Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Five: GTFO 2010

It's the end of the week and the end of the year, so we get the Friday Five to end out the year for you here on TSOoA-- which I'm sure you're thrilled about.

1. Before the review, could the Calgary Flames switch come at a better or worse time??

It was only a matter of time, as you knew the clock was ticking on Darryl Sutter's tenure when Jay Feaster was hired. I think it came at the best time for the Flames, as they seem to be needing a new voice to be making the moves. Feaster orchestrated the 2004 Stanley Cup champs, so his credentials are solid-- it's a matter of whether or not he can deal with the mess that was handed to him in a salary cap era that remains to be seen.

2. What was the story of the 2010 calendar year??

Personally, it has to be the Chicago Blackhawks and how they got dismantled because of some bad paperwork issues and dealing the salary cap. You could say the salary cap as a whole with the Devils and Flyers situation, but the Blackhawks got hit hard. Most of the cogs in the Stanley Cup victory got shipped out because the Hawks had no choice. Right now, they're hanging in the playoff race, but in that Western Conference; they need to get healthy quickly and start to gel as a team in order to have a shot this post-season.

3. If there was one game that's a must-watch from 2010, which would it be??

While I'm not fond of either team, Game Seven of the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers was a story you couldn't have scripted better. The Flyers were in Game Seven after being down 3-0 in the series; they tied up the series. But in the seventh game, they went down 3-0 in the first period only to score four goals unanswered to win the game and win the series. The story couldn't have been told any better-- much like the kayfabe era of wrestling where each match had a subtle, underlying story in the motions-- that's what this game entailed and showed how well the post-lockout rules and gameplay was supposed to be like.

4. Is there one event or moment that sticks out for this past year??

While it won't be the most dramatic ending, Patrick Kane's Cup-winning goal in Game Six will always stick in my mind. First off, because I had an idea it was in before he celebrated, but just the joy he had and the faith his teammates had in him as he was screaming down the ice to an unsuspecting Antii Niemi. It was a "hawkward" ending to a game, but it was great to see the big jubilation from one guy and then everyone else can follow the boy who cried goal.

5. What will 2011 hold for the NHL??

What do I look like, a psychic?? I think you'll see a lot more surprised teams going further in the playoffs-- specifically the Atlanta Thrashers, who have most of the Blackhawks from last year to lead the way. The Tampa Bay Lightning will sign Evgeni Nabokov and have him pluck off waivers by the Washington Capitals. In the end, Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Quick will duel for the Western crown, while the East is still too murky to tell who will be there.


If you have anything going for 2011, let me know and email me at with your ideas and whatever else you have to say. Have a happy and safe New Year's celebration-- whether it be out or in your own home. I'll be working overnights in a's that.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Affiliates Moving On Up

There seems to be an interesting trend that is coming to light recently. While games have been taken away from some NHL fans due to European travels and outdoor games; they have seemingly had some kind of reprive in the former of future players in their organization.

Starting tonight (December 30th), the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be one of three teams that will take the ice of their parent club. The Baby Pens will take on the Hershey Bears (the Washington Capitals AHL affiliate) at the Consol Energy Center, mostly as a lead-up to the main event on Saturday between the parent clubs. There's also a NCAA game there. However, me looking between the lines as I do-- this could be a way to give another game of revenue that is going to be missed from the arena due to the outdoor game on New Year's.

Subsequently, two other teams in the AHL will be doing the same thing. The Houston Aeros will be playing at the Xcel Energy Center on February 12th (NOTE: Thanks to Ms. Conduct from The Third Intermission for correcting this saying it's on the 13th, because a double hitter was a goofy idea) against the Peoria Rivermen as part of a day/night double-hitter, as the Wild play that night against the Blues (another NHL/AHL affiliation tilt). A few days later on the 18th, the Abbotsford Heat will be playing at the ScotiaBank Saddledome against the Oklahoma City Oil Barons in a mini-Battle of Alberta game, as the Barons are the Edmonton Oilers affiliate.

While this might seem just like a reasoning to get fans in the area more away of their AHL talent, the Wild played two games in Helsinki to open the season, one being a home game; while the Flames are playing in the Heritage Classic. It may seem like a long-shot opinion, but these AHL teams coming into the parent city could be a ploy to actually regain that lost home date in the arena and generate some more bucks.

While that's not a bad thing at all, it does seem to have a trickle down effect. Since these AHL teams are going to play in another arena, the fans at the AHL level lose a game because of it-- which isn't the best way to keep fans around. Even the most loyal of fan has to be peeved at something like. Houston is in the top-five of AHL average attendance (5,766), which has to sting a bit for their fans considering that driving to Minnesota probably isn't an option at all. In the case of the Penguins, whom are sixth (5,750), they could drive there to make up for it and see the new arena, but who knows the means some fans may have, especially with the holiday season being as it is. The Abbotsford Heat are in the bottom-five in attendance (3,382), so it could actually give them a boost when you think about it.

Even so, it's kind of a rough situation to try and pull off. It's good in some aspect, like fans who may not be as close to their prospects actually getting a live look at them, bringing in some exposure to them, and the players who get to experience what it feels like to be in The Show atmosphere if they haven't gotten a taste yet. However, it's definitely bad when fans have to lose a game at home because of one situation to another. And who knows what could happen if the ECHL team wants to play in the AHL arena and so on. The trickle-down theory could be in effect.....but doubtful, just my hypothesis.

In the end, it's all about the parent club getting some revenue in order to maybe keep the affiliate around and be able to generate interest in the home fan base for the minor league team. It definitely should peak the interest in those who aren't going to pay the NHL prices to see some good hockey in their NHL barn. Who knows if this trend will continue for teams that lose a home game or for teams who just want to get an extra date in their barn. As of yet, the other teams who participated in the overseas Premiere games (Boston, Carolina, Columbus, Phoenix, or San Jose) have yet to announce their AHL affiliate playing in their arena

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On the Topic of the Spengler Cup

Lost in all the holiday hockey tournaments and return of the NHL into the holiday season is the Spengler Cup. The Spengler Cup has been held since 1923 in Davos, Switzerland (though not held a couple times due to WWII) and is one of the bigger stand-alone tournaments amongst European club teams. This year, the club teams are the host HC Davos and fellow Swiss team Genève-Servette, KHL teams SKA St. Petersburg and Spartak Moscow; Czech team HC Sparta Praha, and an entry from Hockey Canada.

While the others are club teams, the Hockey Canada contingent is a conglomerated team from players who are mostly based out of the Swiss Elite League, with the exception this year of Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who is playing in the AHL. While you have some teammates, the fact that this team didn't have much practice and still steamrolled a team like Spartak Moscow 6-1 in their first game shows how good the coaching staff of Mark Messier and Doug Shedden has adjusted these players to playing under one system. Granted, Spartak played their third game in five days and on the tail-end of the back-to-back games in their loss; but still.

The contingent of these players, like I said, are from the Swiss league, but there's plenty of former NHL and AHL talent on that team. Names you thought were long forgotten like Glen Metropolit, Mark Bell, Duvie Westcott, Brett McLean, Serge Aubin, Brenden Bell, Martin Kariya, Curtis Brown, and Tyler Moss-- all rostered on this team. Like I said, Deslauriers is the starter on this team and has played on the Oklahoma City Oil Barons most of the season. And while these guys won't be the most revered when it comes to being part of a Team Canada; it seems the coaching staff has done a great job to get the best Canadians on a roster to play in this game and while they probably could have asked for the release of some other minor league players-- the genius of getting guys from the Swiss league is fantastic. They didn't have to get guys adjusted to the ice size, didn't have to get them adjusted to the elevation (5,118 ft. above sea level; highest city in Europe), and won't have to get them adjusted to the ruckus crowd for when they take on the home squad and other local teams.

The tournament is something that does get lost in the crowd for most hockey fans, especially since there's not many mainstream teams and no US teams there. There's some Canadian fans who care about this tournament because there's a Canadian team there-- but it gets lost in the hype of the World Juniors and the holiday breaks that happen. When the Canadian team wins, they get some accolades, but it's not big-- even though it's the oldest invitational tournament there is in the land. Yet, does it have to be a big deal overseas so long as the players know what they did and what they've achieved?? Probably not, but it'd be nice to see these guys getting some recognition on a bigger scale than a small 30-second highlight pack of the final game. Luckily, TSN was able to pick up the tournament and will hype it-- even if it's relegated to TSN2 for some games in lieu of World Junior games.

This kind of tournament makes me wonder if there could or should be a Canadian National Touring team like they had when the Olympics were amateur competition, since players could play in any pro league to keep their amateur status and be able to play in the Olympics. While that idea probably wouldn't happen-- it could be interesting to see a team made up of Canadians just touring the globe to play random exhibitions against club teams and then going into tournaments like the Spengler Cup and show off their talents. Not likely to happen in this day-in-age, but still an interesting option for guys who may not be as psyched to go play overseas if they can't find anything in North America.

The Spengler Cup is something that should get more coverage, but it won't in the US because of a lack of invited team and it'll get dulled in Canada because of the World Juniors. It doesn't make it any less of the feat to win it, but there should be a little more attention given to it because it is a great event that's played in an amazing looking arena, to boot. Best of luck to those playing in it because it is exciting hockey to watch.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Troy Gamble

The whole point of this project is to take into account the entire career of a goalie who was in the spotlight for 15 minutes and is often remembered at the most random times. This week's inductee does hit that mark, but like the others-- marred by injuries and happenstance, which halted his career going forward. This week, we look at the guy who almost overtook the Canucks' cage in the early 90s, which could have changed their history....or not. This week, we look at Troy Gamble.

Gamble's plight started out with the Hobberma Hawks of the AJHL Junior A level, where he would go 6-19-1. While it wasn't the best record to sport, he turned his fortune around the next season (1984-85) with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers, where he would play 37 games and have a stellar 27-6-2 record, while going 1-1 in two playoff games. That season afforded Gamble Eastern First Team All-Star and Goaltender of the Year honors after the season. It allowed Gamble to be drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1985 Draft in the second round. The 1985-86 season saw another solid season for Gamble with the Tigers, going 28-11-0 in 45 games, with a 5-4 playoff record in 11 games in the post season.

The 1986-87 season had Gamble start off with the Tigers, going 7-3-0 in 11 games, before he would get a call-up for his first game in the NHL with the Canucks in late November, losing 5-2. The Tigers then traded Gamble to the Spokane Chiefs in December, where he would play 38 games and put a 17-17-1 record together before getting swept in five games in the semi-finals to the Portland Winterhawks. The 1987-88 season saw Gamble back in Spokane and he compiled another solid year with a 36-26-1 record in 67 games, but going 7-8 in 15 playoffs games; losing in the Division Finals. Yet, it was a good enough year for Gamble to take home another Goaltender of the Year and West First Team All-Star awards for the season.

Gamble would move onto the pro-ranks in the 1988-89 season, playing with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL for 42 games, with a solid 23-9-0 record, while getting a five game call-up with the Vancouver Canucks, going 2-3-0 in this stint. Gamble would get the Admirals to the playoffs, going 5-5 in 11 games of the post-season. It was back in Milwaukee for the 1989-90 season for Gamble, as he would play 56 games for the Admirals with a 22-21-4 record, then going 2-2 in five playoff games.

The 1990-91 season brought about an interesting situation for Gamble, who was in the running for the starting job for the Canucks, as incumbent starter, Kirk McLean, seemed to be having issues with consistency. Gamble got more games in than McLean that season, going 16-16-6 in 47 games, while going 1-3 in four playoff games. The 1991-92 season should have been a breakout season for Gamble, however-- he was to deal with concussion problems throughout the season-- only playing 19 games with Vancouver with a 4-9-3 record. Gamble would also play with the Milwaukee Admirals for nine games with a 2-4-2 record.

Gamble would split the 1992-93 season between the AHL's Hamilton Canucks and IHL's Cincinnati Cyclones. With Hamilton for 14 games, Gamble went 1-10-2, while in 33 games with Cincinnati, Gamble had an 11-18-2 record.

The 1993-94 season started the IHL years for Gamble, playing that first season with the Kalamazoo Wings; going 25-13-5 in 48 games, then going 0-1 in two post-season games. In 1994-95 season, Gamble would move south to Houston to play for the Aeros for 43 games that season; compiling an 18-17-5 record and going 1-3 in four playoff games. Gamble would stay in Houston for the 1995-96 season, but to less than desirable results-- playing 52 games with a 16-25-5 record. Gamble would retire after that season.

Gamble stayed in the Houston area, becoming color commentator for the Aeros for a few seasons after his retirement, but faded off into obscurity. Though, his name did come up recently-- however through the tragedy of his son being killed in Afghanistan.

If not for concussion issues, who knows what could have happened with Gamble's career with the Canucks. That said, he didn't seem to be the same after the concussions, as his records would show-- even though you cannot determine if that's from the concussions or if it's due to the teams around him. Yet, after an impressive junior career and promising NHL stint, you would have hoped that if not for the injuries-- he could have done something while up in the Canucks system, which could have changed everything about Kirk McLean that the Canucks fans come to know. But, no need to live in hypothetical, because we didn't have to deal with it one way or another.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Five: Holiday Spectacular

Hopefully, your Festivus celebrations were great, going into the Christmas season-- but the Friday Five doesn't stop; much to the chagrin to some of included. Wait, what??

1. With the Devils firing John MacLean, is there any chance they improve under the tutelage of Jacques Lemaire??

With the Devils being 9-23-2, I doubt there's much that's going to be able to turn them around, even a coaching change. The team is in choke-hold against the salary cap and don't have the parts needed to make a big run, regardless of the coach. MacLean got a bad draw from the situation he was put in, but it is what it is in the business of hockey. MacLean was a great assistant coach and could probably land on his feet elsewhere in the league; but head coaching could be just out of his grasp for right now.

2. The hiring of Donald Fehr has caused a lot of "Chicken Littling" amongst fans and pundits alike-- is there a case for such worry??

Not two years away from the CBA running out, no. But at the same time-- the worry of Fehr's past definitely shouldn't be ignored. At the same time, this puts the NHLPA at level footing as the NHL when it comes to having some top negotiators at the table when it comes to bargaining. Fehr probably won't be playing hardball when it comes to getting something signed, but he won't let the NHL run the table, either. His hiring is something that is good for the players, keeps the league on their toes, and could be good for the game, as well.

3. The waffle gimmick of the Toronto Maple Leafs has reached a boiling/Scrooge point, as the last waffle thrower got charged with mischief and banned from the Air Canada Centre. What the problem is?!?

Elliotte Friedman of CBC had a great point that the Leafs should embrace this like the Florida Panthers the rats being thrown onto the ice back in the mid-90s. While you have players who will complain because it creates an unsafe playing surface, this doesn't help the ideal of hockey players not having great personalities. While they are accessible, they seem to have lost the fun factor. It's not like it's an octopi that could make things's a waffle. It's bread and usually frozen unless cooked up. It's easy enough to remove. The Leafs should just roll with it, but unless MLSE can profit off of this....they won't allow it.

4. The WJC starts up on the 26th in Buffalo, with Team USA as defending champs. How much of a chance that they'll repeat??

Now, the last time the US won the WJC title, they didn't medal the next tournament. That said, they have good a team as any out there and could repeat with many returning players for this tournament. Even so, the Canadians you can never count out and the Russians looked pretty good against the CHL all-stars when they came over for their tour of Canada. We'll just have to wait until the puck drops, but I think those are the three teams that could really make a the most noise, while the Swedes and Finns are unassuming and could be taken too lightly.

5. Since it's Christmas-- what's on the list this year??

I won't be hacky and make a list for all the teams....because I'm too lazy to do that. Personally though, it's to a time where I worry more about little Kegger Wazz than myself, because I have too much stuff anyway. It's all good though, it's the thought of the season that counts and maybe I can afford to go back home next year. We'll see.


To you and yours, have a great Christmas (if you celebrate it, mind you) and I hope you all have a great time with family, friends, or just by yourself. I won't plug this week, which is my gift to you.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all-- a good night.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On the Topic of Losing a Team

While there has been much talk about relocation in the NHL lexicon in the next few years, you have to definitely feel for the fans of the teams being talked about who actually show up for the game. It's definitely a kick of sand to their faces when it comes to having a team taken away from them.

This sort of thing happens more often than not when it comes to the minor league ranks, as the ownership is sometimes a carousel of people going in and coming out. Also, you have the city stay the same, but affiliation and leagues change year-in and year-out. It makes it tough to get some kind of loyalty going and the connection when it comes to fan and team.

However, it's definitely hard on the players and staff, as well. Some players build up a great report with the area and some fans and hate to be taken away from the atmosphere. The staff is often guys who are from the area who work or have worked with a team before and relocated to the destination to settle into before the team even move into the area, then got hired on because of location.

Personally, I went through this ordeal when I worked as a stick boy for the Chesapeake Icebreakers during the 1998-99 season at the ripe old age of 15. Now, the Icebreakers weren't the biggest draw.....and to be honest, they were lucky to have 200 or 300 people in the Show Place Arena-- which holds 4,000 for hockey. It was quite the sad sight to see when out there. While out on the bench for warm-ups, the players would often talk about the "raucous" crowd that was waiting for some exciting action. And it wasn't bad hockey for the most part and has players like former NHLers David Aebischer, Gaston Gingras, head coach Chris Nilan, and current National Lacrosse League player Kaleb Toth.

By about mid-season, the Icebreakers had a knowledge that this was going to be their last season in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and just wondered what would happened next. They did what they could to garner attention, including a near sell-out for a game against heated rival Roanoke Express, for which there were plenty of fights and bad blood between all involved. This would also be the team that eliminated them in the Conference Semi-Finals, sealing the fate of the team when all was said and done.

The mood surrounding the team after that last game was somber at best. The room was quiet and just everyone didn't know what to do. The staff just sat around and wonder what was going to be the next step. Even the mascot didn't know what the hell to he sat there with the polar bear head off and sitting on the crappy couch in the mascot room. It was.....odd to say the least.

The next day was the move-out day for players and staff, as the team was transferring to Jackson, Mississippi. Yet, the feel was a little more upbeat. The players did their year-end physical and packed their gear while shooting the breeze with teammates and staff; even goofing off in the dressing room, which would be converted into.....well, no one is quite sure. In fact, one of the players actually got me to help haul the inflatable polar bear head (which the players skated through during introductions) half-way up the ramp when one of the other guys stopped us and reminded how much it probably cost and how it could be billed for such a thing. Then we dragged it back to its original spot.

Only one of the training staff went with the team, as the equipment manager stayed in Maryland and most of the other staff did the same. While it may not seem like much, it was still something to me, who was looking for a hockey career in some facet off the ice. Look where it's gotten me now....

In any case, the point is that it really effects more than the fans-- but I assume that's a given. It's not good to lose a team, especially when you actually have a tight connection to some of the players who are there. Plus, when they leave-- most of the staff is left with nothing and have to get a real job or jobs. In fact, the equipment manager went on to work part-time at the pro-shop at one of the local rinks. Quite odd running into him a few years down the road. While the players get to move on, some do not.

I don't know why I wrote this piece-- maybe to give another perspective on the whole thing or maybe because people have beaten the waffle train to death. Plus, while it sucks to lose a team, sometimes it's a necessary evil. It's not just the team or players you're supporting; it's the people behind the scenes, as well. Support your local hockey team, kids-- or don't bitch about losing them if/when you do.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: John Blue

In the giving spirit of things, I'll give a chance to a lucky emailer to pick out the AGM for this week, and it's a great one at that (Thanks to Justin W.). From a kid who grew up in a hockey obscure market, then going on to being a surprise in the NCAA, going to the Olympics, then to the NHL-- but never panned out to the hype that go him there. While he was a higher rating than the starter in NHL94, he saw less than 50 games in his NHL career, but found a new calling when it was all said and done. This week, the career of John Blue.

The mention of a hockey obscure market is that Blue grew up in Huntington Beach, California, where surfing and volleyball seem to be the norm. However, Blue liked the calling of hockey and playing in net. So much so that he uprooted from California to move to Des Moines, Iowa in order to join the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers and experience more competitive hockey. He would only play 15 games in the 1983-84 season, but he was exposed to where he needed to be in order to be successful in the game.

Blue went to the University of Minnesota starting in the 1984-85 season and Blue was able to get into the starting role in his freshman year. That year, Blue was stellar, going 23-10-0 in 34 games, including two shutouts. His performance got him WCHA Second Team All Star honors. Blue continued to hold-steady in the 1985-86 season, going 20-9-0 in 29 games, this time going into the First Team All-Star for the WCHA. Blue's play was able to get him drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the tenth round of the 1986 Draft. With that momentum, Blue went into the 1986-87 season with confidence and it showed in his play, going 21-9-1 in 33 games on the year. In his time, Blue was able to get Minnesota into the NCAA Tournament, making it to the Frozen Four twice (1986 and 1987).

With his play in college, he was picked to help represent the USA in the 1988 Olympics, which meant that Blue had to leave school and go play with the US National Team in preparation. Blue would appear in 13 games for Team USA in pre-Olympic exhibitions, going 3-4-1. However, Blue was not used when the Olympics were played.

After he returned from the Olympics, his rights were traded from Winnipeg to the Minnesota North Stars for a draft pick. Blue would turn pro at the tail-end of the 1987-88 season, playing in the IHL for the Kalamazoo Wings for 15 games and going 3-8-4 and playing in one playoff game, which was a loss. The 1988-89 season was split for Blue, who would play for the Wings again for 17 games (8-6-0), but would also be shuffled to the Virgina Lanchers of the ECHL, where he would play for ten games with a 4.00 GAA. Blue would be shuttled around in the 1989-90 season, starting off with Kalamazoo for four games going 2-1-1 before being loaned to the Phoenix Roadrunners of the IHL, where he would play 19 games going 5-10-3. Blue would be sent to the ECHL's Knoxville Cherokees for 19 games, compiling a 6-10-1 record. Blue would also represent the USA in the 1990 World Hockey Championships, going 2-2-0 in five games of play. It was another roundabout season for Blue in 1990-91, where he would play with Knoxville for three games (1-1-0), then to the IHL with Kalamazoo for one game (a win), then out to play for the Peoria Rivermen for four games (4-0-0), then moving to the Albany Choppers for 19 games 11-6-0. Even with that moving around, Blue would play for Team USA again in the World Championships, though he wouldn't see any game time.

Becoming a free agent at the end of the season, Blue signed on with the Boston Bruins before the 1991-92 season, giving him some kind of stability, as he would play the season with the Maine Mariners of the AHL. Blue would get 43 games in during the 1991-92 season, going 11-23-6 for the season. Another call from Team USA at the World Championships, but another tournament with no games played. The 1992-93 season had Blue start with the Providence Bruins, where he would play 19 games with a 14-4-0 record before getting a call-up to Boston. In Boston, Blue would back-up Andy Moog and see 23 games of action, putting together a 9-8-4 record, also seeing two playoff games, going 0-1. Blue would start in Boston for the 1993-94 season, but would struggle in his 18 games, going 5-8-3 before being sent down to Providence, going 7-11-4 in his 24 games there. With the 1994-95 lockout, Blue didn't play much; but would start up in Providence when things got going-- playing 10 games with a 6-3-0 record, but would go 1-3 in four playoff games.

Blue went unsigned at the start of the 1995-96 season, which landed him in the IHL, first with the Phoenix Roadrunners, where he would play eight games with a 1-5-0 record. Then he was traded to the Fort Wayne Komets, where he would play five games with a 1-2-2 record before getting another shot at the big time.

Blue was signed as a free agent in late December of 1995 by the Buffalo Sabres. He would play five games with the Sabres, going 2-2-0 before he was sent down to the Rochester Americans of the AHL. With the Amerks, Blue played in 14 games, going 4-6-1 and 0-1 in the playoffs.

The 1996-97 season relegated Blue to the WPHL, playing with the Austin Ice Bats, where he would split time with Chad Erickson. Blue would play 33 games and put up a 17-11-5 record, while going 0-2 in the playoffs. Blue retired after that season.

Currently, Blue is the Lead Pastor of the Pacific Pointe Church in Irvine, California. During is playing career, Blue's faith in Jesus was question and he turned to the Bible after looking at his life and how it had gotten away from him. Blue also held Bible studies with former NHLer Curtis Brown and current NHLer Brian Pothier.

Blue discovered that there's more to life outside the game and that hockey was just a game. Even though he did have some personal accolades, he did see a bigger picture in the end and followed through on it. Kind of ironic that he's profiled this week, as many celebrate the birth of Jesus. In any case, God bless Blue for seeing a bigger picture, bigger than himself.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Critiquing the Caps

Ever since I saw my first game on February 3rd, 1989 when Bengt Gustafsson scored the only goal against Mike Liut of the Hartford Whalers (on Gustafsson "shirsey" night, no less), I was a Caps fan. And when being a Caps fan, heartache seems to happen all the time. Lest we forget the Patrick Division playoffs when the Penguins always came back from being down 3-1 to win, but it just comes with the territory.

Yet, with all the history of heartache, why are the fans taking this eight-game losing streak so hard and why is the second guessing of everything and everyone associated with the Capitals organization??

Is the coaching of Bruce Boudreau finally reached its peak and it's time to move on??

Everyone loves Boudreau, which could make it hard to fire him and could cause a wave of backlash. However, if it seems to have reached its cresendo; you have to make a move. I don't think that it's at that point yet, but the first guy to go will probably be Boudreau since coaches are more easily expendable than anything else. As it seems that the Caps are trying out a new system of play, there's going to be some leeway; but at what point does Boudreau abandon the new style of play??

The idea of the new system of defense is something that will take time to get used to, especially since this is a team that's been a run-and-gun team for the past couple of seasons, so the adjustment will be a noticeable one, especially when they've been know to play the old firewagon hockey style. The players won't be as dynamic, the play will not be as exciting, and the team will show off their weaknesses when it comes to trying to adhere to the new system, but not knowing how to blend one style into another. They seem to be too concerned with sticking to the defensive side, they completely forgot about the offensive side of things. They just need one break, though.

Speaking of offense, the one big thing is the lack of offense from Alex Ovechkin. Many have even called for Ovechkin to either give up or get stripped of his captaincy for not being a leader. Before I go ahead, I'll say always that the team's best player doesn't need to be the captain, because they may lack a leadership quality. It's not a bad thing for the best player to not have the captaincy. In any case, Ovechkin seemed to do well with the captaincy when he got it after Chris Clark was traded to the Blue Jackets. The Caps and Ovechkin did an amazing job that first year, why are people calling for Ovechkin to not have the "C" anymore?? Are there any better leaders on that team?? Maybe, but at the same time-- those are the folk-hero players that fans like for one reason or another and probably won't do better than what Ovechkin is doing. It's just a bad run of luck for the team and they need a break-- especially Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Alex Semin.

If nothing else the idea of the team buying into their own media hype that's killing them. Green is in National TV commericals, Ovechkin's got his own DVD and clothing line, Boudreau had his own book-- the fact people picked them to go all the way maybe had them buy into the fact they don't have to play the season now and will have things handed to them. Add the hype to the system change, to the bad breaks-- recipe for disaster.

In the end, there has to be an end to this streak one of these days and it could spark the Caps into the big run that'll help them get back into their old ways. However, Jonny P said on the December 15th Show that it's better to have this losing streak and system change now, rather than late in the season when they're trying to gear up for the playoffs. If there's a time to come up and stick with a New Year's Resolution, it's for the Caps to snap out of these losing ways and actually become the team every pundit and fans thought they could be this season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Five: Reviews, Returns, and Removed

This blog really is turning into a Monday-Tuesday-Friday blog. If I wasn't so lazy or wanting to do something different, I could actually have some staying power. Anyway-- time for the Friday Five, so enjoy the end of the week stuff.

1. The Caps/Pens 24/7 thing premiere with rave reviews from the viewing public. How much staying power does this have for the future??

I've always said that there needs to be some kind of reality show for the NHL because it would be something that could be great. The NFL has NFL Films and have guys always mic'd up, the MLB has had some stuff in the past-- this could be the thing that makes the NHL realize this is a good idea and this could market the league better than anything else.

Plus, it tells the tale of how it is in the Show, which is something that many people may never get close to experience and really get inside the player's lives. Of course, hockey players are the most accessible athletes out there-- but this just extent of that.

2. Dion Phaneuf made his awaited return to Calgary to mixed reviews. Should he (or any player) get heckled for a decision they may have not had a hand in??

There were a lot of Flames fans who had given up on Phaneuf well before he got traded, so if they're bitter-- they have a right to boo. Plus, it depends on what story you believe when the fallout happens after the trade. If you believe it was for the good of a team, then you won't feel so bad; but if you believe he was a mess in the locker room and caused havoc and feel slighted-- boo away.

I don't think that it's particularly right to boo someone unless they ask publicly to be traded for one reason or another-- that's when all fans have a right to be bitter about it because that player is basically saying that your favorite team stinks.

3. There was something on Twitter about Steve Mason being the most frequently pulled goalie since the start of the 2009-10 season. After his rookie campaign was fantastic, the ultimate question is....whahappen??

Mason fell into JonnyP's "Hedberg Effect" method, where a goalie comes out of nowhere to be good, only because shooters haven't seen him and couldn't solved him quick enough. Now, guys know his weakness and he's getting beaten like the Gimp. Mason is still young though and could get some adjustments made in order to get back into form physically. The mental issue could be the thing that could be the hardest for Mason to overcome.

4. The Southeast Division could be one with the sparsest of attendances for most of the teams, but three of them have playoffs spots and Carolina is in the 9th spot. Could this be the time that the Southeast gets its due??

It seems that the Southeast always has these glimmers of hope when it comes to teams being in the playoff and shaking the moniker of being the weakest division in the NHL, but this could be yet another mirage. The Caps seemed like a sure thing, but their seven-game losing streak has halted the runaway season; the Thrashers a great young team, but will they be able to keep the pace they've set?? Tampa Bay will get better with Vincent Lecavalier in the line-up.....if their goaltending holds up and Carolina could be the most bi-polar team out there, so who knows.

That said, I don't know if this moniker will be shaken this year, but it seems to be on the horizon. The talent is too good on these teams to keep them down....if they can stay together for the long haul.

5. There were 23,096 stuffed animals thrown to the ice at the Calgary Hitmen game on Sunday. Is there any better promotion in juniors/minors than the teddy bear toss??

The TBT is a staple for many teams-- Calgary included-- and most people only go to the TBT game to witness and to contribute. I've been to a couple of Calgary's TBTs and it's a sight to see. Just going from the puck in net and just bears all over the place. It's like a toy store exploded--
very awesome to see. If you have the chance, I highly suggest you take in a TBT game. Best part, it won't cost you an arm and a leg like an NHL may cost.


That's it-- another week in the books. Any suggestion for topics, I'd greatly welcome them-- is the place to send them and odds are; if you submit something; it'll be put on here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Preference of Respect

As the whole imaginary debacle about Linus Omark's "disrespect" in the shootout against the Lightning on Friday night is dying down-- it got me thinking what can be construed as disrespect. The term seems to be thrown around a little too loosely these days in the NHL, and in hockey in general. Yet, when you look this goal in comparison to another recent goal; the question should arise about which is worse.

First, if you haven't seen the move he pulled on Dan Ellis, it's here below.

Now, you compare that to another spectacular YouTube sensation from Oscar Milton in the second-tier Swedish league. Again, if you haven't seen it-- here it is below.

As a player, I think the Milton goal is much more "disrespectful" than Omark's move-- and here comes the (non) science. You see, the shootout is a gimmick and when it comes to gimmick events, you expect gimmick plays. We've seen it from Thomas Vanek's around the world all the way to Marek Malik putting it between his legs to end a marathon shootout. You expect guys to pull out all the tricks because they really have nothing to lose in doing them, especially if it won't affect the outcome. The point is try to lure the goalie into getting faked out.

That said, Milton's goal was a little more of a showboat effort. While it does take incredible skill, poise, and timing-- the fact he's doing it in a game is something that never sits too well with me. People can go on and on about respect, but if you wanted to play lacrosse-- pick up a twig and go for it. I can't say it's not impressive, because it is, but in the end-- if you're pulling off this stunt when it comes to a game-play situation, you deserve the karma you'll get in the end for doing it.

Which brings me to the point about the term "respect" being used way too commonly when it comes to hockey. Some people are up in arms about a shootout goal, but it's almost like it's being put on the same par with head-shots, hits from behind, and other, more evil things that are plaguing the game today. These two should not correlate to each other. Ever. When you talk about respecting the game, it should be about when it comes to the actual game scenario-- not a skills competition. There's much more pressing issues when it comes to "respecting the game" than a young kid who has been known for the exciting moves in shootouts. You want to worry about Omark respecting the game, clean up the hits, get the dirty shots to the head out of the game, then-- and only then-- can you talk about a great skill move in a skills competition.

All of this said, both Milton and Omark's goals are fantastic and most of my jealous is the fact I couldn't make those moves because I'm a lumbering defenseman. Luckily, Dustin Byfuglien is stepping it up for the big man when it comes to being a finesse player.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Wade Flaherty

For a guy who played 20 seasons in professional hockey, I don't know if there's an AGM who has played less in the show than this week's inductee. Of course, this goalie became a folk-hero in many of the places where he played and even took his craft across the pond to use his expertise to expand a sport in a nation just getting into the game. This week, we look at the career of Wade Flaherty.

Flaherty's career started in Terrace, BC with the Terrace Titans; he did get one game in with the WHL's Kelowna Wings-- but it was a no-decision. The 1985-86 season had Flaherty play mostly with the PCJHL's Williams Lake Mustangs, being called up by the Seattle Thunderbirds for nine games (1-3-0) and then with the Spokane Chiefs for five games (0-3-0). The 1986-87 season would have Flaherty with the BCJHL's Nanaimo Clippers for 15 games before he would be called up to the WHL again, this time with the Victoria Cougars. Flaherty would only play in three games, going 0-2-0 in those games.

Flaherty would settle in with Victoria for the 1987-88 season, playing 36 games finishing with a record of 20-16-0; then going 2-3 in the playoffs. That season was enough for Flaherty to get drafted in the ninth round by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1988 Draft. The 1988-89 season had Flaherty back with Victoria, taking on a bigger role with 42 games in net and a 21-19-0 record in his last year of junior eligibility.

The 1989-90 season would see Flaherty start his pro career with the ECHL's Greensboro Monarchs. Flaherty split time with Nick Vitucci during the regular season, playing 27 games with a 12-9-1 record; but took over the reigns during the playoffs, going 9-2 to help lead the Monarchs win the Riley Cup as ECHL champions. Flaherty was named Playoff MVP for his efforts.

Without getting signed by the Sabres, Flaherty signed with the San Jose Sharks in the summer of 1990 and would start off with the IHL's Kansas City Blades for the 1990-91 season. Flaherty would play 56 games, though it would only yield a 16-31-4 record for him. The 1991-92 season would be better in KC for Flaherty, as he would go 26-14-3 in 43 games with the Blades; as well as sharing the James Norris Trophy for fewest goals-against with Arturs Irbe. That year would also see Flaherty get a call-up for three games in the NHL with the Sharks, losing all three games. Flaherty continued to get better in Kansas City into the 1992-93 season, going 34-19-7 in 61 games, then going 6-6 in 12 playoff games. Another call-up that season by the Sharks and another loss. The 1993-94 season had Flaherty strictly in Kansas City, getting in 60 games for the season with a 32-19-9 record.

The shortened-season of 1994-95 afforded Flaherty to get a full-time gig in San Jose, where he would play 18 games with a 5-6-1 record, while also getting time in the playoffs with a 2-3 record. Flaherty would stay in San Jose in the 1995-96 season, playing in a system with many goalies fight for space, but managed to get 24 games behind Irbe and former AGM Chris Terreri; which saw Flaherty go 3-12-1 on an abysmal Sharks team. More congestion in net and a broken collarbone would see Flaherty get only seven games in San Jose with a 2-4-0 record; as well as getting sent to the AHL's Kentucky Thoroughblades, where he would get in 19 games and put up a record of 8-6-2 record and a 1-2 playoff record.

With the logjam in San Jose, Flaherty signed with the New York Islanders before the 1997-98 season, where he was sent to the IHL's Utah Grizzlies to start off the season. After going 16-5-3, Flaherty got the call-up to the Islanders, where he would post a 4-4-3 record in 16 games; three of those wins coming by shutout. Flaherty made the Isles opening day roster, but would be sent down to the AHL's Lowell Lock Monsters shortly after that, where he would go 1-3-1 in five games before getting called up to the Islanders for 20 games which would have him go 5-11-2. The 1999-2000 campaign would be short-one for Flaherty, as he would only play four games (0-1-1) on Long Island before he would go out to shoulder surgery. He would return for the 2000-01 season, playing in 20 games with a 6-10-0, before he was dealt.

Flaherty was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a conditional draft pick, but would only play in two games-- losing both.

The summer of 2001 saw Flaherty sign with the Florida Panthers, but would spend most of his season with the AHL's Utah Grizzlies, playing in 45 games with a 22-13-5 record. Flaherty would get a call-up to Florida for four games with a 2-1-1 record. The 2002-03 season had Flaherty in the AHL again, this time with the San Antonio Rampage, going 11-13-5 in 30 games before his NHL affiliation was on the move again.

Flaherty was traded by the Panthers to Nashville for Pascal Trepanier, but Flaherty's time in Nashville would be short-lived, as he would play only one game, a loss. The 2003-04 season had Flaherty stay in the Predators organization, but in the minors with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. During the regular season, Flaherty would play only 36 games, compiling a 21-12-3 record; but much like his first pro season, Flaherty shined in the playoffs-- going 16-5, helping the Admirals win the Calder Cup. Flaherty won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP.

In the summer of 2004, Flaherty was signed by the Vancouver Canucks, but it was mostly for the Manitoba Moose's benefit, as that is where wound up. For the 2004-05 season, Flaherty would get 36 games in with a 19-10-3 record in the regular season, then a 8-4 record in the post-season. Flaherty would see more time in the 2005-06 season, with 49 games played and a 26-17-4 record before a 7-5 post-season campaign. Injuries late in the season took its toll on Flaherty in the 2006-07 season, as he would only get 32 games in thanks to leg injuries; finishing with a 17-9-2 record. Flaherty would only play in three playoff games, going 1-2.

Time in Manitoba had run their course, which lead Flaherty to the Chicago Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs for the 2007-08 season. Flaherty would play 31 games, going 13-8-1 in a season that would have their share of injury problems.

After that season, Flaherty left North America in pursuit of other hockey ventures. The 2008-09 season landed him in China to play for the China Sharks. Not only would he play 39 games for the Sharks, but he would also be the goaltending coach for the Sharks and the Chinese National Team; trying to start to establish a competitive base there. Flaherty would hang-up his pads after that season.

Currently, Flaherty is the developmental goalie coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, where he's been since January of 2009.

Flaherty was everywhere and probably has the longest career for only playing 120 games in the NHL. He played 283 in the AHL, 244 in the IHL, and his career lasted long enough for him to play over in China. Another story of having logjams and not so great teams to deal with in trying to be successful in the pro game. He has two championships in the minor leagues and is now able to use his experiences in playing and being send down to mold the younger goalies in the Blackhawks organization.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Five: Capital Worries

It's another end of the week, which brings about the Friday Five-- where I just look at some storylines and comment on it. It's simple, that much I know.

1. The Caps have dropped four in a row, when does the panic set in??

You can almost see that the wheels on the bandwagon are getting loose-- but if it hasn't set in yet for the team, it should soon. You almost have to think they've bought into their own hype from last year and the pre-season predictions. That said, it's not the Caps are playing horrific, but it seems when they do slide, it gets magnified more than some other teams out there. I think it's more alarming that Alex Ovechkin isn't shooting enough (for his standards), even though he's on pace for a record number of points.

2. What, if anything, can stop the slide and actually get them to the dominant team everyone thought they'd be??

I still say that the platoon goaltending isn't going to last through the entire year and I think that the inexperience of both Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth at the NHL level will be the end of them. That's an opinion that's not popular amongst Caps fans, but it's something that seems to plague the Caps fateful. They like their home-grown talent and their folk-hero players-- but sadly, that will most likely lead to disappointment when it matters most. So, my guess is an experienced goalie will help by the deadline-- but it could happen sooner if the struggles continue.

3. IIHF is re-starting the Champions' League for the 2011-12 season. Is it really a Champions' League if there's no Stanley Cup or even Calder Cup representative??

It's a bit of a misnomer to promote a Champions' League and not have a Stanley Cup winner there, but it's something where the MLS isn't there for the European Soccer Champions' League. This is something that should only be European only because their schedules are more lenient and allows them to schedule other games outside of their league games. It'd be nice for there to be a North America representation, but it's definitely less than necessary to have them there. Let the Cup champs and Champions' League winner face-off in the Victoria Cup in September to really show themselves off.

4. Hate to make it Caps-sentric, but what can we expect out of both teams for the Winter Classic alumni game??

For the Caps, we already know that Peter Bondra will be playing, but no one else. I'd love to see Scott Stevens, Rod Langway, Sylvain Cote, Al Iafrate, and Calle Johansson on the blue line. Michal Pivonka, Mike Gartner, Bengt Gustafsson, Dale Hunter, and (sadly) Craig Laughlin up front. If they can get Don Beaupre and/or Jim Carey in net (though Olie Kolzig will make the trip over if need be), that'd be amazing.

The Penguins already announced that Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, and newly retired Bill Guerin will be on the roster. You can bet that Ulf Samuelsson will probably make the trip over and you can bet Bryan Trottier and maybe even Kevin Stevens will be on the list. Tom Barrasso will probably be in net, since I can't think of anyone outside of Ken Wregget would be worthy enough.

The game will have the Caps alumni go up quick then lose late-- as is the story for every Caps/Pens series. As a long suffering Caps fan, I know how this story goes.

5. With waffles being thrown in Toronto, what else could we seen thrown in the future at other venue??

We've seen waffles, snakes, hard-helmets, and even sextoys-- but I don't know what else that could be thrown that could cause a ruckus. You could see a lot of recycled things being thrown out during Calgary Flames games, while I definitely await the Yarmulke trick happening in Miami-- even though Hanukkahs is over. With Operation Curly Fries, Red Wings fans could throw fries-- but they already have the octopus, so I don't think you could do both....unless it's octopus filled with curly fries; which would be amazing. Maybe fried calamari for the combination.


You guys can get on this, too-- if you don't like what I've got, suggest your own. Email me and submit something you'd like me to talk about and get an opinion. If not, well-- you enjoy these ramblings of not your own.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Bett and Bals": When a Sale Isn't a Sale

With all the speculation that has come out about what's going to happen with teams like the Maple Leafs, Sabres, and now the impending sale of the Coyotes and recently the Atlanta Thrashers looking for investors-- the Board of Governors' meeting this week is bound with questions when it comes to ownership. Sadly, the man who seems to be left out in the cold is Jim Balsillie, who may or may not be sneaking around these meetings.

We see the outside of the resort that the meetings are being held, Gary Bettman steps out after a session and takes in the humid air.

Gary Bettman: Ahh...another day, another defused situation when it comes to ownership. And what a view, no one around except us board members. (Turns to see a man sneaking around the corner) Is Jim?!? JIM?!?

Jim Balsillie (disgused as a caddy): I'm sorry, but I don't know you're talking about. I'm Bim Jalsillie.....a local caddy.

GB: .....Jim??

JB:'s Bim...always has been.

GB: Jim.

JB: FINE-- look, there's teams for sale and I don't know why I'm getting shut out. I'm primed to bring a new vision to any team that needs it.

GB: What's that vision-- beavers and maple syrup??

JB: You kinky bastard!! But yes, we need to get into these place like Winnipeg and Quebec.....or even Hamilton, especially after Rogers buys them. They love my Blackberry and probably wouldn't want to have their costumers disrupted during their everyday life.....

GB: Keep dreaming, Jim. Everything is fine with us-- Phoenix has that Matt Hulsizer, who loves the idea of losing money-- thus, my new best friend. We've got people wanting into Buffalo, and maybe some Atlanta people would get there.

JB: Why am I shut out?? Why are these guys getting the welcome and I'm getting the cold shoulder?? Sure, I started to sell tickets to a team that I didn't own and a building I didn't have rights to; but can't we let bygones be bygones??

GB: I think the example there was the reason we won't let you in. It's an elite group with people like Hulsizer who will play the game. We've got guys like Terry Pegula who will drop all kinds of dough on a Division I hockey team and still have some change to buy the Sabres and actually keep them there. It's not so much that we don't want you in the fraternity, it's that we don't want you to steal from others in the fraternity.

JB: Aren't you all in the business of making money?? I can do that-- and yes, it could require a move, but if I make money, the league makes money, the teams can get some money, the players get money.....everyone wins, I think. Even if I keep the team there, don't you think I'll build up the team up to get people into the building so I don't lose my invested money?? I won't "Major League" it and tank just to move-- I want to win and if people don't come out for a winning team, I'd take them to a place where they will make money and win.

GB: We like money....but we also like people who play the company line. We want to like you Jim, but the rebel thing.....I don't know. It's too new and we're scared. Why do you think we keep harping on the same rivalries like the Caps and Pens, plus keeping the Red Wings winning thanks to the wheel on their jersey spinning and hypnotizing the other team so they can win.

JB: Wait, what??

GB: Huh??

JB: You said.....

GB: Anyway-- look, we want your money, but don't want you to revolutionize the way owners run their teams. We're kind of scared you're going to do something that's going to rock the boat and make your team love you, but the rest of the league hate you. You see-- fans will see what you're doing and want their owner to do the same....and just rock the boat. We like the way we do it now and we don't like change-- it scares us.

JB: So, what you're saying is that while there's plenty of teams for the taking and I have the money to do it....

GB: We don't want you to buy them because you could do something to make people like you and thus ruining the rest of us.

JB: I don't know if that's the best way to run a business.

GB: Well, just look at me.

JB: Fair enough. Well, I was going to meet with Tom Golisano about the Sabres, but I guess I'll just be out of here. You think you could go to my clubs by the corner over there, it was for my get-up. I'll go tell Tommy it's not happening.

GB: I'm glad you could come to your senses, Jim-- and it's not that you're a bad guy, but (struggles to lift the bag) but, you're (still struggling), what the hell is....

Judge Redfield T. Baum: T-BOMBED!!!!

GB: AHHHHHH!!! (drops bag, runs into wall)

JB: I don't know how you fit in there. Get the car, I'm going to talk to Atlanta.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Darren Eliot

(Photo by Sal's Custom Hockey Cards)

While we have gone through many goalies thus far, this week's inductee could possibly be the most educationally decorated. In fact, he could be more known for his academia, as well as his post-career work, than his playing career. Even in that, he made the cut for this week's AGM-- it's Darren Eliot.

Eliot first came onto the scene in Oshawa with first the minor-midget Oshawa Parkway TV in the 1977-78 season playing 18 games, then moving to the Junior B Oshawa Legionnaires in the 1978-79 season for 26 games.

Starting the 1979-80 season, Eliot's academic prowess helped him to get into Cornell University, an Ivy League school in New York-- where he would play 26 games in his freshman year, going 14-8-0, as well as going 3-2 in the playoffs, which helped Cornell win the ECAC championship. Thanks to that, Eliot would be selected in the sixth round of the 1980 Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. The 1980-81 season saw him split time with former AGM, Brian Hayward, and Eliot would play 18 games with a 8-7-0 and go 1-1 in three playoff games. It would be bad for Eliot in the 1981-82 season, as he would only play seven games with a 1-3-0 record. It would kick back into effect for Eliot in the 1982-83 season, as he would get in 26 games and have a 13-10-3 record. With that, Eliot got ECAC First Team All-Star and NCAA First Team All-Star.

Upon graduating Cornell, Eliot got a degree in Agricultural Economics, elected to the Sphinx Head Society (students who have great character and leadership), as well as the Red Key Society (excellence in academics and athletics).

To keep his amateur status alive, Eliot would play for the Canadian National Team for the 1983-84 season in order to play for the Canadian Olympic Team. With the team during exhibitions, Eliot played 31 games and would get in two games to relieve another former AGM, Mario Gosselin.

After the Olympics, Eliot would jump to the pros and play for the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks to end out the 1983-84 season, going 4-1-0 in his seven games to round out the season. The 1984-85 season saw Eliot up with the Kings to be the back up to Dan Janecyk. Eliot would see 33 games of time, going 12-11-6; and hold the distinction of being the goalie who allowed Wayne Gretzky's 1,000 point (an assist). The 1985-86 season had Eliot start out in Los Angeles, playing behind Janecyk again for 27 games, but with a 5-17-3 record. Later in the year, Eliot was sent to New Haven, where he played three games (1-2-0) in the regular season and 0-1 in the playoffs. Eliot would start the 1986-87 season in New Haven for four games (2-2-0) before making the trek over to Los Angeles to back up Rollie Melanson with Eliot getting in 24 games and compiling a 8-13-2 record for the year.

For the 1987-88 season, Eliot signed on with the Detroit Red Wings, but would start and play most of the season with the AHL's Adirondack Red Wings, were he would play 43 games with a 23-11-7 record in the regular season. Eliot would have a 4-6 record in ten playoff games, as well. There was a short stint with Detroit, where Eliot would go 0-0-1 in three games.

One and done in Detroit, as Eliot would sign with the Buffalo Sabres for the 1988-89 season; but again-- most of the time was spent in the AHL-- this time with the Rochester Americans. With the Amerks, Eliot played 23 games behind another former AGM, Darcy Wakaluk, and Eliot would have an 8-6-2 record. Eliot would have a two game call-up to Buffalo, but both in relief duty. After that season, Eliot hung up the pads after only five NHL seasons.

Yet, with the college path and experience, Eliot parlayed that into his post-hockey career. It started with Computer Methods Corporation, a software-consulting firm, which had Eliot as president from 1997-99. Yet, the hockey bug bit Eliot again, as he signed onto the Atlanta Thrashers broadcasting team in their first season, a position he still holds today. Eliot has also written about hockey for Sports Illustrated since 2001, as well as being a commentator for the NHL on Versus.

Even with growing up in a very heavy major junior influence market, Eliot did what was best for him and went the US College route and it given him a very solid lifestyle after hockey. While he didn't have the most memorable of careers, he shined bright when he was there-- even if for one season.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Five: Eastern Turmoil

Another week, another F5 because I like gimmicks.

1. Marco Sturm was traded, then not traded, but still injured. Whaaahappen??

It seemed like a slam-dunk, and with the major analyst calling it a done-deal, we all thought it was going down. It appears that the Kings let it fall through because they didn't know when Sturm would be ready to play, so they could have gotten a lemon. Sturm is 3-4 weeks away from playing after major knee surgery, so who knows what condition he'll be in. Odds are, he will be the first one to go to clear up some cap space; but I doubt it'll be to LA now since they kind of balked on this whole deal to start off with.

2. The Edmonton Oilers went through the eastern Canadian teams like it was nothing; shouldn't the Oilers move to Quebec City to dominate the East??

It would seem that way, yes-- but the Oilers just showed how much better the crappiest team in the West does against the crappiest teams in the East. The Oilers are 4-2-1 this year against the East, including 3-0-0 against the Northeast. They still have time to screw it up if they bomb in Buffalo and Boston, even so-- we could be starting to see the young guys on the Oilers really coming into their own, especially Taylor Hall; who has three goals in his last three games, including a two-goal game last night in Toronto. They may not make any more moves upward in the standings.....but brick-by-brick, they're getting better.

3. Speaking of, two of the Eastern Canadian teams seem to be in peril, but is there going to be any changes made to stop the bleeding or will it happen when it's too late??

In Toronto, Brian Burke has said there isn't much going to happen in change, definitely not in the coaching position. Considering Dion Phaneuf is out, Burke could see it as just a bad bump without the captain in the line-up. There could be much more than that, as the Leafs weren't doing much with Phaneuf in the line-up before he got injured. Don't know if there's much to save Leaf-land, so we'll just have to see what happens, as it seems Burke and Wilson are safe....for now.

Yet, in Ottawa-- I could see stuff going down quickly. Bryan Murray could be feeling the heat if he doesn't make a move soon enough. I don't know what move he could make or if there's anything of any desire for a team to take; but he's going to have to make something out of nothing if he expect to keep his job. Cory Clouston can only do so much with a 2nd line and three 3rd lines in his line-up. Since the Pascal Leclaire experiment seems to be a bust, it could be time to shop him and see who's going to give up some prospects for him.

At least the Canadiens are reppin' for the Eastern Canadian teams.

4. Staying in Ottawa, they "welcomed" back Dany Heatley to the ScotiaBank Place and then got trounced. However, it seems the fans weren't too pleased with Heatley or the Senators. Comment??

Sure, it's been a few years, but thanks to scheduling-- the Sharks finally rolled into town. As silly as it sounds, the fans should feel a bit bitter, because they've seen their team turn to crap because of the trade....amongst other things. But they got their pent-up rage out and now it's time to move forward with everything involved. It's over and done with, you can't change anything, so just time to move along. The fact the Sens got shutout is just icing on the cake for Heatley in his return.

5. December 11th, CBC will do a 3-D broadcast of the Canadiens and Maple Leafs. What can we expect and has 3-D stuff FINALLY jumped the shark??

While it was announced in August at the Heritage Classic, the fact that CBC is doing this seems a little odd. I honestly don't think 3-D is going to be the wave of the future of broadcasting like HD has been, so to put something out there like that is going to almost seem like a waste of money. That said, it's pretty fancy to see them try something like this and maybe give people the feel of being at the game from the confines of their home. Yet, this makes me wonder if there's actually going to be a 3-D effect if you watch on a HD TV or if you'd have to get one of those new fangled 3-D TVs in order to truly respect the quality that is being presented. The idea jumped the shark when the dance movie "Step It Up" was put into 3-D, so this is just jumping it further.


That's another week done-- huzzah. If you have any input or any suggests on topics-- email me at and I'll see what I can do for ya. Odds are it'll make the cut because I scour the landscape for things and come up dry most times.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Leafs Shake, Sabres Rattle, Oilers to Roll??

In the past week, we've had so many more stories coming up about possible ownership changes or even relocation. This doesn't even include the New York Islanders, who are another story altogether, but still-- creates for some interesting off-ice storyline.

First off, the story that came out today; Rogers Communication is looking at buying a major stake of the Toronto Maple Leafs from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the Ontario Teacher's Pension to the tune of $1.3....BILLION. That's a lot of phones, let me tell you. However, is there a chance that MLSE doesn't go for it?? Sure, Rogers does have the cash and it could be a good deal for the team if new blood took over-- but why sell the cash cow?? MLSE is making some dough off of it regardless of what team is on the ice, so if they can keep making that kind of cash-- why would you sell off the golden goose??

However, the Rogers sell would be good for the team and fans. The company would want to bring a winning squad to the ice, which would get the fans more into it and pump even more money into the cash-cow. Plus, Rogers own a sports network, which would take over a majority of Leafs broadcast, I'm sure, and get more rating to a channel which is.....for lack of a better term-- horri-awful. Not only that-- take over their Leafs TV syndicate, and getting more cash. It seems that it could be for the best for Rogers to take over the Leafs-- but knowing they'd be getting profit one way or another, will MLSE take the big one-time payout or will they enjoy the spoils they have now.

That said-- I know nothing about the in-depth Leafs situation, so you might want to check out my buddays over at Pension Plan Puppets-- the quintessential Leafs fan site-- for more information about all of of this.


Down the road and across the border, the Buffalo Sabres have been talked about when it comes to changing ownership, so much that it looks like it could be a possible situation. According to the Associated Press, Sabres owner Tom Golisano is seriously considering selling the Sabres to Pennsylvania man-about-town, Terry Pegula-- who recently gave a boatload of money to Penn State University to start up a Division I hockey team. The Sabres have been quite the interesting subject when it comes to ownership, from Tom Rigas to the NHL to Golisano-- there has been some....interesting moves when it comes to this team-- almost like a "moneyball" situation at times. They have a solid team, but always seem to be a step or two away.

With Pegula coming in, this could mean a more open purse to pull from and could create some more energy and a contender that has been lingering for years when it comes to this team. They have Ryan Miller locked up for a while, who is the keystone to this team, now it's a matter of getting a second-punch to their offense. They have a great committee when it comes to scoring, but you'd probably wouldn't want to have two of your top-five scorers being defensemen-- but that's just me. Pegula loves the game and is willing to put the money out and it could really mean big things for the team and the city.


In what could be the biggest swerve is the Edmonton Oilers, who will have their front office and a representative from the Katz ownership will be going to Quebec City to discuss some things with Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume. What could this mean?? Could this be a back-up plan for the Oilers if they can't get their new arena with the city of Edmonton done?? With the buzz going on about Quebec getting the "Ok" to get government funding to build a new arena in QC, which could possibly bring a team to the area, this could be the Oilers just putting feelers out and maybe to put pressure on Edmonton city council to get the approval for the new barn or risk losing the team.

While this is no doubt a posturing move from the Oilers, it's a smart one. The more news that goes out and the less details that come out of these meetings (as vague as they are right now), the better for the Oilers because they could get the upperhand when it comes to the negociation with the city of Edmonton. The more options they have, the better. Quebec is perfect, too-- as everyone knows how crazy that place is about hockey and how much they want to get the NHL back into their city. If the city of Edmonton calls the Oilers bluff, Quebec will be there with open arms, I'm sure. This is definitely going to be another place to look at.


Not only are the Islanders now lost in the shuffle in all things, which is a relief to their fans, but also-- Jim Balsillie, who seems to disappears in all of this-- even though Blackberry passes iPhone in operating system usage. Yet, how much of this moving and shaking will happen?? The Buffalo thing seems to be a formality, the Leafs is 50-50, and the Oilers are a long-shot; if you're a compulsive gambler and want to bet on that sort of thing. It just creates more buzz off the ice, which is always good for people who love to speculate.