahoma City from Springfield, MA; it made me think about the distance between the NHL clubs and their AHL affiliate clubs.

So, with the wonders of free-time on my hands, Wikipedia, and MapQuest (aka SeanQuest), I decided to make a little chart about how far it is from the NHL arena to the AHL arena. This is based on the 2010-11 season, hence Charlotte and OKC being in the mix and the Penguins using their new arena, as well. Also, as of now-- the Anaheim Ducks have no AHL affiliate, thus the "Parts Unknown" gimmick.

ENJOY!! And, click to enlarge....wocka, wocka.

The thing that really stands out is not only is Toronto absurdly close to Toronto, but that the likes of the Kings and Sharks have their affiliates so far away. Granted, there's not many AHL teams beyond east Texas, but you'd think they'd move their guys closer. I guess that's why you see some of their call-ups come from the ECHL teams based in California over the AHL, especially in a bind.

Just food for thought with the silly season of minor league hockey coming around.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Okay NHL, we get it-- you want the European market. But it's a bit rough when you're trying to grow the brand overseas when it's not completely sold in some of your markets Stateside. I don't get how taking a home game away from six teams helps grows the game where you need it. In actuality, it could be doing detriment to the team's well-being.

If you haven't heard, the NHL will be holding games in three European locations to start the season, with the Carolina Hurricanes taking on the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, the Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks going at it in Stockholm, and the Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes dueling in Prague.

While the NHL could call this whole gimmick a success, it almost seems like they're beating a dead horse in terms of locations. They've done all these cities before, the second year in a row for Helsinki and third year in a row for Stockholm. The best part about the first games in London was the exposure of the game to a place who wouldn't have that caliber of hockey in their country. Same goes with the games in Japan in 1998, giving top-notch exposure to a budding hockey nation. You'd think that if the NHL wanted to get the exposure throughout the European Union, they'd diversify where they would go. With emerging countries like Switzerland, Germany, and Slovakia-- those could be the countries you'd focus on getting more exposure to. Imagine the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks playing at HC Davos' Vaillant Arena for their game; magical. How about taking on the KHL in their backyard of Russia or other fomer Soviet satellite countries?? That'd be something for them to go head-to-head.

Along those lines, you have to question if the allure of it will be going down as the year's go on. The question comes about when it comes to the idea of multiple outdoors game, but with the Winter Classic being the only game for it, the allure and want to go play in it is there-- as is the excitement. With the European games, it's very taxing on the players with all the air-time they'll be logging, thus making them tired early on and could handcuff them for the rest of the season if they lose crucial points in the early season. To travel that much in the early part of the season when players conditioning isn't at the peak, it's more of a hinderance than anything.

We'll have to see what will happen for the 2011-12 season and if they expand it to eight team in four cities or whatever. The really craptastic side is if the NHL doesn't do anything with this exposure in Europe or doesn't have an NHL Europe like has been thrown out there for a while. It would almost seem like a waste of time if nothing bigger comes from this. Is there going to be a time were we'll have 15 cities hosting all 30 teams in a European Vacation for the NHL?? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Don't Czech Out Until It's Finnish-ed

The boys of the FOHS and I were talking about a pool that Marc "With a 'C'" is in when it comes to the Olympics. While he could only pick four skaters and two goalies-- it seemed that we all overlooked a couple teams at the start of it. However, looking at the rosters; it's a shock these two teams-- Czech Republic and Finland-- are being as discounted as they are.

Sure, you have being overshadowed by other powerhouses, but both Czech Republic and Finland could be the upset special, even though they are not full-fledged sleepers like Switzerland, Germany, or Belarus may be considered. You could almost put the Slovaks in there, but I think they're another Games away before you can consider them in this mid-level threat. Hell, Finland won the silver medal and the Czechs won the bronze in 2006 and there's little to no respect for them.

Let's start with the Finns, who had four of the six top tournament player (Antero Niittymaki, Kimmo Timonen, Saku Koivu, and Teemu Selanne) in 2006, while also having five of the top-10 leading scorers (Selanne, Koivu, Ville Peltonen, Olli Jokinen, and Jere Lehtinen). The big knock could be a lot of these players are back and have gotten older and lost that scoring touch they once had; yet they seem more like a full team than most units out there. There's a small younger stride, but the old-guard could be a downfall-- as well as the smaller rink. At the same time, their goaltending is superb on paper. They tandem of Niittymaki, Niklas Backstrom, and Miikka Kiprusoff could be one of the best trios rostered in the games, maybe next to the Canadians. They'll be playing a tight-checking game because they probably won't be as fast, but if they can get top-notch goaltending, they'll win a lot of 1-0, 2-1 games.

Moving onto the Czech, they have a lot of forward who were born in the early to mid 80s, while having the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias as the old guard. While it might not be a youth movement, the players they have; Martin Havlat, Martin Erat, Tomas Plekanec are pretty much in their prime in terms of age. You also have a younger side of Tomas Fleischmann and Milan Michalek who can score in there as well. A grab-bag of players who can actually contribute constantly. On defense, they have a solid older side with Pavel Kubina and Filip Kuba, but the guy to make some noise could be Zbynek Michalek, who is having a solid year defensively in Phoenix. The one question could be consistency in net, with Tomas Vokoun and Ondrej Pavelec as the tandem. They have the ability to hold a team into it, but if they shelled-- it could spell disaster for the Czech team.

In the end, we'll have to see what goes down when it comes to the Olympics, because if a team gets on a hot-streak at the right time, we could have another situation where it's all out of whack by the time we get to the medal rounds. When you look up and down, these two teams are going to be overlooked, even if they have a great mix in their rosters and could play more like a team and other nations. The team dynamic could the be the one intangible that these two teams use in order to get them to the medal rounds once again.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Andrei Trefilov

Like many other guys, this week's AGM had shown flashes of greatness in terms of what he had done in the minors and with European based teams, but when push came to shove, he couldn't get the job done when it counted most in the NHL due to lack of consistency or losing out on a logjam in net. Yet, somehow; onces you get them out of the spotlight, they shine the best. Plus, this goalie has what could be a record for miles covered over a season. This week, we profile Andrei Trefilov.

Trefilov started out in 1985-86 with the Olimpiya Kirovo-Chepetsk club of the Russian third league and spent three seasons with them. While it seems Trefilov didn't play in the 1988-89 season, he did return for the 1989-90 season, first with Dizelist Penza before being moved to Dynamo Moscow 2, both in the Russian third league. Trefilov continued to play for Dynamo 2 in the 1990-91 season before being moved up to the top-tier club of Dynamo Moscow in the Super League. Trefilov would go on to play in the Super Series with Dynamo Moscow, where Dynamo went across the NHL to play NHL teams. Trefilov went 2-1-2 in his five games. He would also play with the Soviet Union for the WEC (World and European Championship), going 5-1-2 in his eight games.

The exposure from the Super Series caught the eye of many teams, but the Calgary Flames took a risk by picking Trefilov in the 12th round, 261st overall in the 1991 Entry Draft. Unfortunately for the Flames, Trefilov was in the midst of a two-year deal with Dynamo, so he couldn't come over yet. It was a trying year in 1991-92, not only for hockey, but the world. It was when the Soviet states fell and a rebuilding was in order. Trefilov started out with the Dynamo 2 squad for a few games, but was then moved up to the top division Dynamo, where he recorded five shutouts in 28 games played and had a 1.58 GAA for the year. That same year, Trefilov was selected to play for the Unified Team in the Olympics, where he played four games behind former AGM Mikhail Shtalenkov and was able to garner a Gold Medal for himself.

After that season, Trefilov moved to North America, since his contract with Dynamo was up. Trefilov would spend most of the 1992-93 season with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the IHL, playing 44 games and going 23-17-3. Trefilov played on game with the Flames, a 5-5 tie against the Canucks in November, while also backstopping Russia to another World Championship title in the spring. For the 1993-94 season, Trefilov would split time in Calgary and Saint John of the AHL. For the 11 games he played in Calgary-- his record didn't reflect his play. He had two shutouts and a 2.50 GAA, but a record of 3-4-2 for his season. It was a .500 year in Saint John, going 10-10-7 in his 28 games. Even with the shortened-season in 1994-95, Trefilov didn't get much time in either the NHL or AHL. He played six games in Calgary, going 0-3-0; while in Saint John he posted a 1-5-1 record in seven games on the farm.

Due to a logjam in net, Trefilov was allowed to walk by the Flames and he subsequently signed with the Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 1995. Trefilov started off with Buffalo and went 3-4-0 in his nine games, but injured a ligament in his knee which caused him to miss 23 games. When he came back, he got five games of rehab in Rochester of the AHL going 4-1-0 in the process. When he got back to Buffalo, Trefilov would go 5-4-1 in his remaining 13 games of the season, including being the start for the last game in Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium. The 1996-97 season was difficult for Trefilov, but started out well playing in the World Cup and going 2-1-0 in four games. However, his year in Buffalo was short-lived, as it ended after three games (0-2-0) when he had to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee in December. He was able to come back for five minutes during the 1997 playoffs to replace Steve Shields.

It was a bizarre 1997-98 season, with Trefilov being pushed out of Buffalo and relegated to Rochester, where he played three games going 1-0-1. Trefilov was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for future considerations. Trefilov started with the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL, going 0-1-0 in his one game before being moved up to Chicago. In six games with Chicago, Trefilov went 1-4-0.

The 1998-99 season was quite the trip for Trefilov. He would start out with Indianapolis and would go 9-6-2 in 18 games, while playing one game in Chicago, which was a loss. Trefilov would then get traded back to Calgary Flames in December of 1998 for a seventh round pick, playing in four games and going 0-3-0 in those games. Then, the Flames let him go and Trefilov would go over to play for Ak Bars Kazan in Russia. He played for Ak Bars Kazan 2 team in the Russian fourth league for two games before playing for the top club for three games. After those five games, Trefilov would return to North America to play for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. He would play 27 games with the Vipers and go 17-8-2. Trefilov would play in 10 games in the playoffs going 6-4. Trefilov would make the IHL Second-Team All-Star roster and would share the James Norris Memorial Trophy for fewest goals against with Kevin Weekes.

The 1999-2000 season was a little more stable for Trefilov, who spent the entire year with the Chicago Wolves of the IHL. Trefilov would see 37 regular season games going 21-9-3 with three shutouts. In the playoffs, Trefilov came alive, going 7-1 in his nine games, receiving Bud Poile Trophy for Playoff MVP, as he helped the Wolves to their first and only Turner Cup championship in the IHL. In 2000-01, Trefilov would go over to Germany to play for the DEG Metro Stars for six seasons, playing in 233 games for them and recording a 2.37 GAA in those seasons with 21 shutouts during that time.

The whereabouts of Trefilov nowadays are unknown, but his history is very odd. While he seemed to adjust to the North American game, as shown by his minor league stats-- but while he was in the NHL, he could never get the job done. He got pushed out of places, but also had injuries to hinder him as well. In any case, his international and minor league success shows he did have sparks of glory and was good enough to get the job done-- just not when it counted on the big stage.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Baltimore Hockey History: The First Game in the USA

This past February 1st marked the 114th anniversary of the first collegiate game in the history of the sport of ice hockey. Many consider it the first organized hockey game in the United States, which I don't know how due to the past games we've been talking about in the past posts where there have been different athletic clubs playing against each other. Though, they call this game the first competitive, I am only to assume the others were competitive. Yet, I digress.

The game took place at the new North Avenue Arena in Baltimore on February 1st, 1896; where the Yale University Bulldogs took on the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays. Yale had been playing up around Connecticut, much like how JHU had been playing against the random Athletic Clubs in the Baltimore area and all around Maryland. A couple of days prior to this, the Yale team took on the Batlimore Athletic Club in a warm-up game and beat the BAC 3-2.

The stage was set for the first college game, which now the ECAC takes claim to since Yale is a part of the the modern day ECAC. The line-ups for the game were unveiled a day before the game and after the review of Yale-BAC match-up. The Yale University teams would have Ryder, Hall, and Morris up-front at forwards, Jones and Chace (captain) on defense, Barnes as the cover point, and Larned in goal. For Johns Hopkins, Bagg, Hill, and Reese were up-front, Mitchell (captain) and Williams on defense, Leary as cover point, while Scholl was tending net for the Jays.

There was not much made out of the first game. It was put as a blurb on "The Skaters' Hour" section of the Baltimore Sun on page 7 on February 3rd of 1896. The game summary of the Yale-BAC game was given more and there was plenty description to that game than this game. In fact, I'm able to put the entire blurb they put about the game.
Two to two was the score of the hockey match played at the North Avenue Rink Saturday night between the Johns Hopkins University team and the men from Yale. The attendance was the largest of the season. The game was most exciting from start to finish.
And that was it. That was all that was made of the first organized game of the US from the local paper that covered it. That is compared to the whole column they gave the Yale-BAC game, which I'll probably have to unveil in the next installment. I could very well make the obvious US newspapers don't care about hockey joke, but I'm above that. You have to wonder if they knew the history that was being made, if the coverage would have been given more. The next day, Yale would beat Johns Hopkins 3-2, but no coverage was given to that game.

Even with the little given, this was a historical time for the game in the US. Years later in 1898, Brown University would beat Harvard University in a game where the schools still sponsor the teams as of today. But that one game in Baltimore was what set the tone for the game, and while many in the area will never know about it; Baltimore is the birthplace of USA hockey and should never be too diminished in some aspect of it. Even though they can't keep a team now, they can never lose that history that has happened.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Devil You Know

It's finally over and we can move on with our lives.

That's right, Ilya Kovalchuk has been dealt to the New Jersey Devils with Anssi Salmela for Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, and the Devils' 1st round pick. When you look at what was given up by the Devils, you can just think about how Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello basically stole this deal from Atlanta.

Any team who got Kovalchuk was going to win the deal, it's hard to beat something like that. But for Sweet Lou to give up what can be called very little (especially when you look at the speculation being tossed around), it's almost a shame the Thrashers had to go down like that. Sure, they get a good defenseman like Oduya to help guys like Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom out in the long run, but what does it mean for the future of the franchise as a whole?? I'll touch on that later.

The posturing is something that was epic in the past 48 hours, but the Thrashers ripped it out today-- saying that Kovalchuk turned down two offers-- one of seven years at $70M and another at 12 years and $101M, which is almost insane to turn down. I mean, Kovalchuk is one day older than me and to be turning down that money when I won't see anything close to that makes me shake my head. Then, yesterday-- Atlanta's GM Don Waddell saying how he told Kovalchuk was going to be move, which was a signal to the teams on the fence to make a final move or move along. When you look at it, the bridges were burning in Atlanta, much like in 1917.

The Devils really were a dark horse, in terms of they were mentioned, but no one expected them to be a big player. That's one thing people shouldn't do-- count Jersey out. And while I mentioned that teams may have to trade the farm, the Devils didn't have to do that. Sure, Kovalchuk is a rental in this case, barring any unpredictable occurrence, but the Devils have plenty to play with and giving up who they did won't paralyze them in the long-run. The Devils now have a prolific scorer in their line-up for the first time in a while. Also, they have the greatest goalie of the modern era. This team is scary right now.

Yet, it was mentioned on FOHS from Spector's Hockey's Lyle Richardson that this move could be the deathblow for the Thrashers franchise in Atlanta. When you lose a guy like Kovalchuk, who has been the only real face of the franchise, it's hard to come back from if you don't get someone of his stature to replace him. Especially in an unconventional market like Atlanta, you're going to need something to keep people interested and into the game. While a lot of that will hinge on what the crazy ownership situation does or doesn't do this off-season, but the fact remains that when you deal a franchise player like this and don't have anyone waiting in the wings to pick up the PR slack; it's a tough sell for fans already wondering what a team is doing there in the first place.

All is said and done until the summer for Kovalchuk, but at the same time-- could this be as big as the trade deadline gets for people?? The big names seem to be moving out early and it could be a lot of role players being shuffled at the deadline-- not the sexy thing you like to see or deal with. In any case, now Kovalchuk is a Devil and we have to wonder how much offense he'll be able to produce for a team that many have questioned in terms of scoring prowess. The East just got more interesting.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"Ilya Rental-chuk" or "How Much Will You Give Up??"

If you're on Twitter (like me) then you know that the whole thing exploded when RDS and then TSN came out with the story about Ilya Kovalchuk meeting with Don Waddell and basically being told he was going to get dealt. There are many teams apparently interested, but let's not kid each other; who wouldn't be?? Yet, the serious contenders seem to be around the five team clip.

Even with those five teams in, the question now becomes will the team who ultimately deals for him be in the position to actually give up what the report is asking for in terms of the price of Kovalchuk??

Rumors came out saying that the Thrashers were asking the Kings to give up Jonathan Quick, Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson or Oscar Moller, and prospects, which would include Brayden Schenn. If that's not giving up a lot for a guy who will play maybe 20 regular season games for you, I have no idea what is. Even if Kovalchuk did re-sign with the Kings, that's still way too much to give up; especially Quick, who has been stellar for the Kings this season and solidified his number one spot for the club. Had Dean Lombardi pulled the trigger, he could have been run out of town by people who don't even live in his town and Waddell would have more years of job security.

Even so, there's teams out there who are willing to pay the price. Craig Custance of the Sporting News says that the Thrashers are in a playoff chase and will ask for what they believe will be fair market value for giving up a player like Kovalchuk and not hurt their rank in the standings. While that's a valid point, I don't know how many teams would be willing to give up the farm just to get someone like Kovalchuk. Sure, the guy has incredible skills, but are you going to risk the chemistry of a team and the bodies on the team for a guy who won't be staying for more than six months?? That's the question GMs are going to be asking themselves as they ponder what to do.

Yet, the wheels are finally starting to get into motion after months of jockeying for position between the Kovalchuk camp and the Thrashers and finally-- something will get done here; probably before the week is up. Now, it's just a matter of who, what for, and then the questioning of whether or not it was too much and whether or not Kovalchuk will re-sign in the end with his new team.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Fine Art of the Early Trade

You can say what you will about the moves that have been made (and by the looks of it, who hasn't), but what has gone on with the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers is the correct way to go about the trade deadline. Especially with a prolonged break with the Olympics heading up; they are trying to set-up their teams nicely and get some kind of chemistry going prior to the break.

Also, this is economically responsible of them. There won't be much time to make a deal after the Olympic break, as the trade deadline is three days after the trade freeze is lifted. So, even if these teams are going to make another move-- they have a month's time to actually look at their team play some games with their new rosters, they can assess their situations accordingly, and then think about who they'd be able to get with the money they have remaining and who they could be willing to part with.

You have to believe that Darryl Sutter isn't done in Calgary. With all that he's shipped off, there must be a method to his madness and could be in a position to make another deal. While the thought of Ilya Kovalchuk is a long-shot at this point, some kind of minor move may be coming from Calgary. Unless Sutter has completely lost his mind and just is making himself become the Mad Hatter and moving people for the sake of moving, there has to be a meaning to all these moves he's making.

Then you look at Toronto, who seems to be making good moves in terms of trying to move more contracts that are an albatross around the neck of the team. With their acquistions, especially of Dion Phaneuf; it's makes a statement that they will beat you up if they can't beat you on the score sheet. The only need to be addressed would need to be some support for Phil Kessel, which should come in time with their younger guys developing in the minors and juniors.

As for the Rangers, Brandon Prust brings about a younger, less cocky version of Sean Avery; with actual skill and putting it to use every night. Olli Jokinen could be the wild card. He's only netted 11 goals this season and could be sought after because of his past performances. Of course, his past performances were on craptastic teams and may not actually reflect on his skill level. If he can't make a big points push with Marian Gaborik on his wing, it'll show that he's not as good as people think he is. Who knows, considering he couldn't spark Jarome Iginla in Calgary.

Either way, the fact these teams made these deals this early, they have a window to see how the new team gels and will have time to make adjustments accordingly. It has proven successful before when you look at moves like the Hurricanes made to get Doug Weight and Mark Recchi in 2006, before they made their run to an eventual Stanley Cup championship. Plus, it fires the first salvo to the other teams who may have been waiting until the 11th hour in order to get something done-- this could make them maybe rush themselves to make a move earlier than they would have liked, which could be great or disastrous.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Kay Whitmore

There's an old adage that goaltenders become commentators after their playing days are over because they can oversee the ice better and anyone. Especially if they are back-ups, but either way-- the adage holds true in this case, as we go into depth about a goalie turned broadcaster turned NHL liege. This week, we'll look at the career of Kay Whitmore.

Whitmore started out with the Sudbury Legionnaires in Junior "A" hockey in Ontario, playing 42 games and posting four shutouts out of those games in the 1982-83 season. For the 1983-84 season, Whitmore went onto major juniors, playing for the Peterborough Petes. He didn't see much times in the first season, only getting in 29 games, but showed off his skill with a 17-8-0 record for the year. Whitmore would see more time as the starter for the Petes in the 1984-85, getting in 53 games with a 35-16-2 record and heading into the OHL Playoffs, but falling to the powerhouse Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in the finals. Even so, Whitmore went 10-4 in his 17 playoff games.

With his great performance, it gave him the ability to be drafted in the second round, 26th overall of the 1985 Draft by the Hartford Whalers. Even with that, Whitmore stayed with the Petes for the 1985-86 season, seeing less time with the emergence of Ron Tugnutt, but Whitmore would still go 27-12-2 in his 41 starts, which was good enough to get OHL First All-Star honors. The combination of Whitmore and Tugnutt got the Petes to the top in the OHL, but they only got as far as the OHL semi-finals before being eliminated. The tandem again would split starts, but Whitmore getting the most out of the two. It was a dismal season for Whitmore, who went 14-17-5 for his 36 games played.

Whitmore would make the jump to the pros in the 1987-88 season with the Binghamton Whalers, playing behind Peter Sidorkiewicz. It was a good start to his pro career, getting 38 games and going 17-15-4. Once Sidorkiewicz went up to Hartford for the 1988-89 season, Whitmore became head man in Binghamton, but had a rough go about it. Whitmore would see 56 games of action, but only went 21-29-4. However, Whitmore was called upon for three games with the Whalers late into seasons, going 2-1-0 in his three regular season games and going 0-2 in his two post-season starts. Whitmore would start off the 1989-90 season in Hartford before going back and forth between Hartford and Binghamton. Yet, his experience in Hartford was much better than the Binghamton. In the nine games in Hartford, Whitmore went 4-2-1, but when in Binghamton-- he had an abysmal 3-19-2 record in 24 games in the AHL, which was to no fault of Whitmore-- as the B-Whale only had 11 wins on the season. Whitmore would again be between Hartford and the AHL, but the Whalers moved their affiliate to Springfield. It was a much better year in the AHL for Whitmore, who went 22-9-1 in his 33 games down on the farm, yet when called upon in the NHL, Whitmore went 3-9-3. During the 1991 playoffs in the AHL, Whitmore was amazing, going 11-4 in his 15 games played and helped the Indians win the Calder Cup, as well as getting Playoff MVP honors along with it.

The 1991-92 season saw some better fortune for Whitmore, as he stayed in Hartford for the whole season, getting the starting role from Sidorkiewicz, even if his record didn't seem like a big deal. 45 games Whitmore would play, he went 14-21-6 for the season.

Even though his ups and downs, Whitmore would be pushed out due to the logjam coming from the minors. Whitmore would be traded before the start of the 1992-93 season to Vancouver for Corie D'Alessio and cash money. Whitmore would be behind Kirk McLean for most of that season, but saw a 31 games and put up an 18-8-4 record and helped the Canucks win the Smythe Division title. The next season, Whitmore got one more game in at 32 and still have 18 wins, but also 14 defeats and no ties. While he never got into the playoffs, he was along for the ride where the Canucks came up one goal short of a Stanley Cup title in the 1994 playoffs. Whitmore would have one last season with Vancouver during the shortened 1994-95 season, seeing 11 games and going 0-6-2 in those games.

The 1995-96 saw Whitmore go throughout the minors, as the Canucks sent him down to the farm. Whitmore played in the IHL for the Detroit Vipers (3-5-0 in 10 games) and the Long Beach Ice Dogs (10-9-7 in 30 games) before heading to the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL (6-4-1 in 11 games). Whitmore would then be traded to the New York Rangers in March of 1996 for Joey Kocur, but he would never see time on Broadway, heading back to Binghamton for the Binghamton Rangers, but only saw two games of playoff time, losing both games. With no teams interested in him for the 1996-97, Whitmore went over to play in Sweden for Sodertalje SK and saw 26 games, but no record can be found....or that I could find.

Whitmore would come back to North America, as the San Jose Sharks signed him as a free agent, but Whitmore would once again be IHL bound and back again with the Long Beach Ice Dogs for the 1997-98 season. Whitmore would see 48 games in the LBC, getting to winning form going 28-12-3. Whitmore had a 2.60 GAA, which was enough to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy for lowest GAA in the IHL, a title he shared with Mike Buzak.

It was a wild summer of 1998, with the Sharks traded Whitmore, as well as a second and fifth round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for Steve Shields and a fourth round pick. Whitmore then became a free agent, where he again signed with the New York Rangers. Yet, the 1998-99 season would see Whitmore in the minors, with both the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL (8-8-2 in 18 games) and the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL (10-6-4 in 22 games).

Whitmore would then sign with the Boston Bruins in the summer of 1999, but would spend the majority of the 1999-2000 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Even when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in December of 1999, Whitmore stayed in Providence. In 43 games that year, Whitmore went 17-19-3 for the year. Whitmore started off again in Providence for the 2000-01 season (13-8-2 in 26 games) , but was trade from the Oilers to the Bruins in December of 2000. He played five games in Boston, but went 1-2-0 in those games.

Whitmore would make one more kick in the can in North America, signing with the Calgary Flames in the summer of 2001, but was again sent to the minors for the Saint John Flames. In 36 games, Whitmore had a 10-16-8 record and actually got the call from Calgary for one games, losing it against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Whitmore would then become the goalie coach of the Peterborough Petes from 2002 until 2004, but would come out of retirement for three playoff games with the Nuremberg Tigers of the German League in the 2005 playoffs. Following his un-retirement, he retired again and went on to be an analyst for the NHL Network and Versus. After a three year stint, Whitmore became a goalie consultant for the NHL in terms of pad size and what-not.

Whitmore had plenty of ups and downs during his career, but kept at it hoping for one more shot at the big time. Of course, it's all about spirit and it seemed Whitmore had plenty of that, even with all the craptastic times he had with it.