Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Topic Of World Juniors Promotions and Relegations

After seeing the scores from Day One of the World Junior Championships and seeing the US demolish Denmark 11-3 and Sweden overtake Latvia 9-4 (the latter being closer until the third period)-- it made me wonder how these more unknown or "developing" hockey countries are able to keep getting into the tournament, only to get trounced in the opening rounds and really only focus on not getting relegated.

Ironically enough, the two teams who did get beat badly were the last two teams who were promoted to the top division of the World Juniors. That also made me wonder about how quick of a turnaround the promoted teams have had after being promoted and if they were only to be relegated that next year. Tracking the last ten tournaments-- here's the results:

2002: Out: France; In: Germany
2003: Out: Germany, Belarus; In: Austria, Ukraine
2004: Out: Austria, Ukraine; In: Germany, Belarus
2005: Out: Germany, Belarus; In: Norway, Latvia
2006: Out: Norway, Latvia; In: Germany, Belarus
2007: Out: Germany, Belarus; In: Denmark, Kazakhstan
2008: Out: Denmark, Switzerland; In: Germany, Latvia
2009: Out: Germany, Kazakhstan; In: Austria, Switzerland
2010: Out: Latvia, Austria; In: Germany, Norway
2011: Out: Germany, Norway; In: Denmark, Latvia

As you can see, the turnover in the nations is something that is alarming in the fact that almost as quick as the teams get into the top division of the WJC, they get out just as quickly. The only exception to the point right now is Switzerland, who seems to have found their stride in their junior program and is on their third straight tournament.

I'm all for the ideal of developing nations getting a chance to be displayed and have their chance to go against the top dogs in order to see what they are made of, but at what point do you wonder if the turnover is too much to deal with??

When you look at these results, you have to wonder if there's an actual quick fix-- because the teams who get relegated are often too good for the Division 1A championships. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground which could be alarming or just happenstance of the system. The IIHF can only do so much with the system they have in place without creating another division which will only persist the middling effect. That, or have some sort of rules that if you do get relegated you have to have a time-set before you can actually be promoted to the higher rank or a if you get promoted, a time-set before you get relegated again. Seems simple enough-- but at the same time; just seems like it would create more of a confusing situation.

Also, you have to wonder if the whole idea of less teams could be better, which would never happen because they seem to have the formula down right now with the amount of teams and the scheduling around it. That, and it'd be another situation like we have now where if one of the teams were relegated outside of the "Big Eight" in hockey, they would dominate in the lower division and be right back up again.

For me, it seems like a bad situation where you have teams going out there and getting embarrassed on the world stage like the WJC has become. Plus, it could be off-putting for the kids at home watching this game in their own countries because while they'll have players here and there come out of their country and make it the pros because of individual skill-- the skill as a whole just isn't there and would dampen some spirits in the process.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Mario Brunetta

This week's instalment has quite the interesting route to gain some kind of success. While he did have a chance in the the pros, he plied his trade more over in the Europe-- while helping grow sport in one of the unknown spots of European hockey. This week, the profile of Mario Brunetta.

Brunetta started his career off in the Quebec Midget AAA ranks with the Ste-Foy Gouverneurs starting in the 1982-83 season, playing in 22 that season with a 17-4-1 record and 4-1 in five playoff games, while in the 1983-84 season, Brunetta went 11-23-4 in 39 games, but 8-3 in the playoffs.

Brunetta made the move to the QMJHL in the 1984-85 season with the Quebec Remparts, going 20-18-1 in 45 appearances, then 0-2 in the playoffs. Brunetta was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1985 NHL Draft, but the 1985-86 season moved Brunetta to the Laval Titan, playing in 63 games and finishing with a record of 30-28-1 while going 9-5 in 14 playoff games. Back with Laval in the 1986-87 season, Brunetta compiled a 27-25-4 record in 59 games and an 8-6 record in 14 playoff games.

The 1987-88 season bumped Brunetta to the pro ranks, mainly with the Nordiques, finishing with a 10-12-1 record in 29 games that season, while also spending time in the AHL with the Fredericton Express going 4-1-0 in five games there. The bulk of the 1988-89 season for Brunetta was spent in the AHL with the Halifax Citadels, going 14-14-5 in 36 games while going 1-3-0 in five games with the Nordiques. Brunetta stucks with Halifax for the majority of the 1989-90 season, finishing with a 8-14-2 record in 24 games, but then getting the called from the Nordiques to play in six games with a 1-2-0 record.

During the summer of 1990, Brunetta was released by the Nordiques. Without a contract in North America, Brunetta went overseas to Italy to play for HC Asiago, playing in 93 games from the 1990-91 season until the 1992-93 season. Brunetta went onto play for SG Milano Saima for the 1993-94 and 1994-95 season, spanning 29 games. The 1995-96 season had Brunetta play in 40 games for Varese Hockey.

Starting in the 1996-97 season, Brunetta went over to Germany to play for EHC Eisbaren Berlin for three season until the 1998-99 season for 111 games, getting them to the Finals in 1998, but losing in the championship game. Brunetta moved to Sweden for the 1999-2000 season, playing 28 games for Frolunda before he would go back to Germany in the 2000-01 season with ERC Ingolstadt, which would last for two seasons for 86 games, where he would put up seven shutouts in that time. Brunetta moved back to North America to play 10 games for the Quebec Semi-Pro League's Quebec Aces, going 3-4-0 before hanging up his pads.

During his playing tenure, Brunetta played for Italy in international competitions, as he got Italian citizenship when playing overseas. He played in three World Championships for Italy in 1995, 1998, and 2002-- going 1-3-1 in eight games played. He also played for Italy in the 1998 Olympics, losing the only game he played in.

Not the most orthodox career path, but Brunetta found a way to actually get himself into international play when he probably wouldn't have otherwise. While he did get pushed out of the way in Quebec, he didn't give up and probably helped out some of the programs in Italy grow because of his experience in the NHL. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

World Juniors Time Again

While I could go ahead and do a preview, team-by-team, of the 2012 World Junior Championship in Alberta-- I'm not that kind of guy. Plus, the fact you can get them anywhere in a number of places-- not too much my style. This is a tournament could be second to the Olympics when it comes to national pride. Especially for Canada. 

This is a tournament that is always hyped up around the hockey world and really gets a solid focus, unless the World Championships, which gets lost in the NHL Playoffs; thus making it hard for people in North America to have that same pride because their club team could still be in it and the access to the games aren't always there. 

For the players, this is a big chance for them, considering some of them are draft eligible and want to show off their wears to the NHL world in hopes of getting drafted. For some of them, it could be the only time they get to represent their country on such a stage; making them want to give their all for such an event. 

The kids themselves will have to deal with a lot of pressure. The Canadians will be on home ice, and with the team not having won a Gold in two tournaments, losing both of the last two championship games-- Don Hay and his squad will have to worry about not only playing well, but making sure the local media doesn't get to be too much for them. The defending champions in Russia will be playing with heavy hearts due to the Lokomotiv tragedy this summer, losing two of their top players-- but this year, they have a top squad and are primed to repeat. The USA is a team that last won the Gold in Canada and should have a solid squad, despite many of the cut players not enjoying their time or thinking it's fair. You can never forget the Scandinavian contingent of Sweden and Finland would could really throw a wreck in the spokes of a top contender. Plus, you can always have a "Cinderella" of the Czech, Slovaks, Swiss, Latvians, or Danes-- but don't count much on it. 

The fact of the matter is that the holiday tradition is one that always get plenty of attention, whether it's to see the future of the NHL coming up, country pride, or just to have some frantic moments that will give some a break for their NHL teams that may not be doing so well-- it's an event that always seems to bring out the Olympic-like support year after year. This year should be another exciting tournament, so I hope somehow you can find a way to watch. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Ed Staniowski

This week's AGM was a guy who battled for a spot when it came to getting game time and being able to actually get a spot. After his career was done, he took on another battle that was entirely different. This week, the profile of Ed Staniowski.

As a junior, Staniowski played for the Regina Pats in the WHL from the 1971-72 season until the 1974-75 season, being the starter in those days, winning the Memorial Cup with the Pats in the 1973-74 season. Staniowski also played in the 1975 World Junior tournament, going 2-0-0 for Canada, as they would get silver in that tournament. Staniowski was the inaugural CHL Player of the Year in the 1974-75 season and was selected 27th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1974 NHL Draft.

Staniowski started his pro-career in the 1975-76 season with the Providence Reds of the AHL for 29 games, finishing with a 15-11-1 record, but got called-up to St. Louis for 11 games and compiling a 5-3-2 record, then going 1-2 in the playoffs. The 1976-77 season had Staniowski spend some time in the Central League, playing for the Kansas City Blues for 17 games (8-9-0) before being recalled to St. Louis, where he would play in 29 games and finish with a 10-16-1 record, before going 0-2 in three playoff appearances. The 1977-78 season had Staniowski start in St. Louis, but after going 1-10-0 in 11 games, he was sent to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the Central League, where he would go 18-13-0 in the regular season and 2-4 in the post-season. The 1978-79 season had Staniowski play in 39 games with St. Louis, but only going 9-25-3 before being shipped back to Salt Lake, where he'd go 2-2-1 in five games. Staniowski also played for Canada in 1979 World Championships, going 1-1-0 in three games. The 1979-80 season saw Staniowski play the majority of time in St. Louis, going 2-11-3 in 22 appearances, while getting sent back to Salt Lake for a 3-1-0 record in four games there. In the 1980-81 season, Staniowski had his best season in St. Louis, going 10-3-3 in 19 games that season, sticking with the big club the entire season.

However, in the summer of 1981, Staniowski was traded from St. Louis to Winnipeg. With the Jets in the 1981-82 season, Staniowski went 20-19-6 in 45 games, then 0-2 in the playoffs. The 1982-83 season saw Staniowski get much less playing time, going 4-8-0 in only 17 games with Winnipeg before being sent to the AHL's Sherbrooke Jets, playing 10 games there, going 1-7-0. The 1983-84 season saw Staniowski play only one game for the Jets, a no-decision.

Staniowski was traded to the Hartford Whalers in November of 1983 for former AGM Mike Veisor. Staniowski would go 6-9-1 in 18 games in that 1983-84 season. Staniowski would play only one game for Hartford in the 1984-85 season (a no-decision), before being sent to the AHL's Binghamton Whalers, where he would go 4-4-2 in ten games. Also, that season saw Staniowski play in nine games with Salt Lake again, going 4-5-0 in those games. After that season, Staniowski hung up the pads.

Immediately after retiring, Staniowski answered the call for his country, but not in a hockey sense. Staniowski joined the Canadian Forces Reserves in 1985 and has made many tours overseas-- including Afghanistan, Africa, Bosnia, and the Middle East. He served as the Senior Advisor to the Armed Forces in Sierra Leone and is now the Director of Primary Reserve training in Kingston, Ontario. Staniowski was going to enroll in the Royal Military College in Kingston before he was drafted by the Blues.

For a guy who braved the shots in the NHL, there's probably nothing more braver for Staniowski than to put himself into the Armed Forces and serve his country like he has been doing for almost three decades. While he may have never left his mark much on the NHL, he has beyond that to people who need it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Need vs. Want for Sidney Crosby

With the news of Sidney Crosby being out indefinitely again due to concussion-like symptoms, many people started to worry about the health of the young superstar. While I don't like him or his team, I definitely worry about his health because I'm not a total bastard. That said, the comparison from someone from Twitter that puts Crosby as the modern-day Lindros is a very worrisome thought.

Of course, you're going to get every pundit under the sun talking about concussions and their toll and the steps the NHL needs to do more when it comes to protecting the players-- next step is bubble-wrap, if I remember correctly. However, there's one thought that bothers me-- Sidney Crosby being out is bad for the NHL. The NHL needs Crosby.

With all due respect, the NHL does not need Sidney Crosby to play to survive. They want him to play because he is the marketing tool for the league, but the NHL does not need Crosby on the ice to promote a product.

That thought and people saying something to that extent is a slap in the fact to the 400-plus other players who will play in the NHL this season. While I understand what people are getting when they say the NHL needs Crosby, especially since he's been the center of everything they put out-- and with good cause of course-- but that's just the fault of the league for doing that. Since they put all their eggs in one basket, they run the risk of having them tumble and break-- for lack of a better analogy.

The NHL is kind of like the WWE. It's not just the gimmicks they pull out or the story lines created, it's the fact they can create stars if the players are given the right chance. Yes, skill will definitely get you noticed, but if you're not on the right team or have the right story or in the right area-- the NHL and their partners may not promote you-- which is their right. They need to sell tickets, they need to sell merchandise, so the even share cannot be there. There's plenty of guys with skill out in the league

If you didn't look it up, would you remember that Brian Elliott is tied for the lead in shutouts?? Heck, if you didn't look it up, would you know that Steven Stamkos is top-five in points and goals?? If anything, the Crosby injury allows the other players in the league to actually step up and showcase their skill and get their team that press, to get them those sales, to get them noticed and maybe make them better by adding players who want to be in the new hot-spot for the NHL. However, if the NHL and the other media doesn't push the players because it's not a "sexy" story-- that's a disservice to the fans, especially those who are trying to get into the game through TV games, yet only see maybe a dozen different teams through the year, if they're lucky.

Fact of the matter is this, Sidney Crosby is the pinnacle player and will continue to be when he gets back, whenever that may be. He has the credentials and hardware to always be at the top of mountain because he earned it through his actual skill and being exposed to the masses. Wouldn't it be great if someone else could actually get noticed for their skill and get exposed to the masses because Crosby's injured?? It's a bittersweet thought, but the more players and teams that are known to the fans means better health for the league as a whole.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Frederic Chabot

With an unorthodox way into the NHL, this week's AGM is a guy who travelled through two major junior leagues before he was signed by a NHL team. While he did have a great career in the IHL and overseas; he got into organizations who didn't need the goaltending or didn't have the space for him to fit into. This week's AGM is Frederic Chabot.

Chabot started off in Midget AAA in Quebec with Trois-Rivieres Selects, playing in 34 games with a 25-9-0 record before moving onto the QMJHL in the 1986-87 season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, playing in 62 games that season with a 31-30-0 record, then 2-6 in eight playoff appearances. The 1987-88 was a better on while in Drummondville, with Chabot going 27-24-4 in 58 games, but a 10-6 record in 16 playoff games; though they lost to the Hull Olympiques in the Finals. Chabot also went 0-3 in the three Memorial Cup games that Drummondville played in.

As an "over-aged" player, Drummondville waived Chabot and he landed in the WHL for the 1988-89 season, playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors, but ending his season there with the Prince Albert Raiders.

As his junior career ended, Chabot went to the IHL to play with the Fort Wayne Komets for the 1989-90 season, playing in 23 games with a 6-13-3 record. However, midway through the season, Chabot signed with the Montreal Canadiens, where they would place him in the AHL with the Sherbrooke Canadiens, going 1-1-0 in two games.

Chabot was back in the AHL for the bulk of the 1990-91 season, playing with the Fredericton Canadiens, going 9-15-5 in 35 games; also getting called up by Montreal for three games, going 0-0-1 in those appearances. Chabot was back with Fredericton in the 1991-92 season, compiling a 17-9-4 record in 30 games; then a 3-4 record in seven playoff games. Chabot also spent 24 games in the ECHL with the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds, finishing with a 15-7-2 record. The 1992-93 season had Chabot play in 45 games for Fredericton and finishing with a 22-17-4 record, then a 1-3 playoff record. Chabot racked up the travel miles for himself in the 1993-94 season, playing for Fredericton for three games (0-1-1), then moving to the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder for two games (1-1-0) and Montreal for one (0-1-0).

Chabot was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers for cash, playing in four games for the Flyers and going 0-1-1. He would spent the bulk of his time with the AHL's Hershey Bears, finishing with a 13-5-6 record in 28 games, then 7-4 in 11 playoff games. Chabot was awarded the Baz Bastien Award for AHL's Outstanding Goaltender.

Chabot signed with the Florida Panthers before the 1994-95 season, but he would play in the IHL with the Cincinnati Cyclones, posting a 25-12-7 record in 48 games, then 3-2 in five playoff games. Back in Cincinnati for the 1995-96 season, Chabot had a 23-9-4 record in his 38 games, then going 9-5 in 14 playoff games. The 1996-97 season saw Chabot play with the Houston Aeros of the IHL, going 39-26-7 in 72 games before going 8-5 in 13 playoff games. That season, Chabot was awarded the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy for IHL MVP.

The Los Angeles Kings signed Chabot for the 1997-98 season, but only played 12 games for them, finishing with a 3-3-2 record. Chabot spent the rest of the year with Houston again, finishing with a 12-7-2 record and 1-3 playoff record that season.

The summer of 1998 was confusing for Chabot-- who was claimed by the Nashville Predators in the Expansion Draft; then picked off waivers by the Kings again, finally picked up off waivers again by the Montreal Canadiens. Chabot spent 11 games with Montreal in the 1998-99 season, finishing with a 1-3-0 record in Montreal, but most of his time would be back in Houston; going 16-4-1 in 22 games there. In the 1999-2000 season, Chabot was back in Houston, playing in 62 games and finished with a 36-19-7 record and going 6-5 in 11 playoff games. Chabot racked up the awards, winning the Gatschene Trophy for MVP again, sharing with Nikolai Khabibulin, while also winning the James Norris Trophy for fewest goals against. Chabot was back in Houston in the 2000-01 season, finishing with a 23-16-5 in 47 games, then going 3-4 in the playoffs.

Starting in the 2001-02 season, Chabot moved it over season-- playing for the Nurnberg Ice Tigers from 2001 until 2004. In the 2004-05 season, Chabot moved to Austria to play with the Vienna Capitals before going back to Germany for the 2005-06 season, this time with Alder Mannheim. After that season, Chabot hung up the pads for good.

Chabot would go far from hockey, as he stayed in Europe to be the goaltending coach for AIK Stockholm (Sweden) in 2006, then over to Germany to coach for the Berlin Ice Bears, before returning to North America to be the goaltending coach for the Edmonton Oilers. Chabot has also had ties with Hockey Canada's World Junior Program.

While he did get bounced around a lot and mostly made relief duties, the time he spent in the minors allowed him to garner knowledge to pass around to the youth players coming up through the ranks and now onto the new generation of goalies in Edmonton.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Salvation in Realignment??

The picture above is what everyone is raving about today. During the Board of Governor's meeting, 26 of the 30 teams approved of the idea, with only NHLPA agreement needed for ratification. The jist is that it's four different "conferences" (let's just call them divisions....or "confervision")-- two with eight, two with seven-- and then the top four will go to the playoffs, then move on from there.

While it's great news for people who love divisional playoffs (me especially), it could be interesting for some teams when it comes to this whole thing saving some franchises. Columbus and Phoenix do get a bit of a reprieve, but now it just seems that the one "confervision" that will be interesting to see if two of them will survive in the next five/ten years.

When it comes to the old Northeast Division plus the Florida teams will be the most interesting set to look at-- especially with the future of the Florida Panthers. However, it would prime them to move to Quebec City, leaving Tampa in the lurch hoping for another realignment. You can imagine that the Lightning and Panthers were two of the four teams to not approve of this, and rightfully so-- the closest team in there "confervision" to each outside of the state of Florida is Boston (1,237 miles from Miami, 1,183 from Tampa); which is.....quite the haul for the home-and-home scheduling that seems to be formatted.

The Bolts are on good footing with their new ownership group restructuring themselves perfectly from the Oren Koules/Len Barrie bedlam that happened, so I don't think they'll have issues with the travel costs. The Panthers on the other hand, I feel a little sketchy about. Sure, they've been doing well this year, but still 21st in attendance with just over 15,000 people going to their home games, which is right around their average. There's been questions about their stability for a while, even with them being bought in 2009, but it's not as widely reported as other teams like the Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers.

Sure, there's some teams that this realignment helps, which is great-- that means hopefully less issues of which team is in peril this week and snap moves in the summer like we saw this past summer. Yet, you're always going to have the questions-- particularly when you have teams more than 1,000 miles from their nearest competition outside of their own state.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Goran Hogosta

This week's AGM is a guy who didn't get much of a chance or recognition for what he did in the NHL. However, when it comes to his homeland, he was much more well-known and appreciated. Even with all of that, he did make his mark in the NHL landscape for what he did. This week, the profile of Goran Hogosta.

For his junior year, Hogosta played with HC Tunabro in his home country of Sweden. He played there from the 1971-72 season until the 1973-74 season in a total of 31 games. While in that time of playing for a junior club, he was elected to the Swedish National Team for the European Junior Championships for the 1972 and 1973 tournaments, where Sweden would capture silver in both with Hogosta getting top goaltender honors in the 1973 tournament.

In the 1974-75 season until the 1976-77 season, Hogosta played for Leksands IF in the Swedish League for 90 games, helping them boost up to the elite level of the Swedish ladder. Also in that time, Hogosta played in three World European Championships for Sweden, winning a silver and two bronze medals while going 12-5-0 combined in all three tournaments; being named top goaltender in the 1977 tournament and on the All-Star Team of that tournament, as well. Hogosta along with Hardy Astrom participated in the first Canada Cup tournament, where he would win one game in one appearance.

In the summer of 1977, Hogosta was signed by the New York Islanders and would make the team out of training camp. On November 1st, 1977-- Hogosta became the first European born and European trained goalie to play in the NHL, though he only played for nine minutes. Hogosta spent the bulk of the 1977-78 season in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, where he would play 23 games with a 6-13-2 record. Hogosta also spent time that season with the Central League's Fort Worth Texans, going 3-2-0 in five games. The 1978-79 season had Hogosta back with Fort Worth, playing in 61 games and going 25-29-4 in those games, then 1-2 in three playoff games.

In August 1979, Hogosta was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Richard Brodeur. Hogosta played with the Nordiques for 21 games in the 1979-80 season going 5-12-3, while playing in 17 games with the Syracuse Firebirds and finishing with a 4-9-4 record there.

After that season, Hogosta went back to Sweden to play with Vastra Frolunda HC from the 1980-81 season until the 1983-84 season for a total of 116 games before he would retire at the end of 1984. Hogosta would make a short comeback in the 1986-87 season with Leksands IF for four games before retiring for good.

He may not be notable for much, but Hogosta was the man who paved the way for the European goaltenders of today. He didn't stay around for North America for long, but what he did in Sweden helped him cement his legacy in his home country by playing for them many times over and putting on a great display each time.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

On the Topic Of Loyalty and Trade Rumors

Despite having a No-Movement Clause in his contract, rumors of Jarome Iginla being traded out of Calgary continue to be a hot topic the hockey world. While Iginla and GM Jay Feaster said that there's no trade imminent or even being considered-- these things still pop-up.

The biggest argument seems to be the desire for others around the league to see Iginla raise the Stanley Cup in almost a Ray Bourque-esque fashion. Yet, there's a guy across the country that had some questions about his future with the team he's been with his whole career; but it seems that he's been forgotten about when it comes down to it. That person is Daniel Alfredsson.

When you look at the two, there's a lot of similarities between the two:
  • Both played with the same team their whole career
  • Both the face of their franchise
  • Both long-term captains
  • Both right wingers
  • Both helped their team to the Stanley Cup Finals
  • Both won Gold Medals (though Iginla has two)
Though, as Spector's Hockey's Lyle Richardson pointed out on the November 30th FOHS, Iginla seems a little more of a desirable acquisition because of his playing style. He's a gritter player than Alfredsson, willing to go to the dirty areas for a puck, as well as stick up for himself when play gets rough.

Yet, at the same time-- you'd think that Alfredsson's offensive upside is what's needed when it boils down to needs-- especially with their ages coming into effect. Coming into the season, Alfredsson had a 0.97 points-per-game average, while Iginla had only a 0.91 average. Albeit, Alfredsson is older and has played less due to injury, but he knows how to put points on the board when he is healthy. Iginla's age is definitely another nod to his upside for teams looking to put something together that will apparently never happen. That said-- while he's a 35+ contract, Alfredsson doesn't have a No-Movement Clause in his contract; so if he wants to go-- he can be shipped out, but you know the Senators will respect his wishes if he wants to stay or not due to his tenure.

In the end though, neither of these guys are likely to be traded this season. Next season, maybe a different story for Alfredsson, but Iginla controls his own destiny. Plus, as Lyle said during the show, too-- not every player wants to have the Bourque moment and could be fine without winning the Cup, legacy be damned. Most fans and some GMs just like the return and if they don't get the return-- they resent the player and deem them to be selfish. The player is screwed if he wants out, screwed if he wants to stay.

The fact of the matter is that while Iginla is getting all the publicity; it's interesting to see Alfredsson pretty much getting pushed to the side, though they do have parallel careers in length and decent enough upsides-- though Iginla has the grit X-factor going for him. Just food for thought.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Southeast Shuffle

In a span of two hours, Guy Boucher became the longest tenured coach in the Southeast Division. Both Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals and Paul Maurice of the Carolina Hurricanes were fired. Replacing them were Dale Hunter and Kirk Muller (rumored) respectively.

First, for the Capitals-- I guess if you give the people what they want, like old colors, jerseys, and players-- then you let the prisoners run the asylum. That said, if there's a hard-ass guy to get the team to pay attention and give effort-- it's Dale Hunter.

That said, Bruce Boudreau probably wasn't the guy to get the Caps over the hump after four seasons of trying. He lost the room and wasn't getting the effort from the guys that he needed to. When you have your star player who's signed long-term and your coach at odds-- the coach always loses out. Though Boudreau's tenure yielded the revitalization of the Capitals, he just never seemed to have the killer instinct needed. Going 201-88-40 will only give you so much reputation before the dismal playoff record comes up. Best of luck to Boudreau, who did a lot of the Caps in the long-run.

When it comes to the new coach, Dale Hunter is a legend in the Caps history. He's a guy who was a hard-nosed player and will probably be a hard-nosed coach. Yet, it's going to be a learning curve for a guy who hasn't coached a NHL game before. Sure, he was the fastest coach to win 300 and 400 games in the OHL and is only 49 away from 500; but it's two different dynamics. That said, I think he'll bring a different message to the room; holding more guys accountable and really laying into them because his number is hanging in the rafter and seems to care a lot about the franchise. We'll see how it goes.


As far the Hurricanes are concerned-- fool Jim Rutherford once, shame on you; but if you fool him twice, shame on him. It seems that the second tenure of Paul Maurice ended as fouly as the first....but like every jokester on Twitter noted-- he'll be back for a third.

Though it won't be confirmed until later, replacing him with Kirk Muller should be a good idea, as he seemed to be groomed to take over the Canadiens coaching position, but then went to the Nashville Predators organization to coach the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals, who are 10-6-1 this season. Muller is a guy who seems to have a great grasp of the game behind the bench and should be able to take over the Hurricanes pretty easily; whom are second to last in the Eastern Conference at 8-13-4. Muller will have a lot of younger guys who have some experience due to their runs in the playoffs-- but getting the most out of them on a nightly basis will be the key.


These were changes that were going to be made sooner or later and I guess they let their coaches give thanks and then can them like so much cranberries. Now, it's time to put these new coaches under the microscope and observe every movement.

Absurd Goalie Monday: Phil Myre

The ultimate goal in life for a player is to get their name on the Stanley Cup. While this week's AGM did get a ring and was in the team picture, he didn't get on the Cup. Then two seasons later, he was off on a journeyman's career. This week, the profile of Phil Myre.

Myre started his career in the 1964 playoffs with the QMJHL's Victoriaville Bruins, going 1-1 in two of those games, then 0-1 in one Memorial Cup appearance. In his first full season in Victoriaville in the 1964-65 season, Myre played 21 games and finished up 14-7-0, then going 7-2 in nine playoff appearances, while going 0-3 in the Memorial Cup play-down games. Victoriaville moved to Shawinigan for the 1965-66 season, where Myre would go 38-6-0 in 44 games, then 8-4 in 12 playoff games and 11-4 in 15 Memorial Cup play-down games.

Myre was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1966 Draft, which was also a year that Myre went to the OHA's Niagara Falls Flyers starting in the 1966-67 season, leading them to a Memorial Cup championship following the 1967-68 season.

Turning pro in 1968-69, Myre played in the Central League for the Houston Apollos, going 24-19-10 in 53 games, then going 0-2 in the playoffs.

The 1969-70 season allowed Myre to play in 15 games for the AHL's Montreal Voyageurs before getting the call-up to the Canadiens, where he would play in 10 games with a 4-3-2 record. Myre stayed in Montreal for the 1970-71 season, playing in 30 games with a 13-11-4 record, but would be relegated to back-up when Ken Dryden made his mark in the league. While the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup that year and even though he qualified to be engraved on the Cup, the team left him off, even though he did receive a ring for his efforts. Myre only played nine games for the Canadiens in the 1971-72 season, going 4-5-0 in his efforts.

The Canadiens left Myre unprotected in the 1972 Expansion Draft, allowing the Atlanta Flames to pick him up. In that 1972-73 season, Myre tallied a 16-25-3 record in 46 games, while he went 11-16-6 in 36 games in the 1973-74 season-- in which he played in the team's first playoff series, going 0-3 in three games. Myre played 40 games in the 1974-75 season, finishing in with a 14-16-10 record; while in the 1975-76 and 1976-77 season, Myre went .500 in both seasons, with a 16-16-4 and 17-17-7 record respectively. Myre would only play nine games for the Flames in the 1977-78 season, going 2-7-0 before being put on the move.

Myre was traded to the St. Louis Blues in December of 1977 and would play 44 games for the Blues, going 11-25-8 in those last games. Myre return with the Blues in the 1978-79 season, going a dismal 9-22-8 in his 39 appearances.

Myre was traded to Philadelphia in June of 1979 and join a tandem with Pete Peeters for the 1979-80 season, with Myre going 18-7-15 that season, a season where he and Peeters had a 35-game unbeaten streak-- a NHL record. It wasn't a great for Myre in the 1980-81 season, as he would go 6-5-4 in 16 games before being on the move again.

The Flyers traded Myre to the Colorado Rockies for cash, in which Myre would play 10 games to end out the year and compile a 3-6-1 record. After the '80-'81 season, Myre played for Team Canada in the World Championships, but would go 2-5-0 in seven games. Myre returned to the Rockies for the 1981-82 season, playing in 24 games, finishing with a 2-17-2 record. Myre would also spend time that year with the Central League's Fort Worth Texans, playing in 10 games with a 4-5-1 record.

Myre signed with the Buffalo Sabres before the 1982-83 season, spending a majority of the season with the AHL's Rochester Americans, going 28-8-5 in 43 games, while playing in five games with Buffalo, going 3-2-0. Myre returned to Rochester for the 1983-84 season, going 19-9-1 in 33 games before hanging up his pads for good.

Post-playing career, Myre went into coaching, being an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings and then as a goalie coach for the Red Wings and also later as goalie coach with the Florida Panthers. Myre also got into some blogging (before it got hacked) and public speaking. Currently, Myre is working with the Montreal Canadiens in a scouting capacity.

While he had his hand in two big team trophies, he was only recognized for one, then started to bounce around from menial team to menial team-- which could have hurt his mentality in the long-run. He kept to it though and made himself a good life after his playing career was finished.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Logos Aplenty

That logo above is for this year's Thanksgiving Showdown. To me, not only does it give the Bruins/Red Wings game a title, but it shows that the NHL love logos. They'll make a logo for any kind of event and will often make reasons to have their design team come up with something.

With that in mind, and the fact we're awaiting the player draft logo for this year's All-Star Game, a list of my favorite event logos that the NHL has rolled out with-- in no particular order, of course. (Thanks to SportsLogos.net for all the logos anyone could ever ask for.)

-Draft Logos 2001-2009: The reason these stand out is because there's not templated design like we see now. The identity of the teams were well represented in these logos, which gave it a personalized feel for the events in terms of the host city and allowed plenty of freedom for designers. Now, with the templated work they have now, it's basically just adding small elements of the host city in the already made main logo.

-2009 Winter Classic: While many of the Winter Classic logos do have elements of the host city into it, the iconic use of the Wrigley Field scoreboard helps set this one away from the rest. Plus, it's the only logo in the Winter Classic cluster that is tilted to give a three-dimensional appeal to it rather than just being flattened.

-1994 All-Star Game: New York City is one of, if not the most, iconic city in the world. Their skyline is one of the most memorable, so when you combine that with an All-Star logo, you're basically yelling for it to be a fantastic one. While the jersey selection disappointed, the logo itself is one of the more fantastic logos of any ASG.

But, I couldn't let the NHL have all the fun....

-1999 ECHL All-Star Game: Sure, it's not the NHL, but the incorporation of the coast line and the lighthouse element is pretty damn fancy for the ECHL.

-2011 AHL All-Star Game: Where to start-- the Bear slapping a Hershey's Kiss; the HersheyPark roller coaster coupled with the Hershey's chocolate factory, coupled with the Giant Center in the top silhouette; the team logo inclusion-- it all makes for a fantastic event logo.

Though, you always have to have a logo to show during the breaks and to promote a product (read: All-Star Fantasy Draft), some times it's a bit overkill....like this game and the event I mentioned in parenthesis. Yet, at the same time-- logo nuts like me will clamor for something like these to come out because we enjoy the aesthetics of it all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ovechkin/Crosby Post #3,297 of the Day

When Greg Wyshynski revealed that Alex Ovechkin was asked what he thought about Sidney Crosby's triumphant return, then it found its way on Twitter-- you could hear the collective grinding of teeth from Caps fans at the audacity of the question.

That's something I could understand, the Caps had just broke a four-game losing streak with a gritty win over a tough Western team and yet still-- the Ovechkin-Crosby debate raged on, I'm sure to many people's dismay.

While Crosby coming back was a notable thing, the fact in 48 hours people were already sick of it and wanted it to end. Crosby looked like he had never left from the ice, though the team he played against had a rookie making his first NHL start in net and aren't that good to begin with....but what better way to actually build his confidence over a team that's not going to pose too much of a threat-- as the two goal, two assist night would show you.

Yet, back to the question asked of Ovechkin-- it seems a little bit of a craptastic thing to talk about, especially since the Caps didn't play the Penguins and Ovechkin was on the ice playing his own game as the hype in Pittsburgh reigned on. Maybe to give Ovechkin a bit of time to watch the highlights from the night and then ask at practice today-- then it could actually be a legit question and get a better answer than "good for him."

That's my only complaint about it. Sure, Ovechkin has mired in a slump and Caps fans are getting restless with the team's lack of production and the attention their superstar has been getting because of his slump-- but the Ovechkin/Crosby thing will live on until one of them retired. They'll be forever linked and it's something that the fans on both sides will have to live with.

And is that such a bad thing?? Sure, it's gets annoying at times, but so do each of the team's fanbases when it comes to defending their superstar. I'm sure every team gets that way, but these two particular teams have fans that go over the rationality line. In any case, Ovechkin and Crosby being pitted against each other will step their games up accordingly, I'm sure. While the magnifying glass will be even bigger around both of them and will annoy everyone else-- it's good for the game to have these two prolific players put to the forefront, though one of them is off his game and the other is coming back from a serious injury-- as the games go on, you have to hope they'll both pick up their games throughout the rest of the season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Denis DeJordy

This week, the focus on the AGM is for a guy who kind of changed the way the game is played-- yet not for his on-ice prowess, per se. What he did after his career has changed the way goaltending is handled today and made many discussion topics should things in net start to go wrong. Not to say his playing career wasn't shabby, but he could be a little more remembered for his first gig post-retirement. This week, the profile of Denis DeJordy.

DeJordy's first presence was with the Junior B Dixie Beehives before really making a name for himself in the 1957-58 season with the St. Catherine Teepees, going 32-14-6 in 52 games, while getting in one game in the AHL with the Buffalo Bisons, which was a loss. Returning to the Teepees in the 1958-59 season, DeJordy went 40-10-3 in 53 games, then 2-4-1 in the playoffs, as well as being named to the OHA First All-Star Team. DeJordy would also get the call by the Peterborough Petes for the 1959 Memorial Cup, but would go 1-4 against the Winnipeg Braves in the Finals.

Starting in the 1959-60 season, DeJordy moved to the new Eastern Professional League to play for the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds where he would play 69 games and finish that year with a 27-31-11 record. The 1960-61 season had DeJordy start out in Sault Ste. Marie for 33 games (16-14-3) before moving up to the AHL and the Buffalo Bisons, playing in 40 games and finishing there with with a 20-18-2 record, then going 0-4 in the playoffs.

The 1961-62 season saw DeJordy return to Buffalo, where he would go 36-30-3 in 69 games, while then going 6-5 in 11 playoff games, losing to Springfield in the Calder Cup finals. DeJordy had his sights set on a championship when he came back to Buffalo in the 1962-63 season, going 37-23-7 in 67 games, then going 8-5 in 13 playoff games, helping the Bisons win the Calder Cup that season. DeJordy racked up the awards, too-- winning the Hap Holmes Trophy for fewest goals-against; the Les Cunningham Award for AHL MVP; and named to the AHL's First All-Star Team. Also in '62-'63, DeJordy made five appearances for the Chicago Blackhawks, going 2-1-2 in those games.

The 1963-64 season had DeJordy not playing much, as he play only one game with the Central Professional League's St. Louis Braves (a loss) and then only six games with the Chicago Blackhawks, finishing 2-3-1. It picked up in the 1964-65 season, as DeJordy played 30 games in Chicago, going 16-11-3-- as well as seven games in Buffalo for the Bisons, going 3-4-0 in that time. However, DeJordy was relegated to the Central Pro League with the St. Louis Braves in the 1965-66 season, playing 70 games and compiling a 30-31-9 record in the regular season and 1-4 record in five playoff games. DeJordy was named to the CPHL's First All-Star Team that season.

DeJordy returned to Chicago for the 1966-67 season, splitting duties with Glenn Hall and finishing with a 22-12-7 record in 44 games, then 1-2 in four playoff appearances. DeJordy and Hall would win the Vezina Trophy for the season, in a time where both goalies were rewarded for fewest goals-against in a season. Starting in the 1967-68 season, DeJordy got the majority of the playing time in Chicago, as he would play 50 games that season and finish up with a 23-15-11 record, then compiling a 5-6 playoff record. DeJordy struggle in Chicago during the 1968-69 season, playing in 53 games with Chicago, going 22-22-7, but would be sent down to the Central League's Dallas Blackhawks for 15 games, going 8-4-3 in those appearances. DeJordy started the 1969-70 season with Chicago, playing in 10 games with a 3-5-1 record, but his time there would be short.

DeJordy would be traded to the Los Angeles Kings late in the season, playing in 21 games to end the season and have a 5-11-4 record to show for it. Getting a full season with Los Angeles in the 1970-71 season, DeJordy would play in 60 games and finish with an 18-29-11 record. The 1971-72 season saw DeJordy only play five games, all losses, for the Kings before being on the move again.

DeJordy was traded to the Montreal Canadiens after those five games, which brought Rogie Vachon to Los Angeles in return. With a short stint, DeJordy went 3-2-1 in the seven games with the Canadiens.

DeJordy was on the move again, getting traded in the Summer of 1972 to the New York Islanders, but would never play there-- as he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings before the 1972-73 season, where he would play 24 games and wrap up an 8-11-4 record. He would always be sent to the Central League's Fort Worth Wings for ten games that season. The 1973-74 season had DeJordy play with the Baltimore Clippers of the AHL, going 21-13-6 in 42 games, named to the AHL's Second All-Star Team. DeJordy played only one game in Detroit that year, a loss. DeJordy retired after that season.

Immediately following his retirement, DeJordy became the first ever goalie coach in the NHL, as he would be in charge of Jim Rutherford and Doug Grant starting in the 1974-75 season. Also, during his playing days-- DeJordy owned a sporting good store in Quebec in the off-season.

Though his playing career didn't seem to leave a huge mark, the fact he pioneered the goaltender's coach position allowed more one-on-one direction to the goalies and actually give them the attention they need to focus on the game. Even so, DeJordy had a solid career and learned enough from his time to pass onto others.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Maple Leafs' European Scouting Adventure

In an interesting story, it seems that the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to expand their network even more. From the IIHF website, the Leafs and the Zurich Lions now how a working agreement and will work closely together when it comes to scouting players from the Swiss league. The Leafs also have an agreement like this with German team Alder Mannheim.

While players who are draft-eligible aren't able to be plucked by the Leafs, all players who are older than 22 can be plucked up by the Leafs if they deem them to be worthy enough. Not only that, but Zurich and Mannheim can compare notes with the Leafs about other teams and players in their respective leagues.

First, I haven't heard this happen with many other teams-- so you have to respect the Leafs and GM Brian Burke for picking up this kind of idea and running with it. Though, it should be something expected, as Burke has gone for untapped markets before, mostly the US college ranks, and work to some success. Second, with the Swiss turning out some pretty decent NHLers (Jonas Hiller and Mark Streit) and prospects (Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi), it seems like it could be the next, to pull a US college sports reference, "mid-major" country to be on the big map for development. Of course, many thought that Germany was going to be the next big thing and it fizzled a bit.

Yet, at the same time-- when it comes to European, undrafted players-- it hasn't turned out completely well. Both Fabrian Brunnstrom and Jonas Gustavsson have given less than stellar returns for the hype they got, which could turn some people off. Though, Burke is a guy who can sniff out solid talent, which could make these deal work more-- especially since he'll get notes and won't have to go on some hearsay and conjecture. Even so, you have to say that the put-off of what Brunnstrom and Gustavsson have brought could make this nothing more than a place for Burke to ship high-contract, underperforming players-- but that's just me.

All in all, it's another way for the Leafs, and mostly Brian Burke, to think outside of the box of professional scouting and also getting their foot in the door when it comes to untapped marketplaces for hockey talent. If this provides nothing of substance for the Leafs-- they still made the effort that other teams could be scared to do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Ron Low

It must be a difficult task to go from a Memorial Cup team to the worst team in modern NHL history, but that's what this week's AGM had to endure. If nothing else, it got him prepared for not getting much support from his teammates and very lean years during his NHL time. Yet, it got him a coaching gig at the end of his career-- so he did something right. This week, the profile of Ron Low.

While Low came onto the scene in the 1967-68 season with the West Coast Junior League's Winnipeg Jets for sixteen games, he would spend the rest of that season with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior League. Low would spend the 1968-69 and 1969-70 season with the Dauphin Kings, winning the Manitoba Junior championship each year and attending the Memorial Cup both seasons, but never winning it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Low 103rd overall in the 1970 Draft, but Low would play in the Eastern League's Jacksonville Rockets for 46 games and then four games with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central League for the 1970-71 season. The 1971-72 season had Low spend it mostly in Tulsa again, going 21-18-2 in 43 games, then winning his only appearance with the Richmond Robins of the AHL. The 1972-73 season saw Low get the call to the Maple Leafs, playing in 42 games and finishing 12-24-4 for the season. That make the Leafs send him back to Tulsa for the 1973-74 season, where Low would compile a 23-23-8 record in 56 appearances.

Low was left unprotected by the Leafs during the expansion Draft, which left him open to be picked by the Washington Capitals. Low had the job of being on the worst team in modern NHL history, as he went 8-36-2 in 48 games with the Caps, actually winning all the games the Caps did that season. It fared no better for Low in the 1975-76 campaign, going 6-31-2 in 43 outings for the Caps, though the 1976-77 season was better for Low, finishing up with a 16-27-5 record

The rights to Low were traded to the Detroit Red Wings for the 1977-78 season, where he would play 32 games in Detroit, finishing with a 9-12-9 record in the regular season, then 1-3 in four playoff games. Low was sent to the Central League's Kansas City Red Wings for the 1978-79 season, where he'd finish up his 63 game season with a 33-28-2 record; then 1-4 in five playoff games.

Crazily enough, Low was left unprotected and picked up during the Expansion Draft by the Quebec Nordiques for the 1979-80 season, where he'd go 5-7-2 in 15 games before being sent to the Syracuse Firebirds of the AHL, playing 15 games and finishing up with a 5-9-1 record.

Low was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in March of 1980, and would play 11 games with the Oilers and finish with an 8-2-1 record. While he spent two games with the Central League's Wichita Wind (0-2-0), Low spent most of the 1980-81 season with the Oilers, going 5-13-3 in 24 games. Low played 29 games for the Oilers in the 1981-82 season, finishing with 17-7-1 record. The 1982-83 season had Low play only three games for the Oilers (0-1-0) before being sent to the AHL's Moncton Alpines for six games, though no record is available.

Low was eventually traded to the New Jersey Devils at the end of the season, playing in 11 games with a 2-7-1 record. Low stuck with New Jersey for the 1983-84 season, but would only post an 8-25-4 record in 44 games, while the 1984-85 season yielded only 26 games with a 6-11-4 record to show for it.

Low would spend the 1985-86 season with the Nova Scotia Oilers, but he would go 1-5-0 in six games before he would retire in his playing career.

After he retired, Nova Scotia immediately made him an assistant coach, before he was promoted to the assistant in Edmonton before becoming the head coach of the now Cape Breton Oilers in 1989. He would then be promoted again to Edmonton's assistant coach, the became head coach of the Oilers in 1995, where he stayed for four seasons before moving to the Houston Aeros head coaching position. In 2000, Low was named head coach of the New York Rangers and spend two season behind the bench before being relieved of his coaching duties and put in the scouting position. Low then moved to the Ottawa Senators as a goalie coach and scout, then assistant coach before being fired. Low is the only NHL goalie to head coach two different teams, as well as winning two Stanley Cups as an assistant in Edmonton in 1987 and 1990.

Low had a scary moment in March of 2010, when he was in Calgary and got mugged after seeing former teammate Dave Hunter. He made it to his hotel after the attack and called an ambulance to get him, which also required him to get surgery on his damaged organs. He has since gotten better.

He had to overcome getting squeezed out of positions, dealing with bad expansion teams, and then trying to find magic when he did play-- but he learned enough to move over to the coaching side and have a successful run there.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nashville's D-ilemma

It was mentioned on the 11.09.11 episode of the Face Off Hockey Show, which was the unknown topic of the masterful Lyle Richardson's article on The Hockey News' website-- but the Nashville Predators are in a tight spot with the signing of Pekka Rinne last week, but only in terms of trying to re-sign Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, or both.

If you look at the things both bring to the table, you have to wonder who has the edge. The knee-jerk reaction is to say Weber-- if only for the physical force he brings to the table, as well as the cannon of a shot. The fact that the Predators are not a high-offensively minded team and Weber is good for 15 goals on the back-line while Suter has no more than eight in one season (2006-07).

Yet, the Predators have always been know and probably will always be known as a defensive team. That's where I think Suter has the edge. As good as Weber is in the offensive zone, Suter has the edge in his own zone and is probably the more of a shutdown man in comparison. If the Predators want to stick to that same scheme of defense first, Suter has to be the right choice to say around.

Of course, you look at what has happened in situations before. Most notably, the Ottawa Senators when trying to decide between Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara. In the end, the Sens made the wrong choice in picking Redden, as Chara was a monster back then and still is now. That's where the Predators are and this is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. If you let Weber go, you let a physical presence go with a helluva offensive upside. If you let Suter go, there goes a guy who could shutdown a team in a key situation.

Another side of the situation is Ryan Suter being the only one of the two being a UFA in the summer, while Shea Weber is a RFA. The danger in this is that Suter can be left with nothing coming back in return, which will ramp up his trade rumors. With Weber, the Predators could have other team dictate what the Predators have to pay if he is signed to an offer-sheet in the summer.

David Poile is a magician as a GM. If there's anyone who can balance out this situation, it could be Poile. While he's not a guy who will spend over his own means in order to appease the fan base who'd love to have all these guys signed to long-term deals. He won't hand-cuff his team in order to keep some guys who may not be able to pan out to their contractual terms. All eyes will be on Nashville until the trade deadline, then starting up again in June-- and mostly not for the hockey.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Battle of the Blurst: Caps and Jackets Required

Depending on how things go, we could make this a running gimmick, but here's the deal. The Columbus Blue Jackets are bad, but could they be on pace to be the worst team to ever hit an NHL ice surface?? They need a lot of work and with guys coming back from injury; they could have some kind of reversal of fortune, but it's not looking good right now.

The Washington Capitals from the 1974-75 season hold the record for fewest wins, worst winning percentage, and fewest points in the modern era of hockey. The Caps went 8-67-5, which equals 21 points and a .131 winning percentage. Thanks to the NHL History Girl, Jen for reassuring me there was no one worst in the modern era, though I begged and pleaded for her to say differently.

Alright, so we're past the 14th game of the season with the Blue Jackets, so here's the comparison:

2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets: 2-11-1, 5 pts., 31 GF, 53 GA
1974-75 Washington Capitals: 1-12-1, 3 pts., 28 GF, 72 GA

So, as you see--we're only looking at a one-win, two point difference, three goals-for difference, but 19 goals-against difference. Neither team has won a road games (Caps lost 39 of 40 road games, so maybe the Jackets will be better than that....) and looks like it won't get easier.

Granted, we're at a modern era were there's a lot more parity and there's a lot more skill on this bad team-- considering they aren't an expansion team-- and could hit a nice little winning streak to make people forget about the awful start of the season.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Derek Wilkinson

While you always hate to see a goalie have his career cut short due to lack of opportunities, the fact that this week's AGM was able to make it to the show and then make a solid name for himself after his playing days is always a good thing. This week, the profile of Derek Wilkinson.

While he first busted on the scene in the 1989-90 season in Junior B and C hockey with the Windsor Bulldogs and Belle River Canadiens respectively, he broke out a bit in the 1990-91 season in Junior B with the Chatham Micmacs Jr. team, playing in 24 games with a 3.61 GAA in that year.

Wilkinson moved up to the OHL for the 1991-92 season with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, where he would play 38 games and go 16-17-1 in the regular season, with a 3-2 record in seven playoff appearances. The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Wilkinson in the 1992 Entry Draft in the 7th Round. The 1992-93 season had Wilkinson in Detroit with the newly named Jr. Red Wings, going 1-2-1 in four games before getting traded to the Belleville Bulls-- playing in 59 games and finishing with a record of 21-24-11, then 3-4 in seven playoff games. Returning to Belleville for the 1993-94 season, Wilkinson went 24-16-4 in 56 games and then 6-6 in 12 games of the playoffs.

Moving up to the professional ranks in the 1994-95 season, Wilkinson spent the year in the IHL with the Atlanta Knights, playing in 46 games and finished with a 22-17-2 record, then going 2-1 in four playoff games. Wilkinson had the bulk of the 1995-96 season spent in Atlanta again, playing in 28 games and compiling an 11-11-2 record, then getting called up to Tampa Bay; playing in four games and posting a 0-3-0 record.

The Bolts changed affiliates to the Cleveland Lumberjacks in the 1996-97 season, where Wilkinson would be for most of the year-- playing in 46 games with a 20-17-6 record, then going 8-6 in the playoffs. Wilkinson got the call to Tampa Bay again, this time going 0-2-1 in five games. The 1997-98 season had a bit of a split, as Wilkinson only played 25 games in Cleveland (9-12-2) and then appeared in eight games with Tampa Bay (2-4-1). Wilkinson had another split year in the 1998-99 season, playing in Cleveland for 34 games whilst finishing with a 10-15-2 record; then moving up to Tampa for five games with a 1-3-1 record.

The 1999-2000 season had Wilkinson as a free agent, which he would serve the bulk of the season with the ECHL's Charlotte Checkers, playing in 31 games and finishing with a 11-13-2 record. Wilkinson would also play a game with the IHL's Chicago Wolves, were he would get a tie out of it. Wilkinson got signed by the Belfast Giants of the British Elite League for the 2000-01 season, playing 23 games there before hanging up his pads for good at the age of 26.

While he had his career ended early, Wilkinson was able to land on his feet afterwords, getting hired by the Charlotte Checkers as an assistant coach in the 2002-03 season, then moving to head coach in the middle of the 2003-04 season. Wilkinson would be the head coach in Charlotte until they moved into the AHL, in which he took over the role of Senior VP of Business Operations of the Checkers. He remains the winningest coach in Checkers history at 237-182-42.

It was a long road and it seemed that Wilkinson wasn't able to find his niche in the NHL, Wilkinson made his mark in the minors and then parlayed that into a coaching role and making a very successful run for himself. It was short and sweet, but he'll last forever due to this post.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Kyle Wellwood is so Phat

Who is this player and what has he done with Kyle Wellwood??

After signing with Winnipeg in September, Wellwood has been a house of fire for the new Jets. Through 11 games, Wellwood has five goals and eight points for the Jets; third in scoring and first in goals with the team.

Whether or not this stick the entire season remains to be seen, but his start is something that's promising for the lowly Jets this year. Even so, it's bound to be a career year for Wellwood, who's career high in goals is 18 (2008-09) and in points is 45 (2005-06). Barring an injury or major slump, he's well on his way to possibly being the most surprising player of the NHL this year, as well as finally following through on his promising junior career.

Yet, you have to wonder what happened with Wellwood and made him more motivated this year than years past. Was it his KHL excursion, letting him know how well he had it in the NHL and needs to actually work harder to stay there?? Is it the market he's in that made him motivated to do solidly, even though he couldn't muster that motivation in Toronto?? Did he want to shut up the Twitter hashtag for ever popping up again (try and stop us)??

Regardless of what happens, he's definitely a bright spot in a slow start to the Jets season. Again, if it continues or not, time will tell. Yet, considering the Jets probably didn't expect much from Wellwood when they signed him before the start of training camp, this is definitely giving them a lot of bang for their buck; even though it could also cause concern for their bigger name players out there who aren't as effective.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Wilf Cude

Time to look back at a different time, a different era, and a time where we had a decent amount of British players in the league. This is a time were because franchises came and went, the goalies often were just hanging around, waiting for someone to get injured. Luckily, for this week's AGM-- he got on with a lot of teams because of injury. However, he has been blamed for being part of the darkest days of one of the leagues most hallowed franchises. This week, the profile of Wilf Cude.

Born in Barry, South Wales, Great Britain; Cude honed his craft when he moved over to Winnipeg, Manitoba, playing for St. Vital Athletic Club for three years and then moving to the senior leagues with the Winnipeg Wellingtons in the 1928-29 season. The 1929-30 season had Cude play with the Melville Millionaires, going 13-6-1 in 20 games that season.

In February of 1930, Cude signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates; but would never play a game there as the Pirates would relocated to Philadelphia and become the Quakers. The 1930-31, Cude would make his NHL debut with the Quakers, but would only go 2-25-3 in 30 games for the hapless Quakers, who could disband after the season.

With a lack of jobs, Cude would pretty much go anywhere and everywhere in the 1931-32 season. He would play two games with the Chicago Blackhawks (1-1-0), one game in relief for the Boston Bruins (no decision), and one game with the IHL's Syracuse Stars (a tie). Cude would spend most of the time that season in the Can-Am League with the Boston Cubs, finishing with a 7-7-1 record in 15 games. Cude played in the Can-Am again in the 1932-33 season, while returning to Philadelphia with the Arrows, going 21-9-2 in 32 games, then 2-3 in five playoff games.

In a cross-league trade, Cude was traded from Philadelphia to the Montreal Canadiens before the 1933-34 season, but would only play one games (a win and shutout) for the Canadiens. Cude would play in the IHL for 19 games with Syracuse (no record available), before the Canadiens loaned out Cude to the Detroit Red Wings for a bulk of the season. With the Wings, Cude went 15-6-8 with four shutouts, then going 4-5 in nine playoff games.

Cude would be returned to the Canadiens in the 1934-35 season, compiling a 19-23-6 record in 48 games, then 0-1-1 in two playoff games. It would be a bit worse for Cude in the 1935-36 season, only putting up a 11-26-10-- though he did have six shutouts in that season. The 1936-37 season was a bounce-back year for Cude, going 22-17-5 in 47 games, but going 2-3 in five playoff games. Back for the 1937-38 campaign, Cude had a 18-17-12 record, then 1-2 in the playoffs. The 1938-39 season saw Cude split work with Claude Bourque, as Cude played in 23 games with an 8-11-4 record.

For the 1939-40 season, Cude lost his spot with the Canadiens after only seven games (1-5-1) and spent most of the season in the AHL with the New Haven Eagles, playing in 44 games with a 23-18-1 record, then going 1-2 in three playoff games. Cude would return to the Canadiens again in the 1940-41 season, but only for three games, completing with a 2-1 record before retiring.

To note, Cude played in the Howie Morenz Memorial Game and the Babe Siebert Memorial Game, which were two of the first few All-Star games to take place.

After hockey, Cude owned a private distribution company in Quebec for British American Oil. After a lengthy illnes, Cude passed away in May of 1968 at the age of 57. Cude is an Honored Member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

He wasn't the biggest guy and didn't seem to have the most routine route to the NHL; he stuck to it and kept himself out there before getting the break he needed in Montreal. It just shows that if you stick around through the toughest of times, you will get rewarded at some point in time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Myth of the Stanley Cup Hangover

Last year's Stanley Cup participants are struggling and many would have you believe that it's due to the dreaded "Stanley Cup Hangover." The Boston Bruins are 3-7-0, last in the Eastern Conference and only better than the Columbus Blue Jackets in the league. The Vancouver Canucks are 5-5-1, 11th in the Western Conference and started 4-5-1.

While those are definitely not the best for two champions of their conferences, but is there really such a thing as a "Stanley Cup Hangover??" Let's be honest, you have to just assume that there is because that's what the media is selling and spinning. Though, if you do the research-- there's not really that much of a big deal with it comes to a "Hangover" from the shortened off-season. And you know it bugs me because I actually did research-- WHICH I NEVER DO!!!

So, here are my findings from the first ten games from the past ten season, not including this season. Of course, the years noted are the season AFTER they met in the Cup Finals.

2010-11: Chicago 5-4-1; Philadelphia 5-4-1
2009-10: Pittsburgh 9-1-0 ; Detroit 4-4-2
2008-09: Detroit 7-1-2; Pittsburgh 5-4-1
2007-08: Anaheim 4-5-1; Ottawa 9-1-0
2006-07: Carolina 4-4-2; Edmonton 6-4-0
2005-06: Tampa Bay 5-3-2; Calgary 4-5-1
2003-04: New Jersey 5-3-2; Anaheim 3-5-2
2002-03: Detroit 6-3-1; Carolina 4-4-2
2001-02: Colorado 8-0-2; New Jersey 6-3-1
2000-01: New Jersey 6-2-2; Dallas 6-3-1

So, we have five pre-lockout, five post-lockout on those Finals. The Cup winner was AT OR OVER .500 nine times (five pre-lockout), while the Cup loser was AT OR OVER .500 eight times (three pre-lockout). Not TOO much of a hangover if you act me; just some bumps in the roads to start-- but nothing as drastic as people make it out to be.

However, it's a nice little excuse that teams may have in order to describe the teams woes. That said, you look at the rosters of these teams and there hasn't been that many changes to either roster from the Cup final to the start of this season. That could be a hinderence because of the fact other teams may have gotten better, thus making the Bruins and Canucks already starting off down because they held steady.

The point of this is that the hangover doesn't effect many teams as hard as it has these past two teams. Seven times, both teams started at or over .500 and only once did the Cup winner from the year previous (Anaheim) start out worse that their other Finalist. Just some food for thought on this last Sunday in October.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Long Line Change: Visors and Turris and Relocation, Oh My

Long Ling Change is the gimmick done to talk about the stories that have been tackled in the past, which makes me not add anything more that what's already been added from the others on the 'net or not enough to actually make a separate post for.

The Eternal Visor Debate

After Chris Pronger got stabbed in the eye and Andrew Ladd hit between eyes; the visor debate got woken up again. And honestly, it's not that much a debate. Across the board, it seems people want the players to have visors mandatory with a grandfather clause to help out those guys who already don't wear them and don't feel right to wear them for one reason or another.

The NHL has been trying to do this for year, the NHLPA doesn't seem that ready to move forward with this plan, though. In the end, with all the players moving up from junior or college already having mandatory visors or cages-- why wouldn't they want to keep it on, if nothing else but to be able to keep your vision for well beyond their playing career.

Kyle Turris and His Plight

Kyle Turris is still holding out from the Phoenix Coyotes and now it's getting really real. It seems that Turris' agent is saying that because the Coyotes are owner by the NHL, they aren't willing to move him along because of one reason or another, while 29 teams are pissed off because of the unwillingness to move them.

Of course, Turris at one point demanded a boatload of money (upwards of $4 or $5 Million) while not really doing anything while with the Coyotes. He's not a regular on the team, he didn't contribute much to the team, and while a fresh-start could do him good-- you can't blame the Coyotes/NHL for not giving him what he wants money wise.

The Turris Camp can say it was never about the money, but if they thought that-- why ask for that kind of money at all, just keep demanding to be traded until you got it. Don't even talk facts and figures-- just say you want out, which would tell them that no amount of money will want him to stay.

Minor League Realignment

It seems that the western NHL teams were very vocal about having their affiliates half-way across the country, especially when it comes to an surprise injury, making a player fly across the country in short time.

Most of the AHL teams are in the Central and Eastern Time Zone, with Abbotsford being the only team in the Pacific Time Zone, which is good for the Flames since it's not TOO far from home-base, but at the same time-- having Los Angeles have to pull guys from Manchester, New Hampshire; not the most ideal situation, of course.

While the idea of ECHL teams being the primary affiliate for these Western teams, which is something that has been used in the past, is one that's a good decision-- this is how it happens when you make the AHL the monopoly for a "AAA" situation in hockey. When the AHL and IHL had the split of the affiliated teams-- it was a little better for some teams, but then it seems the IHL collapsed on itself because of the distances between the teams.

It's definitely a cause for concern for Western Conference teams, but at the same time-- the Kings and the Sharks OWN THEIR AHL FRANCHISES, so they could actually move them as they want them and all of that-- but that cost of travel would be killer as well. If you do some kind of Western AHL situation-- it could work out, but whether the AHL or NHL teams want to risk it, that's the real question.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Absurd Goalie Monday: Jamie McLennan

While we seem to have a lot of commentators that have been AGMs in the past, this week's has only recently taken that step in his career. After dealing with the highs of junior success, to the fear of dying in the off-season, to the rejuvenation of his career, finally settling in with being a back-up to work horse goalies, this week's inductee has been through it all. This week, the career of Jamie McLennan.

McLennan started off by playing in the Alberta Jr. League for the Saint Albert Royals in the 1987-88 season before moving to the WHL in the 1988-89 season, first for 11 games with the Spokane Chiefs before getting traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, where he would play for seven games. The 1989-90 season had McLennan in 34 appearances and would respond well to the added time, going 20-4-2 in those games, then sporting a 6-5 playoff record in 13 games. McLennan would take the starting role in the 1990-91 season, playing in 56 games and finishing with a 32-18-4 record, then lead Lethbridge to the WHL Finals with a 8-8 record in the playoffs. McLennan would win the Del Wilson Trophy for top goaltender in the WHL.

After that season, the New York Islanders selected McLennan in the third round of the NHL Draft. That 1991-92 season saw McLennan start out in the ECHL with the Richmond Renegades, playing 32 games and going 16-12-2, while also playing in 18 games with the AHL's Capital Distrcit Islanders, going 4-10-2 in those match-ups. The 1992-93 season had McLennan staying with Capital District and appearing in 38 games with a 17-14-6 record to show for his efforts.

For the 1993-94 season, McLennan split his time between the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the IHL for 24 games (8-12-2), as well as getting into 22 games in the NHL with the Islanders, finishing with a 8-7-6 record. The 1994-95 season had McLennan in the Islanders line-up for 22 games after the lockout happened, going 6-11-2; but would spend the last part of the season with the IHL's Denver Grizzlies, going 3-0-1 in four regular season games, then going 8-2 in 11 playoff games, helping the Grizzlies win the Turner Cup. The 1995-96 season was a whirlwind for McLennan, playing on Long Island for 13 games (3-9-1), then 14 for the Utah Grizzlies in the IHL (9-2-2), then 22 for the AHL's Worcester Ice Cats (14-7-1), but it would be the off-season that would really make things interesting for McLennan.

While on his way back from Salt Lake City, Utah to his home in Edmonton, Alberta; he stopped in Lethbridge, Alberta to visit family. While in Lethbridge, McLennan got sick and went to the hospital thinking he had the flu. However, on further testing, it turned out McLennan had contracted bacterial meningitis and, had he not been treated, would have died. After spending a week in intensive care and on a heavy dose of antibiotics, he was released in good health.

Yet, the Islanders didn't re-sign McLennan, which allowed the St. Louis Blues to pick him up in the summer of 1996. The 1996-97 season had McLennan in the AHL with the Worcester Ice Cats, playing in 39 games with an 18-13-4 finishing record, then going 2-2 in the playoffs. McLennan was able to make the Blues' roster in the 1997-98 season, backing up Grant Fuhr, and playing in 30 games with a 16-8-2 record to show. Coming back that season allowed McLennan to win the Bill Masterton Trophy for dedication and perseverance to the sport of hockey. The 1998-99 season saw McLennan play in 33 games with the Blues, but finished with a 13-14-4 record, while he would only get 19 games in the 1999-2000 season, finishing with a 9-5-2 record.

With the Expansion Draft, McLennan was picked up by the Minnesota Wild, where he would play in 38 games, but would go a dismal 5-23-9. Due to that season, McLennan was sent to the AHL's Houston Aeros for the 2001-02 season, where he would go 25-18-4 in 51 games.

During the 2002 Draft, McLennan was traded to the Calgary Flames for a ninth-round pick. McLennan in the 2002-03 season went 2-11-4 in 22 games for the Flames that first year. The 2003-04 season was better in Calgary for McLennan, who went 12-9-3 in 26 games. McLennan was traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline that year with Blair Betts and Greg Moore for Chris Simon, while McLennan would only play four games with a 1-3-0 record.

When the lockout happened in the 2004-05 season, McLennan went to Great Britain to play with the Guildford Flames for three games, winding up with a 2-1-0 record to show in the regular season, then a 4-3 record in seven playoff games.

When the NHL returned in the 2005-06 season, McLennan signed with the Florida Panthers, where he would be behind Roberto Luongo for the season, only seeing 17 games during the season finishing with a 2-4-2 record.

McLennan signed with the Calgary Flames again for the 2006-07, where he would only play in nine games, finishing with a 3-5-1 record. However, how he ended his NHL career was memorable. McLennan was in a playoff game for the Flames against the Red Wings for 18 seconds-- in which he slashed Johan Franzen in the stomach, for which he was suspended five games. He would not play in the NHL again.

The 2007-08 season had McLennan go overseas, first having a five week stint with Russian Elite League's Metallurg Magnitogorsk, then going to play with the Nippon Paper Cranes of the Asian Hockey League, where he would appear in 17 games before retiring.

Post playing career, McLennan was a goaltending and assistant coach for the Calgary Flames for a couple of season, but would move onto the media world in 2010-- first writing a column for The Hockey News, then moving on the NHL on TSN staff.

He's been up, he's been down, and he faced death-- but the man they call "Noodles" always took things light-heartedly and was a guy who was upbeat according to his teammates. His personality helped him get jobs in the league, as well as now in the media side of things.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Long Line Change: Dropping Teams, Raising Age, Blowing Up

Long Ling Change is the gimmick done to talk about the stories that have been tackled in the past, which makes me not add anything more that what's already been added from the others on the 'net or not enough to actually make a separate post for.

Columbus and Ottawa Make Case for Relegation

Yes, we are young into the season, but it looks like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators aren't going to get any better this season. If anything, they are really making a case to have a relegation factor put into the NHL. Sure, we won't see it because of how the affiliations work these days, but at the same time-- it's a nice idea to have if you split the divisions and make a "loser's bracket" playing for a promotion to play for the Stanley Cup.

While the idea of having a 14-team relegation league for the Ziegler Cup would be interesting-- no one will go for it. That said, with about how awful these teams have come out of the gate, you have to wonder how much longer before not only the team is blown up through trades, but the management who got them into this mess is blown up. The Senators have had issues since Bryan Murray took over as GM and the Blue Jackets have off-ice mess that seems to holds them back, as well.

It'll be a long season for the fans of these teams, but at the same time-- maybe it's going to take a horrific season to fix things for the better....or to keep extending the misery.

Bob Nicholson Wants Older Draft

The head of Hockey Canada said that the Draft age in the NHL should be upped one year to 19, rather than 18-- but would maybe thinking about an "exception" clause for 18-year-olds who dominate the CHL.

While this does come on the heels of some pretty stellar junior players coming into the NHL and making their teams at 18, I can see where Nicholson is trying to protect his leagues so that they aren't completely cropped of talent by guys making the jump a bit too early. Yet, at the same time-- it's not like the CHL would be hurting with talent as it seems to pop up constantly through they years of development.

One year may or may not make a difference, but I can understand why Nicholson wants the age limit raised-- and it could have some reason to deal with the World Juniors, as some of the better players have been taken from Hockey Canada because they stuck with their NHL squads and it could have made the different in that tournament. Sure, it's far-fetched, but it's not out of the realm of possibility to have him think about that side of things.

While it may or may not happen-- this is a debate that many people have been taking up here-and-there for a couple years now. It's just something that's going to have to be worked out in the new CBA. Personally, I think if a guy is ready at 18, then they're ready-- but it's not for everyone.

Blowing Up Teams

Stop panicking, people. This is worse than the preseason-- I mean there's some teams that deserved to be blown up (like mentioned above), but for teams in an early slump; just seems to be throwing the baby out with the bath water-- like the Canucks and Bruins. These teams will find their way, but may need to work on the chemistry and shake off the rust for the first month. While points may be lost, it's not like a season can be lost just in the first two weeks.

Things will right themselves in time. However, if it gets to US Thanksgiving and your team is still struggling-- that's when the panic should set in and meltdowns abound.