Saturday, December 15, 2001

The greatest of Sharks: San Jose Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov set the franchise mark with his 11th shutout last night, making 38 saves in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Here come the lawyers: Former Penguins coach Ivan Hlinka is ready to sue the team for money he claims it owes him. Hlinka has not been paid since he was fired Oct. 15. He says the Penguins owe him approximately $850,000 on a three-year contract that expires June 30, 2003. Hlinka's lawyers set Friday as an unofficial deadline for reaching an out-of-court settlement with the Penguins, who have retained outside counsel in the matter. The sides talked yesterday, but apparently did not come close to an agreement. "I'm not feeling a sense of urgency by the Penguins to try to address this situation," said Hlinka's attorney, Ron Del Duca of Virginia Beach, Va. "(Litigation) is forthcoming." (Pgh Trib-review)

Friday, December 14, 2001

Minesota who?: Minnesota, known for its defensive-minded coach Jacques Lemaire and its infamous trap, are at the bottom of the Western Conference, but even the Wild has scored eight more goals than the Penguins this season. Minnesota, which has lost three consecutive games, suddenly can't stop anybody, though. The Wild have given up 90 goals. (Pgh Trib-Review)
Jay Bouwmeester (pronounced Boo-meester): Ever since the Medicine Hat Tigers drafted the kid that had many scrambling how to pronounce his vowel-filled last name with the first overall pick in the 1998 WHL Bantam Draft, Bouwmeester has been high on the radar of every NHL Scout on the continent. And from game one with the Tigers the defensive prodigy that had scouts dropping their donuts and spilling their coffees did not disappoint, nor would he for the next three WHL seasons, one more than most highly-touted draft picks get because of two days. Bouwmeester was born two days shy of the September 25 deadline for players eligible for the NHL Draft the year they turn eighteen and hence was not part of a stellar 1983-born NHL Draft class that included the likes of Dan Blackburn, Dan Hamhuis, Shaonne Morrison and Colby Armstrong.

Pegged to go number one in the 2001 Draft for the last three years, you might think the pressure could get to a teenager treated like the second coming of Coffey or perhaps even Orr. The reserved Bouwmeester however thinks otherwise. "People are going to talk and say things like that," said Bouwmeester of the pressure of being tagged the best of the bunch at an early age. "But you just can't pay much attention to it or let it go to your head. You have to go out and just play the game." (Jeff Bromley, Hockey's Future
Can the Canadian Alliance Ever Rebound?: Enza "Supermodel" Anderson, "Toronto's best-known drag queen, famous for six-inch heels, slinky dresses and a failed bid to become the city's mayor, said on Thursday she wanted to join the race to head the right-wing opposition Canadian Alliance party," Reuters reports.

They have no leadership right now; it would never happen, but would it hurt?
Kolzig save the Caps: I would not have expected it, but Matt Pettinger scored a pretty goal, the game-tying goal last night in Boston. He may be a talentless puke, but he froze Byron Dafoe and flipped the puck past him. Go figure. Ulf Dahlen, of course, got the game winner (the guy is gunning for league MVP, sheesh). And Olie's stellar netminding saved the day in the unlikely 2-1 win.
Major League Baseball forms a Political Aciton Committee! MLB "and its employees have made $70,000 in political contributions so far this year, according to reports by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). That's not a fortune in Washington, but it exceeds all the organization's political contributions for the 1999-2000 federal election cycle, which amounted to $65,370. Its 1999-2000 contributions came on top of more than $3.9 million given separately by the teams and their owners, including $113,900 from Twins owner Carl Pohlad and others in his organization. Those political contributions supplement a lobbying payroll that has exceeded $1 million annually since 1998, when Congress last delved into the antitrust issue by removing baseball's exemption on labor disputes with players. The organization's Washington lobbying tab is more than double that of all other professional sports groups combined, according to Holly Bailey, an analyst with the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks federal lobbying expenditures and political contributions. Moreover, Major League Baseball recently filed papers with the FEC to open its own political action committee (PAC), making it the first major sports league to operate one. ("Baseball makes its pitch with the help of political donations," Minnesota Star Tribune)

Fighting the MLB: from "This Bud's NOT for You: Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and his billionaire owner buddies tried to give two teams the boot days after a great World Series. Why? Because cutting teams means more money for the ones who are left. You see, this isn’t about making baseball profitable. It’s about making it really, really, REALLY profitable."

Finland's Olympic team chosen: As usual, the goaltending will be questionable -- why didn't they select Buffalo's up-and-comer, Mikka Noronen? The D looks solid. The forwards look to be fast, but only Selanne can score. Leadership should not be a problem with Teppo Numinen on the team. But look for the Finns to struggle in creating offense.

Goalies: Pasi Nurminen, Atlanta; Jussi Markkanen, Edmonton; Jani Hurme, Ottawa.

Defensemen: x-Kimmo Timonen, Nashville; Sami Salo, Ottawa; Ossi Vaananen, Phoenix; Aki-Petteri Berg, Toronto; Jyrki Lumme, Toronto; x-Teppo Numminen, Phoenix; x-Janne Niinimaa, Edmonton.

Forwards: x-Teemu Selanne, San Jose; Ville Nieminen, Colorado; Olli Jokinen, Florida; Raimo Helminen, Ilves Tampere (FIN); Ville Peltonen, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN); Tomi Kallio, Atlanta; Mikko Eloranta, Los Angeles; x-Sami Kapanen, Carolina; x-Jere Lehtinen, Dallas; x-Juha Ylonen, Tampa Bay; Jarkko Ruutu, Vancouver; Antti Aalto, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN); Juha Lind, Södertälje SK (SWE).

x-players selected prior to March 25.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Penguins expect a different Jagr next game: "We didn't see Jaromir playing his best game," defenseman Darius Kasparaitis said. "I think he was nervous, and I think you're going to see him playing his best game next game." Right winger Alexei Kovalev agrees that Jagr's first game in front of his old fans will be different. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be good. "I think there will be even more pressure on him when he plays in Pittsburgh," Kovalev said. "I felt the same when I was traded from New York and played in New York for the first time." Jagr said he didn't carry extra feelings into Tuesday's game, even though it was his first against the Penguins. "There are so many games, I didn't have time to think about the Penguins," he said. Pgh. Trib Review)

Kovalev played some of hisbest games after joining the Pens when you played in Madison Square Gardens. Jagr has yet to hit his stride this season, and I don't think that playing in Pgh will help him any.
Penguins: Unloved, but not unworthy: They lost Jaromir Jagr before the season started, in a trade that everyone understood could not begin to pay dividends for several seasons. They have been without Mario Lemieux for all but 11 games. They have lost Martin Straka for the season, been without Alexei Kovalev for 13 games and now have lost versatile defenseman Ian Moran for three to four weeks with a broken foot. This is what the Penguins have become this season - a team that misses Ian Moran. Earlier Penguins teams might have shrugged off such a loss, but not this one. (Pgh Trib-Review)
Punches A'plenty: One of the more comical moments in the Kings' 1-1 tie against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night took place midway through the period when Eric Belanger and the Predators' Scott Hartnell traded punches ... inside the Kings' net. It looked as if Belanger was coming to the aid of goaltender Felix Potvin, who was bumped by Hartnell, but Belanger said there was more to it.
"He punched me right in the face," he said of Hartnell, "so I punched him back. I won't let myself get punched in the face, especially when he hit the goalie a little bit. You've got to let him know." Belanger and Hartnell both received roughing penalties. (LA Times)
St. Louis singing the goal-scoring Blues: Pavol Demitra, who is having another all-star season, continues to lead the Blues with 17 goals. Keith Tkachuk has 14, but the production falls off dramatically after that. Doug Weight has fired in only seven goals in 29 games. Scott Young has seven, Cory Stillman four, Jamal Mayers four, Scott Mellanby three, Tyson Nash two, Mike Eastwood one.

The Blues have the NHL's second-highest payroll -- $57 million -- and have played inconsistent hockey this season. The chemistry is wrong. They would love to trade for a goal scorer, but have little to offer in return. I think they will just have to lump it for a while...
Hurricane Americans impress: Ostensibly there to scout Canes goalie Tom Barrasso and defenseman David Tanabe, U.S. Olympic GM Herb Brooks saw a lot more than that in a 4-1 Carolina win over the Florida Panthers... Every American skater on the Carolina roster had at least a point, and Barrasso solidified his candidacy for the U.S roster, which will be announced Dec. 19. (An Olympian effort)

Unfortunately, Tommy's poor reputation will probably keep him from snagging the starter's role for the U.S. once again. Had Richter not recovered from his injuries, Tommy would be the man, but with the Rangers goalie making a sterling showing, Tommy is unlikely to land the opportunity -- he'll be shafted, just like in 1998.
St. Louis singing the Blues: Pavol Demitra, who is having another all-star season, continues to lead the Blues with 17 goals. Keith Tkachuk has 14, but the production falls off dramatically after that. Doug Weight has fired in only seven goals in 29 games. Scott Young has seven, Cory Stillman four, Jamal Mayers four, Scott Mellanby three, Tyson Nash two, Mike Eastwood one.

Hence, rampant trade rumors. But St. Louis has nothing much to offer anyone in return for a bonafide scorer.

The players were somewhat surprised when owner Bill Laurie appeared out of the blue at practice Sunday. Laurie said his presence wasn't meant to carry a message, but with the Blues holding down the NHL's second-highest payroll at $57 million, the entire team realizes more is expected.
Quoteable Puck: Just found this place. Not been updated for a long time, but quite the archive of amusing Hockey Quotes.
Slamming Colin Campbell: In response to the NHL's harsh treatment of the Calgary Flames (following a fight-fest with Anaheim that included 309 minutes in penalties), Tony Bryson pens a letter to the NHL's chief disciplinarian about his one-sided justice, asking Campbell if he actually bothered to watch the game tapes.
The cost to Slovakia: Not having their NHL players at hand will kill Slovakia's chances. Consider the players presumably NOT available for their Olympic team:
(by team)
Lubos Bartecko, F
Jozef Stumpel, F
Miroslav Satan, F
Ronald Petrovicky, F
Robert Svehla, D
Los Angeles
Zigmund Palffy, F
Lubomir Visnovsky, D
Marian Gaborik, F
Lubomir Sekeras, D
Richard Zednik, F
Marian Cisar, F
Vladimir Orszagh, F
N.Y. Rangers
Zdeno Ciger, F
Zdeno Chara, D
Ivan Ciernik, F
Marian Hossa, F
Michal Handzus, F
Ladislav Nagy, F
Radoslav Suchy, D
St. Louis
Pavol Demitra, F
Peter Bondra, F
Lindros injured, but not in his head! Hey, you mean there are other parts of Eric's body that can get hurt? Lindros netted his 17th and 18th goals for New York but left the contest with the Nashville Predators with a right knee sprain late in the second period and did not return. "It's happened before," said Lindros, who already wears braces on both knees and limped out of the locker room after the game. "It's not nearly as bad as I thought it was. Everybody knows their own body."
IIHF screws the NHL, then says bite me: The president of the International Ice Hockey Federation scolded NHL teams for not letting their players away for early olympic games. He said he was particularly struck by the problem after watching the soccer World Cup playoff between Uruguay and Australia last month, for which English team Leeds United released Australians Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell, meaning that the pair missed four league games. "In soccer, and all other big team sports that I can think of, the general view is that major international competition like the Olympics or World Cup always is above domestic league competition," he said. (

Great. I doubt that Leeds Ut. was worried about relegation. NHL teams need to worry that every game lost could leave them on the outside of the playoffs.
In praise of the Islanders' owner: Money rarely buys everything in the NHL, but in the case of the New York Islanders, it has at least bought respectability, something that has been lacking on the Isle since 1994. Cash allowances for Mike Peca, Alexei Yashin and Chris Osgoode have completely remade the team into a legitimate force.

An ESPN columnist pens a tribute to the owner, Charles Wang: "At least for now, Charles Wang is the fan's dream owner. He doubles player payroll and doesn't complain about hemorrhaging team expenses. He lives close to his team and makes it clear that he has no intentions of leaving. He has an intense hunger for victory and disgust for defeat."
Rangers-Lightning trade: Hmm. Matthew Barnaby to the Rangers and Zdeno Ciger to the Bolts. Looks good for both teams. Tampa Bay needed some more goals, NY needed a bit more grit. Not that NY does not have a few bruisers, but it will be nice for them to have one who draws penalties, and does not get suspended all the time like Igor Ulanov.
Pact on Border Security Aims to Lift Trade Between Canada and the U.S.: From the WSJ: The agreement... calls for creating a joint database that will keep track of all people who enter and leave each country, developing new permanent-resident cards, adding biometric information such as digital scans of each traveler's iris or thumb to travel documents to prevent forgery, and sharing more information on passengers aboard flights between the U.S. and Canada. Although the deal is nominally about security, trade is an important subtext. Nearly 32% of Canada's gross domestic product comes from trade with the U.S., while some 3% of U.S. GDP comes from trade with its northern neighbor.... the deal also calls for expanding an existing program that makes it easier for preapproved travelers like businessmen or truck drivers to enter each country. Additionally, officials said they hope to deploy a system that would allow goods manufactured at approved facilities to be packed in sealed trucks and driven straight across the border. "There is no trade-off between our peoples' security and a trade-friendly border," Mr. Ridge said at the signing ceremony in Ottawa. "We need both."

Now if only the Canadians would let Billy Tibbets cross the border to play Penguins games in Canada, we would be making some progress!

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Jersey confusion: Having made a rare early visit to our seats at the MCI Center last night, we found both teams doing their warm-ups in nearly identical jerseys. According to the Washington Post, "The Capitals were scheduled to wear black jerseys last night but had to switch to white just before game time because the Penguins packed only their black jerseys for the road trip."

This highlights a growing NHL problem. Aside from most of the NHL logos and jerseys becoming more and more ugly, they are becoming thoroughly uniform. How many teams need a fricking black away jersey? Who has one now: Tampa Bay, San Jose, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Calgary. Everyone is switching to red and black colors. All the great jerseys are disappearing. AARGH!
Pens-Caps recap: It is a tired record, but I must point out that this game had odious officiating. The excessive penalties called in the first period were all marginal. The refs put away their whistles after that, and let the WWF antics commence.

The Penguins were lucky that goalie Johan Hedberg was there to save their bacon. Consider that they only managed 4 shots on goal in the first period, while Hedberg had faced 15!

The Caps' goals, from Dahlen and Simon, were both mighty pretty, and Hedberg had no chance.

Jagr had a few impressive moments, as always, but did not do much.

A sold-out MCI Center? My ass. It may have been sold out, but there were bushel loads of empty seats. Perhaps they are corporate-owned seats, but even so, the organization should find that seriously embarassing.

I find the Caps fans' bitter envy of Pittsburgh quite tedious...
Putting the Hit Out on Jagr: Kasparaitis was the Penguins' point man in their hunt for Jagr. Kasparaitis leads the NHL in hits, and eight minutes into the game he welcomed Jagr to the Capitals by banging him into the sideboards. I found Kasparaitis hanging out at the team bench a couple of hours before the game, alone with his thoughts in the half-darkened arena. He was thinking about Jagr. Kasparaitis said he had gotten used to not having Jagr around in Pittsburgh, but now he was preparing for the experience of seeing him in a Capitals uniform after all those seasons in Pittsburgh. Kasparaitis, brushing back his blond hair, knew what he had to do with Jagr. "You have to forget he was a teammate," Kasparaitis said. "You have to make him pay the price. (Washington Post)

Yes, Kaspar, just think back to your Islander days, it will all come easy.
The Scoring race: Who will win in the end? This year, no one has a clue. Some of this year's confounders, making it so different from last: The breakthrough of Jarome Iginla; The return of Eric Lindros; The early season funk of Jagr, despite a fresh start and a fat contract with the Washington Capitals; The poor health of Lemieux, the (temporary?) departure of Peter Forsberg and the loneliness of Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. (Ottawa Citizen)
The Flames unite: Did you happen to catch the all-game brawl between Calgary and Anaheim. I just saw the highlights on ESPN this morning. That was one mean game. "The morning after the NHL punished left-winger Craig Berube and centre Scott Nichol, the Calgary Flames met as a team. The outcome was no surprise. The Flames plan to help out their penalized pals, singled out in the aftermath of Saturday's fight-filled game against the visiting Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. "We'll find a way," says Flames rearguard Bob Boughner. "Guys will chip in and make sure that they get their money back. We'll support them 100 per cent. One way or another, they'll be taken care of." (The Calgary Herald)
Should the Devils hang onto Bobby Holik? Jared Ramsden, writing on Hockey's Future, is undecided:

If Lamoreillo decides to keep Holik around for the season, it will without a shadow of a doubt, improve the Devils chances for success in the season and in the playoffs. Holik has many different roles on this team, and he does all of them well. He plays on the first PP unit, chips in offensively (10 goals, 9 assists through 28 games), plays physical, is a top face off man and is a defensive stalwart who usually plays against other teams top players. That is proof enough of his value to the team. But keeping him is a big risk because of his UFA status at the end of this season. If Bobby leaves at the end of the season, but helps the team win a Cup, Lamoreillo should avoid any heat from media and fans. On the flip side though, if he keeps Bobby, the team has a poor playoff showing and Holik bolts at seasons end, he will be ridiculed for not getting anything back for one of the teams most important players. By trading Holik, Lamoreillo and the Devils could acquire assets to improve the team for now and for the future. He could get that scoring winger that Scott Gomez so desperately needs. He could get prospects and draft picks to improve the teams prospect pool. Bobby’s trade value as of right now is very high because of the way he is playing this season. Trading him now would ensure that he receives a very good package in return, but if his play slips as the season goes on, his value diminishes. With the likes of Bill Guerin, Tony Amonte, Vincent LeCavalier and others possibly being available, trading Holik might be a great idea. Notwithstanding is the fact the trading Holik will just create another hole on the team that may not be able to filled by any of the current players. As mentioned earlier, Bobby fills so many roles that trading him may hurt the team more than it improves it. It is a two headed monster. Keep him or trade him.
At $2 billion, Salt Lake Olympics will be most costly ever: These will be the most expensive Winter Games ever, costing nearly $2 billion - or $791,667 per athlete - to stage 17 days of skiing, skating, and other events. Eighteen cents of every dollar will be picked up by US taxpayers. The Salt Lake City figures are staggering even to Olympic officials who thought the 1998 Nagano Games, at $1.1 billion, pushed extravagance to its limit. Despite the huge expenditure, organizers say the Salt Lake Games will pay what they owe and leave Utah with some winter sports facilities and a $40 million fund to enjoy them after the Games, Feb. 8 to 24. "We expect to break even," says Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. That will happen largely because of the largess of television, which will pay $442 million for the right to broadcast the Games. Organizers also sold the Games well, bringing in an additional $553 million in sponsor money before the national economy took a nosedive. (AP)
Does Baseball cook the books?: According to Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, MLB somehow managed to lose $519 million in 2001 despite record revenues of more than $3.5 billion. This claim was met with derision by virtually all independent observers. They note that franchise values have not fallen, and that even the owners of "failing" teams like the Expos and Marlins won't sell out unless they can remain in baseball with some other team. Doug Pappas, chairman of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee, asks: "Are the books cooked? If so, how? What can we learn from the owners' disclosures, be it what they want us to know, or what we can find by reading between the lines or putting the numbers in a fairer context?" Read his preliminary analysis here.
Now that's patriotic: The Gloucester Rangers, a peewee minor league hockey team in Ottawa, placed small Canadian and American flag stickers on their helmets in honour of the memory of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now, they've been told that the stickers contravene safety regulations. The Canadian Hockey Association and the Ottawa District Hockey Association consider it a violation of equipment rules. If the team continues to wear the stickers, the ODHA has recommended disciplinary action against the coaches, said Louanne Clitsome, president of the Gloucester Rangers Minor Hockey Association. (National Post)
Kudos to Brian McCabe: Whilst I was at the Pens-Caps game, the Leafs put on a good show and Brian McCabe (for crying out loud!) got two goals and two assists in a 6-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. Points-wise, it was his best game ever.

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Richer still around: Hard to believe the Stephane Richer scooting around the ice with the Penguins and nearly leading them in goals is the same guy that walked out on his tryout with the Capitals last year. George McPhee must be wondering how he let the flying frenchman get away, depression or no depression.

It is also interesting to remember that there were a bunch of old fogies turning up at the Penguins camp this summer. In addition to Richer, Bob Errey tried to unretire and got injured and Michel Petit tried out as well -- aren't the Pens the only team he has never played for?
Savage charity: Brian Savage (AKA Mr. October) of the Montreal Canadians showed his love for Harry Potter recently. After finding out that some 5th and 6th grade kids in a Montreal suburb wanted to go see the movie, but could not afford it, he wrote out a check for $270.
Scouts buzzing in Vancouver: The Vancouver Province reports on the swarms of hockey scouts at the Canucks-Lightning game, sizing up possible deals with both faltering teams. The nucks, looking for any kind of help. The Lightning, theoretically looking to deal away their franchise player, Vincent Lecavalier. Is Anaheim's Jeff Friesen available for the Canucks? Could Paul Kariya be had in a swap for Lecavalier?

In the same article, we get a gross report from Canucks defenseman Murray Baron, who needed seven stitches to close a cut on his left eyelid after getting hit with a puck last Thursday. How tough is Baron? A couple of days ago he went into his bathroom and did his own surgery. "It was still leaking so I pressed on it between stitches and drained it," said Baron. "It was gross in a neat kind of way. ... My girl didn't like it much." No kidding.
Getting used to Jagr in DC: Capitals GM Goerge McPgee "People expected so much, even at training camp.. Every time he touched the puck at camp, people in the seats were oohing and aahing, and we knew it would take some time to assimilate. That's basically what has happened."

Well, we'll see more of what Jags is made of tonight. He looked like a superstar on opening night, but that was the last Caps win I saw in person. He draws opposing players like flies to shit, leaving his teammates more room to operate. There is still more adjusting to do on all sides, but I am optimistic.
Penguins feel better in the post-Jagr era: Andrew Ference: "It's not as a result of just Jags being gone. It's a matter of having a really good chemistry of guys that get along and have bought into the system. We can go from the ice into the locker room and not have conflicts as far as guys bossing each other around or telling each other what to do. Whether that's just the process of getting new guys and new faces in here or a little less pressure coming from (Jagr), it's probably a little of both."

Rick Kehoe, the Penguins coach of the moment: "I don't know what our relationship would be if he was here. I always had a good relationship with him in the past. I can't really say one way or the other how it would be (now)... There are certain things I like our guys to do, and I don't know if he'd do them or he wouldn't do them. I don't know how it would have worked out." ("Penguins have moved on with Jagr gone," Pgh Tribune-Review)
John Vanbiesbrouck - retired, but telling it like it is: "The state of the game is very poor. Every game seems the same. The rules are kind of straightened out. There is no more of that crease crap. But the state of the game has taken on a pretty placid state. The moving around of players hurts the fans relationship with players. The game is overcoached and micromanaged to the point everybody becomes a mannequin. Playmaking ability is at an all time low. They found a wrinkle in the game thorough a tactical coaching situation that has clogged the middle of the ice. I don't see a need for the red line anymore. I've watched a lot of college hockey and I like to see a guy make a long pass and spring a guy free. That's an element of the game that's not there anymore."
Thinking about the Hart: John Buccigross is already plotting his top five for League MVP: Mike Modano, Jarome Iginla, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros and Mats Sundin.
Hardest working man in show biz is down and out from the AP: "Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Moran is expected to be out a month with a broken right foot -- the ninth bone he has broken while blocking a shot in five seasons. Moran wore a protective boot Monday after doctors determined he broke a weight-bearing bone just below his big toe. Moran was injured while blocking a shot by Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk in the first period Saturday night."
Yet another reason the NHL should boycott the Olympics: Lots of players are ineligible to play for their national teams. San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, "although he is a Russian citizen, cannot be picked because IIHF rules stop players from representing more than one country during their career," IIHF spokesman Szymon Szemberg told the Associated Press. Nabokov played for the Kazakstan national team at the 1994 IIHF World Championship. IIHF rules say a player can change national teams if he was under 18 when he last played for a country's team. Nabokov was 19 when he played for Kazakstan.

Sorry, but screw IIHF rules. Bring back the Canada Cup tournaments!

Monday, December 10, 2001

I am psyched for Jaromir Jagr's almost-homecoming ... his first game against the Pens, tomorrow night. I hope to high hell the Pens can put forth a good effort with Mario out ... I don't want to have to wear my jersey in shame at the MCI Center... Course people will probably try to throw beer on me one way or another...
Canada on route to being 51st state? Jeremy Lott writes in Reason that Canadian appeasement of American wishes in order to reopen the fullness of cross-border trade will inevitably lead to only one conclusion: "The euphemism being used thus far to describe this coming arrangement is a "truly integrated economic unit" that would stop short of being a European Union knockoff. However, once in place, Canadian citizens may very well choose to call it by another name: statehood."

I think Lott is quite hysterical on this count. The absorbtion of Canada, if it ever happens, will be quite gradual and voluntary. There is no reason that Canada should not continue as a more or less state. Besides, why would the U.S. want most of Canada?
Paul Kariya to Vancouver? Yeah, right. This Hockey's Future commentator is living in a pipe dream. It would be the perfect move for vancouver, but the death knell for Anaheim. Kariya is the only reason the few thousand fans still show up to their home games now. "I definitely think that it's time for Brian Burke to make a trade; but not an economical one. We need a big one, a player with, possibly, a large salary. You all hopefully know who I'm talking about, and that player is Paul Kariya. Would he take a pay-cut to play in Vancouver? I'm not sure that he will, but, having family close by, and playing on a team that can put a couple of decent lines together, and has a decent power-play, might be attractive to him."
Weight-less Oilers doing just fine, thanks: "The Oilers enter play Friday [Dec. 7] with the second-best record in the NHL at 17-8-3-1 and have handled the loss of their best player with shocking calmness. After all, Weight was the Edmonton Oilers of the late 1990s. As much as Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier before him, he defined the franchise. Of course, his departure also defined what the Oilers have become. They bring in good young talent, turn it into great middle-age talent and then wave goodbye when the cost of the talent gets too high." ESPN says huzzah to Kevin Lowe, Oilers GM
Ending Canada? A back-and-forth on the end of Canada: Jamie Glazov announces, "Finally, the End of Canada." Barton Wong responds. Glazov is a bit over-the-top, but has a couple of interesting points.
Looking back at last season's NHL Awards:

Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player) Joe Sakic, Colorado - There was much contention over whether Lemieux should have gotten it. Perhaps he should have. However, no one would argue that Jagr deserved it, even though he was nominated for it. Someone who should have received more votes was Philadelphia's goalie, Roman Chechmanek.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (most gentlemanly player) Joe Sakic, Colorado. Eh, why not? My Capitals preference led me to prefer fellow nominee Adam Oates. Also nominated was Nick Lidstrom.

Vezina Trophy (top goalie) Dominik Hasek, Buffalo. Now this was ridiculous. Hasek started out the season like a schweinhund. Chechmanek deserved this award, since he was fantastic throughout the entire season. Brodeur was also nominated.

Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose. No question here. If he had stayed consistent in the late spring instead of starting to falter, he would have contended for MVP and best goaltender. Also nominated were Brad Richards and Martin Havlat.

James Norris Memorial Trophy (best defenceman) Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit. Yeah, he deserved it, but there was no truly dominant defenseman this year. Ray Bourque and Scott Stevens were also nominated.

Frank J. Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) John Madden, New Jersey. This kid is the king of the short-handed scoring opportunity. He has wheels which would make an Edmonton Oiler cry. Mike Modano and Sakic were nominated as well.

Masterton Memorial Trophy (sportsmanship and dedication) Adam Graves, N.Y. Rangers. This award belonged to Ray Ferraro. Adam played like a bag of pucks this year. I should know, since he was, unfortunately, a starter on my fantasy league team. Ray has been called over-the-hill for years now, but each year he plays his heart out. And he was a top-flight player this year. And he could have demanded to be traded at the trade deadline to a contender. Instead, he stuck it out with Atlanta, and will probably retire as a Thrasher. But not yet. Oh, Kevin Dineen was also nominated, as if anyone cared.

Jack Adams Award (coach of the year) Bill Barber, Philadelphia. This was sort of contentious. Barber got full mileage out of a Flyers team riddled with injuries and missing its star player, Eric Lindros. However, it was a good team to start with... Scotty Bowman and Jacques Martin also got nominated. Martin deserved it, in my humble opinion.

Art Ross Trophy (top point scorer) Jaromir Jagr, Pittsburgh
Maurice Richard Trophy (top goal scorer) Pavel Bure, Florida
King Clancy Trophy (humanitarian contribution to hockey) Shjon Podein, Colorado
William M. Jennings Trophy (goalie for team with lowest GAA) Dominik Hasek, Buffalo
Lester B. Pearson Award (outstanding player voted by NHL Players' Association) Joe Sakic, Colorado

But the real highlight at Awards night was not the NHL. It was Tia Carrere and her, um, outfit. Yes, it was over-the-top, but she looked hot. How could she not in a Leafs jersey? National Post: "It probably wouldn't have worked at the Oscars, Grammys or even the Junos, but Tia Carrere's low-cut gown seemed the perfect fit for the 2001 NHL Awards show. Melding hockey with showbiz in one swoop, the full-length white dress the actress wore at the Air Canada Centre last night was essentially a skin-tight Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. Made with the same kind of see-through meshy material used in the Leafs game-day wares, the bona fide celebrity had her surname sewn on to the back and the team's logo on the front."
Remembering Wendell Young: Once in a while, you have to stop and appreciate the efforts of really great guys who just never get any respect. Wendell who? Wendell Young had to share the headlines when he retired this past summer with Raymond Bourque. "OK, so maybe "shared" isn't the right word. Bourque got all the ink, but that's OK. Young got all the hardware. And Young - the same guy who served as backup goalie for the Penguins from 1988-1992 and then again briefly in 1995 - retired as hockey's biggest winner of all time. No one can catch him now. Young was playing for the Chicago Wolves of the International Hockey League when he decided to retire, not a bad idea since the IHL had pretty much done the same thing. It's a defunct league now. Which means Young holds a record that never can be broken. In 18 years as a professional hockey player, Young played on teams that won cups at every level. Two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, two Turner Cups with the Wolves, one Calder Cup (the American Hockey League's top prize) with the Hershey Bears and one Memorial Cup in Canadian junior hockey with the Kitchener Rangers. Four leagues. Four cups. For Wendell Young, for crying out loud. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
PETA gone fishin': Alright, so it ain't hockey. I hate fishing and have no interest in hunting. But as this blog is about sports, this summertime laugher is worth noting.

Sports Illustrated - Rick Reilly: Scales of Injustice - Tuesday June 26: "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has new billboards out that claim fishing is cruel. I totally agree. The last time I went, all I caught was a sunburn, three hooks in the back of my thigh and hell from my pals for forgetting the Off. Unfortunately, this is not what PETA means. PETA means fishing is cruel to the fish. Seriously. PETA plans to put up billboards across the U.S. and in Canada that show a Labrador retriever with a hook in his bloody lip. IF YOU WOULDN'T DO IT TO A DOG, the signs say, WHY DO IT TO A FISH? And, of course, the answer is: Because fish do not bring me my slippers. Look, I wailed for the whales. I fumed over fur. I emotionally clubbed myself over the baby seals. But I'll be damned if I'm going to weep over a walleye. PETA says fish feel pain and that to snag one with a steel hook, drag it along for 50 yards or so and then haul it out of the water so it suffocates is sick. "Why do we throw a Frisbee to some animals and a barbed hook to others?" PETA asks on its website. And, of course, the answer is: Because fish really suck at catching Frisbees. PETA thinks it's evil to eat fish, too. But why should we stop eating them when they eat each other? Besides, they had their chance to evolve. They could've crawled out of the primordial ooze with us, but they didn't. They decided to stay behind and swim in the water they pee in and go around never blinking. When fish lift their scaly butts past us in the food chain, they can eat us. Until then, pass the tartar sauce. PETA even says catch-and-release is cruel. They say the harm and stress caused by being caught and released is sometimes enough to kill the fish later on. As if the fish go straight into therapy after being caught. Fish: I'm telling you, Doc, I was just minding my own business when I got hauled into the sky, examined by some weird beings and then thrown back! Fish psychiatrist: Lemme guess. A UFO, right? I mean, what's PETA going to do? You'll be sitting at the counter in the deli, and suddenly, the PETA police will come running in, shouting, "All right, back away from the tuna melt and nobody gets hurt!" My God, we're talking about fish here. Fish have a brain the size of a corn kernel. Professor James Rose, a University of Wyoming neuroscientist, studied fish for years and determined that they lack a neocortex (parts of which process the brain's response to pain), much like Cubs fans. Besides, if fish are so smart, why can you catch a fish, throw it back and then, two hours later, catch the same fish? I mean, do you really want to save something dumber than Robert Downey Jr.? Didn't Jesus fish? He seemed like a pretty sensitive guy. When He zapped up all those fishes for 5,000 people, what do you think He did with them, throw them back? I know, I know -- I hate hunting. But sitting in the back of a pickup, taking a rifle with an infrared scope and killing a deer from 1,000 yards away is not nearly the same thing as standing up to your spleen in icy rushing river water, trying to cast the perfectly tied fly into the perfect eddy to catch a rainbow trout. Is it our fault that the trout falls for it? Tell you what: I will get behind hunting when hunters come up with a shoot-and-release program. ..."
Jagr's timeline: Tracking Jagr from blithering boyhood to salacious superstardom in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette